A Bible, A Bible, Do we already have a Bible?

by: Stephen Marsh

July 21, 2011

NET Bible Noteless

Yesterday, while we were on the way to Church, our eleven year old interrupted us with a “you’ve got to read this.”  We had her read it to us.  She had just finished Matthew Chapter 6 and had to share it.

Of course they had read it a couple of weeks ago at Church in the King James version.  It did not have the same impact.  She’s smart (three standard deviations above her class’s norm on her latest assessment scores), but two weeks ago it was the King James (which I love for its poetic flavor).  Sunday it was a modern translation. When she reads either out loud she sounds flawless.  But with the modern translation, she found passion.

She kept reading, engrossed, all through Sacrament meeting.  As a result, I’ve seriously rethought my feelings on the King James based on that experience.  I love the flavor and the poetry, but to see her just enraptured in the scriptures, that was a significant moment for me. So, if I were doing the Sunday School Curriculum for next year, I would revisit the New Testament, for part of it.

I would assign 20% to buy Net Bibles.  20% to pick up The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.  Another 20% The Jerusalem Bible: Reader’s Edition.  That leaves 40% to browse around, use their King James version or try something else.

Then, once a month, have the class read, out loud, a chapter at a time, from selected New Testament readings.  They would read along with each other for thirty minutes, then the remainder of the time would be open discussion.

I know.  The King James is classic.  It has poetry and grace.  It can be quoted in general conference without paying royalties and without getting prior permission from the publisher (one of the reasons behind the Net Bible, fyi).  But it did not connect for my eleven year old daughter to find joy in the scriptures.  It would not hurt to see just what alternative translations might do for others.

Of course that would leave three weeks a month with other topics for lessons.

One lesson a month I’d approach basic topics, such as Anger and Unrighteous Dominion or Prayers of the Faithful or how to engage in Edifying Others.  [take these links as rough draft approaches for topics that could use covering].

One lesson a month would be on a practical topic, like how to deal with verbal violence, or how to have a difficult conversation, or how to avoid the pattern of anger, distance and contempt that ruins many marriages.

That would leave one lesson a month for open discussion — teaching people how to be involved in open conversations and discussions, and how to deal with topics.  Perhaps using the LDS 12 Step program materials (at least for the first six months).  Perhaps using the twelve steps for twelve months and the “fifth Sundays” for practicing open conversation groups.

What would you do if you had a year of the Sunday School Curriculum to work with?  Why?  How?

44 Responses to A Bible, A Bible, Do we already have a Bible?

  1. brandt on July 21, 2011 at 6:27 AM

    “It can be quoted in general conference without paying royalties and without getting prior permission from the publisher (one of the reasons behind the Net Bible, fyi).”

    I’m intrigued by this statement. Aside from the other reasons you mentioned for using the KJV, as well as McConkie’s famous talk about why we use the KJV (at BYU in 1984, “The Bible, A Sealed Book”), if the church were to advocate for one of the newer translations, they would have to pay royalties to the publishing house of one of the newer translations?

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  2. Jeff Spector on July 21, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    Nice post and bravo to your daughter for her scholarship at such an early age.

    I think it is important to understand God’s message to us. so, in that vein, anything that helps convey His message better is good for us. if using a different translation helps us better understand, then if is good for us to use it.

    The KJV is traditional, but not always accurate, so using other resources can help.

    Now, what would I do for a year. I’d like to study the Old Testament as a book of scripture unto itself. In other words, study it to understand the evolution of God’s people under the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants and understand why they did what they did. Where they succeed and where they failed to fully comprehend what God wanted of them. To more fully set the stage for the Coming of Christ in the NT. Instead of trying to jam the gospel context into every OT lesson and sometimes missing the point of the OT itself.

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  3. Will on July 21, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    In other words, you would teach them the philosophies of men mingled with scripture — mostly butchered versions of the Bible. Mostly Bibles changed by councils with a hatred for the LDS Church. Men with different view of the Godhead. Men without a true understanding of the plan of salvation. Men who lack the Priesthood or the companionshiP of the Holy Ghost. If this is the case, why go to church. Why not just stay home and watch these ministers from home. End rant.

