Bible | BYU Studies


New Testament Renditions: The Epistle to the Hebrews: A New Rendition

Author Michael D. Rhodes, Author Richard D. Draper,
The rendering of the Greek text of the Epistle to the Hebrews into modern English presents a flowing and easily understood translation of one of the most beautiful biblical studies of the nature and ministry of Christ. The English rendering comes from an extensive and excellent Commentary entitled The Epistle to the Hebrews by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes forthcoming in 2019. This... Read more

New Testament Renditions: The Epistle to the Ephesians: A New Rendition

Author Philip Abbot,
The New Rendition of the epistle to the Ephesians provides a modern English translation of the letter’s Greek text. It is excerpted from the forthcoming volume on Ephesians by S. Kent Brown. This Rendition was created by Philip Abbot. The matchless, quiet Epistle to the Ephesians allows glimpses into the tides of Christian life in Asia Minor, modern western Turkey. More than this, from this... Read more

New Testament Renditions: Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians: A New Rendition

Author Richard D. Draper, Author Michael D. Rhodes,
The New Rendition of the book First Corinthians provides a modern English translation of the Greek text while remaining true to Paul’s intent. This translation is excerpted from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes. This new version clarifies many previously vague or misunderstood passages and enlightens the text for today’s readers. This epistle is... Read more

New Testament Renditions: The Testimony of Luke: A New Rendition

Author Eric D. Huntsman, Author S. Kent Brown,
The New Rendition of the Gospel of Luke provides a modern English translation of Luke’s Greek text. It is excerpted from The Testimony of Luke by S. Kent Brown. This Rendition was created mainly by Eric D. Huntsman. Luke lays claim to writing more than any other New Testament author. With his Gospel and Book of Acts, this second-generation Christian’s portrait of the world out of which Jesus and... Read more

New Testament Renditions: The Gospel according to Mark: A New Rendition

Author Julie M. Smith,
The New Rendition of the Gospel of Mark provides a modern English translation of Mark’s earliest known Greek texts. It is excerpted from The Gospel according to Mark by Julie M. Smith. There is no such thing as perfect translation, even theoretically. This Rendition reflects Julie Smith’s deliberate choice to translate as literally as possible in order to aid the reader in appreciating the... Read more

New Testament Renditions: The Revelation of John the Apostle: A New Rendition

Author Michael D. Rhodes, Author Richard D. Draper,
The New Rendition of the book of Revelation provides a modern English translation of the Greek text while remaining true to the Apostle John’s intent. This translation is excerpted from The Revelation of John the Apostle by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes. The text of Revelation in the King James Version seems oblique and in some cases inexplicable, but this New Rendition clarifies many... Read more

New Testament Commentary: The Gospel According to Mark

The Gospel of Mark is an undiscovered gem, hiding in plain sight. Mark’s story—at least from the vantage point of a twenty-first-century audience—is virtually unknown. Following broader trends in Christian history, Latter-day Saints have focused on the other Gospels. Mark’s Gospel gets very little attention and, when it does, it is usually read through the lenses of the other Gospels, with the... Read more

LDS Views on the Old Testament and Apocrypha

Editor BYU Studies,
This compilation of articles exploring topics related to the Old Testament is selected from over fifty years of LDS scholarship published by BYU Studies. This volume features articles on the Hebrew Bible at the end of the first century, the prophetic commission of Enoch, Joseph as a type of Christ, Moses typology in the Book of Mormon, the Book of Enoch, the Ezekiel Mural at Dura Europos, Psalm... Read more

A Study of the Text of Joseph Smith's Inspired Version of the Bible

This article examines the Inspired Version of the Bible translated by Joseph Smith, the first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Matthews compares Joseph's Inspired Version with the Bernhisel Manuscript, which has never been published. He also illustrates how Joseph Smith's revision of the Bible was significant to the establishment of the church. Read more

New Directions in the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls

In 1947 the first manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the cliffs of the Jordan Rift. In 1962 the latest discovery of documents from the Rift came to light, the Samaria legal papyri of the fourth century B.C.E. In the interval, manuscripts and papyri were found in addition caves and ruins. Most recently of all, manuscripts have been dug up from the ruins of the diamond-shaped... Read more

The Lost Commandments: The Sacred Rites of Hospitality

Hospitality refers to the relationship between a host and a guest. It is a sacred duty that demonstrates how the host and guest should treat each other; people in both roles have certain reciprocal responsibilities. The setting is also important. In most cases, hospitality takes place in the host's dwelling; the host offers his home as a haven. However, hospitality is much more than an evening... Read more

The King James Bible in America: Pilgrim, Prophet, President, Preacher

John S. Tanner, BYU academic vice president (2004-2011), says the influence the King James Bible on American culture and history is like the air we breathe. This paper, given in 2011 at Oxford University, illustrates this influence by examining the central role the King James Bible played in the lives of a Pilgrim, John Winthrop; a prophet, Joseph Smith; a president, Abraham Lincoln; and a... Read more

