Initial claim



Wayment’s response to Jackson

Wayment responded to Barney and Jackson in the comment section of Barney’s analysis:

[… comments above not shown …]

[Thom Wayment (April 19, 2021 at 8:19 am)]

Thank you, Kevin, for your thoughts and suggestions, and for your attempt to be fair in your remarks. I would like to offer some of my own perspective on this issue, and apologies at the outset for a somewhat long comment.

As a New Testament scholar I regularly work in determining textual affiliations, i.e. how New Testament manuscripts are related to one another. This is often done by looking at test passages and comparing readings between manuscripts. Most of those passages come down to a single phrase, the word order of a clause, or to differences in syntax and grammar. New Testament manuscripts are not vastly different from one another, but they are slightly different.

The JST is radically different from the New Testament (and Hebrew Bible) manuscript tradition, and almost all of its new readings have absolutely no support in the manuscript tradition, but a few years ago I began to see that some of them did, i.e. there is a small handful of JST readings that have some manuscript support. I began to categorize that support and found strangely that most of them represented the scholarship of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That’s the only commonality I could see between them, and that’s when I became suspicious of Joseph using a biblical commentary as an aid.

For example, both the JST and the Book of Mormon retain the very late doxology to the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 5:13, and both retain or allude to (in the case of the Book of Mormon) the late and longer ending to the Gospel of Mark (Mark 16:9–20). However, both show awareness of the problematic reading “without a cause” at Matthew 5:22. This is interesting to me because liturgical texts like the Lord’s Prayer were some of the most recent to come under the scrutiny of textual critics and the ending of Mark is a more recent point of scholarly attention.

To make a longer story shorter, I remain convinced that Joseph used Clarke as a research aid, and I admit that it is unfortunate that plagiarism has been thrown around so easily. Jackson misses the point when he argues that Clarke doesn’t in most cases argue directly for emending the KJV text. Instead, I see Joseph reading Clarke, who raises textual and translation issues, and then makes his own emendations based on his own internal processes. I simply don’t see how, for example, two nineteenth century Bible scholars, Joseph and Adam Clarke, can rearrange two verses in precisely the same way, or choose to emend the KJV using precisely the same word. Yes, Clarke, may have done so to demonstrate meaning and wasn’t arguing for directly changing the KJV wording, but Joseph also didn’t allow Clarke to control him. He maintained his own interests and focus.

At some point, as someone who works on the Bible, I must point out that without placing Joseph in a nineteenth century Bible culture it is going to be extremely difficult to explain why so many Byzantine readings make their way into the Book of Mormon (1 John 5:7 for example) unless Joseph was textually dependent, in part, on the Bible scholarship of his day. If the model is something akin to inspiration-only for every change, then the JST retained some highly problematic and late texts that are now recognized (and proven) to be late additions to the Greek New Testament manuscript tradition.

[Kevin Barney (April 19, 2021 at 11:11 am)]

Thom, thank you so much for coming by and commenting here. As I indicated in the OP I am a great admirer of your work. I agree with your comment to the effect that Joseph had some knowledge of issues in 19th century Bible scholarship.

Of course the devil is in the details. Take Exodus 11:9 for example. Clarke there seems to be directly on point for the JST revision shall—-> will. But the JST makes the same change in Exodus 4:21. How should we explain that in terms of secondary source influence? Let me lay out the possibilities as I see them:

1. Maybe Joseph had been reading ahead in Clarke and was already familiar with the 11:9 Clarke Commentary revision in that subsequent verse.

2. Maybe the use of “will” in 4:21 without explicit commentary at that point was enough to suggest the change there.

3. Maybe Clarke had given a similar explanation at some previous point in the Commentary, which Joseph remembered and applied here.

4. Maybe Joseph learned this usage from some non-Clarke secondary biblical source.

5. Maybe this is a usage Joseph picked up from his own reading of the KJV Bible.

6. Maybe this is a usage Joseph learned from his formal education.

Possibilities 5 or 6 seemed most plausible to me in this specific case, but I am certainly open to another possibility.

Again, many thanks for articulating your perspective here.

[Mark Ashurst-McGee (April 19, 2021 at 9:35 pm)]

The JST also changes “shall” to “will” in the previous instance of Genesis 4:14 (Wayment, ed., The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, 23).

