On the JST of Acts 1-11

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ACTS 1-11

Kevin Barney

1. Acts 1:3

To whom also he shewed showed himself alive after his passion sufferings by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

    The change from “shewed” to “showed” is a modernization of the archaic spelling “shew.” The word “passion” is a translation of the aorist infinitive of the verb pascho “to suffer,” which we recognize in English from the “paschal” lamb. The word “passion” may be used as a technical term for the suffering of Jesus (from the past participle [passus] of the Latin verb patior “to suffer”), so the KJV translation is not incorrect. But over time the word “passion” in contemporary English has come to also take on meanings of strong romantic and sexual feelings. So while the KJV is not technically incorrect, the JST gives a more literal translation to avoid misunderstanding. Many modern translations also use “suffering” here.

    Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-3 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Modernization)

2. Acts 1:4

And, being assembled together with them when they were assembled together, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

“Being assembled together” is a translation of the participle sunalizomenos. The KJV represents the participle quite literally with “being assembled together,” but it would also be proper to construe the participle as a temporal clause, “when they were assembled together,” as the JST takes it. This change appears to be stylistic; it does not appreciably change the meaning of the passage. The Anchor Bible similarly takes this as a temporal clause, “when they met together.” See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1995), 203. Most modern translations similarly construe the participle as a temporal clause with either “when” or “while.”

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

3. Acts 2:3

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat rested upon each of them.

    This verse speaks of “cloven tongues” in the plural, but then oddly uses a singular pronoun “it,” apparently suggesting that the cloven tongues separated to come upon each of them. The tongues are meant to represent the Holy Spirit. The Greek verb kathizo rendered “sat” in the KJV does indeed mean to “sit,” but in this miraculous and holy context “sat” seems far too pedestrian. The Anchor Bible at p. 231 similarly uses “rested” here. Many other modern translations have “rested” or “came to rest” here; others have “settled.”

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

4. Acts 2:27

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell prison, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

    This is a quote from Psalm 16:10, where the KJV OT uses the same parallel pair of words as appears here: “hell//corruption.” The Greek word hades is rendered “hell” here in the KJV, but that word can also mean “locked” (in the sense of a prison) from passages that talk about certain persons holding the “keys” of hades, such as Peter holding the keys of heaven and hades in Matthew 16:18-19 or “I . . . have the keys of hell [Greek hades] and of death” (Revelation 1:18).

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

5. Acts 3:1

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the ninth hour, for of prayer, being the ninth hour.

    This revision is a simple reorganization of the material motivated by a desire to avoid the italicized “being” and “hour.”

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

6. Acts 3:4

And Peter and John, fastening his their eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

    The odd translation of this verse reflects the fact that the participle (from atenizo, “look straight at; stare”) is singular and so technically applies only to Peter, with the reference to John being something of an afterthought, as in NET: “Peter looked directly at him (as did John) and said, ‘Look at us!’” Many modern translations do the same thing as the JST, such as the CEB: “Peter and John stared at him.”

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

7. Acts 3:12

And when Peter saw this it, he answered and said unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

    This change was motivated by the italics. Many modern translations are similar to the JST here, such as NIV: “When Peter saw this he said to them. . . .”

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

8. Acts 3:16

And his name this man, through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by in him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

    The KJV is incredibly awkward here with “And his name through faith in his name. . . .” Huh? What is that even supposed to mean? Something like what the Anchor Bible (at p. 281) does with the beginning of the verse is necessary to make it comprehensible: “Indeed, because of faith in his name, that name has made this man strong whom you see and know well.” Smith changes the first reference to “his name” to “this man” (to be picked up again later in the sentence). The revision works pretty well, because the man’s “faith in his name” is indeed the point of the passage.

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

9. Acts 3:17

And now, brethren, I wot know that through ignorance ye did it have done this, as did also your rulers.

    The Greek verb here is oida “know” (perfect but with present meaning). The word “wot” means “to know” in both the first and third person present singular indicative, from the Old English verb witan. Smith was aware of this archaism and so regularly substitutes “know” for “wot.” The change from “did it” to “have done this” was based on the italics.

    Paradigm Classifications A-2 and A-3 (Suspicion of Italicized Text and Modernization)

10. Acts 3:20

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom ye have crucified:

    In verse 15 Peter has already expressed that the people had in effect killed the Prince of life (Jesus). The JST adds a clause here to drive home the irony, that the source of their salvation should be the very man they had crucified.

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

11. Acts 4:21

So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for many all men glorified God for that which was done.

