Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, Part V

By Marvin W. Cowan

In Deut. 4:2, Prov. 30:6 and Rev. 22:18-19 the Bible warns not to add to or delete from what God has revealed. Those who believe the Bible obey it, but Joseph Smith added, deleted and changed many parts of the Bible in his Joseph Smith Translation or JST (also called the Inspired Version). Do you think he really believed the above Bible texts? When Smith made his JST all he had was a copy of the King James Version (KJV) Bible, so he didn’t really “translate” anything. Yet, he made more changes in Genesis than any other book in the Bible, so did he intend to make more changes in the Bible but didn’t because he got tired, distracted or didn’t have the time? Or, was Genesis more corrupt than the other books in the Bible? Smith still made so many changes in the Bible that we can only discuss a few of them. LDS often claim that they have a “living prophet” and “latter-day revelation” which clarifies many things in the Bible. Let’s look at a few examples of some of those “clarifications” that their “living prophet” and “latter-day revelation” have recorded in the JST and elsewhere.

Although Joseph Smith “translated” his JST Bible, the official Bible of the LDS Church is still the King James Version (KJV) published in 1611 AD. Genesis 2:7 in the KJV Bible says “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” In his JST Smith added some material before that text so it is Genesis 2:8 in it. It says, “And I, the Lord God, formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul; the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also;” The JST has some of the same content as the KJV, but it also has things that are not in it. It says that man was “the first flesh upon the earth,” but Genesis 1:22-26 in Smith’s JST as well as the KJV says that fish, fowls and all other animals were created before man. How can man be “the first flesh” if Gen. 1:22-26 in the JST is true? LDS doctrine says that Genesis 1 is about a spiritual creation which took place before the physical creation of the world and Genesis 2:5 & 9 in the JST is used as proof. LDS also use Moses 3:5 & 9 in the Pearl of Great Price which says exactly the same thing as Genesis 2:5 & 9 in the JST. But the creation of the sun, moon stars, water, air, earth, plants and animals in Genesis 1 and Moses 2 sounds like the physical world we live in when read in context. Smith’s “translation” of Genesis 2:7 into the content in Genesis 2:8 in his JST conflicts with what he taught on May 17, 1843. On that date he said, “The 7th verse of the 2nd chapter of Genesis ought to read—‘God breathed into Adam his spirit [i.e. Adam’s spirit] or breath of life…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 301; History of the Church, vol. 5, pp. 392-393). If that is the way it “ought to read,” did God reveal it that way to Smith when he translated his JST? If God did reveal it that way, Smith ignored it. But if God didn’t reveal it that way, Smith must have known more than God when he said it “ought to read” that way!

Brigham Young, the LDS Prophet who succeeded Joseph Smith as head of the LDS Church, also had some things to say about the same text. He said, “Though we have it in history that our father Adam was made of the dust of this earth and that he knew nothing about his God previous to being made here, yet it is not so; and when we learn the truth we shall see and understand that he was the chief manager in that operation. He was the person who brought the animals and the seeds from other planets to this world, and brought a wife with him and stayed here. You may read and believe what you please as to what is found written in the Bible. Adam was made from the dust of an earth, but not the dust of this earth. He was made as you and I are made, and no person was ever made upon any other principle” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 319). Joseph Smith said that the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price was revealed by God, and Moses 3:7a says exactly the same thing as Genesis 2:8 in the JST, so two LDS books of scripture agree. But LDS Prophet Joseph Smith said that text “ought to read” as stated above. And LDS Prophet Brigham Young explained it in a completely different way. So, have LDS “Prophets” and “latter-day” revelation really clarified the Bible as Mormonism claims? Some LDS try to explain contradictions like the above by saying that when their Prophets say something it may or may not be a revelation. But that raises another question: Who determines what is or is not revealed by God? The living LDS Prophet is supposed to be the final authority for LDS people. Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were LDS Prophets when they gave the above messages!

Genesis 2:11 in the JST says, “And out of the ground , made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man, and man could behold it, and it became a living soul; for it was spiritual in the day I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it; yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man; and man saw that it was good.” That verse and verse 12 are based on Genesis 2:9 in all other Bibles but the content is very different. However, that JST text supports what Mormon leaders have taught. For example, Orson Pratt, one of the original Twelve Apostles of Mormonism declared, “Both animals and vegetables consist of two substances, very different in their nature, viz: body and spirit…If the spirit of an apple tree were rendered visible when separated from its natural tabernacle, it would appear in the form, likeness, and magnitude of the natural apple tree; and so it is with the spirit of every other tree, or herb, or blade of grass, its shape, its magnitude, and its appearance, resemble the natural tabernacle intended for its residence…we are compelled to believe that every vegetable, whether great or small, has a living intelligent spirit capable of feeling, knowing, and rejoicing in its sphere…When the spirit first takes possession of the vegetable or animal seed or embryo, it contracts itself into a bulk of the same dimension as the seed or tabernacle into which it enters…Spirits, therefore, must be composed of substances, highly elastic in their nature…When the limb of a tree or of an animal is severed from the main body, the spirit, occupying that limb, is not severed from the other parts of the spirit, but immediately contracts itself into the living portions of the body, leaving the limb to decay” (The Seer, pp. 33-34, 36). Such teachings may interest some who worship “Mother Earth,” but do they really help to know the one true God?

People familiar with the Bible notice that the changes Smith made in his JST support things that he wanted to teach. Since no Biblical manuscripts support his changes, was he trying to make the Bible say what he wanted it to say? The Apostle Peter said this about scripture: “Knowing this first, that, no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Pet. 1:20-21).

Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, Part IV

By Marvin W. Cowan

The King James Version or KJV Bible is still the official LDS Bible even though Joseph Smith claimed he was inspired to write the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) or Inspired Version of the Bible between 1830 and 1833. At the end of our last article (Part III) in this series, we quoted Genesis 1:1-3 from the KJV as well as from the JST to show that they are very different. The KJV translation of the Bible was published in 1611 AD and was translated from ancient manuscripts of the Bible that are still available. But there are no original language manuscripts of the Bible that support any of the changes Joseph Smith made in his JST. “Moses” is one of the books in the Mormon scripture called the Pearl of Great Price. Moses 2:1 through 8:30 is exactly the same as Genesis 1:1 through 8:18 in the JST except for the chapter and verse numbers. So, the entire text in Moses 2:1 in the P of GP is exactly the same in the JST of Genesis 1:1-3 except for the verse numbers. One would assume when two LDS books of scripture say exactly the same thing that it should confirm that the reading is accurate. A heading over the Book of Moses even says “Revealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet, June 1830–February 1831.” If it was “revealed” by God, it should be accurate. But on June 16, 1844, just 11 days before his death, Joseph Smith said that the Hebrew words in Genesis 1:1 actually say, “In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 371; History of the Church. vol. 6, p. 475). If that is what the original Hebrew says, why doesn’t Smith’s “revealed” JST say that? The P of GP in Moses 2:1 doesn’t say it either. So, is Smith’s JST Bible wrong or was he wrong about the meaning of the original Hebrew or are both wrong? No reputable Hebrew scholar translates the Hebrew manuscripts for Genesis 1:1 like Smith said they should be or like his JST reads!

Genesis 1:26-27 in the KJV Bible says, “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” This became Genesis 1:27-29 in the JST because Smith added other content before it. It says, “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so. And I, God, said, Let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.” The same wording is found in Moses 2:27-28 in the P of GP but the verse numbers are slightly different. Once again when two books of LDS scripture say the same thing one would think that the wording is accurate. But on June 16, 1844 Joseph Smith commented on the Hebrew meaning of Genesis 1:26 and said, “If we pursue the Hebrew text further, it reads, ‘The head one of the Gods said, Let us make man in our own image’” (H. of C. vol. 6, p. 475; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 372). If that is what the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:26 said, why didn’t Smith “translate” it that way in his JST or in Moses 2:26 in the P of GP? The Hebrew texts for Genesis 1:26 show that the KJV is translated correctly. But no Hebrew manuscript supports the JSTtranslation” or Moses 2:27-28 in the P of GP. Nor does it support Smith’s June 16, 1830 translation of the Hebrew text of Genesis I:26. Why did Smith “translate” his JST in the KJV English of 1611 AD instead of the English that was spoken in America in 1830-1833 when he wrote it? And why are all of Smith’s LDS scriptures written in 1611 AD English? Is that the only English that God knows?

When a message in one language is transcribed so that it can be understood in another language it is called a “translation.” The accuracy of the translation can be checked by other translators who know both languages. Joseph Smith claimed he “translated” the Bible (History of the Church, vol. I, pages 324 and 368) and the Mormon Church officially calls Smith’s Bible “the Joseph Smith Translation.” In Doctrine and Covenants 73:4 “the Lord” told Smith to “continue the work of translation (of the Bible) until it is finished. And in D. & C. 124:89 “the Lord” commanded Smith to “Publish the new translation of my holy word unto the inhabitants of the earth.” At least ten times in the D. & C. “the Lord” refers to Smith’s work on the Bible as “translation.” Surely “the Lord” knows the meaning of the word “translation.” But, Mormon writer Merrill Y. Van Wagoner said on page 14 of his booklet, The Inspired Revision of the Bible, “It is incorrect to say that the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Bible. He did not “pretend” to know any ancient language such as Hebrew or Greek nor did he have any manuscripts.” If that is true, why did “the Lord” call it a “translation” in Mormon scripture? And if Smith didn’t have any ancient manuscripts of the Bible, on what basis did he make changes in his JST Bible? Some LDS claim the changes were made by “revelation,” but revelation is NOT translation, and “the Lord” called it a “translation.” Surely He knows the difference between those words! The quotations in this article show that Smith did claim to know some Hebrew even though no Hebrew scholar supports what he said. Van Wagoner said that Smith didn’t “pretend” to know “Hebrew or Greek.” But his “translation” of Hebrew in the above quotations certainly looks like he thought he was translating Hebrew or else he was trying to deceive people! Every real translation of the Bible was made from ancient Biblical manuscripts, not by “revelation!”

Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, Part III

By Marvin W. Cowan

Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith, declared, “From sundry revelations which had been received (by him), it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 9-10). That is a serious charge but Smith and his successors use it to try to prove there is a need for the new LDS “scriptures.” They also claim that the Bible has been corrupted by errors in translation and by deliberate changes made by careless, unscrupulous scribes who also deleted or lost at least 20 books from it. Many LDS books make those claims like LDS Apostle Mark E. Petersen’s book, As Translated Correctly. In it he said, “Many ancient manuscripts (of the Bible) are known to exist, but none are originals” (p. 3). Because of that he questioned the reliability of any translation of the Bible even though he admitted that many ancient manuscripts of the Bible exist in the original languages. Since there are thousands of ancient copies of the Bible in the original languages they can be compared to help determine the original text. It is hypocritical for LDS to claim that the Bible is unreliable because there are no original manuscripts for it when the LDS Church has no original for the B. of M., yet they accept it “without qualification” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 764). The LDS Church does not have the original “gold plates” that Joseph Smith said contained the B. of M. written in “Reformed Egyptian,” nor do they have even one copy of the B. of M. written in “Reformed Egyptian.” They don’t even have one document of any kind written in that language and Egyptologists say there is no such language. And LDS only have small fragments of the original English “translation” made by Smith and his scribe between 1827 and 1830!

