On the JST of Hebrws 10-13

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH[‘S REVISION OF HEBREWS 10-13

Kevin Barney

1. Hebrews 10:1

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered continually year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

    The Law contains a foreshadowing of the true Atonement, but not “the very image” (like a statue). “Year by year continually” seems to suggest that the author is speaking specifically of the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement, which occurred but once per year. But the author of Hebrews is grouping all the sacrifices together, not specifying annual sacrifices only. Moving the adverb “continually” from following “year by year” to preceding it makes this clearer. Many modern translations do the same.

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

2. Hebrews 10:10

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering once of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    The italics seem to have been an influence here, but fundamentally this passage is making the same adjustment as in 10:1 above, moving the adverb “once” forward for emphasis to contrast the continual sacrifices under the Law with the single, once-for-all sacrifice of the Savior. A number of modern English translations do the same.

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

3. Hebrews 10:13

From henceforth expecting till to reign until his enemies be made his footstool.

    The text seems to suggest that Christ is now in a position of waiting or expecting (hoping?) that his enemies will eventually be put into a subordinate position to him (“be made his footstool”). The JST modifies the text to make it clear there is no hoping or waiting about it; by his atoning sacrifice he is already triumphant over his enemies.

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

4. Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    Like the JST the Anchor Bible (at page 472) uses the word “assurance” here with the following explanation: “the assurance. The Greek word hypostasis is based on roots meaning ‘stand under’. . . . The subjective side emerges when hypostasis is linked with ‘faith,’ which pertains to the believing person. The objective side emerges when hypostasis is connected to ‘things hoped for,’ since the object of hope lies outside the believer. The word ‘assurance’ (NASB, NRSV) is useful because objectively it is a pledge or guarantee and subjectively it is a personal state of certainty (OED).” Many modern translations use “assurance” here. “Substance” is a Latin-based equivalent to the Greek hypostasis (“that which stands under something”), but its meaning in modern English in this context is somewhat obscure. (I checked Clarke on the off chance this might be secondary source influence from that source, but he does not use the word “assurance” in his commentary on this passage.)

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

5. Hebrews 11:12

Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so as many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore seashore innumerable.

    The change from “so many” to “as many” was motivated in part by the italics. Further, “as many” is more natural than “so many.” The connected form “seashore” is a modernization. A majority of modern translations reflect both “as” and “seashore” with the JST (such as the NIV).

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

6. Hebrews 11:23

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw that he was a proper peculiar child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

    The Greek word asteios rendered “proper” in the KJV primarily means “beautiful,” but it is unlikely the author intended it in that sense here. The word should probably be taken in the sense of “good character,” in which event KJV “proper” is not a bad translation. The JST seems to highlight the idea that not only did the child have a good character, but unusually so in comparison to other children, thus making him “peculiar” in that regard.

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

7. Hebrews 11:24

By faith Moses, when he was come to years of discretion, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

    English “come to years” is ambiguous; what years? The expression means “when he had grown up.” The addition of the words “of discretion” is meant to make that nuance clear. According to tradition Moses was 40 or 42 years old at this time.

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

8. Hebrews 11:35

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better the first resurrection:

    By “a better resurrection” the author probably meant eternal life in heaven as opposed to being reborn for another earthly, mortal existence. Smith takes this as referring to a resurrection to eternal life, so he specifies that the “better” resurrection is the first resurrection, the resurrection of the just. The expression “first resurrection” is an assimilation to that expression appearing twice in Revelation 20:5-6.

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

9. Hebrews 11:40

God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.

    This passage is referring back to all the heroes described in Hebrews 11, all the way from Abel at the beginning of time to the Maccabees more recently. The immediately preceding section gave a litany of horrible things these heroes of the Bible had endured (torture, mocking, scourging, bonds, imprisonment, stoning, being sawn asunder, slain with the sword, etc.). The JST explicitly refers to these “sufferings” as ultimately being for their good. The KJV translates the Greek literally: “they without us should not be made perfect,” which can be confusing. This is an example of litotes, where the Greek emphasizes the point by negating the opposite, so “without us should not be made perfect” really means “so that they would be made perfect together with us.” The point the author is trying to make here is obscure, so the JST focuses on the beneficial effect of all their sufferings.

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

10. Hebrews 12:12

Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees;

    This is a quotation of Isaiah 35:3: “Strengthen ye the weak hands,//and confirm the feeble knees.” The Hebrews version has the verb “lift up” as referring both to “the hands which hang down” and to the “feeble knees.” Lifting up “hands that hang down” makes sense; lifting up “feeble knees” does not. The Isaiah passage used a parallel word pair strengthen//confirm to introduce each part of the couplet.  The JST assimilates to the Isaiah source to supply “strengthen” as a meaningful verb for the second half of the couplet. The Anchor Bible uses “strengthen” in lieu of KJV “lift up” here. Many modern translations use the word “strengthen” here, although usually at the beginning of the verse to modify both halves of the couplet.

    Paradigm Classification A-4 (Assimilation)

11. Hebrews 12:28

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us should have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably acceptable with reverence and godly fear:

    The KJV translates this with a hortatory subjunctive, “let us have grace [or “be grateful”],” but there is also textual evidence for the indicative here, “we do have grace [or “are grateful”].” Removing “let us” as the JST does at first blush might seem to suggest moving from the subjunctive to the indicative reading, but then adding “should” seems to be just a different way to reflect the subjunctive. The JST also changes the adverb “acceptably” to an adjective “acceptable,” presumably qualifying “we,” suggesting not that we serve God in an acceptable way but that we become acceptable to God by serving him.

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

12. Hebrews 13:3

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in of the body.

    There are two ways to take the end of the verse. It could be rendered “as though you were in [their] body” (Anchor Bible), which is calling for a very direct sense of empathy, to imagine that you are in the very body being mistreated. Or it could be a little less direct, such as “since you too are vulnerable” (NET annotation). The JST takes the latter approach; being “of” the body means that you too are human and vulnerable (in a more general sense, without necessarily having to imagine the specific degradations imposed on others).

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

13. Hebrews 13:5

Let your conversation consecrations be without covetousness; and be content with giving such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

    The word “conversation” is a KJV archaism; it does not mean to refer to mutual speech with other people, but to “conduct.” Since action is implied by that word, and the conduct spoken of is to be “without covetousness,” the text seems to speak of not being overly concerned about money and giving freely, as the JST takes it. The Anchor Bible renders the first part of the verse “Let your conduct be without care for money and be content with what you have.”

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