Articles/Essays – Volume 53, No. 2

A Commentary on Joseph Smith’s Revision of First Corinthians

The Book of Mormon was published in March 1830, and the following month on April 6 the fledgling Church of Christ was organized. Two months later during the month of June in that year Joseph Smith and a series of scribes (primarily Sidney Rigdon) undertook a new scriptural project, consisting of a revision of the King James Version of the Bible. This new project at the time was commonly referred to as the “new translation” and began with the vision of Moses (which is customarily understood to be the beginning of the new translation) and would conclude just over three years later on July 2, 1833.

Although Smith desired to publish the new translation, circumstances were such that publication at that time was not possible. After Smith’s death in 1844, a majority of Church members eventually followed Brigham Young to the Great Basin of the Intermountain West, but a significant minority rejected Young’s leadership and remained in the Midwest. This included Smith’s widow, Emma Hale Smith, who was in possession of the manuscripts for the new translation as well as the marked Bible that indicated where certain revisions were to go. Eventually these materials would reside with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the RLDS Church), which would publish an initial edition under the title Holy Scriptures—Inspired Version in 1867 and in subsequent publications. Most of the Mormons in what would become Utah did not have a clear understanding of this scriptural project, and due to denominational competition, they did not trust the RLDS Church publications.

This state of affairs would eventually change in the 1960s and 1970s when Robert J. Matthews, a Latter-day Saint, pursued research for his doctoral dissertation on the new translation. Because of this work, RLDS Church leaders gave him access to the manuscripts in their archives, and he was able to demonstrate and confirm that the RLDS Church had been responsible with the manuscripts and in their publications. As a consequence, LDS interest in the new translation grew substantially, and when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church) published a new, in-house edition of the KJV Bible in 1979, they included extracts from the new translation, both in footnotes and in a special appendix for longer passages. In this publication the new translation was designated the Joseph Smith Translation, or JST for short, and I shall follow that naming convention in this article.

A persistent question relating to the JST has to do with what its emendations represent. Are they all textual restorations (in English)? Is the text a kind of embedded commentary? Are there different types of changes in different passages and if so, what are the various possibilities?

I propose to attempt a provisional answer to this question by evaluating every JST emendation to an entire book of the Bible, something that I do not believe has been done before (at least not in print). This still will not provide a definitive answer to the question, as the JST can vary considerably in different sections of the project, but it will perhaps at least provide a start toward a better understanding of the types of revisions made in the JST.

For this reason I propose to use the book of 1 Corinthians. This book was dictated just a little over halfway through the project as a whole, so the project was at a mature state by this time, and Smith had not yet experienced the burnout he seemed to feel after he returned to the Old Testament and faced a large number of very lengthy books.

We shall begin by reviewing the history of scholarship on the nature of the JST revisions. I will then propose a more complete paradigm of different types of revisions attested in the JST. I will then evaluate every JST revision to 1 Corinthians and assign each passage to one or more types of revisions in the paradigm. And finally, I will review the results and suggest what they might mean for our understanding of the JST more broadly.

History of Scholarship on JST Revisions

The late Bob Matthews (mentioned above), a longtime professor in Religious Education at Brigham Young University, offered some initial classifications of the JST in his seminal A Plainer Translation (taken from his PhD dissertation), when he suggested that there are several different possible ways to understand a given JST emendation:

To regard the New Translation [i.e. JST] as a product of divine inspiration given to Joseph Smith does not necessarily assume that it be a restoration of the original Bible text. It seems probable that the New Translation could be many things. For example, the nature of the work may fall into at least four categories:

  1. Portions may amount to restorations of content material once written by the biblical authors but since deleted from the Bible.
  2. Portions may consist of a record of actual historical events that were not recorded, or were recorded but never included in the biblical collection.
  3. Portions may consist of inspired commentary by the Prophet Joseph Smith, enlarged, elaborated, and even adapted to a latter-day situation. This may be similar to what Nephi meant by “Likening” the scriptures to himself and his people in their particular circumstance. (See 1 Nephi 19:23–24; 2 Nephi 11:8).
  4. Some items may be a harmonization of doctrinal concepts that were revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith independently of his translation of the Bible, but by means of which he was able to discover that a biblical passage was inaccurate.[1]

Note that Matthews clearly intended for this list to be suggestive and not exhaustive, by framing it expansively with such words as “could be many things,” “for example,” “may,” and “at least.”

Similarly, Philip Barlow in his classic Mormons and the Bible suggests six different possible ways to understand JST emendations:

  • Long revealed additions that have little or no biblical parallel, such as the visions of Moses and Enoch, and the passage on Melchizedek;
  • “Common-sense” changes (e.g., Genesis 6:6 “And it repented the Lord that he had made man” is revised in Moses 8:25 to read: “And it repented Noah, and his heart was pained that the Lord had made man.” God, being perfect, needs no repentance.);
  • “Interpretive additions,” often signaled by the phrase “or in other words,” which Smith appended to a passage he wished to clarify;
  • “Harmonization,” in which Smith reconciled passages that seemed to conflict with other passages;
  • “Not easily classifiable”; many changes are not easily classified; one can observe only that frequently the meaning of a given text has been changed, often idiosyncratically;
  • Grammatical improvements, technical clarifications, and modernization of terms. These were by far the most common type of change in the JST.[2]

A slightly revised version of the Matthews list was published by Scott Faulring, Kent Jackson, and Matthews himself in 2004, as follows, suggesting that a given JST emendation may be:

  • Restoration of original text.
  • Restoration of what was once said or done but which was never in the Bible.
  • Editing to make the Bible more understandable for modern readers.
  • Editing to bring biblical wording into harmony with truth found in other revelations or elsewhere in the Bible.
  • Changes to provide modern readers teachings that were not written by original authors.[3]

Most recently, Thomas Wayment has offered his version of the broad categories of JST changes as follows: (1) expansions of biblical narratives, (2) edits to make the text of the Bible more understandable, (3) harmonizations between the Gospels, (4) additions of new discourses that appear to have the modern reader in mind, and (5) expansions of narrative to include new theological insights.[4]

Toward a More Complete Paradigm

The lists of broad types of changes made in the JST provided by earlier scholars are useful from a big-picture perspective, but they are not sufficiently detailed to be able to account for every JST emendation in a given text. For example, the influence of italicized text on JST revisions is widely acknowledged and not controversial, yet none of these descriptions get into that level of detail. Below I propose a paradigm of JST revisions, which is grounded in the treatments set forth above[5] but which also provides more detail with the aim of being able to account for every JST emendation in a given text.

