Readers of the Book of Mormon are aware that that volume contains
extended verbatim quotations from the King James Version of the
Bible, which strikes some readers as odd given that the Book of
Mormon is purported to be a translation from the 'Reformed
Egyptian.' Be that as it may, the forgetful Joseph sometimes
'corrects' verses he has already recycled into the Book of Mormon,
for example Matthew 5:43 which comes out:
"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with
him a mile; and whosoever shall compel thee to go with him twain,
thou shalt go with him twain." (Matthew 5:43 Joseph Smith
This instruction is clear enough; you are to do exactly what the Roman soldier commands
you to do, no more and no less. Except that is not what Matthew reported:
"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."
The KJV here tracks with the Greek. . .and the Book of Mormon quotes the KJV:
"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with
him twain." (3 Nephi 12:41).
If the correct version says, "go with him a mile," why isn't it
that way in the Book of Mormon? Many of the changes are theologically motivated. The Muslims did something similar to Joseph's
strategy of producing his own Bible. When Christians confuted the
Muslims who claimed to be following Jesus, from the same New
Testament the Muslims claimed testified to Mohammed, the Muslims produced the
Gospel of Barnabas, a medieval work which treats the subject from their perspective.
Joseph especially dislikes anything that he thinks smacks of Calvinism:
"And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
(Acts 13:48 KJV).
"And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and
glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as believed were
ordained unto eternal life." (Acts 13:48 Joseph Smith Translation).
The Song of Solomon is missing from Joseph's Improved Version, which
is a shame because I was hoping to see if the racist Joseph changed "I
am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem" (Song 1:5) into 'I am
white and delightsome.' Joseph took it upon himself to remove this book,
acknowledged as scripture by both church and synagogue, from the canon,
whether for racist motives or other motives is not stated in my sources.
There are numerous verses left untouched which are
obvious candidates for 'correction,' such as,
"For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor
are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."
"For when they shall rise from the
dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as
the angels which are in heaven" (Mark 12:25).
"But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.
. ." (Luke 20:35).
Elsewhere the suggestion is made that these non-marrying angels are
being punished: "For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they
cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without
exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from
henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever. [D&C
132:16–17]" (quoted in 'The Seven Deadly Heresies, by Bruce R. McConkie,
June 1, 1980). There is no suggestion either in the original Bible text
or in Joseph's version that these angels are law-breakers or are being
punished for anything; presumably Joseph had not yet developed his ideas
on celestial marriage.
Nor does he make Paul into a married man, though he could as easily
make this 'correction' as all the rest. He does, however, limit Paul's
instructions on marriage to the clergy: "But I speak unto you who are
called unto the ministry. For this I say, brethren, the time that
remaineth is but short, that ye shall be sent forth unto the ministry.
Even they who have wives, shall be as though they had none; for ye are
called and chosen to do the Lord's work." (1 Corinthians 7:29), with no
Biblical warrant. For one random example, he does
not like the idea of a witch receiving the death penalty, "Thou shalt
not suffer a witch to live." (Exodus 22:18 KJV), becomes "Thou shalt not
suffer a murderer to live." (Exodus 22:18 Joseph Smith translation). One passage gets turned violently inside-out:
"For we know that the commandment is spiritual; but when
I was under the law, I was yet carnal, sold under sin. But now I am
spiritual; for that which I am commanded to do, I do; and that which
I am commanded not to allow, I allow not. For what I know is not
right, I would not do; for that which is sin, I hate. If then I do
not that which I would not allow, I consent unto the law, that it is
good; and I am not condemned. Now then, it is no more I that do
sin; but I seek to subdue that sin which dwelleth in me. For I
know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for
to will is present with me, but to perform that which is good I find
not, only in Christ. For the good that I would have done when
under the law, I find not to be good; therefore, I do it not. But
the evil which I would not do under the law, I find to be good;
that, I do. Now if I do that, through the assistance of Christ, I
would not do under the law, I am not under the law; and it is no
more that I seek to do wrong, but to subdue sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then that under the law, that when I would do good evil was
present with me; for I delight in the law of God after the inward
man. And now I see another law, even the commandment of
Christ, and it is imprinted in my mind. But my members are warring
against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the
law of sin which is in my members. And if I subdue not the sin which
is in me, but with the flesh serve the law of sin; O wretched man
that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I
thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, then, that so with the mind
I myself serve the law of God." (Romans 7:14-26).
One senses behind these involutions a long history of ending up on the losing side of
the argument with the local pastor. If you must change the Bible to make it
conform to the understanding of your side, then this is a concession
that your side has lost the debate.
Melchizedek comes in for considerable expansion: "For this
Melchizedek was ordained a priest after the order of the Son of God,
which order was without father, without mother, without descent,
having neither beginning of days, nor end of life. And all those who
are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God,
abiding a priest continually." (Hebrews 7:3 Joseph Smith
Translation); "And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order;
therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of
peace. And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven,
and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken,
separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter
days, or the end of the world. . .And this Melchizedek, having thus
established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his
people, or, in other words, the King of peace." (Genesis 14:33-37
Joseph Smith Translation). Adam also must needs be a prophet: "And
then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord; and the Lord
blessed them; and a book of remembrance was kept in the which was
recorded in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as
called upon God, to write by the Spirit of inspiration; And by them
their children were taught to read and write, having a language
which was pure and undefiled. Now this same priesthood which was in
the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also. Now this
prophecy Adam spake, as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost."
(Genesis 6:5-8 Joseph Smith Translation).