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LDS Doctrine and Covenants Notes 15: D&C 71, 73-75, 77, 86, 91, 113

LDS Doctrine and Covenants Notes 15: D&C 71, 73-75, 77, 86, 91, 113

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Published by: Mike Parker on May 04, 2010
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© 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Doctrine and CovenantsWeek 15: D&C 71, 73
75, 77, 86, 91, 113
The revelations in this week‘s reading all have to do
 with Joseph Smith‘s translation of the
 We‘re going to start tonight by examining the history of 
his translation effort andanswering some of the questions that it raises.
Question 1:
Why did Joseph Smith make a translation of the Bible?i)
He made a translation of the Bible because the Lord directed him to do so. Heconsidered it part of his divine calling as a prophet of God.(1)
In the journal entry in the
 History of the Church
preceding Section 71, he noted
I resumed the translation of the Scriptures, and continued to labor in
thisbranch of my calling
with Elder Sidney Rigdon as my scribe.
 Although there is no record of a revelation specifically directing Joseph to beginmaking a translation, the work is mentioned numerous times in the Doctrine andCovenants
and in the
 History of the Church
Question 2:
How did Joseph produce his translation of the Bible?i)
The translation was not done in the usual manner of a scholar, but was a revelatory experience using only an English Bible.ii)
The Prophet had a large, family-size edition of the King James Version of the Bible that he and Oliver Cowdery purchased in Palmyra, New York, in October1829.
He read from this Bible, marked certain passages, and dictated revisions andadditions to a scribe, who wrote them on separate sheets of paper.(1)
He began the project by dictating the entire text, with revisions, to his scribe. Helater created a simpler system where only changes were recorded by the scribe.
Some of the following material is adapted from Robert J. Matthews,
“A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation
of the Bible, a History and Commentary
(Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975); see especially pages xxvii
xxxii. This book is, unfortunately, long out of print, but used copies are available online for $15 to $25.The latest scholarly treatment of the Joseph Smith Translation is Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J.Matthews, eds.,
 Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts
(Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center,Brigham Young University, 2004).The FAIR web site also has some helpful articles that address the challenging questions about the Joseph SmithTranslation of the Bible:
 History of the Church
1:238; italics added (
See D&C 76:15; 93:53; 94:10; 124:89. See also D&C 9:2; 35:20; 37:1; 41:7; 42:56; 45:60
61; 73:3
4; 90:13; 91:3, 6.See also this unpublished revelation, dated 20 March 1832:
33, 170, 211, 215, 219, 238, 242, 245, 253, 255, 273, 295, 322, 324, 331, 341, 365, 368
69; 4:137, 164, 187,493; 6:164
This was a large edition of the KJV (9 inches by 11 inches by 2 inches), printed in 1828 by H. and E. Phinney Company of Cooperstown, New York, that included the Old Testament Apocrypha. A notation on the flyleaf, in what appears to be JosephSmith
s handwriting, states that it had been purchased from the Egbert B. Grandin Bookstore in Palmyra, New York, on 8October
1829 for $3.75. See Kent P. Jackson, ―Joseph Smith‘s Cooperstown Bible: The Historical Context of the Bible Used inthe Joseph Smith Translation,‖
 BYU Studies
40/1 (2001), 41
In August 2010 Joseph‘s Bible was offered for sale by a Salt Lake rare book dealer, with an asking price of $1.5 million
Kent P. Jackson, ―New Discoveries in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible,‖ in
 By Study and by Faith: Selections from the Religious Educator
, Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson, eds. (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Doctrine and Covenants Sections 71, 73
75, 77, 86, 91, 113 Week 15, Page 2© 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
The two manuscripts that came out of the project comprise 446 pages.iv)
Joseph‘s principal scribe was Sidney Rigdon
(D&C 35:20), although other scribesalso wrote for him, including Emma Smith (25:6).
The translation was done by divine revelation to the mind of the Prophet.(1)
Like Joseph‘s other revelations, the translation was not a simple, mechanical
recording of divine dictation, but rather a study-and-thought processaccompanied by and prompted by revelation from the Spirit.(2)
There is no evidence that he used the Urim and Thummim or a seer stone duringthe translation.
So far as we have any evidence, Joseph Smith did not use Biblical Hebrew orGreek languages and manuscripts in the translation.
Question 3:
How many changes did Joseph make to the text of the KingJames Version (KJV)?i)
His work differs from the KJV in at least 3,410 verses.
The changes consist of additions, deletions, rearrangements, and other alterationsthat cause it to vary not only from the KJV but from other biblical texts.iii)
These changes range from minor details like the insertion of a single word,
toinsertions of lengthy material that runs several chapters.
 Although he made no changes in some of books of the Bible, he did giveconsideration to every book from Genesis to Revelation.e)
Question 4:
How long did the Prophet Joseph work on his Bible translation?i)
