25
Aug
08

TRANSLATION IS NOT INTERPRETATION

 

    In my last post I talked about Mormonism’s 8th Article of Faith, namely, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.”  The word “translation” usually means taking something from language and putting it into a different language.  For example, I translated that letter from Spanish to English. 

     But Mormons often cite the 8th Article of Faith in reference to their belief that the original text was corrupted.  In other words, they often include the transmission of the text down through the ages.  As Joseph Smith said, “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers.  Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.”  (Quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 14)

     To muddy the waters even more, as this issue is discussed, often the interpretation of the Bible is introduced with the argument that people interpret things differently.  But the interpretation of the Bible is not pertinent in this discussion.  Translation and interpretation are two different things.

     Hopefully the following analogy helps make my point.  Whenever the President of the United States gives a speech, the “experts” immediately interpret that speech and come up with differing interpretations of it.   But the key point to my illustration is that they all work off all the same transcript of the speech.

     Now apply that to the Bible.  People come up with different interpretations of it, but they all work from the same “transcript”.  Mormonism, however, says the transcript itself is corrupt.  In any other situation when such a charge is made, the obvious questions are:

“What parts are corrupted?” and “Can you prove it?”  How many news agencies, for example, would take at face value the claim that the transcript of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was not accurate without asking those two questions?

      Many people are asking the LDS church, what parts of the Bible are corrupted?   A general statement that it is corrupted isn’t very helpful.  If you want to be helpful, be specific.  From an outsider’s viewpoint, these seem to be reasonable questions -especially because of Mormonism’s claim that its living prophets receive direct revelation from God.  It is difficult to believe that God, over the past 150 years, hasn’t remedied this situation of a corrupted Bible by revealing the truth to one of its living prophets.    

Advertisements

15 Responses to “TRANSLATION IS NOT INTERPRETATION”


  1. 1 jdworkman
    August 25, 2008 at 1:47 am

    The point that you make in your last sentence is a good one. The fact of the matter is that God has remedied the situation. God, through the prophet Joseph Smith, has revealed many of the parts that were removed or altered. Although the LDS church uses the King James Version of the Bible, in the version printed by the church, these revelations appear in the appendix. The truth has been restored.

  2. 2 oldfashionedgirl07
    August 25, 2008 at 3:02 am

    Thank you for bringing this up! I’m a Mormon, and hopefully I have an answer for you. Yes we believe that over time (and through at least 5 language translations) that some important portions, or even phrases, were lost. Part of this is because Hebrew and Greek have idioms and concepts that aren’t easily translated. So, we believe that Joseph Smith went through the Bible and through revelation from the Lord helped to restore some of those lost ideas and concepts. If you would like to read and compare some of the these, here’s a link http://scriptures.lds.org/en/jst/contents

    Hopefully that helps you!

  3. 3 markcares
    August 25, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    I do know about the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). My question is: why is that not the official version of the LDS Church? For example, in “True to the Faith” a manual published in 2004 by the LDS Church, under the heading Bible it states: “In English, the King James Version of the Bible is accepted as scripture by the Church.” No mention is made of the JST. If the JST is the corrected version, the LDS church should not only be using it exclusively but offering it free in all their advertisements as they do the KJV.

  4. August 25, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Good question in light of the first two comments–I am amazed by all the sundry LDS beliefs swirling over the KJV and the JST.

  5. August 25, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    All of the LDS produced KJV copies include the JST. So any Bible offered will include it. Why is that strange or unclear?

    Mark I wasn’t necessarily dealing with interpretation in my previous comments on the other post. I was making the point that you can still find the truth, even if it isn’t as clear as it once was. It’s not like the window was shattered, it’s just not as clean and streak free as it was at one time.

  6. 6 Berean
    August 25, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    The JST of the whole Bible was complete by Joseph Smith and that is stated in “History of the Church” Volume 1 (see detailed reference on the other thread). Why doesn’t the LDS Church use it all instead of just excerpts? Again, it’s a faulty, unscholarly work and has no credibility and the General Authorities know it. If they switched over to this “work” they wouldn’t be able to try to con the world that they are Christians when they are not and the reasons are numerous.

