Joseph Smith and Luke 10:22

This article was originally posted on September 4, 2014 on the Mormon Coffee blog. 

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By Sharon Lindbloom

The official History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka History of the Church or HOC) reproduces Joseph Smith’s journal where he stated:

“This winter [1832-33] was spent in translating the Scriptures…I completed the translation and review of the New Testament, on the 2nd of February, 1833 and sealed it up, no more to be opened till it arrived in Zion.” (HOC 1:322, 324; brackets in the quoted source; at link see volume 1 chapter 23)

BibleCorrectedMormon Seventy B.H. Roberts attached a footnote to this statement, relating that George Q. Cannon said that Brigham Young said that Joseph Smith said he wanted to go through the translation again to perfect it “upon points of doctrine which the Lord had restrained him from giving in plainness and fullness” in 1833. Whether this reflects Joseph Smith’s true intentions or not, one verse that Joseph was not restrained from revising was Luke 10:22 (numbered as verse 23 in the Joseph Smith Translation). The LDS-printed edition of the Bible includes Joseph’s revision of this verse in a footnote, which gives credence to the understanding that this verse, at least, had been corrected “in plainness and fullness,” according to the inspiration from God that Joseph Smith claimed.

Luke 10:22 in the King James Version of the Bible reads,

“All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

I checked ten different translations/versions of this verse; nine of the ten translated the verse virtually the same. For example:

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (ESV)

“All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.” (HCSB)

“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (NASB)

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (NIV)

“All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (RSV; see also NKJV, NRSVCE, NRSVA, etc.)

All of these Bible translations faithfully convey the words of Jesus as He spoke of the unique relationship and deep intimacy shared between Himself and His Father.

Of the ten versions I consulted, only the Joseph Smith Translation varied in the essence or doctrine contained in Luke 10:22/23. Joseph’s translation (i.e., revision) changed this verse to read:

“All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.” (JST as found in The Bible Corrected by Joseph Smith, compiled by Kenneth and Lyndell Lutes)

So rather than conveying deep intimacy between the Father and the Son (as the ancient Greek text does), Joseph Smith’s revision conveys samenessthe Father is the Son (and vice versa).

Joseph’s so-called correction of the biblical text presents the Father and the Son as one person. As Sandra Tanner pointed out in a recent article discussing the evolvement of the First Vision story and the development of the Mormon concept of God, Joseph’s revision of Luke 10:22/23 “hardly seems like a change one would make if ten years earlier the Father and Son had appeared to Smith as two separate individuals” (Sandra Tanner, “Grappling with the Past,” Salt Lake City Messenger, May 2014, 8).

Add roughly another decade to Joseph Smith’s tenure as the prophet of the Mormon Church; in June of 1844 he preached:

“I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods. It has been preached by the Elders for fifteen years.

“I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and that the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit, and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods.” (HOC6:474; at link see volume 6 chapter 23)

This doesn’t sound like “the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son.”

What it does sound like is that Joseph Smith changed his theology – and his story – and that neither Joseph nor his “translation” were inspired by an omniscient God after all.