On the JST of Revelation 8-12

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF REVELATION 8-12

Kevin Barney

1. Revelation 8:12

And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as that the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

    The expression “so as the third part of them was darkened” in the KJV is what in Greek grammar is referred to as a “final clause” meant to express purpose, consisting of the conjunction hina + a verb in the subjunctive mood, which would typically be rendered “so that” as the JST correctly has it. The vast majority of modern translations use “that” here with the JST, such as the NET’s “so that a third of them were darkened.”.

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

2. Revelation 9:1

 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him the angel was given the key of the bottomless pit.

    The antecedent to “him” is ambiguous. Does it refer to the angel who sounded, or the star that had fallen, which most assume to be an angel or a spirit in his own right? JST “the angel” seems to make the antecedent the sounding angel, but since the star may have been an angel himself it could also be a reference to the star. The main point of the change is that the pronoun “him” is masculine singular, so it is referring to a person who is masculine singular, whether the angel who sounded (as in AMPC “and to the angel was given the key”) or the star as an angel in his own right (as in AMP “was given unto him (the star-angel)”).

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

3. Revelation 9:14

Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates bottomless pit.

    The expression “bottomless pit” occurs seven times in the KJV, all in Revelation, the first two of which are in verses 2 and 11 of this chapter. So the JST revision is an assimilation to that expression earlier in the chapter. This assimilation may have been motivated by the common-sense observation that being bound “in” a river would not make a good prison as it would normally lead to rapid death.

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

4. Revelation 9:16

And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard saw the number of them.

    This would appear to be both a logical change (i.e., how can one “hear” the number of horsemen?) and an assimilation to the following verse: “And thus I saw the horses in the vision. . . .”

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

5. Revelation 10:4

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those Those things are sealed up which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

    This change appears to be based on a logical contradiction. The first-person speaker was about to write, but a voice from heaven told him to “Seal up those things” and “write them not.” But the act of sealing a writing (with a clay or wax seal) presumes the writing is already in existence; if he hadn’t written it yet there would be nothing to seal up. So the JST changes the reference to sealing to an assertion that those things are already sealed up (i.e., yes they exist in writing, but are sealed and so cannot be read).

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

6. Revelation 11:15

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever forever and ever.

    This is a simple modernization.

    Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization)

7. Revelation 12:1

And there appeared a great wonder sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

    The Greek word semeion means a (miraculous) sign; virtually all modern translations use the word “sign” rather than KJV “wonder” here. The qualification “in the likeness of things on the earth” seems meant to clarify that the accoutrements of being clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars upon her head of course must be understood symbolically, as otherwise such a literal array would destroy the earth. This imagery is derived from Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37.

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

8. Revelation 12:2

And she the woman being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

    The JST is being explicit to the effect that the antecedent to the pronoun “she” is the “woman” from verse 1.

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

9-10. Revelation 12:3-4

And there appeared another wonder sign in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and. And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for ready to devour her child as soon as after it was born.

    (On the Greek word semeion meaning “sign” see comment on Revelation 12:1.) Many modern translations start a new sentence where the JST does, “And the dragon,” although some (like the NET) render kai “Then” rather than with the more common “And.” The JST moves “ready” from the woman about to deliver to the dragon about to eat the child. The word “after” seems slightly more ambiguous about the timing as compared with KJV “as soon as.”

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

11. Revelation 12:5 

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

(The JST moves verse 5 to precede verses 3-4 above but otherwise makes no changes to the verse.)

12. Revelation 12:6

And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days years.

    The Greek literally reads “where she has there a place prepared by God” with a present “has,” but idiomatically in English the present “has” needs to be a pluperfect “had” as in the NET: “where a place had been prepared for her by God.” The time spoken of is 1260 days (which equals 42 months or 3-1/2 years using the Jewish 360 day-count calendar). Making it 1260 years would be an application of the “Day-year principle,” in which prophetic references to “days” are interpreted as being to “years.” The idea originated with certain Jewish interpreters of prophecies in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel. It was first used in Christian exposition in AD 380 by Ticonius, who interpreted the 3-1/2 days of Revelation 11:9 as 3-1/2 years. The principle was accepted by many of the great Protestant reformers and thinkers, including John Wycliffe, John Knox, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Philip Melanchthon, Isaac Newton, Jan Hus, John Foxe, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards,  George Whitefield, Charles Finney, C.H. Spurgeon, Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, and Bishop Thomas Newton. 

