The Joseph Smith Translation
No sooner was the Book of Mormon off Grandin’s Press in Palmyra than Joseph was reassigned. The project is little known and even less understood, even by Joseph’s own people, yet it was so critical of a work that he devoted much of his time to it for over two years. The endeavor was launched as a commandment from the Almighty himself and shepherded by Him to its completion. Joseph would later call this monumental work a “Branch of his calling.”
It was known and prophesied millennia before that Joseph would do this work. Moses himself looked forward to it. It was an integral component of the Restoration. So much of Joseph’s doctrine—so many of the great revelations of the Restoration came because of this effort. The contribution of this work to the corpus of Latter-day Saint theology is incalculable. Not to mention how it contributed to the personal education and edification of Joseph Smith himself.
Today many of us hold it in our hands, pack it off to Church, and seldom appreciate what we have. What is it? The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.
As to what the JST is and its attendant power, the Lord told Joseph at the outset, “The scriptures shall be given even as they are in mine own bosom to the salvation of mine own elect” (DC 35:20).
How did it come to be? A scribe sat waiting with paper, pen, and ink. Joseph sat down with the large family Bible he purchased from E. B. Grandin and began to read under the influence of the Holy Ghost. As he read without the aid of seer stones or Urim and Thummim, his mind was opened, inspired and enlightened. As he passed through reading the text, he would dictate changes. Sometimes there were no changes, sometimes they were as minor as correcting punctuation, spelling, or grammar. Other times there were small deletions, but most impressively sometimes there were whole chapters detailing intricate narratives of doctrine and history revealed to Joseph, such as the writings about Enoch, Joseph of Egypt. Joseph would from the fountain of his expanded mind dictate these new passages to his scribe, word-for-word, at a pace slow enough to be written down long-hand, without ever losing his train of thought, having to start over, or gather his creativity. Just the process as described by witnesses is miraculous considering the material revealed, but the miracle becomes utterly astonishing when the work is carefully studied and pondered. How could a 24 year-old uneducated farmer from the frontier have produced such a work? It is inconceivable—making the Joseph Smith Translation another tangible testament with the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith was an instrument of the Lord.
Many have opined that he never finished it or that its text was adulterated after he died, but both ideas are false. Perhaps its greatest contribution is its witness of the Savior. The JST reveals a greater Christ—more noble, and even more divine, making the JST another testament of Christ and the most correct of any Bible on earth.
Building Faith Through Church History