He worked on the translation somewhat regularly for three years.ii)
The ear
liest portion of the work was the reception of the revelation known as ―the
 vision of Moses,
which is now Moses chapter 1 in the Pearl of Great Price. This wasreceived in June 1830, two months after the Church was founded.
Joseph then began working on the Old Testament, beginning with Genesis 1 andreaching as far as Genesis 24. In March 1831 he received a revelation instructing himto translate the New Testament (D&C 45:60
62), which he began immediately.
Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 169
81 (
Other scribes who wrote for Joseph were Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, Jesse Gause, and Frederick G. Williams.
Jackson, ―New Discoveries.‖
Elder Orson Pratt
said that ―Joseph [Smith] explained to him that the experience he [Joseph] had acquired while
translating the Book of Mormon by use of the Urim and Thummim had rendered him so well acquainted with the Spirit of Revelation and Prophecy, that in the translating of the New Testament he did not need the aid that was necessary in the 1st
instance.‖ Minutes of the School of the Prophets, Salt Lake City, 14 January 1871. Cited in Matthews,
“A Plainer Translation,” 
Joseph did, however, endeavor to learn Hebrew and Greek at Kirtland in early 1836, and also later in Nauvoo.
There are 31,103 verses in the King James Bible (not including unnumbered material and the Apocrypha), which wouldmean Joseph modified approximately 10.9% of the verses.
See, for example
, 1 Corinthians 1:26, in which the JST changes the final word of the verse from ―called‖ to ―chosen,‖ and1 Corinthians 10:24 changes the word ―wealth‖ to ―good.‖
The most prominent example is the material on Adam and Eve, Cain, and Enoch that has been canonized in Moses 5
The earliest date in the translation manuscripts is a marginal note next to JST Genesis 5:28 that reads ―October 21,1830.‖ This corresponds to KJV Genesis 4:18 and Moses 5:43.
Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class Doctrine and Covenants Sections 71, 73
75, 77, 86, 91, 113 Week 15, Page 3© 2013, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
He finished the New Testament July 1832,
and then returned to the OldTestament, picking up with Genesis 24 and continuing to Malachi, which hefinished in July 1833.f)
Question 5:
Did Joseph finish the translation of the Bible?i)
The Prophet stated in a letter of 2 July 1833 that he had that day 
―finished‖ the
translation of the Bible.
 After this, he made no further changes or additions to the manuscripts, and all theavailable evidence indicates that he considered the work completed.
Question 6:
Did Joseph intend to publish his Bible translation?i)
Joseph and his associates made numerous statements indicating they intended topublish the translation,
and Joseph‘s
revelations indicate that he was commandedto do so (e.g., D&C 94:10; 124:89).ii)
Lack of financial resources appears to be a significant factor which prevented the
Prophet‘s finishing and publishing the translation.
Excerpts from
the translation were published during the Prophet‘s lifetime in the
Church newspapers.
Question 7:
 What happened to the translation manuscripts after the
Prophet‘s death?
 After Joseph‘s death the manuscripts and marked Bible remained in the possession
of Emma Smith.
The Smith family has generally held that the new translation materials are family property, not Church property.ii)
The materials eventually became the property of the Reorganized Church of JesusChrist of Latter Day Saints (RLDS).
Question 8:
 What is the correct name for Joseph Smith‘s translation of the Bible?
The work has been known by several names:
The statement in
1:34, dated 2 February 1833,
is day completed the translation and the reviewing of the New Testament,
refers to a review process that followed the completion of the translation the previous summer.
―We this day finished the translating of the Scriptures, for which we returned grati
tude to our Heavenly Father, and sat
immediately down to answer your letters.‖ Letter from the presidency of the Church (Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and
Frederick G. Williams) to
the Brethren in Zion
‖ [Missouri], 2 July 1833.
The Bible Dictionary in the English LDS Bible states that Joseph Smith
‗continued to make modifications‘
in thetranslation
‗until his death in 1844‘ (717).
Based on information available in the past, that was a reasonable assumption, and Itaught it for many years. But we now know that it is not accurate.
‖ Jackson, ―New Discoveries.‖
See references to the
Times and Seasons
in footnote21. 
Portions of the translation of JST Genesis 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9 were published in the
 Evening and Morning Star
atIndependence, Missouri, in August 1832 (
) andMarch
 April 1833 (
). The ―vision of Moses‖ (now 
Moses 1 in the Pearl of Great Price) was published at Nauvoo in the
Times and Seasons
in January 1843(
). The
 Lectures on Faith
(1835) also containsscattered passages.
, 19 [July 1843].
Elder Willard Richards called on Emma Smith, widow of the Prophet, for the new translationof the
: She said she did not feel disposed to give it up at present.
7:260, italics in the original(
The RLDS Church was renamed ―Community of Christ‖ in April 2001. For historic purposes,
I will refer to it as theReorganized Church or RLDS in these notes.

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