Tomorrow is stake conference, and then a week from tomorrow I’ll be teaching GD lesson 21, which is JS-M. I haven’t actually prepared the lesson yet, but in pulling some stuff together I noticed something that was new to me and which I thought was interesting.
JS-M is of course the JST version of KJV Mt. 23:39 and 24. There are more changes in this NT chapter than in any other chapter of the JST NT, going from about 1,050 words to 1,500. I’ve read the KJV text and the JS-M text various times, but always in isolation. I’ve never tried to read them together before, and even reading the texts side by side is difficult.
I’m an attorney by profession, and dealing with long, complicated documents is what I do. When I revise a document and recirculate it to the working group, I don’t just send a clean copy. It would be plain rude as well as not very practical to make changes to a 200-page Indenture of Trust and then circulate it, expecting people to find the changes in the clean text, Where’s Waldo-like. So it is common practice to circulate a marked copy of the document, using sophisticated text comparison software (like Track Changes but on steroids). This is often called “redlining,” because before machine comparisons became technologically common place it was done by hand, with a ruler and a red marker (using a carat to mark deletions and underlining additions). I remember seeing a reference to sending over a “redlined” version of some document on an old episode of LA Law and had to smile. I learned how to do manual redlining as a young associate back in the 80s.
So anyway, I got the bright idea to do a redlined version of JS-M so that I could clearly see the changes from the KJV text. For my first effort I copied the scriptural text from lds.org, making the KJV text version 1 and the JST version (JS-M) version 2, then running the comparison. That didn’t work so well, because the software flagged all the different footnote letters as variations, and so I ended up with a meaningless sea of changes. So I deleted that effort and tried again, this time using clean KJV text from the Bible Gateway and a clean copy of JS-M I found on the internet, and that worked much better.
So when I read the finished product with deleted text struck-through and added text double-underlined, it was like a revelation to me, and the basic structure of what Joseph had done became immediately apparent. And while I’m sure it’s not new, it was new to me.
So here’s what happened: KJV Mt. 24 is the Olivet prophecy. In it, Jesus is represented as foretelling events that will occur at the end of the world (or age). But here’s the thing: in the early Christian church, it was believed that the second coming would come quickly, certainly within a generation. So in this prophecy the dire events that would occur with the Jewish rebellion, the suppression of it by Rome, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the scattering of the Jews into the Diaspora are portrayed as the events presaging the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus in glory.
But that’s not what happened. Sure, all those terrible events happened historically, but they weren’t accompanied by a return of the Savior. It has been almost two millennia, and the Savior still hasn’t returned. So in this respect the Olivet prophecy appears to be flawed. And the JST fixes this flaw.
JS-M does so by bifurcating the prophecy into two parts. The first part will be a prophecy of the events that will happen historically in the first century A.D. (destruction of the temple, scattering of the Jews, etc.), and the second part will be a prophecy of the events that will happen at the actual end of the world (which still haven’t happened and remain in our future).
This is set up in JS-M 4 (I’ll use italics for additions) as follows:
And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us when these things shall be which thou hast said concerning the destruction of the temple, and the Jews; and what is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked, which is the end of the world?
So from this point up to verse 21 Jesus answers the first question, which is a prophecy of things yet to come from the perspective of that time, which will be fulfilled in the first century A.D. Then in verse 21 to the end he shifts and answers the second question, which is a prophecy of the end of days just prior to his second coming.
In order to make this restructuring work, Joseph moves some of the verses of KJV Mt. 24 around. Verses 6-7 are pushed to the second half of the prophecy (IE following v. 21, to verses 23 and 28 and 29). Verse 8 is moved to v. 19. And then several verses are duplicated, so that they appear in both the first and second half of the revised prophecy (cf. vs. 10 and 30, and 12 and 32).
Verse 21 is the fulcrum. It starts out describing what has been described in the previous verses: “Behold, these things I have spoken unto you concerning the Jews.” Then comes the transition to the second part of the restructured prophecy: “and again, after the tribulation of those days which shall come upon Jerusalem….”
The next verse begins: “For in those days there shall also arise false Christs….” The expression “in those days” points far into the future, and “also” means that there will be false Christs in that future day just as there were in the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ death.
The overarching concern Joseph brings to this text can be succinctly illustrated by KJV Mt. 24:34: “Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled.” That’s a problem, because the most natural way to take “this generation” would be as referring to those alive at the time of his discourse, and while that would work for the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, it of course doesn’t work for the second coming. So Joseph fixes the problem in v. 34: “Verily, I say unto you, this generation, in which these things shall be shown forth, shall not pass away until all I have told you shall be fulfilled.” Now this prophecy has a dual fulfillment: for those then alive, many would witness the calamities of the Jews at the hands of the Romans. But for the end of the world, “this generation” refers to those who would then be alive as those travails begin, not to those then alive at the time of the discourse.
So the structure of JS-M is as follows:
5-21 Prophecy of the destruction of the temple and scattering of the Jews (first century A.D.)
21-end Prophecy of the last days preceding the second coming of Christ
That may be common knowledge, but it was new to me, so I thought it would be worth sharing for those who like me may not have noticed this pattern before.
UPDATE: Kevin has made his redlined version of JS-M available here.