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PATHEOS LIBRARY OF

World Faiths & Religions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Joseph Smith Translation or JST?

Also referred to by some as the Inspired Version, the JST represents a textual record of Joseph Smith's interaction with the Bible. He claimed to be commanded by God to make a thorough study of the Bible, and make a new "translation" -- a term that in the 1830s had a broader meaning than it does today. Practically speaking, many Mormons simply assume the JST to be pure textual restoration, replacing words, phrases, or passages in the biblical text that were removed over time. Though no formal statement has ever been made defining the nature of this work, the Church's foremost JST scholar, Robert J. Matthews, has suggested that the JST is a mixture of several things besides textual restoration, such as alternate translations, prophetic commentary (in the style of midrash), and historical/doctrinal harmonization. In some books, such as Genesis, Joseph continued revising his version up to his death. According to Matthews, "The translation was not a simple, mechanical recording of divine dictum, but rather a study-and-thought process accompanied and prompted by revelation from the Lord."