[ … Fleming comment omitted since not relevant … ]

[Mark Ashurst-McGee (April 20, 2021 at 1:06 pm)]

Also somewhat relevant to this pattern: There are at least five instances of JS changing “shalt” to “shall” (and, curiously, an instance of JS changing “will” to “wilt”).

[Thom Wayment (April 20, 2021 at 1:10 pm)]

I really appreciate the give and take. For some time, I’ve been convinced that if there is one example of Clarke’s influence on Joseph’s thought process and revisions, then I believe it is worthwhile to consider at least the New Testament revision in light of Clarke. I had hoped my article would be a means of exploring what it might look like if Joseph used Clarke as a dialogue partner. I believe the reordering of Colossians 2:20-22 remains convincing that Clarke (or another 19th century Bible scholar) influenced Joseph’s revision. If that is correct, then even in the more influential examples, Joseph didn’t merely copy Clarke, but adapted to his own purposes. Why this example is so interesting is that the Greek is clear (although Jackson mistakenly thinks it isn’t) while the KJV is not because it misunderstood the Corinthians slogans.

[Mark Ashurst-McGee (April 20, 2021 at 1:22 pm)]

Very interesting, Thom!

Since this is your most convincing example, could you please explicate this for us in terms of what the original Greek does (including the Corinthian slogan business and the issue of clarity), how the KJV fumbles it, what Clarke does with it, what Joseph Smith does with it, how Clarke and Smith are similar and different, how Jackson “mistakenly thinks it [the Greek] isn’t [clear]” (if that is the case), and so forth.

I think we are getting somewhere. This has been a much needed discussion!

[Thom Wayment (April 20, 2021 at 1:55 pm)]

Let me first say that I’m not claiming this is the most convincing example. It is an important one that demonstrates a particular way that Joseph drew upon Clarke. The verses in the KJV are as follows:

20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

As one can see, the KJV assumes that verse 21 is a parenthetical insertion, implying that it’s grammar and/or thought process are not part of the original sentence, which runs something like “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men? (verse 21 omitted)” The KJV, since it didn’t use exegetical notes, doesn’t grapple with the issue at hand, namely how verse 21 relates to the context.

Clarke grappled with the issue as well, and noted, “After the commandments and doctrines of men? These words should follow the 20th verse, of which they form a part; and it appears from them that the apostle is here speaking of the tradition of the elders.” Clarke’s statement is simply a restatement of the obvious, namely that by reordering the verses one arrives at a continuous English sentence as I did so above as well. He then interprets the KJV parenthetical statement as “the apostle is here speaking of the tradition of the elders,” which BTW is patently wrong, but that is another issue for another day.

Here’s what Joseph did with the verses, “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, which are after the doctrines and commandments of men, who teach you to touch not; taste not; handle not; All those things which are to perish with the using?”

To simplify, Joseph did not simply move the verse as Clarke noted, but he added additional words to make the new transitions work. Those transitions do not alter the meaning, but they are highly interpretive and not warranted by the Greek.

The Greek issue, however, is now considered resolved or at least it is widely agreed upon that the parenthesis is a reference by the author of Colossians to the things being said by opponents at Colossae, namely “to touch not, taste not, handle not.” Modern translations like the NRSV change the punctuation so that it is clear that verse 21 is a quotation of Paul’s (or a later author’s) opponents. The NRSV reads, “20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? 22 All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.”

The issue isn’t one of Greek as Jackson claims. This is a result of the fact that he doesn’t read Greek nor is he trained in Bible, but he has done extensive work on modern Bible translations and so he seems to be influenced by the confusion over this passage in 19th century Bible translations. In reality, scholars have now recognized that the letter is quoting or personifying the claims of opponents (hence the NRSV quotation marks). This is clear from the way the Greek is punctuated in modern editions and even in earlier editions the Greek itself wasn’t a problem, but rather how to interpret a subordinated clause. The textual variants also do not back up Jackson’s claim that the verses were difficult.

I should further add that if I were grading the JST translation, I would note that the JST isn’t allowable for the Greek text we have. Joseph’s rendition is interpretative and I think he was guided in his interpretation by something that Clarke put into his thought process. My mention of the Corinthian slogans was a nod to the scholarship that began to see the Pauline corpus being built around responding to direct quotations from local opponents, which helped to unravel short phrases that seemed to interrupt the grammar of Paul’s letters.