    Was Joseph Smith a Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic scholar? Did he have any training in those languages? No. He only had an elementary grade school education. What did he use to translate these “corrected verses” that are listed side-by-side in the KJV Bible? Was he using the ancient manuscripts that scholars use today that go back to the 1 AD as a reference? No. If he wasn’t then he was giving his interpretation – not a translation. An interpretation is an opinion and it can certainly be wrong.

    Supposedly the golden plates were written in Reformed Egyptian to which there is no proof of any such language today. He did not look at the golden plates when he was translating. He was looking through a seer stone that he had dug up while digging a well with his brother, Hyrum. He placed that rock in a hat and looked at words that appeared in the darkness through a stone and then read them off to a scribe. David Whitmer testified that is how the BOM was translated and Mormon Apostle Russell Nelson affirmed that in the July 1993 issue of the Ensign. He isn’t the only one. Emma Smith and others stated this as well. Richard Bushman, a Mormon historian and author, in “Rough Stone Rolling” devotes chapter 3 of this book in stating those facts. Mormons would be well advised to familiarize themselves with the historical facts as laid out by their own. That is divination (magic) and that is abomination in the sight of God (Deut 18:9-14). Martin Harris stood up in the Kirtland Temple on March 25, 1838 and stated that neither him nor any of the other witnesses had physically seen or handled the plates (Joseph Smith Letterbook, Vol.2:64-66, LDS archives, Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents).

    Taking about the different language issue brings some question to mind. Where are the golden plates today? They are gone, right? All the other languages in which the Book of Mormon is published in (Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, etc.) did not come into existence by translation from the original plates, correct? English is the only translation that came from the ancient plates, correct? Would it be accurate to say that all these other versions of the Book of Mormon (Greek, Chinese, Swedish, Spanish, etc.) are then translations of the English translation, correct? With that said, is the Book of Mormon in every language except English accurate only “as so far as it is translated correctly”?

    The English translation has undergone many changes since the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon. Without having the original source to translate from maybe Article #8 should include non-English versions of the Book of Mormon. Think about it.

    Finally, why does the 1830 Book of Mormon state on the front page:

    “By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprieter”

    My 1981 Book of Mormon doesn’t say that. Sounds and looks suspicious – maybe like a personal work of religious fiction like “View to the Hebrews” by Ethan Smith or “Manuscript Found” by Solomon Spalding. These works were written before the Book of Mormon, but these themes in those books sound very familiar to the one in the Book of Mormon.

  7. 7 nebula0
    August 26, 2008 at 2:15 am

    Great point, and an important one too. This is further confused by the Mormon notion of Joseph ‘translating’ the BoA or Book of Moses as receiving some kind of inspiration not based on any actual text or knowledge of original languages. It quickly becomes a murky realm by which Mormons feel free to attack the validity of hte Bible based on ‘bad translations’ and can stimultaneously hide behind their subjective notions of what translation means if the spotlight is in turn focused on Joseph’s translating actions.

  8. August 26, 2008 at 6:06 am

    We have never claimed the Book of Mormon doesn’t contain the errors of men; only that it’s the most correct book of any on earth. Naturally mass publication produces errors over the years and of course translations from English to other languages have included mistakes and have undergone revisions over time. We don’t claim to be more than mortal humans.

    You said yourself that Joseph Smith was not well educated. How do you suppose he produced the Book of Mormon in so short a time? Again, a book that no man has proven false or found an alternative source for other than what Joseph Smith claimed. And a book that no one has been able to equal, given any amount of time produce. My beliefs are not centered on this type of understanding, but it is interesting hear all the wild theories that come of it.

  9. August 26, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Mormons do not attack the validity of the Bible. They believe the Bible to be the word of God, and consider it a standard work of the church.

    That being said, there are biblical contradictions, Anyone who wants to can do a google search on Biblical contradictions and get a list of hundreds. I do not say this to attack the Bible, I love the Bible. But if you guys were have as critical (in the academic sense) of the Bible as you are with Mormonism you would have a lot of explaining to do.

