Who Was Translated?

Who Was Translated? March 21, 2006

As near as I can tell, Joseph Smith seems to have identified all the men named John in the NT as John the son of Zebedee. And he seems to have also identified those works traditionally associated with someone named John as written by this same John the son of Zebedee.

I am not so much interested in the conflation of these individuals as I am in their fate. The reason this interests me is because of this rather specific prophecy attributed to Jesus in Mark and Matthew (see also the [lack of] parallel in Luke, which moves the incident to the Last Supper and detaches the names).

Taking the story from Mark 10:35-39, we read:

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

The most common reading of this prophecy is that the two sons of Zebedee would suffer the same sort of experience in passing from life that Jesus did: both would die a violent death. This does not seem consistent with the idea that John the son of Zebedee was translated.

So I’m interested in learning more about how Joseph Smith really understood the identity of John the Guy Who Was Translated, and his relationship to John the son of Zebedee, who was to suffer a death rather like that of his Master–at least in Mark and Matthew. Does anyone know?

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