On the JST of Galatians

I decided to take a crack at another commentary on the JST of a book of the New Testament, going with Galatians (following 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians). Since the letters of Paul are organized from longest to shortest, the books keep getting shorter and therefore less intimidating to write a commentary on (1 Cor. had 68 vereses, but 2 Cor. had only about a third as many, and Galatians had only a little over half as many as 2 Cor.) I’m not sure whether I’ll keep churning these things out, but I might do a few more. I think it’s a lot of fun to try to get into Joseph’s head and figure out where he was going with these revisions. And I continue to be impressed by what he did (as in not perfect by any means, but very thoughtful). I checked these against Clarke and saw no likely influence from that source.


Kevin Barney

1.  Galatians 1:10

For do I now persuade please men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

    The change from “persuade” to “please” is an assimilation to the use of the verb “please” twice in the balance of the verse. The Greek verb peitho rendered “persuade” in the KJV can indeed mean to persuade or convince, but it can also be used in the sense of “to seek favor or approval from” or “to flatter,” which is close to JST “please.” Many modern English translations take the verb in the latter sense, such as AMP “Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God?” The CEV uses the actual word “please” here: “I am not trying to please people.”

    Paradigm Classifications A-1and A-4 (Paraphrase of KJV Text and Assimilation).

2.  Galatians 1:24

And they glorified God in on account of me.

The word “in” is indeed a literal rendering of the Greek preposition en, but the meaning of the expression “in me” is obscure in English. 30 modern translations render “because of me,” which matches the JST causal emendation here. 

    Paradigm Classification A-1 (Paraphrase of KJV Text).

3.  Galatians 2:4

And that because of Notwithstanding, there were some brought in by false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

    The JST replaces the causal “because” with the adversative “notwithstanding.” Even though there is no adversative literally present in the Greek text, for the passage to read well one must be supplied in English. To understand why we must summarize the first four verses of the chapter. Paul describes a trip he took after a 14-year absence to Jerusalem accompanied by Barnabas and Titus. Paul spoke privately with the leaders of the church there communicating the gospel he had been preaching (which, among other things, did not require circumcision of converts). He was relieved that they were accepting of this and did not compel Titus, who was a Greek, to be circumcised. But then in verse 4 he speaks of false brethren who were spying on them and were opposed to the liberty they had taken on the subject of circumcision. So to transition from the positive treatment of Titus in verse 3 to the negative reaction of the false brethren in verse 4, one feels the need for some sort of a concessive such as JST “notwithstanding.” The Anchor Bible calls Paul’s sentence without it an anacoluthon (and more pointedly a “grammatical shipwreck”) and points to the necessity of some concessive at the beginning of verse 4, such as “yet” or “but.” See J. Louis Martyn, Galatians: A New “Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 194-95. CEB, DRA, NRSV, NTE, OJB, RSV, WE, WYC and NABRE use “but,” ESV and NASB use “yet,” GNT uses “although,” and ISV uses “however.” 

    Paradigm Classification A-1 (Paraphrase of KJV Text)

4.  Galatians 2:14

But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

    Technically the first use of “Gentiles” in this passage is not a noun but the adverb ethnikos “like a Gentile.” The JST adds the definite article to the first occurrence of “Gentiles” in the verse as an assimilation to “the Gentiles” later in the verse. Many other English translations add the definite article before the first occurrence of “Gentiles” here, such as ASV, DRA, EHV, GNV, NASB, NMB, RGT, and the TLV.

    Paradigm Classification A-1 and A-4 (Paraphrase of KJV Text and Assimilation).

5.  Galatians 3:14

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we they might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    The first part of the verse talks about the blessing of Abraham coming upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so the JST changes “we” to “they,” meaning specifically the Gentiles who just a few words previously were the ones given that promise. Some translations like the AMP make the they of the Gentiles and the we (referring to those then present) near the end of the verse inclusive by rendering “so that we would all receive . . .”

    Paradigm Classification A-1 (Paraphrase of KJV Text).

