Shamelessly jumping on the bandwagon …

The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical translation is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.

Would anyone care to guess what this means (whether new or not)?

A. different texts = other modern translations of the Bible
B. different texts = critical editions of the Bible in ancient languages
C. different texts = non-specific, all inclusive of anything besides KJV
D. none of the above

17 Replies to “21.1.7”

  1. I think they meant B. I think this was simply a jab at biblical scholarship. The Church rejects exegesis that is based on the comparison of ancient texts.

    This is a pretty brazen thing to say, IMO.

  2. All of the above- Keep in mind that this is probably more to do with doctrinal accuracy where doctrine = “Teachings of the LDS church”, so this statement is actually pretty self evident.

  3. … I’m still holding out hope for the BYU Rendition & Commentary. Anyone have any updated info on that? Are there still plans for early 2011 releases of the first volume?

  4. I think it’s mostly A. This passage is pretty much lifted verbatim from the First Presidency Statement on the King James Version of the Bible (second-to-last section):

    Since the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has used the King James Version of the Bible for English-speaking members.

    The Bible, as it has been transmitted over the centuries, has suffered the loss of many plain and precious parts. ‘We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.’ (A of F 1:8.)

    Many versions of the Bible are available today. Unfortunately, no original manuscripts of any portion of the Bible are available for comparison to determine the most accurate version. However, the Lord has revealed clearly the doctrines of the gospel in these latter-days. The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.

    While other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations. All of the Presidents of the Church, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith, have supported the King James Version by encouraging its continued use in the Church. In light of all the above, it is the English language Bible used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    The LDS edition of the Bible (1979) contains the King James Version supplemented and clarified by footnotes, study aids, and cross-references to the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These four books are the standard works of the Church. We encourage all members to have their own copies of the complete standard works and to use them prayerfully in regular personal and family study, and in Church meetings and assignments.

    Sincerely your brethren,

    Ezra Taft Benson
    Gordon B. Hinckley
    Thomas S. Monson

  5. Y’all are asking the wrong question. The operating term here is not “different texts” but “accuracy.”

    If accuracy means (as it does in that paragraph’s first sentence) adherence to the original manuscript or author’s intent, then I think the first presidency was dead wrong. If accuracy means (as it might in the second sentence) adherence to the doctrines of the gospel in these latter-days, then I couldn’t agree more.

  6. Ooh, this is a favorite topic of mine. The passage about “different texts” seems to refer to the scholarly practice of constructing a critical edition through comparison of variant readings (so, B). But in practice the Church is defending its use of the KJV because of its value as a source of proof texts (“latter day revelation supports the King James Version”).

    1 Cor 15 is a good example. The King James uses the word “Celestial” and missionaries use this passage to teach about the Celestial and Terrestrial Kingdoms. The problem is this is not what the passage means, which becomes clear in other translations “heavenly bodies and earthly bodies” (1 Cor 15:40, NRSV).

    The kicker is, this is already a problem in every language besides English! It fascinates me how the English speaking church gets particular treatment. I am actually working on a post about this very topic right now.

  7. thanks for your thoughts (and clever allusions), all.

    mephibosheth’s expert source hunting has convinced me that the answer was at least in 1992 primarily b.

    the way the 1992 statement has been rearranged and edited in the handbook is fascinating. in 1992, i think the sentence in question is clearly dealing with issues of textual criticism. whereas in the handbook it follows discussion of bible translation.

    and n.b. the change from:

    “… the accuracy of any biblical passage…”


    “… the accuracy of any biblical translation…”

    aliquis (and i think maybe matt w. was making a similiar point),

    i’m not sure whether it would help or actually make matters worse if there were in the minds of the authors and redactors and readers of 21.1.7 such a distinction between the two accuracies you describe. but i tend to think that very few of them would make the distinction at all. then again, who knows?

    and for the record, i haven’t said anything about anyone being right or wrong (smile. wink.).


    i’ll watch for your post.

  8. “but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations.”

    Well, Duh.

    Everybody knows that God performed poorly in His English studies, and was held back after His EModE class. He’s been working hard, and we hope that someday He will learn to speak our language. But the fact that He can’t is really nice for us because it makes it really easy to distinguish between real and imitation scriptures. And imitation scriptures give me heartburn.

  9. I suspect you are reading more into the statement than is warranted. The Handbook is a committee product — the wording that comes out of the process has to be bland and general enough to not offend anyone with veto power. Whether it properly summarizes what ought to be said about the KJV from an official LDS perspective is less important.

    If you want to change LDS attachment to the KJV, you should publicize the private life of King James, not the textual problems of the KJV.

  10. My nevermo friend had this take:

    “That sort of revolting practice is common. The NIV is a good example of an entire work heavily influenced by biblical inerrantism, where the text simply ‘translates’ away disagreements between different parts of the Bible. As several scholars point out, the three oldest manuscripts of Mark all agree that the dancing daughter of Herodias is also named Herodias, but no translation says so because in history she never had any such daughter. Thus the writer of Mark is saved from error! If you read the Church Fathers you will find them occasionally quoting Old Testament passages that don’t exist because the early Christians attempted to insert things into the Tanakh that weren’t there….”

    See, Mormons are Christians after all.

  11. dave,

    the kjv doesn’t bother me at all. i’m not internet crusading from some other translation.

    i think you’re right about the handbook, lacking as it does the reference to “original manuscripts,” etc., from the 1992 statement.

    i also don’t think the first presidency and twelve have time to personally sit down and write 200 page handbooks from scratch, any more than they have time to write the rest of approved church materials.

  12. This particular paragraph is not new with this handbook – it was in the old one as well.

    Given the context in the handbook, I had always read to be referring to A: different translations.

  13. It fascinates me how the English speaking church gets particular treatment. I am actually working on a post about this very topic right now.

    Without realizing it, I sort of hit on that as well in my recent post on language and theology. Interesting stuff.

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