Paradigm of JST Revisions

Paradigm DesignationDescriptionExplanation and/or Illustration
A-1English Paraphrases of KJV Text in GeneralThe most common type of change made in the JST is to paraphrase the KJV text with other English words. This amounts to an intralingual translationa of the Jacobean English of the KJV into other, often more modern, English text. As a control for these kinds of changes I will often consider the import of the underlying Greek text and compare modern English translations—not because Smith was working with the Greek (he was not, unless through secondary sources) but as a way of evaluating the cogency and probity of the English Smith chose to use.
A-2English Paraphrases of KJV Text Based on Suspicion of Italicized Text
Italics in the KJV were not used for emphasis but, among other things, to mark words that did not have a specific counterpart in the original language text but were necessary for the text to make sense in English. Smith and his scribes were aware of this usage, and the Joseph Smith marked Bible used during the translation project often crossed italicized words out, so a suspicion of italicized words was an engine that drove JST emendations.b
A-3English Paraphrases of KJV Text Based on ModernizationEditing to make the Bible more understandable for modern readers. Grammatical improvements, technical clarifications, and modernization of terms.
A-4English Paraphrases of KJV Text Based on AssimilationAssimilation is a common concept in New Testament textual criticism generally but does not seem to have been previously considered or applied by JST scholars. The JST text sometimes assimilates to other wording that is nearby, better known, or arguably works better in the emended passage.
A-5English Paraphrases of KJV Text Having Non-Original Textual VariantsRevelation 2:22 reads as follows: “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.” In lieu of “a bed,” the JST reads “hell.” There is ancient textual evidence for the following readings: prison, a furnace, illness, sorrow. The problem is that being tossed into a bed doesn’t sound like such a bad punishment, so the JST and a number of ancient scribes posited worse fates. In fact, however, being cast into a bed here is a Semitic idiom for a bed of illness, and it really is a punishment. Smith’s impulse here parallels what the ancient scribes did in trying to make sense of the passage.c
BMidrashic CommentaryI see midrashic commentary as being analogous to the targumin, the pesharim, and the genre of “Rewritten Bible” attested among the Dead Sea Scrolls. For example, in Matthew 4 when Jesus is tempted the text has the devil taking Jesus places. The JST reworks all of these passages to have the Spirit move him about. The point of this is to make a commentary on the text, to the effect that the devil does not have power to physically move the Son of Man around, an issue that simply wasn’t a concern to the original writer.d
C-1Harmonizations within the Biblical Text“Editing to bring biblical wording into harmony with truth found . . . elsewhere in the Bible”e in which “Smith reconciled passages that seemed to conflict with other passages.”f
C-2Harmonizations with Modern Revelation“Changes to provide modern readers teachings that were not written by original authors.”g
DLong Additions with Little or No Biblical ParallelThese kinds of passages occur primarily near the beginning of the project in the book of Genesis, as with the visions of Moses and Enoch and the passage on Melchizedek.
ETextual RestorationsThese are actually quite rare. Probably the most commonly cited possible example is Mathew 5:22: “But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” Both the JST and 3 Nephi 12:22 omit the words “without a cause,” which are a translation of the Greek adverb eike, meaning something like “rashly,” “thoughtlessly,” or “unjustly.” Textual evidence suggests that the adverb was not original to the text but was added in an attempt to soften the morally stark rigor of the original wording.
FSecondary SourcesAn existing translation or commentary would have the potential to be a secondary source that Smith and his scribe consulted. For purposes of this study I have compared only four of the more likely possible secondary sources: (1) the Alexander Campbell translation,h (2) the Adam Clarke Commentary,i (3) the Coverdale Bible,j and (4) John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.k There are numerous other potential secondary sources, but this sampling of several among the most likely to be an influence should suffice for present purposes.l
GNot Easily ClassifiableMany changes are not easily classified; one can observe only that frequently the meaning of a given text has been changed, often idiosyncratically.

a. For the concept of “intralingual translation” see David J. Shepherd, “Rendering Fiction: Translation, Pseudotranslation, and the Book of Mormon,” in The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement, edited by Francis J. Beckwith, Carl Mosser, and Paul Owen (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002), 367–95.

b. See for instance Kent P. Jackson, “The King James Bible and the Joseph Smith Translation,” in The King James Bible and the Restoration, edited by Kent P. Jackson (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2011), 197–214.

c. In general, see Kevin L. Barney, “The Joseph Smith Translation and Ancient Texts of the Bible,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19, no. 3 (Fall 1986): 85–102.

d. This is inclusive of the Robert J. Matthews and Robert L. Millet category of “inspired prophetic commentary.” My intent is to be neutral as to whether any given revision is “inspired” or “prophetic”; I prefer to use the term “midrashic,” which is descriptive of the type of comment being made.

f. Philip L. Barlow, Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 51–53.

g. Faulring, Jackson, and Matthews, Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 10.

h. Alexander Campbell, ed., The Sacred Writings of the Apostles and Evangelists of Jesus Christ, Commonly Styled the New Testament, translated by George Campbell, James MacKnight, and Philip Doddridge (Buffalo, Va. [now Bethany, W.Va.]: Alexander Campbell, 1826.

i. Adam Clarke, The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 6 vols. (New York: Emory and Waugh, 1831). Recent research has shown that several dozen JST revisions seem to have been influenced by the Adam Clarke Commentary. See Haley Wilson and Thomas Wayment, “A Recently Recovered Source: Rethinking Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation” Journal of Undergraduate Research, Mar. 16, 2017, available at

j. Myles Coverdale, The Bible, that is the Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testament, faithfully translated into English (Antwerp, Belgium: Merten de Keyser, 1525).

k. John Wesley, Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament (London: Ward, Lock, Boden, 1706).

l. Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, the Adam Clarke Commentary, and the Alexander Campbell translation have been cited as perhaps the most likely secondary sources available to Smith, given for all three their easy availability, for Clarke and Wesley their grounding in the Methodist tradition, and for Campbell Rigdon’s close association with the translator. See Ronald V. Huggins, “Joseph Smith’s ‘Inspired Translation’ of Romans 7,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26, no. 4 (Winter 1993): 162–63. See also Thomas A. Wayment and Haley Wilson-Lemmon, “A Recovered Resource: The Use of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation,” in Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith’s Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity, edited by Michael Hubbard MacKay, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Brian M. Hauglid (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2020). I also selected the Coverdale Bible as it may have been significant in the “Ships of Tarshish” variant in the Book of Mormon; see Ronald V. Huggins, “‘Without a Cause’ and ‘Ships of Tarshish’: A Possible Contemporary Source for Two Unexplained Readings from Joseph Smith,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 36, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 157–79.

An Analysis of All JST Revisions to First Corinthians

[Editor’s Note: For specific font use within this section (e.g., crossed out words, underlined words), please see PDF below]

As previously indicated, at this point I intend to review every JST revision to the book of 1 Corinthians and assign each textual revision to one or more types of textual change as set forth in the Paradigm of JST Revisions. In these scriptural passages from the KJV, text deleted in the JST will be struck through and text added in the JST will be given in bold underline.

1. 1 Corinthians 1:1

Paul, called to be an apostle, called of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

The KJV reflected a fashion in Bible translation of the time of using italic type to represent English words that did not directly correspond to a word in the original language. Joseph Smith and his scribes were aware of this practice, and accordingly tended to view italicized words in the English text with a significant sense of suspicion. An excellent study published over a decade ago by Thomas Wayment and Tyson Yost concludes, based on a review of the four Gospels, that on average the JST altered 29 percent of italicized words, removed altogether an additional 21 percent, and retained without revision just under 50 percent.[6] Therefore, the presence of italicized words often acts as an engine for the development of emendations to the KJV text.

Sometimes the only point to a JST emendation is to avoid the use of the italicized words. The very first JST change in 1 Corinthians falls under this category. KJV 1 Corinthians 1:1 begins “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ,” which the JST emends to “Paul an apostle, called of Jesus Christ.” This type of example helps to explain why the fashion of using italic type for this purpose eventually died out in most modern English translations. The copula “to be” is not literally present in Greek, where it is implied, but it is necessary in English. Putting the copula in italics may have seemed like admirable transparency to the translators of the time, but the actual effect was to promote the notion of translation as a mechanical, verbum pro verbo process and to cause confusion and misunderstanding among ordinary Bible readers.

Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text).

2–3. 1 Corinthians 1:4–5

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by of Jesus Christ;

That in every thing ye are enriched by of him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

The English translational tradition is split pretty evenly between “by Jesus Christ / by him” and “in Jesus Christ / in him.” The wording “by Jesus Christ” as in the KJV seems to suggest that Christ is the agent that conveys the grace of God to man. The more literal rendering of the Greek preposition en, “in Jesus Christ,” suggests that Christ is himself the grace that God has given us. Although Smith changes “by” to “of” rather than “in,” he seems to be making this same point.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

4. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Now I beseech you, brethren, by in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

The Greek preposition dia + genitive can be rendered “through,” “by,” or “in.” Although “by” is the most common choice in the modern English translational tradition, over a dozen translations render it “in” with the JST (such as the New International Version).[7]

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

5. 1 Corinthians 1:12

Now this I say, that every one many of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

KJV “that every one of you saith” is a rendering of the Greek hoti hekastos humon legei “that each of you says.”[8] Although indeed a literal rendering of the Greek text, the English of the KJV is awkward, because if every one is saying “I am of Paul,” how is it that every one is also saying “I am of Apollos”? The Greek notwithstanding, for the expression to read well in English it needs to be distributive, as in “some say X, others say Y” or “one says X, another says Y.” By reducing the exhaustive “every one” of the KJV to something less than that, “many,” the JST allows for this more natural way of reading the passage.[9]

There are fifteen English translations that move away from a literal rendering of the Greek substantive to a clearer presentation of the English, as illustrated by the following example:

TLB[10]: Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul”; and others say that they are for Apollos or for Peter; and some that they alone are the true followers of Christ.[11]

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

6. 1 Corinthians 1:24

But unto them which are called who believe, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

For the JST emendation to make sense, one must read the previous two verses: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” Paul has just stated that the Jews require a sign and Christ crucified is to them a stumblingblock, and the Greeks seek after wisdom and Christ crucified is to them foolishness. So the qualification “who believe” in verse 24 is to confirm that that verse is not talking about just any Jew or Greek, but one who has become a believer in the Savior.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

7. 1 Corinthians 1:26

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called are chosen:

The KJV is quite awkward here. For the sense, see the NRSV: “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” Since it’s in italics, there is no actual passive verb at the end of the verse meaning “are called,” and that verb can be read as being inconsistent with the nominal form “calling” earlier in the verse. This emendation seems largely motivated by the fact that the changed words are in italics.

Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text).

8. 1 Corinthians 1:27

But For God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

The beginning of verse 27 is meant to show contrast with verse 26, so the conjunction alla is variously rendered “but,” “but rather,” or “instead.” Smith sees the verse as a continuation of and parallel with the preceding verse, and so he assimilates the first word of this verse to the first word of the prior verse, “for.”

Paradigm Classification A-4 (Assimilation).

9. 1 Corinthians 1:28

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are mighty:

The KJV is contrasting “things that are” with “things which are not.” Literally the KJV is contrasting simple existence with nonexistence, but that is not actually Paul’s point; he is instead contrasting things that are considered to be something with things that are considered to be nothing. A more common type of modern English translation reads “to bring to nothing what the world considers important” (CJB). The VOICE uses the word “significant” and the TLB uses “great.” The JST’s “mighty” (representing ta ischura, which is assimilated from the prior verse) is making the same clarifying point.

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-4 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Assimilation).

10. 1 Corinthians 2:11

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but except he has the Spirit of God.

The KJV is indeed a literal translation of the Greek text. Paul is saying that just as only the spirit of man within him can know the things of a man, only the Spirit of God can know the things of God. Taken in isolation, this formulation appears to foreclose the possibility that a man could ever know the things of God, since a mere man is by no means himself the Spirit of God. Yes, only the Spirit of God knows the things of God, but the JST provides that a man may possess the Spirit of God and thereby know the things of God as well. That this is indeed what Paul meant to express is made clear in the following verse: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Other passages in the letter make it clear that this is Paul’s meaning, such as 3:16: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” The JST avoids the temporary impression Paul gives that man can in no wise know the things of God and essentially collapses verse 11 with verse 12 so as to make it clear that man may indeed receive the Spirit of God.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

11. 1 Corinthians 3:2

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear receive it, neither yet now are ye able.

This is a change that was motivated in the first instance by the italics but which also reflects an English paraphrase. The Greek has oupo gar edunasthe, “for you were not yet able.” Many translations render something like “for you were not yet ready.” Three actually match the JST by using the word “receive,” as in the NASB: “for you were not yet ready to receive it” (so also the NKJ and OJB). So here the concern with italics also leads to an English paraphrase of KJV text.

Paradigm Classifications A-2 and A-1 (Suspicion of Italicized Text and English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

12. 1 Corinthians 3:15

If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall may be saved; yet so as by fire.

Paul’s wording seems to suggest that salvation shall be a certainty for all people in all cases. The JST pulls back on that idea, making salvation a possibility rather than a sure thing in all events. Paul was assuming a Christian believer who would otherwise be a proper subject of salvation, not just any human being irrespective of her relationship with the Savior. As this is not made explicit in the text, the JST avoids a potential misunderstanding here.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

13. 1 Corinthians 3:17

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; but the temple of God is holy, which temple Temple ye are.

The word “temple” appears three times in this verse, and the JST manuscript seems to capitalize the third occurrence only. It is not clear whether this was an intentional change or an aborted one, and if intentional what nuance he sought to clarify by the change. Perhaps temple was left lowercase when it was the “temple of God,” but was changed to uppercase when referring to his readers as temples, but the intent behind the change (if the change in fact was intentional) remains unclear.

Paradigm Classification G (Not Easily Classifiable).

14. 1 Corinthians 4:2

Moreover it is required in of stewards, that a man be found faithful.

The KJV renders en tois oikonomois literally as “in stewards,” but arguably “of” (as in the JST) would be the more natural idiom in English rather than “in.” Nineteen translations use “of stewards” as in the JST, such as the WEB: “Here, moreover, it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful.”[12] Two translations use “among” (as in DRA, “among the dispensers”), and a number of others rework the sentence to avoid this construction altogether.

The ubiquity of the word “of” in modern translations postdating the JST suggests that “of” may also have existed in translations predating the JST, and indeed that is the case in the Coverdale Bible: “Now is there no more requyred of the stewardes, then, that they be founde faithfull.”

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and F (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Secondary Source).

15. 1 Corinthians 4:4

For though I know nothing by against myself; yet am I am not hereby justified: but he that who judgeth me is the Lord.

There are several changes made to this verse. The addition of “though” simply correlates with “yet” and emphasizes the contrast between the first and second parts of the verse. The switch from “am I” to “I am” is merely stylistic, and the modernization of the relative pronoun from “that” to “who” is a common type of updating found in the JST. The most significant change is emending “by myself” as a rendering of the first-person reflexive pronoun in the dative case, emauto, to “against myself.”

The “I know nothing by myself” of the KJV to a modern reader suggests that Paul’s knowledge does not arise from himself alone but from external authorities or instrumentalities, such as, say, the Holy Spirit. But this is manifestly not the meaning of the expression, which is archaic for “I know nothing against myself” as the JST correctly emends it, meaning in effect “my conscience is clear.” Although a handful of English translations retain the traditional “by myself” of the KJV, twenty-four have “against myself” with the JST, and all others rework the wording in some way to express the same concept.

Paradigm Classifications A-3 and A-1 (Modernization and English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

16. 1 Corinthians 4:5

Therefore I judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

The JST turns Paul’s instruction to his readers into a statement applicable to himself. It is unclear what point Smith intended to make with this emendation.

Paradigm Classification G (Not Easily Classifiable).

17. 1 Corinthians 5:3

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit I have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that who hath so done this deed, as though I was present,

The JST emendation moves a clause for the sole purpose of avoiding the italicized “concerning” and modernizes the personal relative pronoun.

Paradigm Classification A-3 and A-2 (Modernization and Suspicion of Italicized Text).

18. 1 Corinthians 5:4

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my have the spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

In verse 3 Paul talks about being absent from the Corinthians in body but present in spirit. In verse 4 the words “my spirit” hark back to verse 3 and essentially mean “I am with you in spirit.” But the KJV rendering is very awkward here: “when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The KJV is simply too sparse to make Paul’s point sensical and clear in English. The JST emendation makes the reference to “spirit” here to the Lord’s spirit, not Paul’s, which perhaps is a reflection that Paul uses pneuma (“spirit”) to refer to the Holy Spirit far more often than he does of the spirit of a human being.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

19. 1 Corinthians 5:12

For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye they judge them that are within?

Here Paul is saying that God himself will judge outsiders, so the Corinthian Saints should not bother with that but rather should concentrate on judging insiders, i.e., their fellow Christians. The KJV translates verse 12b as a statement of what they are already in fact doing: “do not ye judge them that are within?” But if that were true, there would be no need for Paul to raise the point. Paul was not saying this is what you already do, but rather this is what you should be doing, as in the NET: “Are you not to judge those inside?” Since the KJV as written makes little sense, the JST moves the verb from second-person plural to third-person plural, as a statement of current reality that outsiders were in fact judging the Christians.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

20. 1 Corinthians 6:12

12. All these things are not lawful unto me, but all these things are not expedient: all . All things are not lawful for me, but therefore I will not be brought under the power of any.