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  4. AndrewJDavis on July 21, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    Will that is the most ignorant thing I have seen you write here, and one of the rudest. Have you considered that the KJV fulfills nearly all of your ranting (except the part about their council having a hatred of the LDS church, as we didn’t exist back then)? EVERY version of the Bible is butchered in one form or another. Since that is the case, why do you even read the Bible?

    Besides, everything we teach at Church is a philosophy of a man (or woman). We all have our own personal interpretations on the doctrine in one form or another (even the Correlation Committee and General Authorities). I believe the point of that phrase and warning in the Endowment is to also remind us of the purpose of the teaching — to draw us away from God. What Stephen is suggesting here is to draw us closer to Him — give us a better understanding of Him and His relations with some of His children.

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  5. Will on July 21, 2011 at 9:16 AM


    I acknowledge the weakness of the KJV of the Bible and appreciate the fact you do as well. This is the reason we have modern day Prophets. This is the reason we have the JST and other modern scriptures. We need to focus on these scriptures and less on the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.

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  6. Keri Brooks on July 21, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    “The King James is classic. It has poetry and grace. It can be quoted in general conference without paying royalties and without getting prior permission from the publisher”

    My understanding of copyright law is that quoting short passages from any work in the context of a sermon would be covered under fair use, since it would be noncommercial and for the purpose of comment or criticism. Reading an entire book from the pulpit would be problematic, but reading, say, Psalm 23 from a modern, copyrighted, translation and then speaking about what it means for us today would be fine.

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  7. Bro. Jones on July 21, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    This would be awesome, especially in wards with significant immigrant populations. Nothing like trying to help an investigator or new member try to feel the power of Scripture when it’s practically written in Late Middle English.

    And on a side note: can we block Will’s IP address now? At this point I feel like if the OP said something like “Everything is great in the church,” Will would just say, “You’re a fallen heretic, you should’ve said the church is PERFECT.” [rolleyes]

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  8. Nick Literski on July 21, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Personally, I’m glad that Will takes comfort in the JST references which are included in the LDS edition of the KJV Bible. In particular, I find the JST correction of Exodus 6:3 to be especially instructive regarding the inspiration drawn upon by Joseph Smith.

    KJV: “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”

    JST: “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob. I am the Lord God Almighty; the Lord JEHOVAH. And was not my name known unto them?”

    Reverend George Oliver, writing in his popular book, The Antiquities of Freemasonry, in 1823 (about 12 years prior to the JST): “[O]ur English translation of the latter part of the 3rd verse of the 6th chapter of Exodus, ‘but by my name Jehovah I was not known unto them,’ is undoubtably a faulty translation; not rightly expressing what Moses intended in this place. The best and most accurate writers have remarked upon this place, that the latter part of the verse should be read interrogatively, thus: ‘by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them?’

    So yes, we can learn all sorts of things about Joseph Smith, by carefully examining his translation of the Bible.

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  9. Jeff Spectrum on July 21, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Jeff – you said : “so, in that vein, anything that helps convey His message better is good for us.”

    What if smoking a little marijuana really helps me feel spiritual and close to Jesus?

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  10. Latter-day Guy on July 21, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    That curriculum sounds fantastic. I think it could yield some wonderful classes and discussions.

    It would not hurt to see just what alternative translations might do for others.

    Apparently, it would send some into a sufficiently frothing rage so as to lose all capacity to recognize that their mouths are running with utter arse-dribble.

    Will has got to be a plant––an impostor who wants to make it seem like all Latter-day Saints are bigoted morons. Could someone kindly wield the bannination stick. It’s time.

