On the JST of 2 Corinthians

This summer I published a commentary on the JST of 1 Corinthians in Dialogue. (For a link and background to the project search the blog for My New JST Article.) That was a lot of fun, so I decided to follow it up here on the blog with a commentary on the JST of 2 Corinthians. It was a lot of work for a blog post, but 2 Corinthians is a shorter book and only has a third of the JST revisions as 1 Corinthians has, so that made it more manageable. Also, I didn’t need to repeat the background and the explanation of my paradigm of JST revisions since those are available in the print article. There are 23 verses in 2 Corinthians that are modified in the JST and only six of them are included in the 1979/2013 LDS Bible footnotes, so most of these changes are ones you have never seen before. I checked these against the Adam Clarke Commentary and didn’t see any influence from that source; I didn’t bother to check Campbell, Wesley or Coverdale, as I’m highly confident there is no secondary source influence on any of these particular revisions. I had fun pulling this together, so I hope you enjoy it.

1. 2 Corinthians 3:4

And such trust have we through Christ to toward God-ward:

The change from “to God-ward” to “toward God” is a simple modernization of a KJV archaism. The Greek has pros ton theon, which does indeed literally mean “toward God” (the definite article ton does not get translated into English, for English represents the definiteness of the word god with capitalization, “God,” as opposed to the literal “the god.”) In general, the preposition pros with the accusative (as here) indicates movement or orientation towards someone or something. Although a number of early translations follow the KJV, I count 25 modern English translations that similarly render “toward God” (or “towards God,” where “towards” is simply an English spelling variant for the same word), including the NRSV. The orientation/motion connotation of the preposition here is a bit obscure, so some translations render something like “before God” or “in God’s presence.”

Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization).

2. 2 Corinthians 3:16

Nevertheless when it their hearts shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

The intended antecedent to the pronoun “it” is at first blush somewhat obscure. Presumably the antecedent is ten kardian auton “their heart” from the previous verse: “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.” So the word “it” here means “their heart.” The singular is awkward, so the JST pluralizes it to “their hearts.” Most modern translations avoid the awkwardness of the literal text by rendering something like “when a person/someone/they turn to the Lord.” But there are two modern translations that make the same, more literal fix as the JST does here: the GNV and RGT both render “Nevertheless when their heart shall be turned to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.” If one wishes to read the text literally, something like what the JST does here is necessary for the sense of the passage; the KJV is quite inadequate here and is not followed by modern translations.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

3. 2 Corinthians 4:12

So then it worketh death unto us worketh in us, but life in unto you.

The KJV takes “worketh” as an active verb with “death” as the subject, as does the vast majority of modern translations. A minority of commentators, however, take the verb “worketh” in a passive sense with God as the implicit subject, in a way similar to the JST reading. For instance, Victor Paul Furnish in the Anchor Bible renders “Accordingly, death is made active in us, but life in you,” with the following explanation: “Most commentators and trs. [translators] have interpreted the Greek verb here (energeitai, middle voice) as an intransitive deponent, and thus active in meaning—e.g., “is at work” (Wey. RSV, and virtually every recent English version.) Baumert, however, argues persuasively for a passive meaning here. . . . This would not only conform to the use of the middle form of this verb in Greek texts generally . . . , but would be in accord with the passive verbs used in vv. 10-11. . . . The underlying subject of these three verses is God, or, more precisely, the incomparable “power” of God, which had been emphasized in v. 7. Elsewhere Paul associates God’s power especially with Christ’s resurrection. . . , and it is Christ’s resurrection life above all that the apostle has reference to in the present passage. . . .” See Victor Paul Furnish, II Corinthians, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1984), 252 and 257.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

4. 2 Corinthians 4:15

For we bear all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

The first clause reflects a certain sense of incompleteness, and so two modern translations flesh it out more in the same way the JST suggests. First, the JUB has “For we suffer all these things for your sakes that the grace abounding through many may in the thanksgiving redound to the glory of God” (emphasis in original) and second the TLB has “These sufferings of ours are for your benefit. And the more of you who are won to Christ, the more there are to thank him for his great kindness, and the more the Lord is glorified.”

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

5. 2 Corinthians 5:3

If so be that That being clothed we shall not be found naked.