That the KJV does not use quotation marks has created a misunderstanding as to who is speaking what words in this passage. Without quotation marks, the entire verse appears to be a statement of Paul’s, which then nonsensically has Paul contradicting himself twice in short order. The JST avoids these contradictions by adding a negative to the assertion “all things are lawful unto me” in both places it occurs. If the entire verse were spoken by Paul from his own perspective, the JST would then harmonize the statements in the verse and make them consistent.

We have here a situation where Paul is quoting his opponents and disagreeing with them. In fact, there is no contradiction because “all these things are lawful unto me” is not Paul’s own point of view but a quotation from the Corinthian point of view. (Since the quotations in this verse come at the beginning of successive sentences, the KJV method of marking a quotation with capitalization is of no assistance here.) Actual quotation marks would have made this clear, as in the CJB:

You say, “For me, everything is permitted”? Maybe, but not everything is helpful. “For me, everything is permitted”? Maybe, but as far as I am concerned, I am not going to let anything gain control over me.

Without the use of quotations marks in the KJV, there is really no way to appreciate the repeated change of voice within this one verse. With that understanding, the JST becomes comprehensible as an attempt to make the statements within the verse (assuming they are all from Paul) coherent by harmonizing them.

Paradigm Classification C-1 (Harmonization [within the Biblical Text]).

21. 1 Corinthians 6:18

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth committeth is without the body: but against the body of Christ, and he that who committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

The verb “commit” works more naturally in English with “sin” than does “do,” and so the JST assimilates “doeth” to the “committeth” later in the verse. What does it mean to sin “without [i.e., ‘outside’] the body?”[13] That formulation in the KJV is completely unclear, and so the JST turns it into the more comprehensible “against the body of Christ.” Since there is no longer a contrast between general sins and fornication, the adversative “but” becomes the conjunction “and.”

Although I believe the change from “doeth” to “committeth” is most likely an assimilation to “committeth” later in the verse, the modern English form “commits” appears in both the Campbell translation, which has “every sin which a man commits is without the body,” and Wesley’s Explanatory Notes, which has “every sin that a man commits against his neighbour terminates upon an object out of himself.”

Paradigm Classifications A-3, A-4 and F (Modernization, Assimilation and Secondary Source).

22–23. 1 Corinthians 7:1–2

1. Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me, saying: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

2. Nevertheless, I say to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7 begins with a crux interpretum: does the second half of verse 1 (“It is good for a man not to touch a woman”) represent Paul’s own statement or a quotation of a statement from Corinth? The Greek text itself gives no indication either way. While there are scholars on both sides of the question, something of a modern scholarly consensus has developed in favor of the Corinthian quotation view. Reasons for this position include the structural similarity of 7:1 with other secure Corinthian quotations (such as 8:1), that 7:1b as a Pauline statement would contradict what Paul would have regarded as a divine ordinance: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), and that the Corinthian quotation reading goes all the way back to Origen.[14]

In translation the clearest way to mark this as a Corinthian statement would have been to use quotation marks, but the KJV does not use quotation marks at all. Quotations are sometimes marked in the KJV by capitalization (usually preceded by a comma), and while this method results in ambiguity (because it cannot mark a quotation at the beginning of a sentence, where the first letter is already capitalized, and it does not mark the end of a quotation) it does often successfully mark the beginning of a quotation. Since the italicized “It” is capitalized, in KJV usage this would appear to mark the beginning of a quotation, thus making verse 7:1b a statement from Corinth.

This passage provides a good illustration as to why the common LDS assumption that JST revisions necessarily reflect textual restorations is incorrect. Below is the Greek text for this passage, with words corresponding to the JST revision added and given in bold underline:

Peri de on egrapsate moi legontes kalon anthropo gunaikos me haptesthai.

Dia de lego tas porneias hekastos ten heautou gunaika echeto kai hekaste ton idion andra echeto.

The common LDS assumption would be that the words legontes (“saying”) and lego (“I say”) were original to the Greek text. Over time, these words dropped out of the text for some reason; the JST then restored them (in English) and is therefore a textual restoration.

This would be a misapprehension of what is going on here. The JST does not presuppose ancient variants in the Greek text; rather it provides clarified meaning at the English level. The JST revisions here are providing the functional equivalent of the quotation marks that are missing in the KJV text: “saying” is in effect the equivalent of an open quote mark, and “I say” is in effect the equivalent of a close quote mark. The JST here does not work at the Greek textual level but at the English translational level, and in doing so it corrects a weakness inherent in the KJV text (lack of quotation marks).

It is the responsibility of the translator to present Paul’s meaning in a correct way in English. There are seventeen older translations that, like the KJV, use capitalization to suggest a quotation here. The modern English equivalent to introducing the passage with legontes would be to put the second part of verse 1 within quotation marks, showing that those words should be ascribed to the letter Paul had received and not to Paul himself. And of the sixty English translations available at, twenty-one do indeed use quotation marks here. Another three reach the same result a different way. The DLNT creates the same effect by using a dash, and the MSG creates the same effect by turning the sentence into a question. The ERV paraphrases as follows: “You asked if it is better for a man not to have sexual relations at all.” So forty-one of sixty translations (over 68 percent) are functionally in accord with the JST (and many of the remaining translations are simply ambiguous on the question). Some translations explicitly take the passage as having precisely the meaning the JST rejects. The TLB has “Now about those questions you asked in your last letter: my answer is that if you do not marry, it is good.” The NLT has Paul’s answer as “Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations.” But this is a minority view; the increasing consensus of modern scholarship takes verse 1 as a quotation from Corinth, just as the JST does.

So the JST clarifies that 7:1b is indeed a quotation, a position that is widely accepted. And the addition of “I say” in verse 2 is then essentially the equivalent of closing that quotation by giving the adversative de in that verse an appropriately strong force (as if to render it “on the contrary”).[15] This has nothing to do with textual variants in ancient manuscripts; it is rather a matter of correct presentation in English.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

24. 1 Corinthians 7:5

Defraud Depart ye not one from the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

The word “defraud” is indeed an accurate translation of the Greek verb apostereo (“rob, despoil”), but in English it’s a very obscure way to make the point Paul is trying to make here, which is more like “do not deprive each other of marital rights,” or more pointedly “do not refuse sex to each other.” The JST makes the concept clearer while still reflecting Smith’s typical conservatism in making the fewest letter changes necessary (i.e., note how close English “depart” is to KJV “defraud”).

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

25. 1 Corinthians 7:6

But I speak this And now what I speak is by permission, and not of by commandment.

The first change seems to be a simple paraphrase, and a number of other English translations have “by commandment” rather than “of commandment” at the end of the verse.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

26. 1 Corinthians 7:9

But if they cannot contain abide, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn that any should commit sin.

The first change is an English paraphrase. The expression (ei ouk enkrateuontai) the KJV obscurely rendered “if they cannot contain” means “if they do not have power over their passions.”[16] The word “abide” is simply an alternative to the KJV “contain” as a way of expressing the exercise of self-control. At the end of the verse the verb purousthai does indeed literally mean “to burn.” Some have taken the verb here to mean “to burn in hell,” but most take it as “for their passions to burn.”[17] The JST then takes this to its logical consequence, that if the couple lets its passions burn they would likely give in to such passions and commit sin as a result.

Paradigm Classification A-1 and B (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Midrashic Commentary).

27. 1 Corinthians 7:26

I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be remain, that he may do greater good.

The JST gives a reason why it would be better for an unmarried man to remain such—so as to be in a position to do greater good.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary)

28. 1 Corinthians 7:28

But and if thou marry, thou has not sinned; and if a virgin Virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you for I spare you not.

The KJV rendering here is awkward and does not adequately convey the sense of the passage. The KJV’s “But and if thou marry” is overliteral; virtually all modern translations delete the word “and” here with the JST, such as the NRSV’s “But if you marry.” The “but I spare you” seems to say that even though Paul is telling them they will have troubles in the flesh if they marry, that’s okay, go ahead and do it. But that is manifestly not Paul’s meaning here, which is why the JST adds a negative to the clause. What Paul is actually saying is that by his counsel he is trying to spare them that result, as clearly expressed in the NRSV: “Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that.” The JST adds a negative to avoid the misimpression the KJV gives, which was manifestly not what Paul meant to convey.

