On the JST of Romans 6-7

A COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF ROMANS 6-7

Kevin Barney

1. Romans 6:7

 For he that is dead to sin is freed from sin.

    The import of the verb here translated “freed” (dedikaiotai), often rendered “acquitted,” is uncertain. Some take it in a forensic sense under Jewish law, meaning a dead person is freed from any legal case or claim against him in life. Others take it in the more traditionally Pauline sense, “justified,” and thus acquitted of sin. Others see the death here not as physical death but as the symbolic death one experiences in baptism. The JST seems to be making the point that death in and of itself does not justify the deceased, because there is an afterlife and there will be a divine judgment with various postmortem repercussions. So the JST suggests that the true way to become freed from sin is not to die but to become “dead to sin.”

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

2. Romans 6:14

For in so doing sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

    The added words “in so doing” are meant to refer back to verses 12-13 that describe proactive steps for the Christian to take so as to avoid sin (such as “let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body,” and “neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness”).

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

3. Romans 6:17

But God be thanked, that ye were are not the servants of sin, but for ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

    The KJV does not handle the verb hete (imperfect of eimi) well here. Instead of coordinate “that you were” it should be subordinate “that though you were. . . .” The NET renders “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to.” The JST moves the focus from the past to the present: “though you were the slaves of sin” —> “[now] you are not the slaves of sin.”

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

4. Romans 6:19

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have in times past yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

    This is similar to 6:17, where the JST moves the emphasis from the past to the present. The JST emphasizes the past tense (aorist) of the verb parestestate (KJV “ye have yielded”) with “ye have in times past yielded” in order to provide an explicit contrast with the present “even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.”

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

5. Romans 7:1

Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man only as long as he liveth?

    The Greek expression at the end of the verse, eph’ hoson chronon ze, means “(just) so long as he lives.” The JST correctly modifies the expression with English “only.” Many modern translations similarly use “only” here, such as the NIV.

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

6. Romans 7:2

For the woman which hath an a husband is bound by the law to her husband so only as long as he liveth; but for if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

    The change from “an husband” to “a husband” is a modernization. The KJV uniformly uses “an” before words beginning with h-, but the modern practice is to use “an” only before words where the following h- is unvoiced. As the h- in husband is voiced, in modern practice it would be “a husband,” not “an husband.” The JST again gives a proper temporal limitation on the expression “so long as he liveth” with “only as long as he liveth.” Many translations do something similar with “while he lives.” Most translations render the conjunction de here with “but” with the KJV, but it could also be rendered “then” or “so,” similar to JST “for.”

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

7. Romans 7:5

 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins sin, which were by not according to the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

    This section of Romans is challenging to follow, as Paul sometimes speaks in a negative way about the Law, and other times more positively on the subject. Arguments have been made for “law” in this section to refer to natural law, Roman law, or all law, but most likely it refers to Mosaic Law. Sometimes Smith goes along with Paul’s negative statements about Law, but more commonly, as here, he pushes back and portrays (Mosaic) Law in a more positive light. Here Smith singularizes “sin,” to make it “sin” in general and not particular sins. The JST changes “which were by the law” to “which were not according to the law” to push back against Paul’s negative treatment of the Law in this section.

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

8. Romans 7:6

But now we are delivered from the law wherein we were held, that being dead to the law, wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

    In this passage Smith does not push back against Paul, but refers to the Law in a negative sense just as Paul’s text does. Smith simply moves a clause forward and correctly adds an explanatory “to the law” following “being dead.”

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

9. Romans 7:9

For once I was alive without transgression of the law, once: but when the commandment of Christ came, sin revived, and I died.

    It is difficult to take ego “I” as a specific reference to Paul, as he was born and raised a pious Jew, so even from birth he was never “without law.” The word “I” seems to be used in a universal sense for those who had experienced life without knowledge of the Law. In order to have the passage make sense, Smith changes the first clause to being “alive without transgression of the law” (referring to Paul’s background as a pious Jew), but his awareness of his sinful nature came only when he learned of Christ.

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

10. Romans 7:10

And when I believed not the commandment of Christ which came, which was ordained to life, I found it condemned me to be unto death.

    This passage continues the reframing begun in verse 10. Paul is talking about the condemnation that comes from the Law, but Smith adjusts this to be a reference to Paul’s experience coming unto Christ, as the generalized account Paul is giving does not seem to apply to his own life (having been born and raised as a pious Jew).

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

11. Romans 7:11

For sin, taking occasion, denieth by the commandment, and deceived me, and by it slew me I was slain.

    Again, Smith frames this as sin coming from a denial of the commandment of Christ rather than “by the commandment” (i.e., the Law itself). The change from “slew me” to “I was slain” is both a modernization and an avoidance of italics.

    Paradigm Classifications A-1, A-2 and A-3 (KJV Paraphrase of KJV Text, Suspicion of Italicized Text and Modernization)

12. Romans 7:12

Wherefore Nevertheless, I found the law is to be holy, and the commandment to be holy, and just, and good.