“If so be” is a rendering of ei ge kai, which the Anchor Bible well translates as “presuming, of course.” The problem with the literal translation of those words as in the KJV is that they give the impression that the remainder of the sentence may not be true. To avoid this possible confusion many modern translations essentially do the same as the JST and ignore that initial “if” introduction, such as the NIV’s “We will not be without a body. We will live in a new body.” I count over 30 modern translations that like the JST avoid the word “if” for this reason.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

6. 2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive a reward of the things deeds done in his the body, things according to that what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

The KJV wording “that every one may receive the things done in his body” is an overliteral translation that simply doesn’t make sense. Something like the JST’s “a reward of” is implicit in the text, and many translations modify the wording in some way so as to be more explicit about this, such as the AMPC’s “so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body” or the ERV’s “Everyone will get what they should.” The JST also deletes some of the italicized words; the deletion of “his” has the happy effect of (appropriately) making the passage gender neutral.

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Words).

7. 2 Corinthians 5:13

For we bear record that we are not whether we be beside ourselves, for whether we glory, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause sakes.

The verb existanai (rendered “beside ourselves”), used intransitively as here, conveys the connotation of having lost one’s mind, to be crazy, insane or drunk. Paul is not actually acknowledging  that they have been crazy, but that that is the claim of their critics, and so some translations make that clear by adding a qualifier such as “as some critics say” (AMP) or “as some people say” (NIRV). The JST turns this into a more forceful and explicit denial that they are crazy. At the end of the verse a number of translations use the word “sake” rather than “cause”

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

8. 2 Corinthians 5:14

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were are all dead:

         In lieu of the “were” of the KJV, most modern English translations use a perfect, “all have died.” The JST chooses to make this more vivid with a present, “then are all dead.”

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

9. 2 Corinthians 5:16

Wherefore, henceforth know live we no man more after the flesh: yea, though we once lived have known Christ after the flesh, yet since we have known Christ, now henceforth know live we him no more after the flesh.

    I see the JST as reacting to both a translation issue and a potential theological issue in this verse. Paul is saying (speaking of himself with an editorial plural) that he once thought of Jesus as a mere man, from a human point of view (kata sarka, literally “after the flesh”), but now he no longer regards him from that limited mortal perspective. The KJV ends the verse with “now henceforth know we him no more,” which seems to suggest that Paul (or we as his readers) do not know Christ at all. The critical change the JST makes here is to add “after the flesh” (i.e., kata sarka) again at the end of the verse, meaning from now on we know him not “after the flesh” (i.e., according to human standards, from a limited human point of view) but in another way. The NRSV does the same, rendering “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.” One cannot simply say “now henceforth know we him no more” as the KJV does without the critical addition of the words “in that way” (or “after the flesh” in Jacobean idiom). Something like what the JST does here is essential to avoid badly misunderstanding the passage.

Smith also twice changes references to knowing Christ to how we live our lives. Paul did not know what we now know, that this emphasis on special knowledge would eventually flower into the heresy of Gnosticism. For Paul the puzzle pieces were still in the box, but for us the puzzle is completed and we see the full historical picture. This change of emphasis on “knowing” things to “living” a certain way thus makes the text less amenable to a gnostic misreading. (This revision reminds me of the famous story of Spencer W. Kimball suggesting a word change in a lyric of “I Am a Child of God,” from “teach me all that I must know” to “teach me all that I must do.”) In the process Smith also deletes the italicized “him.”

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Words).

 10. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be live in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

    There is no verb in the initial clause, so the KJV supplies “be” in italics. Most translations read “be” or “is” here, but a number suggest a more fleshed out reading. The NIRV actually mirrors the JST with “When anyone lives in Christ, the new creation has come.” Other suggestions include “ingrafted,” “belongs to,” “united with,” “is a believer,” or “is joined to.” 

Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Words).

11. 2 Corinthians 5:18

And receiveth all the things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

The JST reads verse 18 as a continuation of verse 17, which is a catalog of the benefits of being in Christ, as follows::

17. Therefore if any man be in Christ

  • He is a new creature
  • Old things are passed away
  • all things are become new
  • (18) He receiveth all the things of God.

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Words).

12. 2 Corinthians 5:19

To wit, that God was is in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

    To say “God was in Christ” seems to suggest that that relation no longer exists, which leads the JST to replace “was” with “is.”  There is a strong possibility that the verb “was” (en) is part of a periphrastic construction with the verb “reconciling,” which is the position taken by the Anchor Bible and is reflected for instance in the ESV: “that is, in Christ God was reconciling . . . .”

