Joseph Smith’s Cooperstown Bible: The Historical Context of the Bible Used in the Joseph Smith Translation

In 1828, the H. and E. Phinney Company in Cooperstown, New York, published a quarto-size edition of the King James Bible. This is the version that Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, used in his work when he created a new translation of the Bible. Here the author examines Joseph Smith’s marked-up copy of the Phinney Bible as an artifact important to Mormonism—some of Smith’s corrections and additions appear in footnotes of the Bible that Mormons use today. The author notes that the Phinney Bible’s updated language is more modern than the version of the Bible Latter-day Saints officially use (the King James), and the modernization may or may not have influenced Joseph Smith’s word choice in creating his translation. The author also gives biographical information on the Phinneys, describes how their Bible may have made its way into Joseph Smith’s hands, briefly traces the history of the English Bible in America, and describes the printing process employed by the Phinneys.

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