What’s New with the JST?

Kent P. Jackson, Understanding Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2022)

Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible: The Joseph Smith Translation and the King James Translation in Parallel Columns (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2021)

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On Getting to Church

My sister has lived her entire adult life sequentially in two houses in Utah, and in each location the church building she attended was an easy walk away. That’s not universal, of course; when my mother was alive and living in Ogden she had to drive to church, but in the Jello belt it’s not uncommon. In major metropolitan areas and certain foreign countries there may be suitable public transit options. But most of us get to and from church via car. I live in a suburb of Chicago, and owning or having access to a car is pretty much a necessity to orchestrate daily life. There is a rental house that is across the street and down a ways from my church building, and several LDS families have lived there over the years, so they can walk to church, but other than that if you want to go to church you drive there. Our building features an ample parking lot, which is only overwhelmed on Stake Conference Sundays; on those days we have overflow parking at the high school lot just two blocks away.

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Priesthood and Temple Ban Winners and Losers Edition

Last Night I was watching the Jeopardy college tournament, and I was inspired to bring a game show approach to the topic of the moment by sorting out the winners and losers:

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Gearing up for OT Sunday School 2022

As 2021 draws to a close, in just a couple of weeks we will be transitioning from our 2021 CFM curriculum on the D&C to our 2022 CFM curriculum on the Old Testament. So I thought I would post a few resources and suggestions our readers might find useful as we transition from the contemporary church to ancient Israel.

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My Christmas Posts

Now that we’re past Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a young man’s fancy (or in my case, an old man’s) turns to thoughts of Christmas. I love Christmas like Ebenezer following the nightly specters, and so I usually put up a post or two during the Christmas season on the subject of Christmas. It occurred to me that some of our newer readers might appreciate a convenient index to those prior posts of mine, so I have provided one below. Merry Christmas! (If a link doesn’t work, just do a search on the post title and it will come right

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On Needing to Know Where the Bodies are Buried

(This is a story about how I bought and read the anti-Mormon opus Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? on my mission, but for the story to make sense I need to give you some personal background.)

A. My Youth

I grew up in a small branch in Illinois. And I kind of thought I knew everything there was to know about the Church. This was due to the pedagogical penchant for teachers to use what I call catechism questions. As in Teacher: “Johnny, could you read that verse, please?” Johnny: “Jesus wept.” Teacher: “Very good. Now what does it say Jesus did on this occasion?” [crickets] Teacher: “Anyone? Bueller?” Johnny “Uh, he wept.” Teacher: “Excellent! Here’s a lollipop.” 

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“Faith Alone” in Romans 3:28 JST

For about a year when I was an undergrad at BYU in the early 80s my plan was to go on for a PhD and become an academic. My dad was a professor so it sort of seemed like the family business to me. Two circumstances changed my mind and like so many others sent me off to law school: first, we got pregnant, and second, it was a horrible recession, so I had to get a little more practical about that decision. I have no regrets, it was the right call.

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Notes on the Priesthood and Temple Ban

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Returning to Physical Church?

I’m curious where folks are at as regards returning to physical church. I haven’t set foot in our building since the pandemic began. I’m now fully vaxed, but still feeling hesitant. I have to admit that remote church has a strong convenience factor.

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On Textual Restoration in the JST

ON TEXTUAL RESTORATIONS IN THE JST

Kevin Barney

I have spent over 25 years of my adult life teaching in Church classrooms. Accordingly, I have heard many hundreds, probably thousands, of student comments in class based on the JST. And in something approaching 100% of those cases, the person making the comment simply assumes that the JST was restoring the original text (albeit in English as opposed to the original language). In most cases that is not even close to an accurate assumption. But I can’t really blame these students; the Church in its official curriculum doesn’t come out and explain to average members what kinds of things the JST usually represents; members are largely on their own in trying to figure out the JST. And while there are some good books on the subject, the average member does not read that kind of material.