Note that the KJV following the Textus Receptus reads “and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned,” with an anarthrous parthenos “a virgin.” The original text most likely reads “the virgin” (he parthenos) with a definite article. (The definite article was probably omitted by some copyists for a perceived lack of propriety in keeping it.) The JST capitalizes “Virgin” here. The reason for the capitalization is not clear, and conceivably it was meant to mark the noun as definite. But the JST retains the English indefinite article “a,” so in my view this revision does not amount to a textual restoration.[18]

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

29. 1 Corinthians 7:29

But I speak unto you who are called unto the ministry. For this I say, brethren, the time that remaineth is but short,: it remaineth, that both that ye shall be sent forth unto the ministry. Even they that who have wives shall be as though they had none; for ye are called and chosen to do the Lord’s work.

Although the JST makes a complex series of changes here, the revisions all support a simple idea: that the condition of those having wives being as though they had none is not a general statement applicable to all but applies specifically to those sent forth into the ministry, which provides a limitation as to class (ministers only) and as to time (only for the temporary duration of such ministry).

Paradigm Classifications A-3 and B (Modernization and Midrashic Commentary).

30–33. 1 Corinthians 7:30–33

And they that it shall be with them who weep, as though they wept not; and they that them who rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that them who buy, as though they possessed not;

And they that them who use this world, as not abusing using it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

But I would, brethren, that ye magnify your calling. I would have you without carefulness. For he He that who is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord; therefore he prevaileth:

But he that who is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife; therefore there is a difference, for he is hindered.

There are a number of revisions to this passage. The archaic use of “that” as a relative pronoun is modernized to “who.” The structure of these verses is changed from a more direct expression (e.g., “and they that weep”) to an indirect one (e.g., “and it shall be with them who weep”) so as to mesh better with verse 29b “that both they that have wives be as though they had none” (emphasis added). In verse 31 “abusing” is changed to “using” to match the “using” in the first part of the verse so as to make the terms parallel (as in verse 30 “weep//wept” and “rejoice//rejoiced”).[19] In verses 32 and 33 the JST adds clauses to make it abundantly clear that verse 32 (not being married) reflects the superior condition in this context over verse 33 (being married).

Paradigm Classifications A-3, A-1 and B (Modernization, English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Midrashic Commentary).

34. 1 Corinthians 7:36

36. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin whom he hath espoused, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will hath promised, he sinneth not: let them marry.

There is an ambiguity in this verse. Most translations take it as referring to a man’s decision to marry a woman, where ten parthenon autou (“his virgin”) refers to a fiancée, but it is possible, though less likely, that those words in this passage are referring to a father’s decision to allow his virgin daughter to marry, as explicitly suggested by a half dozen translations, such as the NASB:

But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry.[20]

Some translations, in order to be more explicit about how the text should be read, expressly identify the virgin as the man’s fiancée, as in the ERV:

A man might think that he is not doing the right thing with his fiancée. She might be almost past the best age to marry. So he might feel that he should marry her. He should do what he wants. It is no sin for them to get married.

Other translations that do this are the CJB, NLT, NRSV, NRSVA, NRSVACE, and VOICE. (The ESV also does it, using the word “betrothed”). The JST is in accord with these translations, making the relationship explicitly one of a man to his fiancée, not a father making a decision about his virgin daughter.

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Text).

35. 1 Corinthians 7:38

So then he that giveth her himself in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her himself not in marriage doeth better.

Verse 38 correlates with verse 36. The KJV “giveth her” contemplates a virgin daughter is in view, which is a minority position; most translations take it as referring to a man marrying his own fiancée as in verse 36, and the JST is in accord, replacing both italicized occurrences of “her” with “himself.” DARBY even uses the very word “himself”: “So that he that marries himself does well; and he that does not marry does better.” So again, this is an emendation motivated by italics that also serves as an English paraphrase.

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Text).

36. 1 Corinthians 8:4

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that which are in the world offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

The JST here simply moves some text and modernizes the pronoun.

Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization).

37. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but all run—only one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

The JST here intends no change in meaning but simply attempts to convey the sense in a more modern framing.

Paradigm Classification A-3 (Modernization).

38. 1 Corinthians 10:11

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, also and for an admonition for those upon whom the ends end of the world are shall come.

Paul assumed that the end of the world was imminent. At the time Smith was dictating his changes to the text in 1832, the world had not ended, meaning that the end of the world had not actually been imminent at the time Paul dictated this text. So the JST harmonizes the text with actual history in a way reminiscent of what the JST does in Matthew 24.[21]

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

39. 1 Corinthians 10:23

All things are lawful for me, but for all things are not expedient: all things are not lawful for me, but all things edify not.[22]

This is similar to 1 Corinthians 6:12, where the lack of quotation marks in the KJV makes the passage hard to follow and the JST attempts to remedy that. For the difference quotation marks make, consider the NRSV: “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.”

Paradigm Classification C-1 (Harmonization [within the Biblical Text]).

40. 1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no man seek therefore his own, but every man another’s wealth good.

The Greek of this passage is medeis to heautou zeteito alla to tou heterou hekastos, literally “let no one seek that of himself, but let each [seek] that of another,” where “that” is a rendering of the Greek neuter article to. To what does the neuter article mean to refer here? In a general sense it must have some connotation such as “benefit.” The KJV’s “wealth” was originally an appropriate translation, as the word was used in the now obsolete sense of “well-being” or “welfare” (compare to the archaic English term weal, meaning “well-being”). Unfortunately, due to linguistic drift, over time the word “wealth” has come to mean “an abundance of material possessions or resources,” which is manifestly not the meaning of the word in this passage.[23] Accordingly, the JST modernized the text with “good.” Fourteen other translations indeed use “good” here (such as the NET: “Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person”), and a couple others use “well-being.”

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Text).

41. 1 Corinthians 10:27

If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast eat, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

Here the concern with italics combines with the common JST principles of conservatism[24] and assimilation. In lieu of the italicized “to a feast,” the JST suggests “eat,” which is assimilated from “eat” (esthiete) later in the verse and involves only two English letter changes from the word “feast.”

Paradigm Classifications A-4 and A-2 (Assimilation and Suspicion of Italicized Text).

42. 1 Corinthians 10:33

Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.

This change was motivated by the italics. The passage reads better in English without repeating the word “profit,” as in the NRSV: “Just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.”

It is possible that the addition of “the” before “many” in this position was influenced by the Campbell Translation: “Even as I please all men in all things; not seeking my own advantage, but that of the many, that they may be saved.”

Paradigm Classification A-2 and F (Suspicion of Italicized Text and Secondary Source).

43. 1 Corinthians 11:10

For this cause ought the woman to have power a covering[25] on her head because of the angels Angels.

For a woman to have “power” (as the KJV literally renders exousia) on her head is simply incomprehensible; what does it mean? Many translations render something like “a sign of authority,” which is better but still unclear. A number of translations clarify that what was meant was a tangible covering of some type that a woman was to wear on her head, as in the ICB: “So that is why a woman should have her head covered with something to show that she is under authority. And also she should do this because of the angels.” Or, it may be that the head covering represents a protective power.[26] Some form of the word “covering” is also used in the AMP, CEV, ERV, GW, GNT, ICB, and TLB, while CJB has “The reason a woman should show by veiling her head that she is under authority has to do with the angels.” The noun exousia here is an abstract term standing for the concrete, and the JST emphasizes the concrete aspect of the word.

Note that there is a possibility the “covering” word choice was influenced by the Adam Clarke Commentary: “Theophylact explains the word, to exousiazesthai sumbolon, toutesti, to kalumma ‘the symbol of being under power, that is, a veil, or covering.’”

Paradigm Classification A-1 and F (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Secondary Source).

44. 1 Corinthians 11:19

For there must be also heresies divisions among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

The KJV renders the Greek haireseis with its English derivative, “heresies,” but here the sense is one of dissensions arising from a diversity of opinions and aims, a nuance that the JST “divisions” captures well. The CJB, GNT, NET, and NLT all also use “divisions,” and the MSG uses the form “divisiveness.” Other translations use a variety of synonyms, the most common of which is “factions.”