    This change was spurred by the italics as well as common sense. “All men” is hyperbole referring specifically to the ordinary people. The officials of the Sanhedrin and the Sadducees for instance who threatened the ordinary people would of course not be included in the set “all men.” 

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

12. Acts 5:13

And of the rest rulers durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.

    The following verse makes it clear that “none of the rest” here was rhetorical hyperbole: “More and more believers in the Lord were added to their number, crowds of both men and women.” (NET) That does not sound like “none of the rest” were willing to join them, so the JST replaces “rest” with “rulers,” a more limited (and believable) subset of the people who clearly were unwilling to join with them.

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

13. Acts 5:39

 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; be careful, therefore, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

    In this speech Gamaliel suggests one of two things is going on. If this Christian movement is of the people only, there is no need to fight against it, it will fail on its own. In contrast, if it is of God, there is no point fighting against it as it will surely succeed. Gamaliel’s wisdom convinced the leaders, and they let the apostles go with just a beating. The conditional in verse 38 (where God is not involved) is a third class conditional, but here in verse 39 (where it is God’s will) the conditional is a first class conditional, which means Gamaliel frames the latter possibility as the more likely one. The addition of “be careful, therefore” coordinates with the first class conditional to the effect that the more likely possibility is that this movement is of God. KJV “haply” is archaic for “perhaps.” The Greek word mepote that begins the final clause may be a conjunction (lest, that not, otherwise) or an interrogative particle (perhaps). The KJV seems to have translated the same word twice in both senses (“lest perhaps”); the JST follows the first translation and deletes the second. Modern translations tend to use “may,” “lest” or “might,” but not “perhaps.”

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

14. Acts 6:9

Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is who are called the synagogue of the Libertines, and also Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

    This revision was motivated by the italics. The JST deletes the italicized “synagogue” and makes the relative clause personal and plural to refer “certain of” to human beings (i.e., plural) rather than to the synagogue (i.e., a singular thing).

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

15. Acts 7:39

To whom Whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,

The “to” in the initial relative clause of the KJV is not necessary. We would not say “would not obey to them” but rather “would not obey them.” Some translations like the NET find the entire relative clause framing awkward and delete the relative altogether: “Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him.”

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

16. Acts 7:40

Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot know not what is become of him.

    (On the substitution of “know” for “wot” see the comment on Acts 3:17.)

17. Acts 7:44

 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion pattern that he had seen.

    The Greek word tupos (source of English “type”) means “pattern, example, model, standard.” The most common translation in modern English translations is “pattern” with the JST, as in the NIV.

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

18. Acts 7:59

And they stoned Stephen, and he, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

    Since English is not an inflected language and relies so heavily on word order, we would naturally read “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God” as those doing the stoning calling upon God. The JST revision makes it clear Stephen was the one calling upon God. Since Greek is an inflected language, in the original text we don’t have to guess; we know it was Stephen calling upon God because the participle epikaloumenon modifies Stephen as it is masculine, singular and in the accusative case, just as Stephen is here. Many modern translations have something like “as he called” to make this clear.

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

19. Acts 9:7

And the men which journeyed they who were journeying with him stood speechless, hearing a saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice, but seeing no man of him who spake to him.

    These changes reflect a harmonization with Acts 22:9, which is the source for all the specific verbiage added to this verse.

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

20. Acts 9:24

But their laying await lying in wait was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.

    The JST is a simple modernization of the archaic “laying await.” KJ21, which is a modernization of the KJV, also has “lying in wait.” Most modern translations have “plot” or “scheme.”

    Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization)

21. Acts 9:30

Which when When the brethren knew this, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

    This change was motivated by the italics, deleting the italicized “which” and adding a “this” to serve its function. Many modern translations similarly use “this” or “it” to refer to the plot.

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

22. Acts 9:32

And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all these regions quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

    This revision was spurred by the italics. The Greek literally says “As Peter was going through all,” which is awkwardly incomplete and requires something to be added in English to flesh out the meaning, such as “from place to place.” CEB has “the whole region,” MOUNCE has “the entire region,” NABRE has “every region,” and NASB has “all those regions.” 

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

23. Acts 9:38

And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

    The deletion of “him” was based on the italics.

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

24. Acts 9:40

But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

The deletion of “him” was based on the italics.

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

25. Acts 9:41

And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows,; he  presented her alive.

    The Greek has a participle here, but it is clearer in English to present this as a finite verb as the JST does here. Many modern translations have “he presented her alive.”

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

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