On the JST of Acts 12-28

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ACTS 12-28

Kevin Barney

1. Acts 12:7

And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon unto him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

    The expression “came upon him” almost sounds like an accidental encounter; the point of “came unto him” would seem to be to make the encounter more intentional and purposeful. The verb epeste (second aorist of ephistemi) is used in an intransitive sense: “come and stand by, come up to or upon,” often suddenly or unawares. The sense is expressed well in the NET: “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared.” The italicized “him” may have been an influence, as there is no literal pronoun in the Greek text.

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

2. Acts 13:18

And about the time of for forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.

    The Greek text begins kai hos tesserakontaete chronon, where kai is the conjunction “and,” hos with numbers means “about,” tesserakontaete is the adjective “of 40 years,” and chronon means “(with respect to) time,” and so something like “for a period of about 40 years.” The addition of JST “for” is useful to make clear this is the span of time that God put up with the people in the wilderness.

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

3. Acts 13:48

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as believed were ordained to unto eternal life believed.

    This would appear to be a chicken and egg type of concern. Which comes first: believing or being ordained (appointed) to eternal life? If believing only follows being appointed to eternal life, on what basis is the appointment to eternal life made in the first place? Presumably believing and being appointed to eternal life are not sequential acts but are contemporaneous and reciprocal.

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

4. Acts 14:14

Which when When the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard this of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

    Both these changes are based on the italics.

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

5. Acts 15:24

Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain men which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:

    The Greek word rendered “certain” here is the indefinite pronoun tines, which is masculine plural and so could refer to “some people” (gender inclusive), but culturally it would more likely refer to (unidentified) “men.” AMP and ICB similarly have “some of our men,” and ERV, ISV, MSG and NLT  have “some men,” 

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

6. Acts 16:13

And on the sabbath Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where the people resorted for prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

    Whether to capitalize “Sabbath” is stylistic; a majority of modern translations do so with the JST. The addition of “the people resorted for” is an assimilation to “resorted” later in the verse in order to avoid the archaic word “wont” as an adjective (Middle English contraction of Old English wunod, past participle of wunian, “to be accustomed, be used to”).

    Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization)

7. Acts 17:19

 And they took him, and brought him unto the Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine is, whereof thou speakest, is?

    The Greek text indeed has a definite article governing Areopagus. The word “is” is not explicitly in the Greek text, which is perhaps why the KJV just adds it awkwardly at the very end; good English style would require it to be moved forward as the JST does. The NET for instance reflects both of these adjustments to the text: “So they took Paul and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are proclaiming.’”

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

8. Acts 17:27

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and are willing to find him, though for he be is not far from every one of us:

    The JST regularly deletes “haply” (archaic for “perhaps”). The verb pselapheseian means “to feel around for, to grope after,” a metaphor for the struggle pagans experience in trying to find God; the JST replaces that verb with the more straightforward “are willing to find him.” The JST’s more straightforward approach requires a change from the concessive “though” to the causal “for.” The vast majority of translations use “is” rather than “be” near the end of the verse.

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

9. Acts 17:31

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man him whom he hath ordained; whereof and he hath given assurance of this unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

    The first two changes were based on the italics. The first in Greek is en andri, literally “by a man”; JST “him” gets to the same place. The addition of “of this” is simply for clarification.

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

10. Acts 20:13

And we he went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.

    This is one of the famous “we” passages of the book of Acts, which according to tradition was authored by Luke. There are three basic views on the we passages: (1) they show that the author was a participant and eyewitness to the events of the book, (2) they are the work of a later redactor, or (3) the plural was simply a stylistic convention. It is tempting to see Smith as intentionally reacting to the we passages by singularizing this pronoun, but presumably if that were the case he would have kept it first person rather than making it singular third person. Further, Smith makes no attempt to singularize the other “we” pronouns. More likely this is an assimilation to the singular “he” pronoun later in the verse. Of course, if both the first and the second “he” referred to Paul the verse would make no sense; presumably the antecedent of “he” is meant to be one of the other travelers.

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

11. Acts 20:21

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    The KJV uses “toward” twice: “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Both are translations of the preposition eis. But the preposition does not necessarily need to be translated the same way in both occurrences. Like the JST the NET handles these prepositions differently: “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” Having faith “toward” something seems awkward, so the JST replaces that preposition with an expression more natural for faith, as in Acts 3:16 “through faith in his name.” Many modern translations leave “repentance toward” but change the faith clause to “faith in.”