6.  Galatians 3:15

Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if when it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

    Note that the word “if” is in italics, meaning it is not literally present in the Greek text. The Greek has a participle, kekuromenen “confirmed,” which could be construed in various ways, such as conditionally as in the KJV or temporally as in the JST. The temporal “when” is more commonly adopted in modern English translations. Note that the fact that “if” is in italics was also likely an influence on this revision.

    Paradigm Categories A-1 and A-2 (Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Words).

7.  Galatians 3:18

For if the inheritance be is of the law, then it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

    Given that it is in italics, the JST changes the subjunctive “be” to the indicative “is,” which is indeed used in many modern translations, and also adds a “then” to make the “if…then” structure of the sentence more explicit.

    Paradigm Categories A-1 and A-2 (Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Words).

8.  Galatians 3:19

Wherefore then, serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made in the law given to Moses, who; and it was ordained by the hand of angels in the hand of to be a mediator of this first covenant (the law).

    The JST correctly removes the italicized verb “serveth,” as the initial question was intentionally elliptical and did not contain a verb, as in “Why, then, the Law at all?” The JST then changes that original rhetorical question and makes it part of the following statement. The “mediator” at the end of the passage is certainly a reference to Moses, which the JST make more explicit by naming him. The instrumental “by the hand of” is changed from being a reference to Moses as the mediator to the angels. Smith seems to read “ordained by the hand of angels” as a reference to angels physically ordaining Moses to that role, as if by laying on of hands.

    Paradigm Classifications A-2 and B (Suspicion of Italicized Words and Midrashic Commentary).

9.  Galatians 3:20

Now a this mediator is was not a mediator of the new covenant one, but there is one mediator of the new covenant, who is Christ, as it is written in the law concerning the promises made to Abraham and his seed. Now Christ is the mediator of life; for this is the promise which God is one made unto Abraham.

    This short, cryptic verse continues the message of verse 19 (as demonstrated for instance by the repetition of the word “mediator”) and is greatly elaborated to build upon that prior verse. The prior verse spoke of the introduction of the Law by Moses. The Law was a parenthesis in Israelite life, standing between the promises made to Abraham on the front end and the fulfillment of those promises by the coming of Christ on the back end. This significant expansion of verse 20 makes that intermediate role of the Law in Israelite life clear.

    Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

10.  Galatians 3:24

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto until Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

    This revision was motivated by the italics. A number of translations, such as the NET, use “until” here.

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Words).

11.  Galatians 3:26

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus Christ.

    This is a simple modernization conforming the name-title to modern popular usage. The TLB and WYC do the same.

    Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization).

12. Galatians 3:29

And if ye be are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    Again, the JST changes the verb from subjunctive to indicative; many modern English translations do the same, while others substitute “belong to Christ.”

    Paradigm Classification A-2 and A-3 (Suspicion of Italicized Words and Modernization).

13.  Galatians 4:12

Brethren, I beseech you, be perfect as I am perfect; for I am persuaded as ye are: ye have a knowledge of me, ye have not injured me at all by your sayings.

           The insertion of “perfect” twice here is unexpected, since in general only one is perfect, Jesus Christ. Normally it is the students who are to conform to the teacher, but here Paul seems to be speaking of a reciprocity that connotes more of a friendship between equals. The JST emends the passage to make it more one-sided as one would have anticipated with Paul clearly in the superior position over his followers. It seems unusual to predicate “perfect” of himself (but note the word need not have the absolutist connotation we usually give it, but could mean something more like “thoroughly accomplished”), but this word is used in service of maintaining the distinction between Paul as teacher and the others as students. The statement “ye have not injured me” seems odd standing alone, and so the JST inserts a reference to a prior potential sources of offense.

     Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).


  1. J. Stapley says:

    Awesome stuff, Kev. Thanks!

  2. This isn’t going to get the attention of more argument-driven posts, but is easily more important than most of them. Thanks, Kevin; I’ll spend some time going through this in the next few days.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    I forgot to mention that only one of these revisions shows up in the LDS Bible footnotes, so unless you are using some other source almost all of these will be new to you.

  4. That means I’ll enter them into the digital edition of the scriptures that I have been creating for years, to preserve exactly this kind of thing. Double thanks.

  5. Mark Ashurst-McGee says:

    What J. and Ardis said

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