On the JST of the Gospels

 COMMENTARY ON JOSEPH SMITH’S REVISION OF THE PERICOPE “PETER’S CONFESSION” IN THE FOUR GOSPELS

Kevin Barney

Introduction

    Having completed my informal commentary on the JST of Acts through Revelation, I knew I wasn’t going to take on the Gospels, which would be a massive task. They are long books, and almost every verse is modified in some way, and that was just way more than I was willing to bite off and chew. But I have to admit that I was curious about what I might find there. So I decided to do just a small demonstration project; I would pick a single pericope and then compare that pericope in each of the Gospels. I chose Peter’s confession of Christ almost at random; the only non-random thing about it is I wanted one that had parallel text in all four Gospels. Immediately below I give the parallel texts of this pericope in all four Gospels followed by my commentary.

Matthew 16:13-20

13 When And when Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15 He saith said unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it this unto thee, but my Father which who is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus, the Christ.

Mark 8:27-30

27 And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?

28 And they answered, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.

29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

Luke 9:18-21

18 And it came to pass, as he was went alone praying, with his disciples to pray, were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom Who say the people that I am?

19 They answering said, Some say John the Baptist; but some others say, Elias; and others, say, that That one of the old prophets is risen again.

20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ, the Son of God.

21 And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing of him;

John 6:67-71

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Commentary

    The one thing that surprised me the most about this is that I expected substantially more harmonization among the Gospel texts. There is one significant harmonization of Mark to Matthew, changing “Thou are the Christ” to “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That relative lack of harmonization was unexpected to me.

    Matthew 16:13 changes the introductory words to the verse from “When” to “And when.” Note that most of the other verses in the Matthew passage do indeed begin with the word “And,” which is a translation of the Greek conjunction de.  That same conjunction is present near the beginning of verse 13, but for some reason the KJV translators do not reflect it explicitly in this verse as they do elsewhere in the pericope. A handful of modern translations join the JST in adding “And” at the beginning of the sentence; most use “Now.” Beginning sentences with “And” is not good style in English, but it is common in the Bible as it reflects the Hebrew grammatical construction known as the waw-consecutive, where sentences are connected with “and.” 

    There are several places where the italics were an influence: (i) the deletion of “that thou art” in Matthew 16:14; (ii) the change from “it” to “this” in Matthew 16:17; and (iii) the deletion of “say” in Luke 9:19.

    In Matthew 16:15 saith—>said is a modernization.

    Modern translations do not use “Simon Barjona” as in the KJV. They are pretty evenly split between the more correct presentation “Bar-Jona” as in the JST or simply translating the expression as “Simon son of Jona.” Also in that verse, which—> who is a modernization.

    As already mentioned, the most significant change in these passages is the harmonization of Mark to Matthew: Thou art the Christ—> Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

    The first change in Luke 9:18 is something of a harmonization. The text starts out by saying that Jesus is alone, but then it says his disciples were with him. So which is it, was he alone or with his disciples? The JST rewords the sentence to avoid the contradiction. Later in the verse the JST changes “Whom” to “Who.” KJV “Whom” is technically correct as it is the objective case, but there has been a long trend in English to use “who” indeclinably, which the JST follows here.

    Luke 9:19 is awkward because the first answer to the question is a succinct “John the Baptist,” followed by “but some say X and others say Y.” If the text is going to express that uncertainty among multiple options, it would be clearer to introduce “some say” before “John the Baptist,” as the JST does here. Some modern translations do the same thing as the JST here, such as the NIV.

    In Luke 9:20 the text speaks of “God’s Messiah,” but the KJV archaically renders it “the Christ of God,” which is not a customary expression. Accordingly, the JST changes it to the more customary “the Christ, the Son of God.”

    The end of Luke 9:21 has “tell no man that thing.” What thing? The KJV is needlessly awkward here, and so the JST changes the text to “tell no man of him” (meaning that he is the Christ, the Messiah).

    And what about all the revisions to John? That’s easy, because there aren’t any, which surprised me.

    So the above is just a taste of the kinds of things going on in the JST of the Gospels.

Comments

  1. I wonder how much a desire to harmonize the Gospels is a modern trend vs. pre 20th century thoughts.

  2. Aussie Mormon says:

    It goes right back to the beginning according to Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_harmony#Early_Church_and_Middle_Ages

  3. Jacob H. says:

    Also, look up “scribal harmonization”. It’s probably one of the biggest sources of change in early gospel manuscripts — copyists were frequently nonprofessional, lay Christians, and tended to replace the verse they were copying with the version of the verse they were most familiar with, which often meant, Matthew’s version, like what happened here in the OP.

    This tendency of copyists to harmonize their texts is one of the reasons it’s so hard to settle the question as to whether, say, Matthew and Luke had access to Mark and weren’t aware of each other, or whether Luke had access to Matthew and Mark, etc.

  4. And this is just some of the exact issues encountered when JST (among other serious Smith applications and follow-on leadership) is applied to your lives…

    Firstly, you need a Douay Rheims bible…from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church…

    Secondly, you need to cease with the ideas that have mythologically paved their way into your historical education.

    Thirdly, read the Patristic writings as though they are still part of the Catholic Church (we were the first Christians) and study historical facts….in thorough (not LDS cherry-picked style)….no one who has thoroughly done so has come away believing in ANY great apostacy or otherwise. Most people who do investigate more deeply, end up eventually coming away knowing many realities… They come to realise they’ve been deeply misinforned through the same old myths down through the ages…they NEVER actually learn what’s real…but they are taught…and they are also limited by what they have available to them.

    The same is true for Catholics who fall for Mormonism….they simply haven’t thorough knowledge and they simply fall for what “feels” better…because they don’t know better. They are usually cradle Catholics just doing what they’ve always done, without any depth. Just like LDS children who grow up learning to “know”….rather than to believe… and the seeds in vulnerable little minds continue to grow. It’s the same for youth and adults who are vulnerable…and something just “feels” right. That is not a Biblical way of discernment…not ever. The “burning” application is taken seriously out of context when used in LDS discussions. P

    Everything you believe about LDS is a lie. Very dangerous…AND exactly what Satan approves of whenever false prophets have somehow managed to find “truth” outside of Christ’s constant teachings that have been instituted for almost 2000 years. None of you are right. Christ said you’d all turn up…what you read in the Bible about such things is not written about the Catholic church. If you believe otherwise, you’re seriously misinforned in ways that seriously defile Christ’s words.

    Warts and all….just as Christ said….the gates of Hell have NOT prevailed over His Church.

    You are deeply mistaken when you “doubt the doubt”….your leaders know that the psychological fallout would be otherwise devastating, not to mention the cost.

    Wake up. Your lamps are empty….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.