The Israelite Background of Moses Typology in the Book of Mormon

Nephi tells the story of the founding events of the Nephite people in such a way that his readers will see him as a second Moses. Although Nephi's use of the Moses typology has been previously noted, what has not been noticed before is that his father, Lehi, also employs this same typology in his farewell address in 2 Nephi 1-4 in order to persuade his descendants of his own divine calling and of... Read more

Dating the Birth of Christ

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has taken no official position on the exact date of Christ's birth. In his 1915 classic Jesus the Christ , Elder James E. Talmage maintained that Jesus Christ was born on April 6 in the year 1 BC. Talmage was apparently the first LDS writer to propose this particular date. Nearly a century has passed since his book appeared, and in that time it has... Read more

Understanding Christian Baptism through the Book of Mormon

Early Christianity saw a wide proliferation of theories and practices concerning baptism, and now many Christians, including Mormons, commonly understand it as a means to repent and wash away one's sins. But the Book of Mormon prophets taught that baptism is a covenant and a witnessing to God that one has already repented and commits to follow Jesus Christ, and that sins are remitted by the Holy... Read more

The Ezekiel Mural at Dura Europos: A Witness of Ancient Jewish Mysteries?

One of the most stunning archaeological finds of the last century was the accidental discovery in 1920 of the ruins of Dura Europos, "a frontier town of very mixed population and traditions" located on a cliff ninety meters above the Euphrates River in what is now Syria. This Helenistic city had been abandoned following a Sassanian siege in AD 256–57 and was eventually buried by the shifting... Read more

"In the Land of the Chaldeans": The Search for Abraham's Homeland Revisited

Readers of the Bible discover that Abraham was the son of a certain Terah and claimed "Ur of the Chaldeans" as his home (Gen. 11:28). Many scholars identify modern Tell el-Muqayyar in southern Iraq as Abraham's Ur. Stephen Smoot first looks at what Genesis says about Abraham and his sojourns throughout Mesopotamia and Syria. He provides a brief history of the excavation of Tell el-Muqayyar and... Read more

Birth and Calling of the Prophet Samuel: A Literary Reading of the Biblical Text

Samuel is rightly considered to be one of the preeminent personalities of the Hebrew Bible, and his remarkable ministry makes the brief narrative of his birth, childhood, and divine calling worthy of serious examination. Steven Olsen argues that the literary craftsmanship of the text is as expressive of its meaning as are its descriptive contents. He focuses on several recurrent literary... Read more

The Temple According to 1 Enoch

During the Second Temple period (516 BCE to 70 CE), most Jews in Jerusalem worshipped at the Jerusalem temple. But a separate community at Qumran decried the lack of ritual purity in the activity at the Second Temple and saw their community as an ersatz for the temple. Literature at Qumran included 1 Enoch, a collection of five tractates composed in the Aramaic language between the fourth century... Read more

Mormons and Midrash: On the Composition of Expansive Interpretation in Genesis Rabbah and the Book of Moses

Different groups and religious traditions create different genres of interpretation to work with and understand their scriptures according to the needs of their traditions. One form of interpretation involves reopening the Bible and expanding on the narrative of the already canonized text, such as is found in the rabbinic genre of midrash and in Joseph Smith's New Translation (JST) of the Bible... Read more

Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an Entire Community Ascend to Heaven?

One of the most significant additions to the Book of Genesis in Joseph Smith's inspired translation of the Bible is to the story of the prophet Enoch, who the biblical record briefly implies was taken up into heaven alive. In Joseph Smith's rendering of the story, however, not only Enoch, as an individual, ascends into heaven, but also his entire community. This article explores the notion of... Read more

Bowels of Mercy

Although perhaps too earthy for squeamish readers, the idea of the "bowels of mercy" is found frequently in the scriptures, reflecting ancient views about human emotions and offering powerful insights about divine compassion. The scriptures often come to us like messages in a bottle, blown from distant times and places. They bring with them modes of expression that can sometimes be mysterious for... Read more

Joseph as a Type of Christ in Syriac Literature

Kept among the marvelous manuscript treasure of the British Library is a fifth-century Syriac manuscript containing details of the lectionary readings, or Old and New Testament passages for religious services. Prominently featured among the Old Testament readings prescribed for Easter are the account of the binding of Isaac and excerpts from the story of Joseph. The story of binding Isaac is... Read more

Violence and the Gospel: The Teachings of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Book of Mormon

This is a study of religious teachings on force and war as they apply in the nuclear age. In particular, Old Testament prophetic teachings are examined, as distinguished from Israel's experience in the conquest of Canaan through the Davidic monarchy, teachings of Jesus on force and violence; and Book of Mormon teachings on force and war. These teachings may be more important now than ever. All of... Read more

Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism

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A Narrative Approach to the Joseph Smith Translation of the Synoptic Gospels

