This coming Sunday I’ll be teaching Lesson 42 on James. As I reviewed the lesson manual, I was intrigued by this additional teaching idea:
In the Joseph Smith Translation of James 1:12, rhe word endureth is changed to resisteth (see footnote 12b). What is the difference between enduring temptation and resisting temptation? What are the promises to those who resist temptation? (See James 1:12; 4:7.)
James 1:12 reads as follows:
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
When I approach a JST revision, I like to do so by applying a technique Joseph himself suggested, namely, asking what the question or issue was that would have suggested to Joseph the need for a change from endureth to resisteth here. I suspect the nuance he had in mind is that enduring seems like a very passive response to temptation, while resisting seems like a more proactive approach.
Out of curiosity I took a look at how other translations render the Greek verb hupomenei here (rendered “endureth” in the KJV); a sampling of what I found includes such renderings as steadfast, patient, stands firm, perseveres, still continues strong, meets a challenge, does not give up, and stands up under. So I’m not sure the perceived inadequacy of “endureth” is quite fair; it’s a stronger concept than might appear at first blush.
I think a big part of the problem here may be the KJV’s use of “temptation” as a rendering of peirasmon. That is certainly a possibility here, but given the context I think “trial” (in the sense of a testing) might be more accurate, in which case enduring the trial may make more sense than resisting it.
So anyway, I kept reading the letter to prepare for my lesson. And when I got to 4:7 I found this (not having noticed that the manual had also cited this verse as a parallel to 1:12):
Resist the devil, and he shall flee from you.
When Joseph suggested replacing endureth with resisteth, where did the notion of using the verb resist come from? Perhaps it was simply a stronger sounding verb that he came up with out of whole cloth. But a demonstrable phenomenon in the JST is that of assimilation, where Joseph will borrow wording from one location and insert it into another, sort of like a copy and paste approach in modern word processing software. So I think we have to consider the possibility that Joseph was assimilating the verb resist from 4:7 and using it where a similar object appeared in 1:12 (temptation//the devil).