On the JST of 1 John and Jude

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF 1 JOHN AND JUDE

Kevin Barney

1. 1 John 1:1

Brethren, this is the testimony which we give of that That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

    1 John 1 begins with a long sentence traversing verses 1-3, with verse 2 being a lengthy parenthesis. The main clause (“declare we unto you”) does not appear until verse 3.  So the JST paraphrases that main clause at the beginning of verse 1 to give the reader a fighting chance of being able to follow the train of thought in these opening verses.

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

2. 1 John 2.1

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And But if any man sin and repent, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

    The Greek conjunction kai is most commonly translated “and” as the KJV does here. But that word may also be rendered “but,” and in this case that contrast is clearly the required nuance. The vast majority of modern English translations like the JST use “but” here and not “and.” The first sentence expresses the intent that people should not sin at all in the first place. The next sentence then expresses that if people do sin, that’s okay, we have Jesus as our advocate with the Father. The JST adds “and repent” to make it clear that that advocacy with the Father is not automatic irrespective of the reaction of the human sinner, but that repentance on the part of the sinner is still a required principle in cases of sin.

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

3. 1 John 2.7

Brethren, I write no a new commandment unto you, but an old it is the same commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

    This revision seems to be based on the irony that John states he is not writing a commandment to the people even as he is in fact writing a commandment to them. So instead of the KJV text “no new commandment” the JST acknowledges “a new commandment” but then clarifies this new commandment is the same as the old commandment.

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

4. 1 John 2.8

Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing was ordained of God; and is true in him, and in you: because the darkness is past in you, and the true light now shineth.

    John says “I write unto you” this new commandment, so the JST adds “was ordained of God” to be clear John is not acting solely on his own in expressing this new commandment, but that it has divine warrant. Further, adding a reference to “God” here clarifies that the antecedent to the following “him” is indeed “God” (without the textual addition, the antecedent to “him” is not clearly stated). The words “in you” are then added to clearly distinguish the human actor from “God” (i.e., “him”).

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

5. 1 John 2.15

Love not the world, neither the things that are in of the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

    The Greek indeed has the preposition en “in,” but the JST suggests a different nuance, in that the issue is not one of physical location but preferred orientation. The CJB similarly has “of the world” and CEV has “anything that belongs to the world.” EXB has “in [associated with] the world” and GW has “Don’t love the world and what it offers.” 

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

6. 1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world, the lust that is of the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

    This revision intends no change in meaning but is intended to avoid the italicized “is.”

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

7. 1 John 2:24

 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and also in the Father.

    This verse is framed in second person plural address. It is not clear to what others the “also” might mean to refer, and so the JST moves the “also” as a reference to the Father in addition to the Son. Many modern  translations simply omit the word “also,” such as AMPC, CSB, CEV, ERV, EHV, GNT, HCSB, etc.

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

8. 1 John 3:6

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth continueth in sin hath not seen him, neither known him.

The first clause provides that one who “abideth” in Jesus does not sin, but whoever does sin has neither seen him nor known him. But the text has already established that all human beings sin, which would appear to make this verse a dead letter. The JST addition of “continueth in siin” fixes this problem. The NIV does the same: “No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” CJB, GNT, MOUNCE, NASB and TPT also use the word “continue.” ICB has “goes on sinning” and AMP has “no one who habitually sins” (emphasis in original).

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

9. 1 John 3:8

He that committeth continueth in sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

    (See comment to 1 John 3:6.)

10. 1 John 3:9

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit continue in sin; for his seed the Spirit of God remaineth in him: and he cannot  continue in sin, because he is born of God, having received that holy Spirit of promise.

    For the use of “continue,” see comment to 1 John 3:6. The imagery here is of the Christian being fathered by God, and he therefore cannot commit sin because God’s seed (Greek sperma) remains in him. There is a long tradition of Christian interpreters blanching at this anthropomorphic imagery. The JST changes God’s seed to God’s spirit to avoid the imagery of spiritual begetting.

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

11. 1 John 3:16

Hereby perceive we the love of God Christ, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

    Here is a place where the KJV translators meant well but botched the translation. The word “God” does not appear in the Greek text. The love spoken of is Greek agape, and the KJV translators tried to distinguish that word for love from others (such as eros) by rendering it “the love of God.” The demonstrative ekeinos is then rendered with the English pronoun “he.” From context ekeinos clearly is meant to refer to Jesus, but since the word “God” precedes it in English it seems to be saying that God the Father as opposed to Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. The JST properly makes it clear that it was Christ who fulfilled that role. Many modern translations clarify this in the same way as the JST by inserting “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” into the translation.

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

12. 1 John 3:18

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue only; but in deed and in truth.

    Some modern translations add the word “merely” or “just” to make the same clarification the JST is making, that loving in words is not a bad thing but does not in itself suffice. EHV uses the very word “only.” 

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

13. 1 John 4:3

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now it is already is it in the world.

    The literal word order of the Greek is “even now in the world it is already.” The NET renders “and now is already in the world,” and most modern translations are similar Wherever one decides to place “already,” the copula will most naturally precede it, as in the JST.

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

14. 1 John 4:12

No man hath seen God at any time, except them who believe. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

    The statement that no one has seen God at any time is an allusion to John 1:18. Although this position is repeated several times in the Johannine literature, it seems to conflict with various biblical theophanies. Therefore, the JST adds the clause “except them who believe” in order to harmonize that contradiction.

    Paradigm Classification C-1 (Harmonization within the Biblical Text)

15. 1 John 5:13

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may continue to believe on the name of the Son of God.

    (See comment to 1 John 3:6)

16. 1 John 5:18

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not continueth not in sin; but he that is begotten of God and keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth overcometh him not.

    (See comment to 1 John 3:6) The Greek verb hapto can mean “touch” as the KJV renders it here, but it can also be rendered with a stronger force, “take hold of.” We see this when Mary encounters the resurrected Christ, and the KJV has him saying “Touch me not,” but in reality he is saying something like “Do not cling to me so!” The JST gives the verb here an appropriately strong force with “overcome.” Some translations use “harm” or “hurt.”

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

17. Jude 1

Jude, the servant of God, called of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,; to them that who are sanctified by God of the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

    The “and called” at the end of the verse, just sort of hanging there on its own, is very awkward, and the italicized “and” would have suggested to Smith the need for a revision here. (The verb “called” is meant to parallel “sanctified” and “preserved,” but the structure is obscured in the KJV.) Both “God” and “called” are moved forward to the introductory statement.

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

Comments

  1. Mark Ashurst-McGee says:

    Kevin, in this most excellent installment I noticed a couple example of a pattern I have noticed in the JST. In case 7 (1 John 2:24), JST moves the word “also” to where it can work better. Also, in case 17 (Jude 1:1), JST moves the word “called” to a place that works more smoothly. I’ve seen A LOT of that in the JST. It seems like JS has a tendency to want to preserve words where he can, even if he needs to do some rearranging. Do you have any insights on this?

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Great observations, Mark. I agree that the JST tends toward conservatism, in the sense that if a given word doesn’t really work in a passage Joseph will try to find another way to keep it rather than just jettison it.

  3. Mark Ashurst-McGee says:

    Thanks Kevin, for the confirmation. It’s nice to know I’m not just seeing things – like in A Beautiful Mind (except in my case it would be A Mediocre Mind and an Ugly Face).

  4. Mark Ashurst-McGee says:

    Kevin, this is me begging you to do the book of Revelation.

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