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  11. Ray on July 21, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    I’m glad your daughter had that experience, Stephen. Since our own Article of Faith includes the “as far as it is translated correctly” concept, I have no problem going with a version that also might be translated a bit incorrectly. Heaven knows, I believe, that the incorrectly translated portions FAR outnumber the correctly translated portions – especially if “translated” includes “transmitted” or “accurately representative of actual divine will and/or statement”.

    Finally, trying to find a way that is not mocking in nature to say this:

    #3 is MUCH more inaccurate than ANY of the Bibles that might be used in Sunday School – and it certainly is every bit as condemnatory and judgmental as ANY possible “councils” that might fit the description in the comment. It so horribly misrepresents Stephen and the point of the post that I am left dumb-founded.

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  12. Will on July 21, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Bro. Jones/Andrew:

    With respect to these other translations (including and specifically the apocrypha) the Lord has voiced his opinion on these versions as indicated in the 91st section of the D&C:

    “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha—There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men. Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated. Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him aunderstand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom; And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated.”

    In other words, reading these bibles translated by men that are not Prophets is similar to other works by men – Shakespeare for instance. The spirit manifests understanding to those that have the spirit. They are good books, but are NOT scripture. If you are going to integrate these books into the Sunday School curriculum; then why not other pieces of good literature? Why not the Quran or the Torah? The focus, at Sunday School anyway, should be the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles – the scriptures correctly interpreted. Otherwise, it would be no different than a Religion class at the U.

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  13. Will on July 21, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    “can we block Will’s IP address now?”

    The number of comments would be reduced by 50 percent; and, readership would decline to about the same number as Mormon Matters.

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  14. Latter-day Guy on July 21, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Um, no.

    With respect to these other translations (including and specifically the apocrypha…

    There, that’s better.

    Seriously, Will, if you really are sincere and not a troll, please recognize that––based on the kinds of comments you regularly make here––you are to the Church what Chris Crocker is to Britney Spears.

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  15. Paul on July 21, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Stephen, good for your daughter. And good for you for encouraging her to use her intellectual skill.

    I think reading various versions would be interesting. Is there a particular reason you chose the ones you did? I recall that some members of the 12 seem to like to quote from other translations of the Bible in their conference talks, as well.

    As for Sunday School, I would welcome theme-based lessons again, either there or in PH lessons. I kind of miss those.

    Will, crab got your tongue? I just don’t get your rant at all. Many new translations are seeking to be truer to the original text (where possible); I doubt most of those “councils” give a fig about the LDS church. Or are you saying the two years we spend in Sunday School studying the Bible are wasted? Sheesh.

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  16. Nick Literski on July 21, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    With respect to these other translations (including and specifically the apocrypha)…

    Will, have you ever read the Apocrypha? Do you have any idea what the Apocrypha even is? Judging by your statement above, I very much doubt you have any idea what you’re talking about. The Apocrypha is not a translation of the Bible.

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  17. Will on July 21, 2011 at 11:20 AM


    The KJV is great and is taught with the JST in toe; and, with scriptural support of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and quotes from Modern-Day Prophets and Apostles.

    I have NEVER heard any GA in State Conference, General Conference, and General Leadership meetings quote from any Bible other than the KJV. I have, however, heard several Apostles quote Shakespeare. I have even heard them quote Cat Stevens. They quote a rocker dude before any of these other Bibles. There is a reason they don’t use these other versions of the Bible. And, that is because they don’t accept them.

    Just try quoting one of these Bibles in a meeting with a GA and see what response you would get. I assure you, you would be reprimanded.

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  18. Ethesis (mobile) on July 21, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    i am in a class out of town, or i would be more involved.

    keri — it would seem that way, but in current practice it has not worked that way. those who own rights insist on them, and, if it were just one quote from one person, it might be different than continuous quotes by many people.

    i chose the specific translations because they are readable, faithful/accurate, and well accepted and available.

    i will be back to “real” internet access saturday.

    will — my goal is for people to be able to understand what they read in using texts that are well regarded for their accuracy.

    i have no interest in encouraging people to read dishonest witnesses.