Chapter 2 in Apostle Petersen’s book quotes I Nephi 13:20-40 from the B. of M. which was supposedly written between 592 and 600 BC. It “predicts” that “the great and abominable (Catholic) church” will take “many plain and precious” parts out of the gospel (even before the gospel was revealed)! Verses 34-40 “predict” that those “plain and precious” parts of the Bible that were taken out of it will be made known in the records (B. of M.) that God will reveal in the last days. Of course, there is no evidence that anyone saw that prophecy until Joseph Smith published the B. of M. in 1830 AD. Mormons need to explain exactly what was taken out of the Bible that is now in the B. of M. They have had the B. of M. since 1830, so they should be able to do that! Chapter 3 in Apostle Petersen’s book is entitled “Much Missing Scripture” and it is about the 20 books of the Bible that LDS claim have been lost. Petersen says “The Book of the Covenant” mentioned in Exodus 24, the “Book of the Wars of the Lord” mentioned in Numbers 21 and the “Book of Jasher” mentioned in Joshua 10:13 are among the missing books of the Bible. Orson Pratt, one of the original Twelve Apostles of Mormonism and one of their greatest apologists also said, “We all know that but few of the inspired writings have descended to our times, which few quote the names of some twenty other books which are lost, and it is quite certain that there are many other inspired books that even the names have not reached us” (Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 47). James Talmage, one of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church and one of their most admired theologians also listed the twenty lost books of the Bible and where they are mentioned in the Bible on page 501 of his book, Articles of Faith.

When the Bible mentions a book that isn’t in the Bible, LDS assume it must be a lost book of the Bible, which is an absurd conclusion! If someone reads a book which mentions a different book, is it logical to assume that the book mentioned has to be part of the one he is reading? Mormons often claim that the “lost books of the Bible” prove that the Bible is incomplete. If their claim is true, why didn’t Joseph Smith replace those books when he wrote his “Joseph Smith Translation” of the Bible? He claimed God inspired him to write it, so apparently “God” didn’t think those “lost books” should be in the Bible! Not only did Joseph Smith fail to restore those “lost books” of the Bible, he also deleted the Song of Solomon! When LDS mention the lost books of the Bible, it is not because they believe those books really contain important scripture, it is just to discredit the Bible so they can promote their own three books of “scripture.” There is no evidence that the books that LDS call “lost books” of the Bible were ever part of the Bible.

The King James Version of the Bible says in Genesis 1:1-3, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” But Genesis 1:1-3 of the JST or Inspired Version Bible says: “And it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven and this earth; write the words which I speak. 2. I am the Beginning and the End; the Almighty God. By mine Only Begotten I created these things. 3. Yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest.” Moses 2:1 in the Pearl of Great Price is exactly the same as Genesis 1:1-3 in the JST. In fact, Moses 2: 1 through 8:30 is exactly the same as Genesis 1:1 through 8:18 in the JST except for chapter and verse numbers. The JST text is written in 1611 AD English so it sounds like the KJV Bible, but there is not even one ancient manuscript that supports the changes Joseph Smith made in his Inspired Version or the JST Bible. That raises some serious questions about the validity of the JST Bible!

Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, Part II

By Marvin W. Cowan

People who believe the Bible is God’s word to mankind wouldn’t think of changing its message. The Bible warns in Deuteronomy 4:2 “You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Proverbs 30:6 also says, “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.” And Revelation 22:18-19 warns not to add or delete any words from that book or there would be severe consequences. These and other texts make it clear that God doesn’t want anyone to tamper with His word. That is one reason most Bible translators try to accurately convey the message in the original documents when they translate it into other languages. But there are a few people, like Joseph Smith, who think they can improve the Bible. BYU Prof. Richard J. Matthews said in the June 1992 Ensign, p. 29, that Smith translated the Bible between June of 1830 and July of 1833.

In Doctrine & Covenants 73:4 “the Lord” told Smith on January 10, 1832, “It is expedient to continue the work of translation until it be finished.” Joseph Smith said, In the History of the Church vol. I, page 324, “I completed the translation and review of the New Testament on the 2nd of February 1833.” On p. 368 of the same volume Sidney Rigdon said on July 2nd 1833, “We this day finished the translating of the (O.T.) scriptures.” And on p. 369 Rigdon again said, “Having finished the translation of the Bible…” On January 19, 1841 “The Lord” commanded Smith in D. & C. 124:89 to “Publish the new translation of my holy word unto the inhabitants of the earth.” He lived 3 ½ years after that command but didn’t publish his new translation before he died. Smith’s widow, Emma, kept his “translation” of the Bible until 1866 when she gave it to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who published the first edition in 1867. The RLDS Church is now known as the Community of Christ Church and publishes Smith’s “translation” of the Bible under the title of Inspired Version of the Holy Scriptures. A sub-title says it is “An Inspired Revision of the Authorized (KJV) Version” and below that it says it is “A New Corrected Edition.” If it was an “inspired revision” of the KJV why did “inspiration” need correction? Since the RLDS Church had Smith’s original “translation” of the Bible, the LDS Church in Utah didn’t publish any of it until 112 years after the RLDS Church first published it. Then in 1979 the LDS Church put some of the changes Smith made in the margins and index of their edition of the King James Version of the Bible and called it the Joseph Smith Translation or the JST. Ironically the KJV Bible is still the official LDS Bible! When asked why the JST isn’t their official Bible LDS usually claim Smith didn’t finish it before his death. It only took Smith 3 years to “translate” the entire Bible and he lived 11 years after he completed it, so he had ample time to make corrections if this “revelation from God” needed to be corrected!