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On Secondary Source Infuence in the JST

ON SECONDARY SOURCE INFLUENCE IN THE JST

Kevin Barney

    Now that I have completed my informal blog commentary on the JST of Acts through Revelation, I feel as though I need to go back and say a few words on the topic of possible secondary source influence on the JST. I dealt with that issue to some extent in my formal article on 1 Corinthians in Dialogue. There I identified what struck me as four plausible secondary sources (the Clarke Commentary, Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, and the Campbell and Coverdale translations). When I did my first blog commentary (on 2 Corinthians) I didn’t bother with the two translations, as I saw no indication in 1 Corinthians that either of those was an influence on Joseph. Rather I just checked Clarke and Wesley and didn’t see any obvious influences from those sources there. Then when I did Galatians at the last minute I think I did a quick scan of Clarke only (not Wesley) and didn’t see anything. After that I decided to just put the issue up on Camilla Kimball’s proverbial shelf for another day; secondary source influence was rather tangential to what I was doing. But now that I have finished the commentary I feel the need to revisit this topic in general terms.

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Going Callingless

A few months ago I made a decision. I will not be accepting any more church callings. I am currently Executive Secretary, and my plan was to continue until the Bishop was released, and then not accept any new callings. His five-year anniversary is coming up this fall, so I assumed it would happen then. But our stake was reorganized on Sunday, and he was called into the new stake presidency as a counselor, so that accelerated things a bit. Below is the text I sent him after the conference on Sunday:

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On the JST of the Gospels

 COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF THE PERICOPE “PETER’S CONFESSION” IN THE FOUR GOSPELS

Kevin Barney

Introduction

    Having completed my informal commentary on the JST of Acts through Revelation, I knew I wasn’t going to take on the Gospels, which would be a massive task. They are long books, and almost every verse is modified in some way, and that was just way more than I was willing to bite off and chew. But I have to admit that I was curious about what I might find there. So I decided to do just a small demonstration project; I would pick a single pericope and then compare that pericope in each of the Gospels. I chose Peter’s confession of Christ almost at random; the only non-random thing about it is I wanted one that had parallel text in all four Gospels. Immediately below I give the parallel texts of this pericope in all four Gospels followed by my commentary.

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On the JST of Romans 11-16

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ROMANS 11-16

Kevin Barney

1. Romans 11:2

God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot Know ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession complaint to God against Israel saying,

    The Greek verb here is oidate “know” (perfect but with present meaning). The word “wot” means “to know” in both the first and third person present singular indicative, from the Old English verb witan. Smith was aware of this archaism and so regularly substitutes “know” for “wot.” The Greek verb rendered “make intercession” here is entugchano, which means to approach, appeal to or plead with an official or person in authority. In a divine context the word can refer to prayer to God. Interestingly for the JST revision here, the UBS Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament cites as a possible meaning of the verb “to bring complaints,” citing Acts 25:24, since appeals by the people to leaders often naturally include complaints. The CEV, NIRV and NLT use “complained” here and GW uses “complains.”

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

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On the JST of Romans 8-10

A COMMENTAR4Y ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ROMANS 8-10

Kevin Barney

1. Romans 8:8

So then they that are in after the flesh cannot please God.

    The KJV here is an overliteral translation of the Greek text. Since all human beings by very definition live “in” the flesh, this verse seems to say it is impossible for any human being to please God. The JST solves this problem succinctly by assimilating “in the flesh” to “after the flesh” (kata sarka from v. 4), which indeed conveys the correct nuance. The Anchor Bible recognizes this problem and therefore similarly renders “So those who live by the flesh. . . .” Other modern translations typically have something like “in the realm of the flesh” or “in the life of the flesh.” CEB has “who are self-centered.”

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

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On the JST of Romans 6-7

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ROMANS 6-7

Kevin Barney

1. Romans 6:7

 For he that is dead to sin is freed from sin.

    The import of the verb here translated “freed” (dedikaiotai), often rendered “acquitted,” is uncertain. Some take it in a forensic sense under Jewish law, meaning a dead person is freed from any legal case or claim against him in life. Others take it in the more traditionally Pauline sense, “justified,” and thus acquitted of sin. Others see the death here not as physical death but as the symbolic death one experiences in baptism. The JST seems to be making the point that death in and of itself does not justify the deceased, because there is an afterlife and there will be a divine judgment with various postmortem repercussions. So the JST suggests that the true way to become freed from sin is not to die but to become “dead to sin.”