Examples of how various interpreters have mapped the 1260 years onto actual history include the following:

  • 312 AD to 1572: Battle of the Milvian Bridge/Vision of Constantine to St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre
  • 606 AD to 1866
  • 538 AD to 1798: Siege of Rome to Napoleon’s Roman Republic.
  • 756 AD to 2016 Donation of Pepin to (presumed) fall of Papacy.
  • 774 AD to 2034 Charlemagne overthrows last Lombard King.
  • 800 AD to 2060 Charlemagne is crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope.

    (For further details, see the Wikipedia article titled “Day-year principle.”)

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and B (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Midrashic Commentary)

13. Revelation 12:7

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought and his angels against Michael,

    The KJV “and the dragon fought and his angels” is very awkward word order. Much better is the NET: “and the dragon and his angels fought back.” This is basically the same revision the JST makes, except instead of “fought back” it is more explicit with “fought against Michael.”

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

14-15. Revelation 12:8-9

And the dragon prevailed not against Michael;, neither the child, nor the woman which was the church of God, who had been delivered of her pains, and brought forth the kingdom of our God and his Christ. Neither was their place found any more in heaven. And for the great dragon, who was cast out,; that old serpent, called the Devil devil, and also called Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 

    As in verse 7, the JST is more explicit about the parties involved; “And prevailed not” becomes “And the dragon prevailed not against Michael.” The JST also adds descriptions of both the child (introduced in verse 5) and the woman (introduced in verse 1) against whom the dragon similarly prevailed not. Many modern translations such as the NIV lower case the word “devil” here with the JST.

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

16. Revelation 12:10

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

    The JST splits verse 10 into two verses, 9 and 10 in JST enumeration, and so the word “for” is capitalized in the JST as it is the first word of verse 10 in the JST enumeration.

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

17-18. Revelation 12:11-12

And For they have overcome overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and for they loved not their own lives, but kept the testimony even unto the death.  Therefore rejoice, ye O heavens, and ye that dwell in them. And after these things I heard another voice saying, Woe to the inhabiters of the earth, yea, and they who dwell upon the islands of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

    The JST assimilates the initial “And” to an initial “For” similar to the initial “For” of verse 10 in the JST enumeration, suggesting a causal relationship with what has already been articulated in this chapter. The JST changes the past tense of “overcame” to a perfect tense of “have overcome” to stress completion. The next “and” is also changed to “for” to continue the causal relationship established by the initial “For” of the verse. “And they loved not their lives unto the death” is very sparsely articulated, and so the JST fills the expression out more with “for they loved not their own lives, but kept the testimony even unto death.” The substitution of a vocative “O” for “ye” (the Jacobian second person nominative plural pronoun) was motivated by the italics. The “woe” clause of verse 12 seems to be voiced by an angel, and so the JST adds an explicit introduction to that effect with “And after these things I heard another voice saying.” In “Woe to the inhabirers of the earth and of the sea!” the “inhabiters of the sea” without some sort of qualification would seem to be fish, so the JST adds a clarifying “they who dwell upon the islands” of the sea to allow for them to be people, as surely was intended.

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

19. Revelation 12:13

And For when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the manchild.

    Similar to verse 12, the JST changes initial “And” to initial “For” to continue the causal framing of these verses with the previous material in the chapter.

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

20. Revelation 12:14

And Therefore, to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly flee into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

    The JST replaces the conjunction “And” with the adverb “Therefore,” meaning “for that reason,” which continues the causal relationship with the previous material that has already been established. The verb petomai does indeed mean “to fly,” which would seem to be the point of the two wings of a great eagle. The JST retains the basic idea of fleeing while avoiding the miraculous “fly” with the more generic and mundane “flee,” which also is close orthographically to KJV “fly,” as if perhaps the KJV translators  made a mistake in the English text.

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

21. Revelation 12:15

And the serpent cast casteth out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

    In Jacobean English, a third-person present indicative verb took an -eth ending. At first blush the verb “cast” would seem to qualify and should be “casteth” as the JST suggests. I at first was just as puzzled by the absence of an -eth ending as Smith was. Then it dawned on me: this verb is not in the present tense. The verb “cast” is conventionally uninflected in the past tense. (“Casted” is actually an archaic form of the past tense; customarily it would be “cast,” same as the present tense.) Since the verb “cast” is actually a past tense here and not a present tense, it does not receive the Jacobian -eth ending.

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

22. Revelation 12:16

And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast casteth out of his mouth.

    (See the comment on “casteth” in Revelation 12:15.)

23. Revelation 12:17

And Therefore, the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

    In these verses the JST has supplied a whole series of “for” and “therefore” transitions to establish a causal relationship with the material earlier in the chapter, a series which is continued here.

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

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