A Mormon booklet entitled The Inspired Revision of the Bible, by Merrill Y. Van Wagoner was published by the Deseret News Press (the official LDS publishers) in 1947 and revised and updated in 1963. In it Van Wagoner, a devout Mormon, said on page 14, “It is incorrect to say that the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Bible. He did not pretend to know any ancient language such as Hebrew or Greek nor did he have any manuscripts. The only text he used was the old family (KJV) Bible he and Oliver Cowdery had purchased the previous year…Through inspiration and revelation the Prophet was led to render differently various passages and also restore missing parts. His work was that of revising the scriptures rather than translating them in the way that translating is usually understood.” The God of the Bible is intelligent enough to know the difference between “revising” and “translating,” but apparently the LDS God didn’t know the difference because he used the word “translation” in D. & C. 73:4 and 124:89 when he referred to Smith’s Bible. If Smith wasn’t actually translating the Bible, why did he say he “completed the translation of the New Testament” on Feb. 2, 1833 and why did Rigdon say they “finished translating the Scriptures” (Old Testament) on July 2, 1833 (see History of the Church vol. I, pages 324, 368-369)? Why does the LDS Church still call Smith’s Bible the “Joseph Smith Translation” or the JST if it is not a translation?

Van Wagoner said that Smith “did not pretend to know any ancient language such as Hebrew or Greek.” But several times in the last 100 pages or so of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Smith speaks about translating both Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible! Since Smith did not have any manuscripts of the Bible in the original language when he “translated” the JST, he was not translating them even if he did know a little of the original language. And he certainly did “render differently various passages” in the Bible because no original document supports his changes! That is why we said in Part I of this series that Joseph Smith added, changed or deleted from the Bible what he wanted in order to produce his JST Bible. If Smith made changes in the Bible by “inspiration and revelation” as Van Wagoner said, why did it need to be corrected? Van Wagoner also said Smith was led to “restore missing parts” of the Bible. But you can’t restore something that was never there in the first place and no original manuscript supports Smith’s additions in the JST. The first time anyone saw Smith’s additions was after he wrote them! We will look at some of his changed texts in our next article.

Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, Part I

By Marvin W. Cowan

Mormonism has four books of scripture: the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, but the only one they express reservations about is the Bible. The eighth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” LDS believe poor translation is just one problem that makes the Bible less reliable. I Nephi 13:24 & 26 in the Book of Mormon says: “And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book (Bible) proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fullness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; …And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.” I Nephi 13:34-41 says that the B. of M. will restore the plain and precious parts that were taken out of the Bible. The B. of M. dates I Nephi 13 between 592 and 600 BC, which was long before any of the New Testament was written! How can anyone take away from the “gospel” before it was even written? Exactly what parts of the Biblical gospel and what covenants of the Lord were taken out of the Bible that are now in the Book of Mormon? When LDS people are asked for chapter and verse in the B. of M. where those “many parts of the Biblical gospel & many covenants of the Lord” are found the answer is usually a deafening silence! They can’t even give one reference. Furthermore, in 600 BC, who knew anything about the “twelve apostles of the Lamb”? Mormon leaders need to answer these questions!

Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., the tenth LDS Prophet, was referring to the above text in I Nephi 13:24 & 26 when he wrote, “The Bible alone is an insufficient guide because the ‘plainness of the gospel’ has been removed…The early ‘apostate fathers’ did not think it was wrong to tamper with inspired scripture. If any scripture seemed to endanger their viewpoint, it was altered, transplanted or completely removed from the biblical text. All this was done that they might keep their traditions. Such mutilation was considered justifiable to preserve the so-called ‘purity’ of their doctrines” (Religious Truths Defined, pp.175-176). Those are very serious charges, but Smith provided no evidence to support his charges because there is none! Smith wrote like he knew the thoughts and motives of the early church fathers that lived hundreds of years ago which is absurd! No one knows the thoughts and motives of another person unless that person states them in person or in reliable records and there are no authentic records that support what Smith said. But the things Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. said about the Christian Bible is exactly what Joseph Smith did in his “Joseph Smith Translation” (JST) of the Bible, also known as the “Inspired Version of the Bible.” Smith added, changed or deleted content so it said what he wanted it to say and the JST itself shows that he did that without any original documents! We will be giving many examples of such changes in our future articles on the JST.

While Mormonism expresses reservations about the Bible, they express no reservations about their other three LDS books of scripture. LDS Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie said, “The other three (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price), having been revealed in modern times in English, are accepted without qualification” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 764). Joseph Smith published all three LDS books of scripture between 1830 and 1843 except for a few later sections in the D. & C. Do people living today consider those dates to be “modern times”? And do all people in the world today speak English? When LDS missionaries go to foreign lands they use translations of their scriptures in the language spoken in that land. Those translations were made by people who knew that language and not by “the gift and power of God” like Smith said he translated the B. of M. and “Book of Abraham.” Are foreign editions to be accepted without qualification too? Many of the foreign editions of LDS scripture have been retranslated to correct problems. There is no original language document for the B. of M., so how do LDS know which edition to accept “without qualification”? Numerous changes have been made in all three LDS books of scripture since Smith first published them in English. So, is it the first edition or the current one that LDS are to accept “without qualification?

Contrast those LDS scriptures with the Christian Bible which was written by about 40 inspired men over a period of around 1600 years and was completed over 1900 years ago. There are thousands of copies of both Old and New Testament documents in their original languages that can be used to verify our translation of the Bible. Thousands of translators have translated the Bible during hundreds of years of history, yet the same meaning comes through even when different words are used. That is very different from the way Mormon’s got their scriptures! In 1827 Smith claimed he began translating the Book of Mormon which was written on gold plates in the “Reformed Egyptian” language. When he finished translating the B. of M. Smith claimed the Angel Moroni took the gold plates back, so there isn’t even one copy of the B. of M. in the original “Reformed Egyptian” language! No other “Reformed Egyptian” writing of any kind has ever been found in North, Central or South America and Egyptologists claim there is no such language! Furthermore, not one name, event, place or anything else has been found in the Americas that supports the B. of M. story.