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  19. Will on July 21, 2011 at 11:29 AM


    Yes, I know what the Apocrypha is and have read some, but not all, of the books. The portions I read were interesting, but I think illustrate the point made in the 91st section of the D&C. The Lord was in effect saying to Joseph the books that were found don’t need to be translated; there is plenty in the current Bible. If you want to study them fine; if not, that’s fine too. But, whatever you do, do it with the Spirit so you can discern truth from error.

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  20. Paul on July 21, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    (Resisting the urge to feed the troll, and failing…)

    Will, what does #12 mean? I can understand your desire to exclude the Aprocrypha from the Sunday School curriculum since it is not canonized (it is, after all, apocryphal). But you do realize that the KJV is also translated by men who are not propehts, and that JS did not complete his own translation of the KJV before his death, so we, as a church, also do not recognize his translation as official (see lds.org), right?

    So I’m back to my question in #15: Do you believe the present SS curriculum, with two years for study of Old and New Testaments is flawed? A waste of time? Simply studying the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture?

    I thought our 8th Article of Faith says we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. Why would that not be true of more modern translations (which the present apostles also apparently use as they are quoted from time to time in General Conference)?

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  21. CJ on July 21, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Hey Will,

    Check out the references for Elder Uceda’s general conference talk. . . . .

    He Teaches Us to Put Off the Natural Man
    Of the Seventy

    He is “the Lamb of God,” 9 He is “the Holy and Righteous One,” 10 “and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” 11 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.


    1. Mosiah 3:19.
    2. Bible Dictionary, “Temple.”
    3. Doctrine and Covenants 121:37.
    4. Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–42.
    5. Mosiah 26:31.
    6. Noah Webster’s First Edition of an American Dictionary of the English Language, 9th ed. (1996), “meek.”
    7. Noah Webster’s First Edition, “humble.”
    8. Noah Webster’s First Edition, “patient.”
    9. John 1:29.
    10. Acts 3:14, New International Version.
    11. Isaiah 9:6.

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  22. Nick Literski on July 21, 2011 at 12:19 PM


    The Lord was in effect saying to Joseph the books that were found don’t need to be translated;

    Agreed, to this point.

    there is plenty in the current Bible.

    Really, Will? “A Bible! A Bible! We already have a Bible, and there can be no more Bible!…” The passage you quote says nothing whatsoever about there being “enough” scripture in the current Bible. In fact, such a claim is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Mormonism, which emphasize continuing revelation of scripture.

    If you want to study them fine; if not, that’s fine too. But, whatever you do, do it with the Spirit so you can discern truth from error.

    This being the case, Will, why do you object to the use of non-KJV Bible translations? It seems to me that if one can rely upon the Spirit to glean truth from the Apocrypha, one can certainly do the same to glean truth from non-KJV translations of the Bible.

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  23. Ray on July 21, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Will, in Elder Holland’s fairly recent talk about the Savior’s last week in mortality he even referenced **non-Mormon** bible scholars who believe that Judas is not a Son of Perdition – and he said that we can’t know exactly why Judas did what he did. If Elder Holland, in General Conference, can use interpretations of the Bible that are not currently “orthodox” within the LDS Church – and if other apostles can quote directly from other translations – and if the KJV itself was not translated correctly and fits the description you gave of the other translations every bit as much as those other translations . . .

    Back to the actual question of the OP, I wouldn’t change anything about the basic curriculum itself. Rather, I would focus on the things in the Bible that we tend to misunderstand or miss entirely. I think we tend to do a pretty good job at basic understanding (certainly in comparison to most other denominations and religions, if the Pew Survey is accurate), so if I were teaching the class I would focus on certain verses or passages in each lesson and really dig into what they meant in the original culture and language and what they can mean for us now when we “like all things unto (ourselves)” – and emphasize that BOTH of those approaches to understanding scripture are legitimate and valuable.

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  24. Irony on July 21, 2011 at 1:29 PM


    Can you help me out with your reasoning? I, like many here, have no idea how you jumped from the OP to your comment in #3… rather than pile on, I’d really like to see what you mean.