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

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On the JST of Romans 2-5

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ROMANS 2-5

Kevin Barney

1. Romans 2:1

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that thus judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

    Judging is not necessarily a bad thing; we have judges in our legal system for a reason. The JST inserts “thus” (meaning “in such a way,” referring back to the unrighteous judgment described in the previous chapter) to make this point clear.

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

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On the JST of Romans 1

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ROMANS 1

Kevin Barney

1. Romans 1:1

Paul, an apostle, a servant of God, called of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, and separated unto to preach the gospel of God,

    This reorganization of titles seems to have been spurred by a desire to avoid the italicized “to be” in the expression “called to be an apostle.” The words “an apostle” are moved to immediately follow the name “Paul” by assimilation to the other Pauline letters, as “Paul, an apostle” in apposition is the most common opening formula used in the Pauline corpus. “Called” is also moved forward to become “called of Jesus Christ.” The other revisions seem designed to support these changes. This salutation is lengthier and more detailed than others because Paul was introducing himself to a church he had neither evangelized nor yet visited (Rome). By announcing he was an apostle, a servant of God, called of Jesus Christ and separated to preach the gospel, Paul was articulating his bona fides to address the Roman church authoritatively. Verses 1-7 actually constitute a single, lengthy sentence in Greek, which shows the concern he had in introducing himself properly to this church community.

    Paradigm Classifications A-1, A-2 and A-4 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text, Suspicion of Italicized Text and Assimilation)

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On the JST of Acts 12-28

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ACTS 12-28

Kevin Barney

1. Acts 12:7

And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon unto him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

    The expression “came upon him” almost sounds like an accidental encounter; the point of “came unto him” would seem to be to make the encounter more intentional and purposeful. The verb epeste (second aorist of ephistemi) is used in an intransitive sense: “come and stand by, come up to or upon,” often suddenly or unawares. The sense is expressed well in the NET: “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared.” The italicized “him” may have been an influence, as there is no literal pronoun in the Greek text.

    Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Text)

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On the JST of Acts 1-11

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ACTS 1-11

Kevin Barney

1. Acts 1:3

To whom also he shewed showed himself alive after his passion sufferings by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

    The change from “shewed” to “showed” is a modernization of the archaic spelling “shew.” The word “passion” is a translation of the aorist infinitive of the verb pascho “to suffer,” which we recognize in English from the “paschal” lamb. The word “passion” may be used as a technical term for the suffering of Jesus (from the past participle [passus] of the Latin verb patior “to suffer”), so the KJV translation is not incorrect. But over time the word “passion” in contemporary English has come to also take on meanings of strong romantic and sexual feelings. So while the KJV is not technically incorrect, the JST gives a more literal translation to avoid misunderstanding. Many modern translations also use “suffering” here.

    Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-3 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Modernization)

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Dead Sea Scrolls

Saturday morning I was sitting in the family room watching TV, and my wife popped her head in and asked me whether I had heard about the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls. (She got some kind of an alert on her phone.) I had not. After a quick google search, I had the skinny: about 80 fragments from a book of the 12 minor prophets in Greek had been discovered in a cave about 25 miles south of Jerusalem, the first new DSS manuscript material discovered in about 60 years. This is believed to be related to similar material discovered in Cave 8, commonly referred to as the “Cave of Horror,” so named for the 40 skeletons found on the site.

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On the JST of Revelation 13-22

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF REVELATION 13-22

Kevin Barney

1. Revelation 13:1

And I saw another sign, in the likeness of the kingdoms of the earth; a beast rise up out of the sea; and he stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

    This is a remarkable revision. Modern translations have the first part of this verse as Revelation 12:18 (the last verse of the preceding chapter) rather than the first part of 13:1. The NET for 12:18 reads “And the dragon stood [estathe, third person] on the sand of the seashore.” The Textus Receptus, followed by the KJV, combines these words into the beginning of 13:1: “And I stood [estathen, first person referring to the narrator, not the beast/dragon] upon the sand of the sea.” Remarkably (and correctly), the JST has the beast and not the narrator as the one standing on the sand of the seashore. This is widely regarded as the original reading. The NET explains: 