Smith also said he translated the “Book of Abraham” in the Pearl of Great Price from Egyptian papyri that he purchased in Kirtland, OH in 1835. That Egyptian document was “lost” for many years and then it was found and turned over to the LDS Church on November 27, 1967. Egyptologists have compared Smith’s “translation” of the Book of Abraham to the Egyptian papyri he had and not even one of them supports Joseph Smith’s “translation!” Egyptologists say the Egyptian document Smith used is a common burial document found in many Egyptian tombs! Yet, that is the only original document LDS have for any of its special translated scriptures! So, that raises questions about Smith’s “translation” of the B. of M. Since LDS don’t have even one copy of the B. of M. in the “Reformed Egyptian” language, on what were the changes in the B. of M. based? Smith claimed the B. of M. was a sacred history of the ancestors of the American Indians just like the Bible is of the Israelites. If the B. of M. was an inspired historical document, how can it be reliable when it has been changed? Can history be changed?

LDS Prophets and Prophecies, Part XXXVII

By Marvin W. Cowan

Mormonism teaches that having their priesthood and going through temple rites are requirements for individual salvation in the highest level of the Celestial kingdom after death. But Mormon women have never been allowed to have the LDS priesthood, so they depend upon their husbands for the blessings that come through the priesthood. That is one reason “eternal marriage” in an LDS temple is so important to LDS women. As the 21st century began some LDS women have demonstrated and pleaded with LDS officials to give the priesthood to them, but that has not happened yet. Before 1978, black men of African descent were also excluded from the LDS priesthood and entering an LDS temple, so they and their wives and families were also excluded from the “blessings” offered to all other Mormons in this life and the next. That changed for black men in 1978 when LDS Prophet, Spencer W. Kimball said he had a “revelation” now known as Official Declaration—2 which is the last item in the Doctrine and Covenants. That “revelation” gave “all worthy men” the right to have the LDS priesthood.

Mormon scripture says, “The seed of Cain were black” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:22). It also says that Noah cursed him (Ham) as pertaining to the Priesthood” (P. of G. P. Abraham 1:26). LDS Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie explained, “Noah’s son, Ham, married Egyptus, a descendent of Cain, thus preserving the Negro lineage through the flood” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed. p. 527). LDS Prophet, Brigham Young also said, “Cain slew his brother…and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin…How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, pp. 290-291). Young also said, “When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood…and have received their resurrection from the dead, THEN it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 143). Brigham Young taught false doctrine if LDS Prophet Spencer W. Kimball’s 1978 “revelation” came from God since all of Adam’s other children have NOT received LDS Priesthood nor have they been resurrected. But if Brigham Young taught the truth, Kimball was a false prophet!

McConkie also said, “Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those (pre-mortal) spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born (on earth) through his lineage” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed., p. 109). For 148 years, from 1830 until 1978, Mormonism taught that black people of African descent were cursed and could not have the LDS priesthood and the mark of that curse was their black skin. Why were black people of that lineage cursed before 1978 while those living after 1978 are not cursed? And why did Kimball’s 1978 “revelation” remove the curse (of not having the priesthood), but leave the mark of the curse on them (black skin)? The Bible does NOT say that the mark God put on Cain was black skin, nor does it say that having black skin is a curse. The Bible does not say what kind of mark God put on Cain, nor does it say that black people of Africa are descendants of Cain. The mark God put on Cain could have been white skin, a red nose, or big ears for all we know!

Mormonism has been preoccupied with the color of peoples’ skin. Mormon Prophet, Brigham Young said at the 1857 Semi-annual LDS Conference, “You can see men and women who are sixty or seventy years of age looking young and handsome; but let them apostatize and they will become grey-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 332). Thousands of former Mormons have apostatized, but not one has become black as a result of it! But they do become grey-haired and wrinkled just like active Mormons when they grow old! The Book of Mormon claims to be a scriptural history of the ancestors of Native Americans (American Indians) like the Bible is of Hebrews. In it “Nephites” are white because they are righteous. But when they are evil, they are cursed with a “skin of blackness” and called “Lamanites” (II Nephi 5:21-24). If evil Lamanites become righteous, their skin turns white in less than a year (III Nephi 2:11-16), so change in skin color works both ways. Changes in skin color happen many times in the B. of M. which also says in Mormon 9:19 that God doesn’t change; if He did miracles in the past, He will do them today. If the B. of M. is true, American Indians who join the LDS Church and live its teachings should become white. I have seen hundreds of LDS American Indians, but not one was white! I have also asked LDS authorities to introduce me to even one Native American whose skin became white when he joined the LDS Church. But no one has done that. Why?

The Apostle Peter thought God favored Israel over any other nation until God gave him a vision that opened his eyes. Then he said, “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:34-35). And Paul said God “has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Paul also said to the believers in Galatia, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). The message of the Bible is not about the color of man’s skin, but about salvation from his sin. Paul wrote in Rom. 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And I John 1:7 says when we believe or trust in Christ “the blood of Jesus Christ, His (God’s) Son, cleanses us from all sin.” That is far more important than the color of our skin!

LDS Prophets and Prophecies, Part XXXVI

By Marvin W. Cowan

The last items in the Doctrine and Covenants except for a few maps in some editions are Official Declarations 1 and 2. Official Declaration—2 is published with a letter explaining it from the First Presidency. N. Eldon Tanner, who was First Counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church, read Official Declaration–2 at the LDS Semi-annual Conference on September 30, 1978 and it was accepted by a unanimous vote. It is a statement about a “revelation” that Mormon Prophet Spencer W. Kimball claims he received on June 1, 1978. The content of the “revelation” was made public on June 8, 1978. LDS often call Declaration—2 a revelation, but it is only a statement saying that LDS President Spencer W. Kimball had a revelation “extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church.” The “revelation” itself has never been published. But why was that statement needed? Couldn’t all worthy Mormon males have LDS priesthood until 1978?