    The “church” approves of the KJV and uses it everywhere, but are you saying the KJV is better than any of the other versions simply because it’s the more popular text among the LDS and the one the church uses in its quads?

    I guess that would be my main question, but secondarily I would wonder why, if we have newer translations that are closer to the original intent/meaning of the original languages, why those newer translations would be castigated as bad, inferior and the “philosophies of men.” I just don’t get it…

    Having spent some time studying the translation [i.e. the translators themselves and the process under which they labored] of the KJV, I’m flabbergasted that we hold to it so staunchly at the expense of everything else. I’m not saying it’s bad, but if there’s something better and something better for individuals, why do we show our disdain automatically…?

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  25. James on July 21, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    When I took a New Testament class at BYU from Professor Wayment, who is well respected outside of BYU in the world of New Testament Studies, we used the KJV and the NIV side by side. He said that he wanted all of us to read them together because we would have greater depth of meaning due to the fact that the NIV is, according to scholars who study the oldest texts of the Bible, the most accurate. But he also said we miss out if we don’t study the KJV as well because of its beautiful language which glorifies God and can help us see the passion and mastery of those translating for King James.

    When my wife and I read from the Bible together we have one of us reading from the KJV and the other from the NIV and we really get a lot out of it: We get more clarity in certain passages from the NIV, and more clarity in others from the JST in our footnotes, as well as the beauty of the KJV. I highly recommend that approach.

    I don’t know if I would want to do extensive readings as part of the SS curriculum because it could make some who have a hard time understanding the Bible in any translation feel even more lost. When we go through passages and talk about them I think people are better able to understand. That being said, what I would like to see is more engagement with conflict. We too often smooth out the rough edges in Scriptures (and I mean the whole quad, not just the Bible) so that what we read doesn’t seem in conflict with the current instantiation of God’s church/kingdom on earth. I think it would be of benefit to all of us to see that a unified, black and white relation of the scriptures to our current time doesn’t quite work, but not because we’ve gone astray or because the church is false, but because times change and the truth of God is always communicated through flawed people full of their own biases and perspectives.

    Instead of skimming past confusing passages or conflicting moments, I would say we spend some time on them so as to help us see that we cant get away from conflict, how to deal with it, and that we must learn how important nuance can be.

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  26. FireTag on July 21, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    I’m curious as to why you have a repeating four year curriculum rotation by canonical book at all. Your church is very good at getting the basics across, and there is a great deal of self-study, so I’m surprised that your adult classes don’t provide more cross cuts across scriptures, across scriptural translations, or topics (e.g. the development of prophecy, or concepts of priesthood, the role of women, etc.)

    When I study physics or math, I tend to wander through all of the resources available according to the problems and interests that I’m concerned with at the moment.

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  27. ethesis (on a break) on July 21, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    firetag, that is a good question. back in the nineteen seventies, the thought came up that a standard repeating curriculum would be a good idea. anyome who has followed the changes in the priesthood lessons since then can see how that turned out.

    however, the other thing that came up was that reading through all the scriptures would be a great idea.

    well, after four years, it was rinse and repeat (with tweaks to the manuals)(primary ended up with permanent manuals, which ended up well).

    now, after years, it is an institution. ever tweaked, but a standard.

    the question comes up, what is better than the study of the core scriptures?

    the question i find myself asking is, instead, in what way should we study the scriptures and the gospel? my thoughts are a start on how i would approach the study of the new testament? i think learning to talk about scripture, and a reading that is easier to understand, is a good change.

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  28. hawkgrrrl on July 21, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Will – “The number of comments would be reduced by 50 percent; and, readership would decline to about the same number as Mormon Matters.” Readership at MM was slightly higher, and comment quality was also often higher without the extremist derailments and the back and forth dickering that ensues.

