On the JST of 1 and 2 Thesselonians

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF 1 THESSALONIANS

Kevin Barney

1. 1 Thessalonians 1:1

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, servants of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, unto the church of the Thessalonians; which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    This modification was spurred in part by the italics, but the main driver of the revision is the word “in,”; i.e., that the church at Thessalonica was somehow “in God.” Note that, apart from deleting italicized words and moving some text, the main result of this revision is to delete (and thus avoid) the preposition “in.” Saying the church is “in God” is an obscure statement; what does it mean? The exact phrase is found only here and in 2 Thessalonians 1:1. “In God” (en theo) is unusual for Paul, and may be analogous to “in Christ,” but “in God” (in the sense of the church being or existing in God) is not normal Pauline usage. It is possible that the preposition should be read in an instrumental sense; i.e., “the assembly of the Thessalonians brought into being by God.” For discussion, see the Anchor Bible volume, Abraham J. Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 99. The vast majority of modern translations follow the KJV and render Greek en literally with its English cognate, “in,” thus giving the reader little help in understanding the expression. A number of modern translations render en “in union with” or “united” or “the people of” or “belonging to,” which are plausible suggestions. See CJB, CEV, GW, GNT, ISV, TLB, MSG, NIRV, NLV, NLT, and VOICE. 

    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 Philippians and Colossians

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF PHILIPPIANS

Kevin Barney

1. Philippians 1:4

Always in every prayer of mine, for the steadfastness of you all, making request with joy,

    The KJV is ambiguous in the second half of the verse as to who is doing the praying. Does “for you all making request with joy” refer to a prayer Paul is making or a prayer the people themselves are making? In the English of the KJV it is not clear. The JST adds commas to clarify that this is Paul’s prayer on behalf of the people. Further, is Paul’s prayer one of petition or thanksgiving? The JST suggests it is both. Adding “the steadfastness of” makes it clear this is a prayer of thanks for the people and all the good they have done, while “making request” are words of Paul’s petition on their behalf. Note how the AMPC expresses this more clearly than the KJV: “In every prayer of mine I always make my entreaty and petition for you all with joy (delight).” (Emphasis in original.)

Paradigm Classification A-1 (Paraphrase of KJV Text)

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and his sword is bathed in heaven

Yesterday I got some sort of a reminder, I think on Facebook, that this Sunday begins the new D&C curriculum year, so I thought I would read the assigned text, which is D&C 1. So I’m reading along and I come to verse 13: “And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.” And I was struck by the expression “his sword is bathed in heaven”; what the heck is that supposed to mean?

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On the JST of Ephesians

In honor of Joseph Smith’s birthday, I thought I would post another installment in my recent attempt to write commentaries on the JST revisions to some of the New Testament epistles. I hope you enjoy this installment, and Merry Christmas!

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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.

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On the JST of 2 Corinthians

This summer I published a commentary on the JST of 1 Corinthians in Dialogue. (For a link and background to the project search the blog for My New JST Article.) That was a lot of fun, so I decided to follow it up here on the blog with a commentary on the JST of 2 Corinthians. It was a lot of work for a blog post, but 2 Corinthians is a shorter book and only has a third of the JST revisions as 1 Corinthians has, so that made it more manageable. Also, I didn’t need to repeat the background and the explanation of my paradigm of JST revisions since those are available in the print article. There are 23 verses in 2 Corinthians that are modified in the JST and only six of them are included in the 1979/2013 LDS Bible footnotes, so most of these changes are ones you have never seen before. I checked these against the Adam Clarke Commentary and didn’t see any influence from that source; I didn’t bother to check Campbell, Wesley or Coverdale, as I’m highly confident there is no secondary source influence on any of these particular revisions. I had fun pulling this together, so I hope you enjoy it.

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Baptized for the Dead

Several years ago I was invited to contribute to a Festschrift in honor of Jack Welch. I have long admired Jack and so was happy to do so. My contribution was titled “Baptized for the Dead.” It was part of an academic collection titled “To Seek the Law of the Lord,” and I assumed it would have only a niche academic readership. But I recently sort of stumbled on the fact that the publisher had put my contribution on line, which you may now read here: https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/baptized-for-the-dead/

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Wash or Bathe?

What the JST does in the first part of John 13:10 caught my attention. So at the beginning of the chapter after supper Jesus goes around and starts to wash the feet of his disciples. He comes to Peter who basically says “what the…you’re gonna wash my feet?” To which Jesus replies “Yeah, you won’t understand now but it will make sense later.” Peter replies “You shall never wash my feet!”, because Jesus is his master and the master doesn’t serve the servant in this way. It’s a humble task, possibly even demeaning. Jesus says “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”

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My New JST Article

Kevin L. Barney, “A Commentary on Joseph Smith’s Revision of First Corinthians,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 53, no. 2 (Summer 2020): 57-105 here.