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

13. 2 Corinthians 6:1

We then, as workers together with him Christ, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

This  is simply a classic case of suspicion of italicized words, in one case replacing the italicized pronoun him with the actual noun it stands for, “Christ.”

Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Words).

14. 2 Corinthians 8:1

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit we would have you to know of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

This is a simple modernization of the archaic KJV construction “we do you to wit.”  Most modern translations have something like “we want you to know.”

Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization).

15. 2 Corinthians 8:5

And this they did, not as we hoped required, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

The first change simply deletes the italicized words (and many modern translations do not feel the need to supply something like that).  The second replaces “hoped,” which is seen as too weak, with the stronger “required.” Many English translations in lieu of “hoped” have “expected,” which is closer to the JST revision here.

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Words).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

16-17. 2 Corinthians 8:22-23

And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, . Therefore we send him unto you, in consequence of upon the great confidence which I we have in you that you will receive the things concerning you to the glory of Christ, whether any do enquire we send by the hand of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you labourer, or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

This is the most extensive set of changes to a given passage in the entire book, traversing two verses. The word “oftentimes” is deleted, because “often” is less than “always” and suggests a backhanded criticism that was not intended. “Therefore we send him unto you in consequence of” is simply an expansion of the deleted “upon.” “I” is changed to “we” to reflect Paul’s penchant for speaking of himself in the first person plural. Italicized text is deleted, and “to the glory of Christ” is moved forwward from the end.

Paradigm Classifications A-1, A-2 and B (English Paraphrase of KJV Text, Suspicion of Italicized Words and Midrashic Commentary).

18. 2 Corinthians 9:4

Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

The word “haply” is archaic for “perhaps,” but  very few modern translations reflect that nuance here.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

19. 2 Corinthians 11:4

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him me

    The change from the italicized “him” (which is not literally in the text) to “me” is meant to be sarcastic and brings out forcefully the irony of this passage, which is well seen in the following verse from the TEV: “I do not think that I am the least bit inferior to those very special so-called “apostles” of yours!”

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Words).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

20. 2 Corinthians 11:23

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) so am I I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

    This is a caseof assimilation to the preceding verse, which reads: “Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.” The JST continues the “so am I” pattern rather than breaking it with the “I am more” of verse 23.

Paradigm Classification A-4 (Assimilation).

21. 2 Corinthians 11:29

Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn anger not?

    The verb puromai does indeed literally mean “to burn,” but here it is a metaphor for anger. The CEV has “I get angry,” the EXB has “burning (with anger),” the NLT has “burn with anger,” and many translations use some form of the word “indignation.”

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

22. 2 Corinthians 12:6

For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth of me to be, or that he heareth of me.

    Two italicized words are deleted, and the change from “seeth me to be” to “seeth of me” is an assimilation to “heareth of me” at the end of the verse.

Paradigm Classifications A-2 and A-4 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Assimilation.

23. 2 Corinthians 13:12

Greet one another with an holy kiss salutation.

This is the same change the JST made at 1 Corinthians 15:20 and so that prior revision is its source.  There we determined this revision was a cultural updating (similar to what many modern translations do), and also an assimilation to the word “salutation” in verse 21 of that chapter.

Paradigm Classification A-1 and A-4 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Assimilation).

Comments

  1. Jackson Shaver says:

    Really enjoyed the commentary, clarifications and additional sources. Nicely done.

  2. The revelations all call the JST a “translation.” What Joseph was doing was not looking at a Greek text; he was not looking at a Hebrew text; he was not looking at some source material and then figuring out that there is a better way to convert that source material into English. It was purely revelation. Nothing existed that allowed for the book of Moses material to spring out of the text of Genesis. He had the text of Genesis, and it was altered, augmented, supplemented, elaborated upon by revelation which the Lord and the revelations always referred to as “translation.” So, you’re looking at a text; you’re getting a revelation; you’re expanding the text. That’s translation, according to the way in which the language is used in these texts.
    If you’re looking at what’s going on in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible and the revelations that are occurring that are recorded in the D&C, you are really headed into a dead-end street if you believe that you’re going to be able to capture what Joseph Smith did by saying it’s simply a word-for-word movement from one language into another—because it was nothing like a one-for-one movement of language from one to another in the translation of the Bible. There’s nothing like that in what happened in D&C section 76.

  3. I did enjoy this, as well as the one Corinthian commentary. I’ve generally moved on to other versions of the bible, as the KJV reads, to me, like Beowolf.

  4. Mark Ashurst-McGee says:

    most excellent – thanks Kevin!