It is possible that the word choice of “divisions” was influenced by either the Adam Clarke Commentary, “Their difference in religious opinion led to a difference in their religious practice, and thus the Church of God, that should have been one body, was split into sects and parties. The divisions and the heresies sprung out of each other,” or by Wesley’s Explanatory Notes: “There must be heresies—Divisions.”

Paradigm Classification A-1 and F (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Secondary Source).

45. 1 Corinthians 11:20

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is is it not to eat the Lord’s supper.?

Here the italicized “this is” leads Smith to turn the disapproving statement of Paul into a rhetorical negative question, making the same point but arguably with greater force.

Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text).

46. 1 Corinthians 11:21

For But in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

The change made here from “for” to “but” simply coordinates this verse with the change made in the immediately preceding verse.

Paradigm Classification A-2 (Suspicion of Italicized Text).

47. 1 Corinthians 11:29

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation condemnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

“Condemnation” is a suitable synonym for “damnation” here as a rendering of the Greek krima. Indeed, BDAG suggests that krima heauto esthien should be rendered “eat condemnation upon oneself,”[27] and the CEV has “If you fail to understand that you are the body of the Lord, you will condemn yourselves by the way you eat and drink.” The expression means to eat and drink so as to incur the judgment/punishment/condemnation of God. It is not entirely clear why Smith felt the need to make the word substitution here. One possibility is that the word “damnation” may have been perceived as a final judgment from which no repentance would be effective, whereas “condemnation” was perceived as a state of judgment from which repentance was yet possible, but whether this nuance was intended is speculation.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

48. 1 Corinthians 12:1

Now concerning spiritual gifts things, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

The Greek has peri de pneumatikon. The gender of the adjective is ambiguous, as it could be either masculine (“spiritual people”) or neuter. Most favor the neuter reading. The most straightforward way to translate the neuter adjective would be “spiritual things,” as the JST suggests. Several translations do the same (CJB, DRA, JUB, WEB, WYC, and YLT).

Paradigm Classifications A-1 and A-2 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Suspicion of Italicized Text).

49. 1 Corinthians 12:31

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto I say unto you, nay; for I have shewn unto you a more excellent way therefore covet earnestly the best gifts.

By “a more excellent way” Paul meant to refer the reader ahead to his discourse on love in chapter 13. The JST revises the verse to make the “more excellent way” refer back to what he has already expressed in the letter.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

50–55. 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 13, 14, 18 and 21

[Global change throughout chapter]: an unknown another tongue.

Here the italicized “unknown” leads to a midrashic comment, suggesting that Paul was not necessarily talking about glossolalia. This could also be taken as an English paraphrase. Probably the most common way this is rendered in modern English translations is simply as “a tongue” or “a language” with no modifying adjective, but since this tongue is obviously not one’s native language, “another tongue” as the JST has it would seem to be an appropriate clarifying adjective. The HCSB, NOG, and WEB have “another language,” the ICB “a different language,” the ISV “a foreign language,” and the NCV “different languages.”

Paradigm Classifications A-1, A-2 and B (English Paraphrase of KJV Text, Suspicion of Italicized Text and Midrashic Commentary).

56–57. 1 Corinthians 14:34–35

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak rule; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak rule in the church.

This passage has long been considered difficult by modern Christians, since only the most conservative Christian sects disallow women from speaking in church at all. Further, Paul himself in this very letter (1 Cor. 11:5 and 13) takes it for granted that it is proper for women both to pray and to prophesy in church, which seems strangely inconsistent with this passage. Therefore, if the passage were genuinely authentic, it would appear that something else is being communicated here in accordance with the context of the situation (known to the author and the addressees but not to us). The JST resolves this problem by replacing the difficult verb “speak” with the verb “rule,” which allows for substantially more participation by women in the life of the Church, even if a limitation remains.

Many scholars are of the view that verses 34–35 were not original to the letter but reflect a later addition, primarily because the Western textual tradition (and some non-Western texts) place these verses after verse 40 rather than after verse 33 as here, suggesting they were a later addition to the letter.[28]

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary)

58. 1 Corinthians 15:10

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but for I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Translations generally render the conjunction alla with “but,” “instead,” or “on the contrary.” The JST changes the second half of the verse from a contrast with the first to a reason for the first.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary).

59. 1 Corinthians 15:24

Then Afterward cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

“Afterward” is simply a synonym for “then.” Several modern English translations use “after” or “afterward” here.

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

60. 1 Corinthians 15:26

The last enemy, that shall be destroyed is death, shall be destroyed.

There are two possible ways to account for the generation of this emendation. First, it might be based on the italicized words “that” and “is.” Smith and his scribes often crossed italicized words out in the Joseph Smith–marked Bible and considered the import of the passage without the italicized words, which in this case would be as follows:

The last enemy shall be destroyed death.

A simple and obvious way to make sense of that would be to move the word “death” forward, put it in apposition with “the last enemy” (using commas), and thereby make “death” clearly the subject of the verb “shall be destroyed.” In such a case the revision would be explained entirely by the italics and would result in the reading preserved in the JST:

The last enemy, death, shall be destroyed.

But it is also possible that this particular reformulation was influenced by the Adam Clarke Commentary: “The last enemy, Death, shall be destroyed.” Note that the wording is identical, except that the JST did not capitalize “Death.”[29] But the Clarke Commentary tends to be used for more technical, lexical, and linguistic purposes. If this revision were indeed based on the Clarke Commentary, Smith’s reliance on that source here seems to have been rather random. It is to be hoped that Thomas Wayment and Haley Wilson-Lemmon’s forthcoming study on the Clarke Commentary will provide some insight into the apparent randomness of the JST usage of that source here.[30]

Paradigm Classification A-2 and F (Suspicion of Italicized Text and Secondary Source).

61. 1 Corinthians 15:27

For he saith, when it is manifest that he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, and that all things are put under, him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which of the father who did put all things under him.

The sense of this verse is more clearly expressed in the NRSV: “For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him.” Smith seems to be putting this into the future, is perhaps influenced by the italicized “him, it is,” and also seems to misread “excepted” as “accepted.”

Paradigm Classification B and A-2 (Midrashic Commentary and Suspicion of Italicized Text).

62. 1 Corinthians 15:31

I protest by your unto you the resurrection of the dead; and this is my rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily, though I die.

The first revision explicitly connects this passage with the general topic of this portion of 1 Corinthians 15, which is the resurrection of the dead. The second takes Paul’s statement “I die every day!,” which is a description of his hardships on their behalf and obviously not to be taken literally, and expresses it in a way that may be read literally, and thus is a literalizing of Paul’s expression.

Paradigm Classification B (Midrashic Commentary)

63. 1 Corinthians 15:37

And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that which shall be, but bare grain, it may be of wheat or some other chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

This is largely a modernizing revision, changing “that” to “which,” changing “bare grain” to simply “grain” (gymnos kokkos [“bare grain”] means only grain as opposed to the plant itself), and deleting the word “chance,” which here is simply archaic for “whether.” The italicized “grain” at the end appears also to have been an influence.

Paradigm Classification A-3 and A-2 (Modernization and Suspicion of Italicized Text).

64. 1 Corinthians 15:40

There are also celestial Celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial Terrestrial, and bodies Telestial: but the glory of the celestial Celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial Terrestrial is another, and the Telestial, another.

On February 16, 1832, Smith received the vision found in Doctrine and Covenants 76, which was inspired by his work on the JST of John 5:29. A couple weeks later Smith dictated the revisions to 1 Corinthians 15, and in verse 40 he harmonized the text to match Doctrine and Covenants 76 by adding the neologism “Telestial” to the Latinate terms “Celestial” and “Terrestrial” and by capitalizing all three technical terms. This is a classic illustration of harmonizing the biblical text to conform to one of Smith’s modern revelations.

Paradigm Classification C-2 (Harmonization with Modern Revelation).