“tc Grk (estathe “he stood”). The reading followed by the translation is attested by the better mss [technical listing of mss omitted] while the majority of mss [technical listing omitted] have the reading estathen (“I stood”). Thus the majority of mss make the narrator, rather than the dragon of 12:17, the subject of the verb. The first person reading is most likely an assimilation to the following verb in 13:1, “I saw.” The reading “I stood” was introduced either by accident or to produce a smoother flow, giving the narrator a vantage point on the sea’s edge from which to observe the beast rising out of the sea in 13:1. But almost everywhere else in the book, the phrase kai eidon (“I saw”) marks a transition to a new vision, without reference to the narrator’s activity. On both external and internal grounds, it is best to adopt the third person reading, “he stood.”

Is it possible Smith derived this from a secondary source? Sure, but a few factors would seem to make that unlikely. First, I checked both the Adam Clarke Commentary and Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, and neither source mentions this variant, so if this change derived from a secondary source it would have been something more obscure than those two obvious possibilities. Further, to me the way Smith worded the revision would seem to argue against secondary source influence. A scholar would have revised this text precisely, as with a scalpel, simply by changing the verb from first to third person and changing the subject from the narrator to the beast/dragon. But instead of just jettisoning the first person as a scholar would do, Smith keeps it but redeploys it by attaching it to a new, general introductory statement by the narrator, after which he applies the third person verb (correctly) to the beast/dragon. So the JST still begins with KJV “And I,” but that “I” now is the subject of a different, general introductory statement. The JST then transitions to the beast, and has the beast as the one who stands on the sands of the seashore, not the narrator.

    Paradigm Classification E (Textual Restoration)

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On the JST of Revelation 8-12

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF REVELATION 8-12

Kevin Barney

1. Revelation 8:12

And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as that the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

    The expression “so as the third part of them was darkened” in the KJV is what in Greek grammar is referred to as a “final clause” meant to express purpose, consisting of the conjunction hina + a verb in the subjunctive mood, which would typically be rendered “so that” as the JST correctly has it. The vast majority of modern translations use “that” here with the JST, such as the NET’s “so that a third of them were darkened.”.

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

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On the JST of Revelation 3-7

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF REVELATION 3-7

Kevin Barney

1. Revelation 3:1

And unto the angel servant of the church in Sardis, write; These things saith he that who hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, which are the seven servants of God; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art not dead.

    The Greek angelos, despite its common English cognate “angel,” can also mean a human messenger or one sent on some sort of a mission. The JST often takes it in this sense in Revelation with the word “servant.” Smith consistently edits references to the “seven Spirits of God” out of the text; the meaning of the allusion is unclear, but may be a reference to the seven archangels of Jewish tradition. Here Smith keeps the reference to the “seven stars,” but simply equates them with the seven servants, which Smith seems to intend to refer to the human leaders of the seven churches (to which Revelation was directed). The end of the verse should be rendered something like “I know your deeds, that you have a reputation that you are alive, but in reality you are dead.” (NET) KJV “name” is a translation of onoma, which here actually means “reputation.” The end of the KJV translation doesn’t make sense: “thou hast a name that thou livest, and are dead.” The KJV seems to be contradicting itself, which is why the JST adds a negative to the last clause, “thou art not dead.” This is a reaction to a KJV translation error. The conjunction kai most commonly means “and,” as the KJV takes it in this passage, but here kai has contrasting force and needs to be rendered “but” (as correctly rendered for instance in the NET).