    The Joseph Smith Translation is readily available. It was in the hands of the RLDS church for many years and the LDS did not have access to the originals – so the LDS church was skeptical of what the LDS were putting out. In recent years the original translations were made available, and we can now verify that what the RLDS put out was actually quite accurate.

    Ummm, really bad post. Might try to do a little homework first.

  10. 10 oldfashionedgirl07
    August 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    We don’t just use the exerpts portion that comes in the back of the KJV. Throughout the Bible there are footnotes that include minor changes. The exerpts section is just in the back because they are portions not included in the text because of length.

  11. 11 markcares
    August 26, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Eric:
    I have trouble putting your two comments together. You say Mormons don’t attack the validity of the Bible but in the next breath you say that there are hundreds of biblical contradictions. That would be like me saying about a newspaper report on a President’s speech – I think it is a valid account of the speech even though it contains many errors. I use the word “error” because that is what Joseph Smith used. “I believe in the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have commited many errors.”
    I also have a hard time with your claim that Mormons do not atach the validity of the Bible when the book of Mormon says that “there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book.” (1 Nephi 13:28 If something is missing many precious things, how can it still be valid? What definition of validity are you working with???
    My next question: from what you and the others have commented about the JST, can I then assume that it is a version that no longer has those contradictions that you mention? Or do we need to take a critical look at it also?
    Finally, you mention lists of hundreds of biblical contradictions. I can point you to just as many lists by academics that deal with those supposed contradictions. I would encourage you to look at those also.

  12. 12 markcares
    August 26, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    oldfashioned girl:
    The point that I am trying to make is: why does the LDS church even use the KJV now? It seems odd to me to continue to put out a corrupted version and put the correct version in footnotes and in an appendix. Why still use a version that is corrupted? Why not use the JST exclusively? Where else do we see people doing that. Once there is a corrected version of anything, that is what becomes prominent – the corrupted version is no longer used.

  13. August 26, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    The Bible is a big book, and it simply contains contradictions. These contradictions are trivial and are easily explained. When I see lists of these contradictions from the Bible I roll my eyes and say ‘give me a break’. If someone wants to dismiss the Bible badly enough they will find a way to do it. So yes, these contradictions are easily explained by academics.

    Just because many plain and precious things have been lost, does not mean that there is still not a lot of value left. There is. Tremendous value left in the great Bible. But we need not suppose that the Bible is all there is.

    I believe many of the contradictions of the Bible were corrected by the JST. But I do not believe the JST is infallible. That is one of the things folks like you just seem to refuse to understand. We can not expect any man to be perfect. Not Joseph Smith, not Moses, not David, not Calvin, not Paul, nobody. Even prophets will come up short.

    The lists of Biblical contradictions are mostly (perhaps completely), and easily explained for those who sincerely want to have them explained. The same is true for the Book of Mormon and Mormonism.

  14. September 15, 2008 at 8:35 am

    In fact, the correct word for Joseph Smith’s alleged “translation” of the bible should be “divination” or “channeling”, as the words were believed to have been given to Joseph through a spiritual channel, i.e. the Urim and Thummim. It is not, as most LDS profess, simply a re-interpretation of phrases misconstrued from the original Hebrew and Greek – Joseph Smith Jr. added whole verses and Chapters to the Bible that he believed were there originally.

    The faulty passages of the Bible that you ask about, according to Smith, were not divined by scholarly means, but by his prophetic authority only. They were missing, he believed, because he said so and he said so because God made him do so. There is no more scholarly approach to it than that.

    Regarding the LDS Church not using the passages: there is a popular passage of the LDS scriptures in which Joseph channeled a message from God to Oliver Cowdery, who was frustrated when Joseph asked him to assist in the “translation” of the Bible, but he had difficulty with it. God, reportedly, told Joseph to instruct Oliver to “study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.”