65. 1 Corinthians 15:46

Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual which is natural first, and not that which is spiritual, but afterwards, that which is spiritual.

This appears to be a simplifying paraphrase. The KJV structure is “not spiritual first, but first natural, then spiritual,” and the JST simply omits the first clause, simplifying to “first natural, then spiritual.”

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

66. 1 Corinthians 15:52

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last sound of the trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The word salpinx can mean a “trumpet” itself, but it also can refer to the sound made or signal given by a trumpet, i.e., “trumpet-sound.” BDAG takes the word here in the latter sense: “at the call of the trumpet blown by God’s command.”[31] There are five translations that explicitly take the word as the JST does, as referring to the sound of the trumpet, as in the ISV: “In a moment, faster than an eye can blink, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed.” (The others are AMP, CEV, GW and NOG.)

It is possible that the addition of “sound” in the JST was an assimilation to the use of “sound” later in the verse, which then had the effect of creating a chiasm:

A at the sound

B of the trump

B’ for the trumpet

A’ shall sound

The expression “sound of the trumpet” also occurs fifteen times in the KJV Old Testament, so the JST emendation here could be an assimilation to that Old Testament usage.

Paradigm Classification A-1 and A-4 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Assimilation).

67. 1 Corinthians 16:9

For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and but there are many adversaries.

The conjunction between the first and second part of the verse is the Greek kai, which is commonly rendered into English as “and,” and a majority of translations indeed translate it that way. But the first part of the verse is positive while the second is negative, which suggests that kai should be given more adversative force here. There are seven translations that join the JST in rendering the word “but” (CEV, NABRE, NET, NLV, OJB, VOICE, and WE), as well as others that use some other adversative (“although,” “even though,” “yet”).

Paradigm Classification A-1 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text).

68. 1 Corinthians 16:20

All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss salutation.

The Greek word philema does indeed mean “kiss,” as a sign of fraternal affection that was commonly given in the early Christian community. The JST updates the gesture culturally with the blander “salutation.” But the JST is not alone in suggesting such a cultural updating. Other translations suggest here “warm greeting” (CEV), “special greeting” (ERV), “shake hands” (PHILLIPS), “loving handshake” (TLB), and “holy embraces” (MSG). The specific word “salutation” is assimilated from verse 21.

Paradigm Classification A-1 and A-4 (English Paraphrase of KJV Text and Assimilation).

Summary of Results

Having worked our way through the entire Joseph Smith Translation of 1 Corinthians, what kinds of changes did we find there? Below I give an accounting of the types of changes made in the JST of 1 Corinthians by paradigm classification.

By my count the total number of verses modified in the JST of 1 Corinthians is sixty-eight. Several of these verses are logically grouped together into “passages” (including three groups of two verses, one group of four verses, and one group of six verses), thus resulting in fifty-seven passages. Of these fifty-seven passages, thirty-four fell into a single category on the paradigm, twenty fell into two categories on the paradigm, and three fell into three categories on the paradigm, thus giving us eighty-three total categories of change within those fifty-seven passages (i.e., 34 + [20 x 2] + [3 x 3] = 83). The following chart shows the allocation of those eighty-three types of changes among the paradigm categories.

Allocation of JST Revisions among Paradigm Categories

Paradigm DesignationDescriptionTotal OccurrencesPercentage of Total Occurrences (%)Remarks
A-1English Paraphrases of KJV Text in general2631.33This was the most commonly attested category, coming in at almost one-third of all JST emendations. I was genuinely surprised by how many of these revisions seemed sensible in light of the Greek text and found parallels in modern English translations.
A-2English Paraphrases of KJV Text based on Suspicion of Italics1619.28Suspicion of italicized text was a very significant category, accounting for almost 20 percent of JST emendations. Although this percentage is somewhat less than that found by Wayment and Yost in their study of JST treatment of italics in the Gospels, it is nonetheless substantial and suggests that a suspicion of italicized text was a constant concern throughout the JST project. One possible conclusion from this is that it was a bad idea for the KJV to use italicized text in this fashion, as it led to substantial misunderstanding, and indeed modern translations have not followed this practice.
A-3English Paraphrases of KJV Text based on Modernization89.64The impulse to modernize the archaic KJV text was reflected in just under 10 percent of JST emendations to 1 Corinthians, suggesting that that was a significant concern of the JST project, even if the JST did not attempt anything approaching a consistent emphasis on modernization of the language.
A-4English Paraphrases of KJV Text based on Assimilation67.23Assimilation accounted for just over 7 percent of JST revisions, suggesting that Smith was very much attuned to the surrounding text as he made his revisions.
A-5English Paraphrases of KJV Text having Non-Original Textual Variants00This category was unattested in 1 Corinthians.
BMidrashic Commentary1619.28Midrashic commentary comes in at almost 20 percent and so is a very significant type of change made in the JST of 1 Corinthians.
C-1Harmonizations within the Biblical Text22.41Harmonizations within the biblical text will be far more common in the Gospels. The two occurrences here reflected attempts to make verses sensical that were unclear due to the fact that the KJV does not use quotation marks, and its older system of attempting to mark quotations is often inadequate.
C-2Harmonizations with Modern Revelation11.19Although there was only a single example in this text of a harmonization with modern revelation, that example was a significant one: adding the neologism “telestial” to the Latinate terms “celestial” and “terrestrial” so as to conform this text with D&C 76.
DLong Additions with Little or No Biblical Parallel00This category was unattested in 1 Corinthians.
ETextual Restorations00This category was unattested in 1 Corinthians.
FSecondary Sources67.23I have noted six cases where the JST revision is paralleled by a secondary source (over 7 percent), but it does not necessarily follow in each case that the secondary source was a true influence. So in 1 Corinthians 6:18 I believe the change from “doeth” to “committeth” was due to assimilation from “committeth” later in the verse and not the use of the modern English form “commits” in the Campbell translation and Wesley’s Explanatory Notes. The possible example of secondary source influence in 1 Corinthians 10:33 strikes me as more of a fluke than a conscious influence. The change from “in stewards” to “of stewards” in 1 Corinthians 4:2 could reflect secondary source influence, or it could simply be a change that reflects the more natural euphony of “of stewards” in English. 1 Corinthians 15:26 strikes me as something of a toss-up between a revision based solely on the italics and one derived from the Clarke Commentary. The revisions to 1 Corinthians 11:10 and 11:19 strike me as the most likely illustrations of this category (the others being somewhat more equivocal), but even those are not certain examples. On the other hand, I only reviewed four possible secondary sources and there are many other potential sources that could profitably be reviewed. So the six examples I have cited here might be overstated in one respect but understated in another.
GNot Easily Classifiable22.41That we only needed to include two passages in the catch-all “not easily classifiable” category suggests that the paradigm as a whole is sufficient to account for most JST emendations to the KJV text.

Concluding Thoughts

The distribution of JST revisions among the paradigm classifications in 1 Corinthians is illustrative, but not necessarily characteristic, of other portions of the JST. 1 Corinthians would have been produced roughly in the middle of the JST project. The purposes of the project developed over time, and Smith’s stamina for generating revisions started strong but seemed to flag toward the end, particularly after Smith returned to the Old Testament. But this does represent a significant illustrative subset of the JST (i.e., an entire New Testament book) and suggests that many different kinds of things are going on in the project, which therefore requires an eclectic approach by those seeking to understand it.

Before undertaking this project, I was of course generally familiar with the JST, but I had never undertaken this kind of a focused consideration of a substantial amount of JST text (i.e., an entire book) all at once. This was a new experience for me. And my overarching reaction was that I was impressed. Not that the JST is perfect; of course it is not. But it is thoughtful, and Smith obviously worked hard to make sense of textual puzzles that were not immediately clear to him. And most of the time he did pretty well with those puzzles. And he did so with minimal resources: perhaps seven years of public schooling,[32] possible consultation with his scribes, and occasional use of secondary sources.