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A Footnote to the Extermination Order

Missouri Executive Order 44, commonly known as the Mormon Extermination Order, includes this text: “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace–their outrages are beyond all description.” The Order was rescinded in 1976, but prior to that time it was common for Mormons to wryly observe that it was legal for Missourians to kill Mormons on the street. Was that really true? Uh, no.

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The KJV in the BoM

Review of Royal Skousen, The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon, Part Five: The King James Quotations in the Book of Mormon (Provo, Utah: The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies and Brigham Young University Studies, 2019).

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On Translating 1 Nephi 1:1 into Hebrew

Some years ago my friend Bryan Buchanan discovered a treasure in the Brigham Young office files. In January of 1846 an otherwise unknown man named Bernard Gadol sent Brigham Young unsolicited a translation of the first chapter of the Book of Mormon (equaling 1 Nephi 1:1 – 1 Nephi 5:22 in modern editions) into Hebrew. He offered to do more such translations into Hebrew, German and French in exchange for a team to take him with the Church into the wilderness. At the time Young was (as my first managing partner used to say) “up to his ass in alligators” and never responded. Absolutely nothing further is known of Gadol (although if Ardis sees this and takes it as a challenge, I won’t try to stop her from looking). His request might suggest he was a member, but he does not appear in early membership records.

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or caused it to be divided

Genesis 1:4 reads as follows: “4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
The parallel passage in Abraham 4:4 reads: “4 And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.” The parenthetical  “or caused it to be divided” is fascinating, as we can be fairly certain that these words derive from an academic source.

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The Seventy

My wife and I have been holed up in our house for a week and a half now, so she decided we should clean the pantry. My first job was to clean out an old file cabinet. The first thing I happened to pull out was an old manuscript of a Note or Comment  from 1986 intended for publication in Dialogue. I had no recollection of this piece whatsoever. The manuscript was in a Dialogue envelope with a letter from Lavina that seems to indicate it had been accepted for publication, but it never appeared. I’m guessing there arose an editor that knew not Joseph. Normally I wouldn’t want anything I wrote 25 years ago to see the light of day, but I read it over and decided I wasn’t ashamed of it, so I figured I would give it a belated publication here on the blog.

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Though I Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

I’ve been practicing law in the City of Chicago since I graduated from law school in 1985 (almost 35 years now). Today I experienced the City in a completely new way. [Read more…]

Old Timey Food Storage

In the wake of the Coronavirus, a lot of Mormons have been a bit smug about our prophetic direction to store food for emergencies. But I’m here to tell you, hardly anyone does food storage anymore the way we used to do food storage. [Read more…]

Live Long and Prosper

Sam’s recent (and excellent) post on the Coronavirus and the sacrament inspired me to send the following text to my Bishop:

At work I’ve been getting a lot of COVID-19 material (employment law effects, securities law disclosure, etc.), which led to a random thought. Young men aren’t generally known for their excellent hygiene. Parishioners need to have a high level of confidence that anyone preparing or passing the sacrament has washed his hands vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It might be worth it to make sure that the young men understand this and are committed to it.

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2 Nephi 12

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the JST, but in this BoM year the thought occurred to me that I’ve never really spent much time looking at how the BOM modifies biblical quotation text. So to dip my toes in this I copied Isaiah 2 into a Word document, made a new version, then copied in 2 Nephi 12, and then ran a comparison. I found the results interesting, so thought I’d share just a few examples of what I found here. Deletions will be italicized, additions in bold. [Read more…]

Author-Attributed Manuals

For virtually my entire life, Church manuals have been anonymously written, produced by committees, reviewed extensively by the correlation process, and churned out for various church classes.  In 1980, I think it was, John Sorenson called me to my first post-mission calling, as Elders’ Quorum Instructor. That manual was just such a nameless production. I remember that John told me it was a “personal study guide,” and that I should not follow it slavishly but do more in our classes. Every manual I’ve used in the Church since that time has been similar: nameless and highly correlated. I think we may have used an author-attributed book for the church history year of seminary, which would have been some time between 1972 and 1976, but for me personally that was it.

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My Christmas Traditions

On this Christmas Eve I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you a bit about the Christmas holiday traditions I have developed over the years with the hope it will inspire you to share your traditions with us as well. [Read more…]

The Christ Child

The Church has just put out a new video on its You Tube Channel: The Christ Child: A Nativity Story #LightTheWorld, available here . On Facebook Daniel McClellan had high praise for it, so I thought I would check it out.