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

12. Acts 21:25

As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.

    The expression “and from strangled” is awkward (i.e., strangled what?), so the JST makes it “things strangled.” KJ21 does the same; other translations fill it out even more with something like “meat from strangled animals.”

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

13. Acts 21:30

 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

    It is unclear to me why the JST deletes Paul’s name here. Presumably the thought was that the reference was obvious and so the pronoun “him” was sufficient here.

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

14. Acts 22:10

And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for of thee to do.

    The pronoun soi (second person singular in the dative case) would normally be translated “to/for you,” but “of you” is close enough to be sensible.

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

15. Acts 22:18

And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem:; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.

(The only change made to this verse was to change a colon to a semicolon.)

16. Acts 22:29

Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him, and he loosed him from his bands.

    This revision correlates with that in verse 30 below. “Because he had bound him” is a pluperfect and refers to having previously bound him. Verse 30 in the KJV is following a late form of text which has “he released him from his bonds.” If the chief captain were all of a sudden concerned that he had inadvisably bound a Roman citizen, why would he wait until the next day to release him from his bonds? He wouldn’t, and so the JST provides that he released Paul from his bonds immediately. In fact, however, the Textus Receptus of v. 30 (followed by the KJV) is a late form of text. What verse 30 actually says is “he released him from custody” (and not from his bonds; at this time he was still in custody but not bound). So the changes the JST makes to vv. 29-30 are based on the Textus Receptus, which improbably provides that the captain waited a full day to release the bonds after he had learned Paul was a Roman citizen. The JST is certainly historically correct to in effect undo that Byzantine textual reading followed in the KJV.

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

17. Acts 22:30

 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.

    (See comment to Acts 22:29.)

18. Acts 23:5

Then said Paul, I wist did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

    The JST consistently modernizes the Middle English wist and its various forms with modern “know.” 

    Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization)

19. Acts 23:15

Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow tomorrow, as though ye you would enquire inquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever before he come near, are ready to kill him.

    The changes in this verse are modernizations. (The word “ye” in Jacobian English is subjective second person plural, but in modern English “you” is both the subjective and objective form.)

Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization)

20. Acts 23:27

This man was taken of the Jews, and should would have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.

    KJV “should” does not mean “they ought to have killed him,” but rather “they were about to kill him.” The JST makes this clearer in modern English by succinctly changing “should have been killed” to “would have been killed.”

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

21. Acts 25:17

Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow day following I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.

    The adverb exes used here does indeed mean “on the next day.”

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

22. Acts 27:33

And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.

    There is no actual word “that” in the Greek text; it’s inclusion in English is simply a function of how one chooses to translate the participle. Compare the NET: “As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day you have been in suspense and have gone without food; you have eaten nothing.’”

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

23. Acts 27:35

And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

    The preposition enopion indeed means “in the presence of” as the JST has it here. Many modern translations have “in the presence of” with the JST.

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

Comments

  1. Rob Schweighardt says:

    This is a new site to me, so I may be way behind the curve. Do you take into consideration what Joseph Smith plagiarized from Adam Clark’s translation, or is it as if it all came from Joseph Smith?

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    In my Dialogue article I spend a little time talking about secondary source influence (which in a translation context I do not consider plagiarism). For the next couple of books I double checked Clarke, but I wasn’t finding much so I stopped bothering.

  3. D Christian Harrison says:

    Hey Kevin, I may have missed it… But could you put a little flesh on where the paradigm classifications are coming from?

  4. A lot of these classifications are just having the text be more consistent with itself. Something that any student of the Bible should be able to do. But post after post I’m floored by how many times I’ve read over these verses, but never picked up on these inconsistencies. I suspect it has to do with the KJV language being sufficiently mentally tasking that my mind isn’t building the proper mental model to keep track of what the authors are trying to communicate.
    I hope the church produces an edition of the Bible with Kevin Barney footnotes.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Christian, you can search the blog for My New JST Article, which at the beginning gives a link to my Dialogue article explaining the categories, or just go to the Dialogue website to find my article in the Summer 2020 issue.

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