Before June 1978, black males of African descent could join the LDS Church, but could not hold any office in either LDS Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthoods, nor could they receive the LDS temple rites required to enter the highest level in the Celestial Heaven after death. All other active LDS boys, even those with black skins from Pacific Islands, could be ordained as Deacons in the Aaronic Priesthood at age 12. And older active LDS males could be ordained to higher offices in the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods. LDS author John J. Stewart clearly stated the LDS doctrine about Negros held by Mormons until 1978: “From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders that the Negros are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel” (Mormonism and the Negro, pp. 46-47). But why weren’t they entitled?

Before1978 LDS Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie explained that “All men (& women) were first born in pre-existence (a pre-mortal spirit world) as the literal spirit offspring of God our Heavenly Father…All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 84). He also said when Christ’s plan of salvation was accepted, “One-third of the spirit hosts of heaven (pre-mortal spirit children of God) came out in open rebellion and were cast out without bodies, becoming the devil and his angels…Of the two-thirds who followed Christ, however, some were more valiant than others… Those who were less valiant in pre-existence (pre-mortal life) and who thereby had certain restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the Negros. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God, and his murder of Able being a black skin (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:16-41; 7:8, 12, 22). Noah’s son, Ham, married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain, thus preserving the Negro lineage (P. of G. P. Abraham 1:20-27). Negros in this life are denied the Priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty (P. of G. P. Abraham 1:20-27). The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them (P. of G. P. Moses 7:8, 12, 22)” {Mormon Doctrine, 1966 edition, pp. 526-527}.

That was the LDS belief about Negros until 1978 when Official Declaration—2 changed it. Soon after Official Declaration—2 was released an LDS Apostle said that the Apostles and First Presidency had agreed that the time had come for Negros to have the LDS priesthood. He also said the LDS Church was going to stop teaching that Negros were cursed in the pre-mortal spirit world because they weren’t as valiant as other pre-mortal spirits. The above quotation on pages 526-527 of the 1966 edition of Mormon Doctrine was replaced in the 1979 edition with information about Official Declaration—2. Mormons still teach that all people were born and lived in a pre-mortal spirit world before being born on earth, but they don’t teach that Negros were cursed because they weren’t valiant. Official Declaration—2 changed the LDS doctrine about Negros, but why was that change made in 1978? At that time the LDS Church was under a lot of pressure to make that change—like they were when polygamy was changed by Official Declaration—1. Opposition to the LDS view of the Negro had grown within the LDS Church as well as outside of it for more than 20 years. Before 1978 demonstrations and protests against the LDS practice of excluding Negros from their priesthood were held at BYU in Provo, UT, Temple Square in Salt Lake City and several other places. The US Government was also taking away the tax exempt status of organizations with racial bias. The LDS Church had also sent hundreds of missionaries to Brazil and converted thousands of people to Mormonism. A Mormon Temple was being built in Brazil when LDS leaders discovered most Brazilians had some Negro blood in them. But LDS doctrine then said that “any man having one drop of the blood of Cain (Negro) in him cannot receive the priesthood” (Race Problems As they Affect the Church, by LDS Apostle Mark E. Peterson, pp. 20-21). So, many Mormons questioned why the Lord led them to build a temple in Brazil when it couldn’t be used by most of their converts.

The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual gives this explanation about the LDS view of black males of African linage and how Kimball’s “revelation” changed it so that they could have the LDS priesthood: “The scriptural basis for this policy is Abraham 1:21-27 (in the Pearl of Great Price). The full reason for the denial has been kept hidden by the Lord, and one is left to assume that He will make it known in His own due time. On 1 June 1978 the Savior revealed to President Spencer W. Kimball that the ban on this lineage pertaining to the rights of the priesthood was lifted. Elder Bruce R. McConkie described the special supplication that brought the revelation: ‘On the first day of June in this year, 1978, the First Presidency and the Twelve, after full discussion of the proposition and all the premises and principles that are involved, importuned the Lord for a revelation’” (p. 364). Did this revelation come because those men asked for a revelation? The Bible says in II Peter 1:20-21, “Knowing this first that no prophecy (revelation) of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy (revelation) came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” If LDS Prophet Kimball’s revelation came as a result of men pleading for it, did it really come from God?

LDS Prophets and Prophecies, Part XXXV

By Marvin W. Cowan

Mormons often boast that they are the only church that is led by a living prophet and by current revelation. But, no new revelations have been added to their scripture since Joseph F. Smith’s 1918 “vision of the redemption of the dead” and it didn’t become LDS scripture until 1976 when LDS Prophet Spencer W. Kimball added it to the Pearl of Great Price and later it became Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 138. Before that “vision”, the most recent addition was D. & C. 135 containing Brigham Young’s 1847 instructions for the LDS move to Utah. Although Mormonism has had 14prophets,” since Brigham Young, the one and only new revelation they have added to the D. & C. is Joseph F. Smith’s “1918 vision.” Is that really “constant, current revelation”? There are two “Official Declarations” in the back of the D. & C. after the “revelations.” Those “Declarations” changed Mormon doctrines in 1890 and in 1978, but they are not actual “revelations” but statements about revelations.

Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founder, said he received D. & C. 132 as a revelation from God commanding him and other Mormons to have a plurality of wives. That “revelation” is still in the current edition of the D. & C. because Mormons believe it came from God even though they aren’t living as polygamists now. That revelation begins, “Verily, thus saith the Lord…” But polygamy caused so many problems for the Mormon Church that in 1890 the “Woodruff Manifesto” or “Official Declaration-1,” was given to abolish it. The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual lists some things on page 361 that influenced Woodruff to make his “Declaration” to stop LDS polygamy. It says, “The first legislation against plural marriage (polygamy) came ten years after the doctrine had been officially announced on 29 August 1852 by Elder Orson Pratt…The bill was signed into law 8 July 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. The Anti-Polygamy Act of 1862 defined plural marriage as bigamy, and made the contracting of such a marriage punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars and imprisonment for a term of five years…Once the constitutionality of the act of 1862 had been upheld by the highest court in the land persecution (prosecution) of those who practiced plural marriage became more severe. In March 1882 Congress passed the Edmunds Bill. This law disenfranchised those who practiced plural marriage, making it illegal for them to hold any office or place of public trust. Five years later, in March 1887 Congress passed the Edmonds-Tucker Law. This Law dis-incorporated the (LDS) Church, dissolved the Perpetual Emigration Fund, gave the property of the Church to the government for the benefit of the common schools of Utah, and put a stop to female suffrage.”

The same Manual also says on page 362, “On September 24, 1890 President Wilford Woodruff met with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his two counselors ‘upon an important subject.’ On the twenty-fifth President Woodruff recorded: ‘I have arrived at a point in the history of my life as the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where I am under the necessity of acting for the temporal salvation of the Church. The United States government has taken a stand and passed laws to destroy the Latter-day Saints on the subject of polygamy, or the patriarchal order of marriage; and after praying to the Lord and feeling inspired, I have issued the following proclamation which is sustained by my counselors and the Twelve Apostles.’” The proclamation that followed that statement is “Official Declaration-1” or the “Woodruff Manifesto.” In it Woodruff said, “Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise…And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.” Mormons voted unanimously to accept that proclamation at their Semi-annual Conference on October 6, 1890.

In order for Utah to become a state in 1896 the U. S. Government required the state constitution to prohibit polygamy. Even though that was done, many Mormons, including their prophets, apostles, and other leaders continued to live as polygamists. Sixteen years after 1890, LDS Prophet, Joseph F. Smith, was tried and convicted of polygamy. After that the LDS Church began to enforce the Utah State law against polygamy. Even though most Mormons today aren’t polygamists, there are more polygamists now than there were in Brigham Young’s day! Most of the current polygamists are members of polygamous sects that split off from the Utah LDS Church because they believe and practice Joseph Smith’s doctrine of polygamy.

Some Mormons today refer to Woodruff’s 1890 “Declaration” as a revelation, but does LDS Prophet Wilford Woodruff’s Manifesto sound like God revealed it or that it was the result of government pressure? If God really commanded Joseph Smith and the Mormons to live as polygamists, should they have stopped it when they were pressured by men to do so? In Acts 5:17-29 Peter and those with him were put in prison and commanded not to teach about Jesus, but as soon as they were released from prison they taught about Him. And when they were questioned about it, they said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Shouldn’t the Mormon Prophet’s response have been similar if God actually told them to be polygamists? Brigham Young even said, “The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter polygamy” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269). Godhood is the goal of all devout Mormons, so polygamy is very important unless LDS Prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught false doctrine!

LDS Prophets and Prophecies, Part XXXIV

By Marvin W. Cowan

Mormons teach that one of the signs of the true church is that it will have prophets who provide current revelation. Since LDS claim that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one true church, they also claim to have prophets and current revelation. However, our last article pointed out that President Joseph F. Smith’s 1918 “vision” in Doctrine and Covenants Section 138 is the newest revelation in the D. & C. and it didn’t become LDS scripture until 1976. To put that in perspective, Joseph F. Smith was the sixth LDS President and Thomas Monson, the current LDS President, is the sixteenth! So, between 1918 when Joseph F. Smith died and the present time, LDS have had ten Presidents or Prophets who did not add one revelation to the D. & C.! In 1978 President Spencer Kimball added a statement saying he had a revelation which allowed black men to have the LDS priesthood, but he did not add the revelation itself. That is the only new item added to the D. & C. after 1918.

D. & C. 138 begins with Joseph F. Smith pondering over I Pet. 3:18-20 and 4:6. LDS say those verses show that the gospel is preached to the spirits of the dead in the spirit world after death. They also claim that vicarious, saving work for the dead must be done in LDS temples here on earth by those with LDS priesthood authority. If Peter said that, he contradicted what many other Bible verses teach. For example, Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” II Corinthians 6:2 also says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” And Psalms 49:7 says, “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” These verses and many others do not support what LDS teach about I Pet. 3:18-20 and 4:6.

What does I Pet. 3:18-20 really teach? It says, “For Christ has once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went and preached to the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the times of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” This text does not say the gospel was preached to the dead or that the dead received the gospel. In this text the word “preached” in the original Greek language is kerusso, which means to announce. The Greek word euaggelizo, meaning to evangelize, was used in the New Testament when the gospel was preached. Both Greek words are translated “preach” in English. In I Pet. 3:19 the word “preached” is the word that means announced, so Jesus announced something to the spirits who were disobedient in Noah’s time. He announced that He fulfilled or completed all that Noah preached through the Spirit of Christ when they were alive before the flood. The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets, including Noah, when they preached as I Pet. 1:9-11 says. So, the people who were disobedient in Noah’s time were not evangelized so that they had another opportunity to hear and receive the gospel in the spirit world as Mormonism teaches.

LDS also use I Pet. 4:6 to teach that the gospel is preached to the dead. But it says, “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit.” But LDS often quote it: “For this cause is the gospel preached…” when it says the gospel “was” preached to them (when they were alive physically), but now they “are” dead. They heard the gospel when they were physically alive so they could be judged like all men are judged and those who received the message would live unto God in the spirit after death.

