Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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The Joseph Smith Translation and Ancient Texts of the Bible
The Joseph Smith Translation and Ancient Texts of the Bible Kevin L. Barney The question this essay attempts to answer is whether the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) represents in any way a restoration of text that originally existed in ancient manuscripts but was later altered or removed by scribal carelessness or malice. It is often assumed in Church classrooms, periodicals, and manuals that the JST does in fact represent the original or ancient state of a biblical passage.1 Many a Sunday School discussion over a problematic biblical passage ends with reference to the JST version and the assertion that it represents the original wording. Of course, a perfect restoration would be in the language of the original, but the idea is that the JST gives the English sense of the original Greek or Hebrew texts of the Bible. Many JST passages demonstrate commendable sensitivity to problems inherent in the English of the King James Version (KJV). I think that the JST has considerable worth and merits careful study from the perspectives of both faith and scholarship. However, this essay deals with a narrower question: Does the JST restore the original text of parts of the Bible? Robert J. Matthews, the Church's foremost authority on the JST, believes that the JST restores the intent of the original to some extent, although he does not insist that every JST reading is a restoration of ancient textual material (Matthews 1975a, 234-37; 1975b; 1980; 1982; 1983; 1969; 1976, 24). Some scholars have a different understanding of the JST. For them, the JST does not presuppose a different Hebrew or Greek text underlying a given biblical passage; rather, it is an inspired commentary on what the passage means to us in a more modern context. As an illustration of how this approach differs from the view that the JST is a textual restoration, consider the KJV of Genesis 6:6: "And it repenteth the Lord that he had made man on the KEVIN L. BARNEY, an attorney practicing in Chicago, lives in Mount Prospect, Illinois, with his wife Sandy and daughter Emily. 1 The rationale for this view is largely based on the eighth Article of Faith, 1 Nephi 13:28, and J. F. Smith 1976, 327; see also Ehat and Cook 1980, 256.