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HB 1 16:13

In April of this year the First Presidency repealed the captioned Handbook policy, commonly referred to by many members as the “Policy of Exclusion” (or the “PoX” for short). This was an absolutely stunning development. The Church is not in the habit of overturning policies buttressed with claims of capital R Revelation within four short years of promulgation. The Church hates to be put in the position of appearing fallible in some sense, even though our leaders are human beings and therefore our leadership is by very definition fallible. I give the Church a major fist bump for this action. Sure, it would have been better not to have promulgated the policy in the first place, and yes, i’m sure it wasn’t easy, but it was very much the right thing to do.

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Seeing Jesus as a Jew

Review of Trevan G. Hatch, A Stranger in Jerusalem: Seeing Jesus as a Jew (Eugene, Oregon: WIPF & Stock, 2019) [Read more…]

JWHA 2019 New York

I just returned from the annual JWHA Conference. In the past I would live blog these things, but that has just gotten too hard, so this will simply be some retrospective comments, nothing in real time and all from memory without contemporary notes.\ [Read more…]

Parsing the Word of Wisdom

In light of the recent Church announcement regarding the Word of Wisdom, I’m seeing a lot of chatter on Facebook where people are trying to figure out how the text of the revelation actually relates to our current interpretation and practice. So I thought it might be worthwhile to set out the text of the revelation (omitting the beginning and ending that do not contain specific prohibitions) and give you my take on them, and give you an opportunity to add your own commentary. [Read more…]

The JST and the Adam Clarke Commentary

Two and a half years ago on March 16, 2017, Haley Wilson and her mentor for this research, Thomas Wayment, published “A Recently Recovered Source: Rethinking Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation,” in BYU’s Journal of Undergraduate Research, available here. This is not the research itself, but rather a precis; the actual research paper is still forthcoming. This is an exciting development, and I for one am looking forward to it eagerly. [Read more…]

FSY Conferences Are Coming to Town

Yesterday the Priesthood and Family Department of the Church distributed a Notice to the effect that the Church is going to start holding FSY (“For the Strength of Youth”) Conferences in the United States and Canada. Apparently this is already a thing internationally; they are just bringing the program to the domestic market. The FSY Conferences will be modeled after the EFY (“Especially for Youth”) Conferences that have long been a fixture on the BYU campus. [Read more…]

Country Work

So I cracked open the latest BYU Studies Quarterly 58/2 (2019) and read the first article, Reid L. Neilson and Carson V. Teuscher, “Pilgrimage to Palmyra: President B.H. Roberts and the Eastern States Mission’s 1923 Commemoration of Cumorah.” B.H. Roberts was the President of the Eastern States Mission, and September 1923 was going to be the 100-ywar anniversary of Moroni’s appearance to Joseph Smith on the Hill Cumorah, and Roberts wanted to hold a big event to celebrate that milestone (which would be attended by the Church President and several Apostles). As part of the spiritual preparation, Roberts instituted a season of “country work” that summer for the missionaries. “Country work” or “country tracting” is a Mormon expression for having the missionaries leave the cities and towns in which they are stationed, walk out into the countryside, and rely on the kindness of strangers for food and lodging. This is the Mormon version of preaching the Gospel “without purse or scrip.” I find this old practice really interesting and so resolved to blog a bit about it. [Read more…]

Becoming the Beloved Disciple

Eric Huntsman is working on the Gospel of John volume of the BYU New Testament Commentary. When it appears, it no doubt will be three inches thick, weigh several pounds, and be substantial enough to serve as a door stop if need be. But as an appetizer to that forthcoming tome, Eric has recently published a slighter, less intimidating volume at 155 pages, which is more of a devotional overview of the Gospel, titled Becoming the Beloved Disciple: Coming unto Christ through the Gospel of John, published by Cedar Fort, of which this blog post is a review. [Read more…]

Lesson 26: “He Is Risen.” Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21 #BCCSundaySchool2019

This is my first crack at one of these Gospel Doctrine lessons, and at first I didn’t have a good sense as to how to approach it. I began by reading the scriptural selections. Then I read the Come Follow Me manual, and I’m sorry, but there’s just not much there. My next thought was to focus on the differences  among the accounts, which would require the creation of a Taylor-siblings-style really big chart, which could be fun. But that seemed like it was going to develop way more material than would fit in a blog post (and it also seemed like way too much work). So finally I decided to focus on Mark 16:1-8. Part of the reason is to try to model  how there is a virtue to focusing on a single Gospel at a time in lieu of always pursuing the harmonization project. Also, this is the earliest resurrection account that we have. And finally, it seemed an opportunity to intrract with Julie’s Mark commentary. [1] So that is the plan. [Read more…]