On the JST of Romans 1

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ROMANS 1

Kevin Barney

1. Romans 1:1

Paul, an apostle, a servant of God, called of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, and separated unto to preach the gospel of God,

    This reorganization of titles seems to have been spurred by a desire to avoid the italicized “to be” in the expression “called to be an apostle.” The words “an apostle” are moved to immediately follow the name “Paul” by assimilation to the other Pauline letters, as “Paul, an apostle” in apposition is the most common opening formula used in the Pauline corpus. “Called” is also moved forward to become “called of Jesus Christ.” The other revisions seem designed to support these changes. This salutation is lengthier and more detailed than others because Paul was introducing himself to a church he had neither evangelized nor yet visited (Rome). By announcing he was an apostle, a servant of God, called of Jesus Christ and separated to preach the gospel, Paul was articulating his bona fides to address the Roman church authoritatively. Verses 1-7 actually constitute a single, lengthy sentence in Greek, which shows the concern he had in introducing himself properly to this church community.

    Paradigm Classifications A-1, A-2 and A-4 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text, Suspicion of Italicized Text and Assimilation)

2. Romans 1:2

 (Which he had promised afore before by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

    The verb proepangellomai means “to promise from the beginning, promise long ago.” The KJV represents the pro– compound of the verb archaically with “afore,” which the JST correctly modernizes to “before.”

    Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization)

3. Romans 1:4

 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the Spirit according to the truth through the resurrection from the dead:

    Verse 3 states that Jesus was of the seed of David by natural descent, but then verse 4 affirms he was the Son of God as declared by “a spirit of holiness.” By capitalizing “Spirit” Smith makes this explicitly a declaration of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead. The NET similarly has “according to the Holy Spirit.” Many other modern translations similarly capitalize the word “Spirit,” such as the NIV.

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

4. Romans 1:5

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for through obedience, and to the faith in his name, to preach the gospel among all nations, for his name:

    This passage speaks of the apostles bringing about obedience and promoting a commitment of faith. The Greek literally reads “for an obedience of faith,” which is ambiguous and could be taken in different ways. What Paul intended it to mean was “to promote a commitment of faith [among the people]”; Smith provides that the apostles obtained the grace of the apostleship through their own obedience and faith. In the process the expression “his name” is changed from purpose (something to be encouraged among the people) to means (the reason and source of their apostolic calling).

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

5. Romans 1:6

Among whom are ye also are the called of Jesus Christ:

    Smith provides for a more modern word order by putting the subject “ye” before the verb “are” rather than after. Many modern translations do the same.

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

6. Romans 1:7

Wherefore I write to To all that be who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    As Paul finally concludes his lengthy salutation to this letter, he gives a formal statement of those to whom the letter is addressed. The JST makes the purpose of “to” here clearer by fleshing it out explicitly with “wherefore I write to. . . . “ Most modern translations use the form “are” for the participle with the JST rather than KJV “be.”

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

7. Romans 1:8

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ, that for you all are steadfast, that and your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

    Paul often follows his opening greetings with an expression of thanksgiving, as here. The JST explicitly states a reason why the faith of the Romans is spoken of throughout the whole world (because of their steadfastness in the faith).  Paul here is praising the Romans globally without betraying at this point his awareness of differences among them, which will be addressed later in the letter.

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

8. Romans 1:9

 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;, that you may be kept through the Spirit, in the gospel of his Son,

    Again, the JST changes a reference from personal spirit to the Holy Spirit. Some interpreters do the same. Strathmann (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 4.64) translates it “through the Spirit of God imparted to me,” as also does Kummel (Romer 7 und die Bekehrung des Paulus, 33), and some commenters compare Phil. 3:3 “who worship by the Spirit of God.” (See Anchor Bible, 244.) The JST changes the statement from Paul’s characterization of himself to an exhortation to his readers.

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

9. Romans 1:10

Making request of you, to remember me in your prayers, I now write unto you, that you will ask him in faith, that if by any means, now at length, I may serve you with my labors, and may might have a prosperous journey by the will of God, to come unto you.

