This volume is a massive, thorough, and thoroughly engrossing look into the mind of Joseph Smith and the evolution of his translation of the Bible.
Joseph Smith’s “corrections” to the canonical text were not a matter of retranslating ancient manuscripts. Instead, they arose from Joseph’s claims to a place in the prophetic line of authority. However readers appreciate the origin, nature, and value of the Joseph Smith Translation, this current study adds a new dimension to the understanding of both the revision and the reviser.
The bulk of this work constitutes a page-by-page reproduction of the work done by Joseph Smith and his scribes. We are also given glimpses into Joseph’s own copy of the Bible, showing the notation system he used in preparation for the revision. It shows the work of an ordered and determined individual, one who took his task very seriously.
Several introductory chapters enhance the study and provide necessary, helpful information: “Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible” provides a bird’s-eye view of the work. A brief history of the translation, along with a discussion of the types of changes made by the Prophet, helps in understanding the larger work. Also included is a brief note on how the translation has been used in the LDS Church. “The New Translation and Latter-day Saint Doctrine” discusses the impact of the work on the development of doctrine in the LDS Church. “The New Translation Materials Since 1844,” written by a scholar from the RLDS (Community of Christ) tradition, is a fascinating look at the ownership, publication, and use of the materials outside the LDS tradition, and the eventual permission given to the Utah church to utilize the work. The “Scribes” chapter identifies the men and women responsible for the transcription of the Joseph Smith translation. “Transcription Methods” discusses the awesome responsibility that confronted the editors of the present volume in transcribing the manuscripts. “The Sequence of the New Translation” presents, in table form, a chronological view of the translation. It reconstructs, as carefully as the record permits, the date, scripture reference, name of the scribe and where the translation was done. Scholars of the LDS scriptural tradition will find a gold mine of information and insight in this book.