D. & C. 138 has other LDS doctrines in it, but for now notice what D. & C. 138:12 says and how the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual interprets it. That Manual is taught in LDS seminaries (high school level) and LDS Institutes of Religion (college level). D. & C. 138:12 says, “There were gathered together in one place (in the spirit world) an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality.” The D. & C. Student Manual explains that verse on pages 358-359: “Of the total number of people who come to earth, those who earn celestial glory may be a relatively small percentage, but in numbers there will be millions who inherit the glory of the sun (celestial glory)…President Spencer W. Kimball (12th LDS Prophet) said in a general priesthood meeting about the great potential for exaltation: ‘Brethren, 225,000 of you are here tonight (via closed circuit TV). I suppose 225,000 of you may become gods. There seems to be plenty of space out there in the universe. And the Lord has proved that he knows how to do it. I think he could make, or probably have us help make, worlds for all of us, for every one of us 225,000…Those who obtain their exaltation will have the privilege of begetting spirit offspring in the eternities… Those who are denied endless increase cannot be what God is because that in connection with other things, makes him GodWhen the power of endless increase shall come to us, and our offspring grow and multiply through ages that shall come, they will be in due time, as we have been, provided with an earth like this wherein they too may obtain earthly bodies and pass through all the experiences through which we have passed…We shall stand in our relationship to them as God our Eternal Father does to us.’” Many Mormons wouldn’t even see all of that by reading D. & C. 138:12, but LDS leaders teach it and it is what LDS young people are being taught in their Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. Interpretations like that make it difficult for non-Mormons to read Mormon literature and really understand what LDS will teach from it.

LDS Prophets and Prophecies, Part XXXIII

By Marvin W. Cowan

Joseph F. Smith, the sixth LDS Prophet, claimed he had a vision about the redemption of the dead on October 3, 1918. He was quite ill at the time and died six weeks later. But his vision didn’t become LDS scripture until 1976 when LDS leaders added it to the Pearl of Great Price. In 1979 the LDS Church announced that his vision would become Section 138 in the Doctrine and Covenants the next time the D. & C. was printed, which was in 1981. So, for 58 years, from 1918 until 1976, it was just an interesting document by an LDS Prophet, but it was not scripture. It became scripture when LDS leaders said it was scripture! Joseph Fielding Smith had been dead for 58 years, so he had nothing to do with making it Mormon scripture. Nothing in the document changed, so why did it become LDS scripture in 1976? If it was LDS scripture in 1976, why wasn’t it in 1918 when Smith said he received it?

In our last article we mentioned that Mormons were told to read the D. & C. “from cover to cover” in 2009. In the January 2009, Ensign the LDS Sunday School General Presidency declared on p. 47 that the D. & C is “a marvelous book of revelations that was written in our day and for our day.” But the newest revelation in the D. & C. is Section 138 which Joseph Fielding Smith said he received in 1918! That was not written in our time! All of the other “revelations” in the D. & C. were before 1918. Some might claim that Spencer Kimball’s 1978 statement allowing black men to have LDS Priesthood is later. It certainly is later, but it is not a revelation, it is only a statement about a revelation that Kimball said he had. But even if it is counted as a revelation, half of the people alive now weren’t alive in 1978, so it wasn’t given in “their day.”

In D. & C. 138:1-10 Joseph F. Smith said he was pondering over I Peter3:18-20 and 4:6. But, his Uncle Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founder, had already given those texts an official Mormon interpretation, so his pondering wouldn’t change that. The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible changed those verses to strengthen Smith’s interpretation. He said those verses teach that during the time between His crucifixion and resurrection, Christ went into the realm of the dead and preached the gospel to them. That was what Joseph F. Smith was pondering in D. & C. 138:1-11. Then he said, “I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great. And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just who had been faithful to the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality”(vs.11-12). He went on to say, “And there He (Jesus) preached to them (the just) the everlasting gospel… but unto the wicked He did not go, and among the ungodly and the unrepentant who had defiled themselves while in the flesh, His voice was not raised” (verses 19-20).

But in D. & C. 138:25-26 Joseph F. Smith said, “I marveled, for I understood that the Savior spent about three years in His ministry among the Jews and those of the house of Israel, endeavoring to teach them the everlasting gospel and call them unto repentance; and yet, notwithstanding His mighty works, and miracles, and proclamation of the truth, in great power and authority, there were few who hearkened to His voice, and rejoiced in His presence, and received salvation at His hands.” Smith said that Jesus spent about three years teaching the everlasting gospel during His earthly ministry in Israel, yet few harkened or received salvation at His hands. Jesus’ three years of mortal ministry ended when He was crucified and died. According to Smith, while Jesus’ body was in the tomb, His spirit went to the spirit world where all people go when they die, and there He preached the everlasting gospel to an innumerable company of the just who had been faithful to the testimony of Jesus while they of lived in mortality. The spirits who had been faithful to the testimony of Jesus must have lived on earth during Jesus’ earthly ministry and died before His crucifixion since they were in the spirit world when Christ got there. But, IF only a few received salvation during Jesus’ earthly ministry, how did they become an innumerable company in the spirit world who had been faithful to the testimony of Jesus while in mortality? Smith later mentioned some prominent Old Testament personalities in verses 38-48, but they did not live during Jesus’ earthly ministry and no Biblical or historical record says that they were faithful to the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality, so Smith wasn’t talking about them in this context.

In D. & C. 138, Joseph F. Smith said when Jesus went to the realm of the dead, He went only to the just that had been faithful to the testimony of Jesus on earth and to them He preached the everlasting gospel (verses 12-19). Why did Jesus preach the everlasting gospel to those who had already accepted it during mortality? Why do verses 20-21, 37 say that Jesus could not and did not go to the wicked, ungodly, unrepentant and rebellious in the spirit world? They certainly needed to hear His message more than those who had already accepted it! Jesus said in His earthly ministry, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). So, why did Joseph F. Smith say Jesus did just the opposite in the spirit world?