    “Making request” refers to Paul’s personal prayers to God, as in the Anchor Bible “I beg always in my prayers. . . .” The qualification “in my prayers” is, however, only implicit, not explicit, and so the JST has Paul “making request” of the Romans in their prayers that he may be able to come visit them.

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

10. Romans 1:11

For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye that it may be established in you to the end;

    The word “end” here is used in the sense of purpose, “in order that.” (Technically eis to with an infinitive has the same import as hina with a subjunctive; it is a purpose clause.) The JST correctly reflects the purpose clause by substituting “that.” The JST is conservative about deleting text, however, and so instead of just deleting the word “end” the JST moves it to the end of the sentence and repurposes it in a different sense, “to the end [of time].”

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

11. Romans 1:12

 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

    The initial “that is” is meant to be clarifying of the prior verse, in the sense of “I mean.” Smith seems to have seen the immediate doubling of the word “that” (in “that is, that”) as an unintentional repetition and therefore deletes the initial “that is” so the sentence simply begins with “that.”

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

12. Romans 1:13

Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hindered hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

    In modern English the verb “let” means “to allow.” But the word “let” can also have a separate, archaic sense, “to hinder or prevent,” from the Old English verb lettan. Since the Greek verb used here, koluo, does indeed mean to hinder or prevent, we know that this is the archaic usage, and the JST correctly updates it.

    Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization)

13. Romans 1:15

So And, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

    The first word of this verse, houtos, does indeed mean “so, thus, hence,” and is meant to connect this verse logically with what has preceded. The JST simplifies the construction with an “and,” which may imply a logical progression from that which has preceded, but somewhat less certainly.

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

14. Romans 1:17

 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from through faith to faith on his name: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

    The precise meaning of the expression “from faith to faith” is obscure. It could mean “beginning and ending with faith” or “this righteousness was obtained by faith because it was intended for faith” or “through faith and for faith,” among other possibilities. The JST keeps the basic concept of faith but avoids the obscure expression.

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

15. Romans 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold love not the truth, but remain in unrighteousness;

    To “hold the truth in unrighteousness” seems contradictory; the KJV simply does not work here. The problem is that the Greek word katecho can mean “hold” in two (very) different senses, either “hold fast” or “hold back” (the latter in the sense of “restrain, suppress”). KJV “hold” without more implies the first meaning, “who hold fast the truth in unrighteousness,” which makes no sense. The passage needs to be translated something like “who holds back, suppresses” the truth, which is how this passage is handled in modern translations, such as the NET: “who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness.”

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

16. Romans 1:19

 Because After that which may be known of God is manifest in to them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

    The JST changes this from a causal clause to a temporal clause, with the final clause pushed down to the beginning of verse 20. The original causal nuance is picked up by the first word of v. 20, “for.”

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

17. Romans 1:20

 For God hath revealed unto them the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, which are clearly seen,; things which are not seen being understood by the things that are made, even through his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

    The first change is an importation of text from the preceding verse, with “shewed” changed to “revealed” to avoid the archaism. The words “things which are not seen” are a restatement of  “the invisible things of him” from prior in the verse to make clear the contrast with things “clearly seen” or “the things that are made.” The word “through” is a restatement of the previous word “by.” The KJV is obscure; the meaning is more clearly expressed in the Anchor Bible: “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible qualities, his eternal power and divinity, have been perceived by reflection on what he has made.” 

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

18. Romans 1:21

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was hearts were darkened.

    The JST repeats the pronominal subject “they” for clarity, and “heart” is pluralized to “hearts” to match the plural “their.”

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

19. Romans 1:28

And even as they did not like to retain God in their according to some knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

    This change was spurred by the italicized “their.”

    Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text)

20. Romans 1:32

Who And some who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, are inexcusable, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    The JST adds “some” to avoid a hyperbolic judgment on everyone. It also adds “are inexcusable,” for while these misdeeds have been catalogued here the denunciation of them has been more implicit than explicit.

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

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