    Not only does this give us a unique insight into Joseph’s “translation” technique, it also tells us a little about why the JST never really became official canon of scripture in the place of the KJV. You see, Oliver Cowdery is a bittersweet stain in the tapestry of Mormon history. A close friend of Joseph, he was a teacher and lawyer by profession and wanted badly to understand Joseph’s mission in an analytical way. When he became frustrated with his own inability to act as a seer, though Joseph had given him the power, he left the Church for ten years before returning to the Church and asking for re-admittance. Cowdery never regained his stature in the Church (he had been an apostle and acted, at many times, as though he stood in Joseph’s staid) and God’s promise in the afore-mentioned scripture:”Other records have I, that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate.” never actually happened. Imagine the embarrassment.

    Sidney Rigdon and the membership of the Reorganized Church who stayed behind when Young and the pioneers fled the country, retained nearly all of the Church’s property, including copyrights to the JST, which was contributed to by Oliver. For this reason, Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie agreed to readmit passages into the LDS publication of the KJV Bible with the permission of the Reorganized Church. But there remained too much controversy regarding why the RLDS Church, whose leader was a direct descendant of Joseph Smith, had revelations that the original Church did not. So they added the scriptures as appendages and did nothing more to admit that the RLDS and a former-apostate Apostle had gotten something right.

  15. 15 Ron
    December 2, 2009 at 1:01 am

    what contradictions does the bible hold? Maybe mans interpretations are the ones that show contradictions.

    it is gods inspired words and is his good news. I have 7 different versions of the bible right now. i am starting out trying to get to know the scriptures from all translations before taknig it further and joining a congregation or chruch. i have noticed that they are all pretty much the same.

    Some use old english terminology and some are more easy to read from modern or new translation, however i see that the verses are all on the same level and you do not come to a different conclusion from any i’ve seen so far. they may be worded different but it is to make it more digestable, nothing really changed.

    the only thing ive noticed though is that the old kjv and the nwt are the only ones that have gods name in it. It does bother me that the other translations seem to go out of thier way to blot that out. you got greek name for jesus and god, both are probably not exact pronunciation but never the less have been used for generations and im sure are very very close.

    now if they all use jesus derived from the greek name then why not use gods, it’s disturbing to me. i choose to use the bibles that don’t replace them with GOD or LORD to signify the god almighty – he has a name and we must use it. I have had people try to argue with me on scripture meanings as being different when they are shown the truth in a specific matter by saying i have a translated bible ‘ oh you use such and such” .

    guess what people they all are translated from the original greek and hebrew language, DUH . the thing is when we read the verses out loud together they were the same, i think thats funny.

    when taught by man or a religion that obviously is using mans own thinking is what leads people to incorrrect knowledge and then makes one feel as though they ned to save face and just choose to ignore or are so used to it turn a blind eye instead of really reaching out and wanting a better understanding. the bible tells us specific things to do and how to do it and what to not do.

    if one is taught mans doctrines as if it is gods then your not doing gods will even if you think you are. ex: pagan solstice worship which is todays holidays, trinity – not gods word , jesus goes out of his way over and ver stating they are not hte same and are different and not equal- thats a FACT.

    jesus being hung on a stake(living tree) as it says, man added cross, gods word doesn’t say it. gree and roman religous dictonarys and other sources define the word used back then as its meaning and none are a cross. stake,pale,living tree, post, upright pole.

    not my intrpretations but bibles and scolors of greek language. the did use the cross also but that was later an non the les is not taught or talked about for you to care. it does say not to make idols or images or icons to worship or pray and that is ecactley what that is.

    if its a bible aid that has scriptures in it and has help in understanding, thats great but if one is usung a substitute to the bible and rarely use the bible, then thats gonna be a problem to god you can be sure of that.

    i’ve notice one thing – trinity, cross worship, pagan holidays and other things are deemed ok for just about all religions. so i can only avoid those man indocrinated beleifs for thy are teaching not from gods words only.


Comments are currently closed.

August 2008
M T W T F S S
« Jul   Sep »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Blog Stats

  • 182,308 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 998 other followers


%d bloggers like this: