In the passage above Joseph has made the same decisions as the KJV translators,
even arguable ones like rendering 'YHWH' as "Lord." Yet when
he prepared his inspired Bible translation, he did not copy the KJV word
for word. He felt free to insert his own improvisations; the Mormons do not believe, as some people do today,
that the King James is an inspired translation. Nor do the Mormons
consider the KJV above criticism; 1 Corinthians 7:7 in the KJV says
that Paul was not married, but they say that he was:
"Paul himself was married. Of this there is no question.
. .It may well be that his expressions on marriage, as found in the
King James Version of the Bible (1 Cor. 7), have come to us in
changed and perverted form, as compared to what he originally
wrote." (Bruce R. McConkie, 'Mormon Doctrine,' p. 119).
Although the Mormons consider the King James English translation
to be flawed, this is evidently the form of the Bible in the hands of
the New World prophets, who quote from it verbatim. Joseph is totally
dependent upon it. There is another extended excerpt from Isaiah in 2 Nephi. There are
small differences of punctuation and wording as might be expected in a
dictated text: "And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of
stumbling, and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for
a gin and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." (Book of Mormon,
2 Nephi 18:14, Isaiah 8:14). The confusion between the 'Sun of
righteousness' and the 'Son of righteousness' is easily understood if
Joseph was reading aloud from his copy of the King James Bible: "But
unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with
healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in
the stall." (3 Nephi 25:2). This is a near quote of Malachi 4:2: "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise
with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as
calves of the stall." The Hebrew words for 'sun' and 'son,' 'shemesh'
and 'ben,' are nothing similar, but the English words are homonyms.
It is easy to understand this word-for-word correspondence if Joseph is
reading from a copy of the Bible he has in front of him. But this is not
what he said he was doing. It requires a great deal of faith for Mormon
commentators to avoid noticing what is going on before their faces:
"Both Paul and Mormon wrote of charity in similar language. Either
they both had the same words of some earlier prophet before them or
the Holy Ghost revealed the same truths to them in almost the same
words." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 122). The "same
words" as what? As a Bible translation that would not be undertaken
for centuries? Into the language of a far-off people which scarcely yet even resembled its
mature Elizabethan form?
Joseph's further exploits after 'translating' the Book of
Mormon included 'translating' the Bible. The fact that the
King James English version, not the original text, remained his
touchstone is illumined by the lesson he took from Revelation 1:6,
"God and his Father:"
"The Prophet also taught — in explaining John's
statement, 'And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his
Father' (Rev. 1:6)— that there is 'a god above the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ. . .If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John
discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may
suppose that he had a Father also. Where was there ever a son
without a father? And where was there ever a father without first
being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence
without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. . .Hence if
Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that he had a Father also?'
(Teachings, pp. 370-373.)" (quoted in Bruce R. McConkie, 'Mormon Doctrine,' p.
Notice that Joseph is reading 'God and His Father' to mean 'God
and God's Father'! To conclude from Revelation 1:6 that God the Father Himself had a
Father, as Joseph does here, is conceivable from the Authorized
Version, not from the Greek, which reads: "τω θεω και πατρι αυτου,"
'to God even His Father.' "God and his Father — There is but one
article to both in the Greek, therefore it means, 'Unto Him who is
at once God and His Father.'" (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary).
If both 'God' and 'Father' had their own article, Joseph's
understanding would be possible, not otherwise. We see here a 'translator' trapped within a prior translation, who
has no means of access to the original.
What makes it all the stranger is that Joseph himself 'corrected' this very
'and' in his 'Inspired Version,' which reads at Revelation 1:6:
"And unto him who loved us, be glory; who washed us from
our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto
God, his Father. To him be glory and dominion, forever and ever.
Amen." (Revelation 1:6, Joseph Smith Inspired Version).
Evidently Joseph forgot his own 'inspired' translation. Joseph's
views were in rapid transition during this period, evolving from
monotheism to polytheism; because the 'Inspired Version' is still
rooted in monotheism, it is something of an embarrassment to the
Salt Lake City Mormon Church.