As impressive as I found Smith’s effort to be generally, there were also mistakes and misunderstandings along the way. In the three-year project as a whole Smith dictated literally thousands of changes to the KJV text, and it is simply unreasonable to think that he never made a change based on a mistaken understanding of the text. There are several such examples in 1 Corinthians itself (in particular under my Midrashic Commentary category). But in a way, even the mistakes he made supported his general and basic point, to the effect that the KJV had become too difficult for many ordinary Bible readers to read with full comprehension. So, for instance, the practice of using italic type to reflect English words without specific warrant in the Greek text no doubt was well intentioned, but in the end it turned out to be a bad idea, and modern translations wisely do not follow that precedent. That the KJV did not use actual quotation marks was a problem, and so when Smith sometimes misunderstood the text for the want of quotation marks, he was demonstrating how problematic that lack was by his own errors. When the diction and syntax of the KJV were beyond Smith such that he struggled to correct them, the fact of such a struggle was in itself a demonstration of the larger point Smith sought to make with this project.

Many Latter-day Saints assume that all JST revisions fall under Paradigm Classification E, Textual Restorations. However, based on our current understanding of the history of the New Testament text, not a single JST emendation to 1 Corinthians makes any sense as a textual restoration. Given that many of the JST emendations were in their own way impressive, I believe it would be a good thing to wean people from widespread but completely unsustainable assumptions of 100 percent textual restoration. If Church scholars do not take the initiative to correct this massive misunderstanding, some day in the not too distant future those scholars will be drafting a Gospel Topics essay on the subject.

So in the end, whether Smith was successfully correcting the KJV or trying and failing (or realistically some of each), both the successes and the failures supported his basic point, that the KJV had over time become too archaic and too hard for ordinary Bible readers to read with full comprehension, which has only become more true over the 180-plus years since Smith completed the JST. That is a proposition I believe we can all agree with.

I would hope that students would be able to see what Smith did with the JST as a model for their own engagement with the scriptures. Smith was willing to get deep into the weeds in a way I simply do not see in the average Sunday School class. Much of what he did involved seeing and pointing out anomalies in the text[33] and trying to resolve them, anomalies that the average student of the scriptures does not even notice. Smith’s resolutions to those anomalies sometimes worked impressively well, and other times not so much, but the important thing was the way he rolled up his sleeves and really tried. That, it seems to me, is a worthy model for us all to follow.

Appendix A

Abbreviations of Bible Translations Used in this Article

AMP                 Amplified Bible

ASV                  American Standard Version

CEV                  Contemporary English Version

CJB                   Complete Jewish Bible

DARBY              Darby Translation

DLNT                Disciples’ Literal New Testament

DRA                 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition

ERV                  Easy-to-Read Version

GNT                 Good News Translation

GW                  God’s Word Translation

HCSB                Holman Christian Standard Bible

ICB                   International Children’s Bible

ISV                   International Standard Version

JUB                  Jubilee Bible 2000

KJV                   King James Version

MSG                 The Message

NABRE             New American Bible (Revised Edition)

NASB               New American Standard Bible

NCV                 New Century Version

NET                  New English Translation

NIV                  New International Version

NKJ                  New King James Version

NLT                  New Living Translation

NLV                  New Life Version

NOG                 Names of God Bible

NRSV                New Revised Standard Version

NRSVA             New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised

NRSVACE         New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition

OJB                  Orthodox Jewish Bible

PHILLIPS           J.B. Phillips New Testament

TLB                  The Living Bible

VOICE              The Voice

WE                   Worldwide English (New Testament)

WEB                 World English Bible

WYC                 Wycliffe Bible

YLT                   Young’s Literal Translation

(All translations are available at

[1] Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation”: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible: A History and Commentary (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1985), 253. For a very similar list published the same year as the Matthews list, see Robert L. Millet, “Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible: A Historical Overview,” in The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things, edited by Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), 43–45.

[2] Philip L. Barlow, Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 51–53.

[3] Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004), 8–11.

[4] See Thomas A. Wayment, “Intertextuality and the Purpose of Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible,” in Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources, edited by Mark Ashurst-McGee, Robin Scott Jensen, and Sharalyn D. Howcroft (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 75.

[5] I did not reflect the concept of actual history not recorded or included in the Bible, for while that may be a useful category for the sake of completeness, in the absence of a textual source it strikes me as unlikely that we would be able to determine that something was historically said or done. I also did not separately include Barlow’s “common-sense changes” or “interpretive additions,” as I would group such items under the broad category of Midrashic Commentary.

[6] Thomas A. Wayment and Tyson J. Yost, “The Joseph Smith Translation and Italicized Words in the King James Version,” Religious Educator 6, no. 1 (2005): 51–64.

[7] The Anchor Bible also has “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008), 136.

[8] “The word hekastos, ‘each,’ must not of course be pressed to the effect that every single member has associated himself with one of the groups mentioned.” Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians: A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, translated by James W. Leitch (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1978), 33.

[9] Alternatively, the JST emendation could represent a common JST tendency to avoid hyperbolic statements. I am indebted to Julie M. Smith for this observation.

[10] Abbreviations of Bible translations are used as given in Appendix A.

[11] Similarly, the Anchor Bible has “What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I side with Paul!’; another, ‘I side with Apollos!’; or ‘I side with Cephas!’; or ‘I side with Christ!’” See Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 136.

[12] The Anchor Bible also has “of stewards.” See Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, 209.

[13] Some translations understand the first part of the verse as a Corinthian slogan and therefore put it in quotation marks, as in the NET.

[14] For discussion, see Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000), 498–500.

[15] Thiselton, First Epistle, 501.

[16] Thiselton, 514.

[17] Thiselton, 514.

[18] See Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Society, 1971 [1975 Corrected Edition]), 555.

[19] The KJV translates these terms differently because the first is a rendering of chraomai (“to use”) and the second is a rendering of the related compound verb katachraomai (“to use fully”). A number of modern translations similarly conform the second verb to the first as the JST does here. The NRSV renders “and those who deal with the world as if they had no dealings with it.”

[20] Other examples are the ASV, DLNT, GW, JUB, and NOG.

[21] See Kevin Barney, “Harmonizing the Text with History,” By Common Consent (blog), June 4, 2011.

[22] The words “for me” (moi) that appear twice in this verse are not original but crept into the text by assimilation from 6:12. So instead of “all things are lawful for me” the text should read simply “all things are lawful.” The JST deletes the second “me” but keeps the “for,” changing “all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” to “all things are not lawful for all things edify not.” So it is just a coincidence that the JST deletes a word that was not original to the text. See Metzger, A Textual Commentary, 561.

[23] I am indebted to Craig Blomberg for this observation.

[24] By “conservatism,” I mean the tendency of the JST to replace English words with other English words with the fewest changes in English letters possible, such as feasteat here or defrauddepart (keeping the de– compound) in JST 1 Cor. 7:5.

[25] The difficult word exousia (“power”) in this verse is glossed by kalumma (“a veil”) in a number of versional and patristic witnesses. This is obviously not the original text but shows that the JST is approaching the passage in a way similar to many ancient writers. See Metzger, Textual Commentary, 562.

[26] Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians, 189.

[27] Frederick William Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 567, commonly stylized as BDAG.

[28] See for instance Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 697–710, and Philip B. Payne, “Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus, and 1 Cor 14.34–5,” New Testament Studies 41, no. 2 (1995): 240–62.

[29] We cannot make too much of this lack of capitalization, because as Kent Jackson has observed, Smith dictated the changes to his scribe without stopping to clarify matters of capitalization. See Kent P. Jackson, “Joseph Smith’s Translation of the New Testament,” in New Testament History, Culture, and Society: A Background to the Texts of the New Testament, edited by Lincoln H. Blumell (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2019), 710.

[30] Thomas A. Wayment and Haley Wilson-Lemmon, “A Recovered Resource: The Use of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation,” in Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith’s Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity, edited by Michael Hubbard MacKay, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Brian M. Hauglid (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2020).

[31] Danker, Greek-English Lexicon, 911.

[32] William Davis, “Reassessing Joseph Smith Jr.’s Formal Education,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 49, no. 4 (Winter 2016): 1–58.

[33] For this concept, see Kevin Barney, “The JST as an Issue Spotting Exercise,” By Common Consent (blog), Feb. 20, 2019, .