    As this now speaks more positively of the Law, the initial word needs to be given more adversative force, such as this change in the JST from wherefore —> nevertheless. (The Anchor Bible properly has “yet” here.) The double use of “to be” was based on the italicized “is.”

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

13. Romans 7:13

Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, by that which is good working death in me by that which is good; that sin, by the commandment, might become exceeding sinful.

    Here a clause is simply moved forward for stylistic reasons.

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

14. Romans 7:14

For we know that the law commandment is spiritual: but when I was under the law, I am was yet carnal, sold under sin.

    The text has a contrast between “spiritual” and “carnal (i.e., “fleshly”).” Paul is saying the Law is in theory a good thing of which he approves, but the power of sin within him makes it impossible for him to keep the Law. The JST replaces the first occurrence of “law” with “commandment” (meant as a synonym of “law” used for variation), which is described as “spiritual,” and moves the word “law” down to the second clause, so that Paul can describe himself as carnal and sold under sin when under the Law. Paul makes his point vividly in the present, “but I am carnal, sold under sin.” The JST puts the second half of the verse in the past tense, to emphasize that Paul is no longer under the Law but has found Christ.

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

15. Romans 7:15

But now I am spiritual; for For that which I am commanded to do, I do; and that which I am commanded not to allow, I allow not: for. For what I know is not right, I would not do;, for that do I not; but what which is sin, I hate, that do I.

    To grasp this substantial revision we first need to revisit this verse in a modern translation. The NET reads “For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want—instead I do what I hate.” The JST reacts against this very honest display of humanity on the part of Paul, and so Smith completely revises the verse to paint Paul in a more confident spiritual light with considerably less angst. Paul describes his spiritual troubles in the present tense for vividness, but that seems to denigrate his present condition as a disciple of Christ, which is why the JST introduces this positive reworking of Paul’s text with “but now I am spiritual. . . .”

    Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary)

16. Romans 7:16

 If then I do not that which I would not allow, I consent unto the law, that it is good; and I am not condemned.

    Here Paul is agreeing that the Law in a certain sense is good. The JST takes it in a similar way, but flips the framing from positive to negative, and at the end adds the result that “I am not condemned.”

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

17. Romans 7:17

Now then, it is no more I that do it sin, but I seek to subdue that sin that which dwelleth in me.

    The JST properly gives “sin” as the antecedent to the pronoun “it.” The addition of “I seek to subdue that” sin which dwelleth in me is an attempt to put Paul in a more favorable light.

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

18. Romans 7:18

For I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not, only in Christ.

    The JST deletes an italicized word and qualifies Paul’s absolute statement that he cannot figure out how to do good, but “only in Christ.”

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

19. Romans 7:19

For the good that I would have done when under the law, I do find not to be good: therefore, I do it not. but But the evil which I would not do under the law, I find to be good; that, I do.

    The JST fleshes this passage out and allows for a more negative framing of the Law, if not quite as far as Paul is going.

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

20. Romans 7:20

 Now if I do that, through the assistance of Christ, I would not do under the law, I am not under the law; and it is no more that I seek to do wrong I that do it, but to subdue sin that dwelleth in me.

    Again, to appreciate this change we need to first read the passage in a modern translation: “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.” (NET) This somewhat convoluted change is intended to put Paul in a more favorable light.

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

21-22. Romans 7:21-22

 I find then that under the a law, that, when I would do good, evil is was present with me. For; for I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

    The JST frames this in the past (is—> was) to make this tendency reflect a time in the past when Paul was under the Law.

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

23. Romans 7:23

But And now I see another law, even the commandment of Christ, and it is imprinted on my mind. But in my members, are warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

    This verse speaks of another law, a law emanating from Paul’s body. The JST turns this into the “commandment of Christ” as a hopeful and positive influence, but then uses the conjunction “but” to introduce the law of his members.

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

24. Romans 7:24

And if I subdue not the sin which is in me, but with the flesh serve the law of sin; O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

    The JST adds a clause to make the following outpouring of a knowledge by Paul of his own wretchedness conditional on Paul’s failure to subdue the temptations within him,

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

25. Romans 7:25

 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, then, that so with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

    The JST simply deletes the negative clause “but with the flesh [I serve] the law of sin,” which again is intended to put Paul in a more positive light.

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

Comments

  1. Margaret says:

    Very interesting. I thoroughly enjoy your JST posts.

  2. Not a Cougar says:

    Any chance we’re going to get a little more variety in articles in the near future? Kevin does a great job with the JST articles, but there’s not been a lot else on here for a while.

  3. Aussie Mormon says:

    Don’t worry Not A Cougar, general conference is upon us, and there’s bound to be something that upsets someone.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, sorry about bogarting the blog recently. Everyone will be pleased to know I only have one more installment left and then I’ll be done. My JST commentary will cover everything from Acts through Revelation.

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