By Marvin W. Cowan
The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of Genesis in the Bible has been our focus so far in this series. Many other problems exist in the JST of Genesis and other Bible books but it would take a large book to discuss them all so we can’t do that in these brief articles. But, we want to discuss some interesting changes in the JST of Isaiah. Chapter one of Isaiah in the JST is exactly the same as the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible including all 17 italicized words, but those words are not italicized in the JST. Knowledgeable Bible readers know that the italicized words in the KJV Bible are not in the original text but were supplied by the KJV translators in 1611 AD to smooth out the reading in English. So, how did those same words supplied by translators of the KJV in 1611 AD get into Smith’s JST about 1832? Were the King James translators inspired over 200 years earlier than Joseph Smith to put them in the KJV, or did Smith just copy the KJV? Since the only thing Smith had while he was “translating” the JST was a copy of the KJV Bible, it is obvious what he did.
In the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) II Nephi 11:8 says, “And now I write some of the words of Isaiah….” Then much of Isaiah chapters 2 through 14 of the KJV is quoted in II Nephi 12 to 24 in the B. of M. But when the JST of those chapters differ from the KJV, the JST is exactly the same as II Nephi 12 to 24 in the B. of M. LDS claim that the exact wording in those two LDS scriptures is because God revealed both to Joseph Smith. But Smith didn’t begin to “translate” the JST until after the B. of M. was published in 1830. So, when the JST of Isaiah 2 through 14 is the same as the B. of M. in II Nephi 12 through 24, Smith could have copied his B. of M. version of Isaiah. Translators know that when you translate the same message from two different languages into English, you should get the same message, but not exactly the same English words. The book of Isaiah was originally written in Hebrew while Smith claimed the B. of M. was written in “Reformed Egyptian.” So, how did both of Smith’s scriptures end up with exactly the same 1611 AD English words from two different languages in 1830 AD?
The KJV of Isaiah 2:2 says, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills…” “That” is italicized in the KJV. But both Isaiah 2:2 in the JST and II Nephi 12:2 in the B. of M. changed “that” to “when the mountain of the Lord’s house…” LDS teach that the Bible is unclear but the JST and the B. of M. clarify it. Why Smith changed the word “that” to “when,” is not known, but does it really clarify this verse? LDS often claim this verse was fulfilled when they built the Salt Lake Temple. But anyone who has seen the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City knows that it is not “in the top of the mountains” nor is it “exalted above the hills,” but it is in one of the lowest parts of the Salt Lake Valley! There are mountains and hills in every direction from the LDS Temple that are considerably higher than it is, so does it really fulfill this verse?
The KJV of Isaiah 2:6 says “Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people, the house of Jacob…” But, II Nephi 12:6 and Isaiah 2:6 in the JST add the words “O Lord” after “Therefore.”
But no original text of that verse has “O Lord” in it nor do those words clarify anything. Isaiah 2:7 in the KJV says, “Their land is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots.” The words “is there any” are in italics twice in the KJV of that verse just like it is quoted here. Those same italicized words appear in the JST of Isaiah 2:7 and in II Nephi 2:7 but they are NOT italicized! Remember that italicized words in the KJV were not in the original language but were supplied by the KJV translators in 1611 AD. Neither the B. of M. nor the JST even existed until about 220 years after the KJV was published, so Smith obviously copied the KJV.
The KJV of Isaiah 2:8-9 says, “Their land is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself; therefore forgive them not.” Smith apparently didn’t understand the context, so he changed II Nephi 12:9 in the original B. of M. to read, “And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself not; therefore forgive them not.” The original B. of M. did not have the same chapters and verses as the current editions so this text is found in chapter 8 on p. 87 of the original B. of M. After the current chapters and verses were put into the B. of M., someone added a 2nd “not” to verse 9 so that it now reads, “And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not; therefore forgive them not” which reversed the actual meaning of Isa. 2:8-9! Verse 8 has just said their land is full of idols; they (Israelites) worship the work of their own hands…” Verse 9 then explains: “And the mean or common man bows down (before the idols) and the great man humbles himself (before the idols) and that is why the KJV says, “forgive them not.” But Isaiah 2:9 in Smith’s “inspired” JST says the mean or common man does not bow before the idol and the great man does not humble himself before it, so forgive them not! That sounds like God wanted Israel to worship idols! That is how the current edition of the B. of M. reads in II Nephi 12:9 but different from the original B. of M. Why was that text changed? Smith claimed that the original B. of M. was translated by the gift and power of God, so did someone improve on what God did? Or, was the scribe who wrote it careless like LDS claim the Biblical scribes were? If B. of M. scribes were careless, LDS cannot claim the B. of M. is more reliable than the Bible!
Smith added the words, “O ye wicked ones…” in the JST of Isaiah 2:10 and II Nephi 12:10 before completing the rest of the verse as it is in the KJV. But Isa. 2:9 in the JST and in II Nephi 12:9 it says the people did not bow or humble themselves before the idols, so God shouldn’t forgive them and then in verse 10 he calls them wicked! Were they wicked because they didn’t worship idols? Does that make sense? When Isaiah chapter 2 is read in context it is clear that God will judge idol worshipers and He wants idolatry ended in Israel as verses 18 and 20 clearly state. So, did God inspire Smith’s JST and does it really clarify this text?