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

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On the JST of Revelation 1-2

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF REVELATION 1-2

Kevin Barney

1. Revelation 1:1

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which John, a servant of God gave which was given unto him of Jesus Christ, to shew show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and that he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

    The genitive in “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” is famously ambiguous. It could be an objective genitive (“the revelation about Jesus Christ”), a subjective genitive (“the revelation from Jesus Christ”), or both, sometimes called a general or plenary genitive (“the revelation from Jesus Christ about himself”). But note that these opening words seemed to have served the function of a title for the book anciently; the first Greek word of the text is Apokalupsis, whence we get English Revelation (or Apocalypse). And typically, in the expression [Title] of X, X is the (human) author of the book, which in this case would be John. Compare the Gospels, which were originally considered a single “Gospel” (according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John), then a fourfold “Gospel,” until eventually each text was itself considered a “Gospel.” We refer to these books today as the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of John (as the human authors of those works). So the JST is reflecting that same style here, making Revelation the title of the book (as indeed reflected on the KJV title page just above verse 1, “Revelation of John”) and making the following name that of the human author, John, and not the subject/object, Jesus Christ. The other changes in the verse accommodate this foundational change, such as clarifying that the revelation was given to John by Jesus Christ (thus suggesting a subjective genitive). About a half-dozen manuscripts give the opening line in a way similar to the JST with “an apocalypse of John of the divine word” (see J. Massyngberde Ford, Revelation, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1975), 373.

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

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On the JST of 1 John and Jude

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF 1 JOHN AND JUDE

Kevin Barney

1. 1 John 1:1

Brethren, this is the testimony which we give of that That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

    1 John 1 begins with a long sentence traversing verses 1-3, with verse 2 being a lengthy parenthesis. The main clause (“declare we unto you”) does not appear until verse 3.  So the JST paraphrases that main clause at the beginning of verse 1 to give the reader a fighting chance of being able to follow the train of thought in these opening verses.

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

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On the JST of 2 Peter

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF 2 PETER

Kevin Barney

1. 2 Peter 1:19

We have also therefore a more sure knowledge of the word of prophecy; whereunto to which word of prophecy ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that which shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

    The verse begins with the Greek conjunction kai (rendered “also” in the KJV), which can be taken as continuative (NET and several other translations have “moreover,” CEB has “in addition”). The JST uses the adverb “therefore” (meaning “in consequence of that”) in a similar way to explain that the source of this sure knowledge of prophecy was a result of what was described in the immediately preceding verse (v. 18): “And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” Peter himself was a witness to this.  ISV similarly uses the word “therefore” here. “More sure” is a translation of bebaioteron, comparative of the adjective bebaios, meaning “reliable, firm, well-founded, confirmed, verified.” The JST reasonably characterizes what has been so strongly confirmed as “knowledge.” “Whereunto” is simplified to “to which” and the antecedent (the “word of prophecy”) is restated to be explicit and avoid confusion. 

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

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On the JST of 1 Peter

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF 1 PETER

Kevin Barney

1. 1 Peter 1:9

Receiving the end object of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

    It is true that the basic meaning of the Greek word telos is “end” as it is rendered in the KJV. Most fundamentally, the word means “end” in the sense of termination or cessation, which would seem to make Peter suggesting that one’s faith would go out of existence entirely. But the word can also mean, as it is intended here, a goal towards which movement is directed, a desired outcome. JST “object” is a suitable rendering of telos that avoids the misunderstanding that comes from using a too literal “end.” The NET has “because you are attaining the goal of your faith—the salvation of your souls.” Most modern translations avoid the word “end” and speak in term s of attaining the outcome or goal of one’s faith.

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

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On the JST of James

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF JAMES

Kevin Barney

1. James 1:2

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations many afflictions;

    The Greek word peirasmos “testing” (rendered here as “temptations” in the KJV) can mean either a trial from without or a temptation from within. Smith takes it in the former sense, “many afflictions” where the Greek literally and similarly says “various trials.” Many modern translations have something like the NIV “trials of many kinds.” 

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

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On the JST of Hebrws 10-13

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH[‘S REVISION OF HEBREWS 10-13

Kevin Barney

1. Hebrews 10:1

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered continually year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

    The Law contains a foreshadowing of the true Atonement, but not “the very image” (like a statue). “Year by year continually” seems to suggest that the author is speaking specifically of the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement, which occurred but once per year. But the author of Hebrews is grouping all the sacrifices together, not specifying annual sacrifices only. Moving the adverb “continually” from following “year by year” to preceding it makes this clearer. Many modern translations do the same.

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

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