One of the first projects Joseph Smith undertook after the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a translation of the Bible. While it is called a "translation," Joseph did not work from original Greek or Hebrew manuscripts, and what he did was more to clarify the text. Some of the changes greatly modify the original narrative through altering and adding to the... Read more

King Herod

Herod visited Masada, a Hasmonean mountain stronghold situated near the Dead Sea, on at least two occasions before he began his remarkable career as king of the Jews. Popularly known today as Herod the Great, Herod eventually became connected with this site when he indelibly placed his architectural mark on its isolated rocky plateau. Standing at an elevation of about thirteen hundred feet above... Read more

The Process of Inspired Translation: Two Passages Translated Twice in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

Since 1996, researchers from Brigham Young University—with the assistance of new photographs, scanned images, and much hands-on examination of the documents—have been engaged in a careful study of the text written on the original manuscripts of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The work has yielded the publication of a large facsimile transcription of all the original manuscript pages... Read more

Narrative Atonement Theology in the Gospel of Mark

At the level of discourse, the Gospel of Mark is almost silent on the meaning of Jesus's death: save a line here or there, reasons for the death—and the impact of that death on humanity—are barely mentioned in the text, and these scant wisps of discourse-level atonement theology are inadequate to the importance of the topic. But when the reader looks at Mark as a narrative account, several... Read more

The LDS Story of Enoch as the Culminating Episode of a Temple Text

The story of Enoch might be understood as the culminating episode in a temple text cycle woven through the Book of Moses in the LDS Pearl of Great Price. A "temple text" is a sacred text that uses ceremony and commandments to allow a person to stand ritually in the presence of God. The Book of Moses reflects elements of temple architecture, furnishings, and ritual in the story of the Creation and... Read more

The Israelite Roots of Atonement Terminology

This article focuses on three common English terms— atonement, salvation, and redemption ; their usual Hebrew equivalents as rendered in the King James Version of the Bible (KJV); and their associated conceptions found within the Hebrew Bible. In general, ancient Israelites understood redeem primarily in terms of kinship and family law and secondarily as a covenantal term. Salvation was found... Read more

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... Read more

Singular and Plural Address in the Scriptures

Steeped in post-Enlightenment philosophy with its primary focus on the individual, modern readers may unwittingly assume that the Lord likewise is focused solely on individuals when he promises blessings or assigns responsibilities. Although the scriptures contain many instances where the Lord speaks to individuals separately, he also speaks to the Church or his people collectively. It is not... Read more

Santa Biblia: The Latter-day Saint Bible in Spanish

The Santa Biblia: Reina-Valera 2009 is the first edition of the Holy Bible to be published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a language other than English. This version is based on the 1909 Reina-Valera, an important Spanish Bible in the Protestant tradition. The LDS Church had a team of translators and general authorities revise the biblical text, conservatively updating the... Read more

Elisha and the Children: The Question of Accepting Prophetic Succession

The account of Elisha's curse of the forty-two young people and their seemingly unjustified fatal end when attacked by two bears has puzzled Latter-day Saints as well as other students of the Bible. An enlightening solution to this unusual incident, as I argue here, also leads to a clearer view of an important underlying issue: the acceptance or nonacceptance of divinely approved succession among... Read more

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Mormon Perspective

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The Good Samaritan: A Type and Shadow of the Plan of Salvation

One of the most influential stories told by Jesus is the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–35). As a result of this scripture, people all over the world, whether Christians or not, speak of being a Good Samaritan, of doing good for people who are in peril or need. Modern-day Good Samaritans stop to help stranded travelers fix flat tires or find shelter, come to the rescue of people in... Read more

The Rich Man, Lazarus, and Doctrine & Covenants 104:18

Doctrine and Covenants (a scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) 104:13–18 explains the law of consecration by alluding to the New Testament story of Lazarus the beggar. The connection between the latter-day revelation and the New Testament parable is made more obvious by the use of the Latin word "dives" in the Kirtland Revelation Book. When the revelation was published, "... Read more

Temple Worship and a Possible Reference to a Prayer Circle in Psalm 24

Several scholars have identified Psalm 24 as a temple liturgical hymn. Sigmund Mowinckel, for example, believes that Psalm 24 contains leges sacrae , or "laws of the sanctuary," those "special rules and special demands as to the qualifications of those to be admitted" into the temple. Speaking specifically of Psalm 24, Hans-Joachim Kraus states that we "must reckon with the presence in the Psalms... Read more

"Taking a Different View of the Translation": The Illumination of Alternate Meanings in the Translation of Bible Passages by Joseph Smith and Meister Eckhart

Tod R Harris, project manager and senior linguist over scripture translation support for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, looks at creative and revelatory translations of the Bible performed by Church founder Joseph Smith and Meister Eckhart, a fourteenth-century scholastic and Dominican preacher. Comparing and contrasting translations of Bible verses that these two religious... Read more