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  29. Will on July 21, 2011 at 8:49 PM


    I’m not opposed to the Bible and have taught the Old and New Testament as a former Gospel Doctrine teacher. I’m simply saying the Church encourages using it’s official KJV with the JST and chapter introductions written by Apostles. It also includes footnotes, indexes, maps, a dictionary and cross referencing ti other LDS scriptures. They treat other Bibles with caution as they can, and do, distort the meaning. 


    I’m surprised by the reference. For the reasons mentioned above, the Church encourages use of it’s official version.


    #3 specifically deals with the OP. Steve was encouraging using un-official LDS versions of the Bible. In my judgement, it would be tantamount to using the Church of Christ version of the D&C.

    Adding to my comment above, it is more than just language translation. It is chiefly about the intent of the passages; and, the chapter introductions, footnotes and cross references to other LDS text help channel the line of thinking.


    I’m talking the current Mormon Matters, which has a worse format  with similar authors and squashes those that offer significant disagreement. Allowing significant disagreement will spark more comments and will increase readership. For example, 21 of the 28 comments in this post deal with my comments. 

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  30. Ray on July 21, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    “21 of the 28 comments in this post deal with my comments.”

    Which can be seen, legitimatley, as a good or bad thing. It all depends on the purpose of the site.

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  31. Will on July 21, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    When I say similar authors, I mean they have similar views. I am not saying they are the same as the W&T authors which are much better.

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  32. george on July 22, 2011 at 12:44 AM

    As to the OP: I applaud using whatever version works for the individual. What should be celebrated is an 11 year old relating to the Scriptures, instead were all blathering on about some inane viewpoint.

    As to Will: do you realize that the footnotes and cross-references are merely driven by algorithms? And, from what I’ve heard, algorithms that haven’t been updated in decades. The inspiration stops at the line on the bottom of each page, or so my byu professor once stated.

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  33. gibson on July 22, 2011 at 6:49 AM

    I’ve used my Inspired Version (JST) in Church since my conversion, and it’s never been a problem. In January I gave a sacrament talk on the history/development of the JST and received several compliments; one elderly sister saying it was the first time she had heard a talk on the subject. I think we as LDS should be more familiar with it.

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  34. hawkgrrrl on July 22, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    BYU agrees with Stephen’s recommendation. In one of my courses there, our “textbook” purchase was any two non-KJV translations of the Bible so we could read and compare, and it was stipulated that at least one had to include the apocrypha. It was an engaging class.

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  35. AndrewJDavis on July 22, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    #34: Hawkgrrrl

    I think your last word really strikes home the difference in thought between many members about SS: is it a class or not? If it is a class, then FireTag is right — why on earth do we do the same thing over and over? That is NOT how any study session should go. I don’t need to hear for the 100th time the lesson: “let’s read this parable and take 20 seconds to make sure we all agree on the official meaning without thinking what Jesus actually may have meant by it.” Which is why I’m often begging to go substitue playing the piano in Primary.

    If it isn’t meant to be a class, I just wish they would stop calling it a School.

    My only other response is to Will in general:
    “Seek ye learning out of the best books.” I would hazard that reading translations which are closer to the original, and comparing them with the (very beautifully crafted) KJV fits this statement very very well.

    And, any General Authority from Latin America, teaching in Spanish, will NEVER be quoting from the KJV.

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  36. Cowboy on July 22, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    I think it is interesting to note the emotion that Will elicits from his comments. If you take his statements at face value, and strip them of the poor way in which they are often aggressively stated, he is actually just re-interating plain old vanilla Mormon teaching and belief.

    If you read his comments however, he attracts an inordinately high number of dislikes. For example, his comment in number 19, which actually isn’t in and of itself very assertive, but is part of chain that started off more so, is a great lay explanation for section 91. Still, he garners two dislikes. I don’t see that comment as anything to disagree with.

    Will, I think you could really change your popularity by just being more considerate in the way you disagree. That isn’t a suggestion that you vacilate in your positions, but rather practice a little more diplomacy. I think your viewpoints at the end of the day offer very little to disagree with from the perspective of how many Mormons understand their faith and culture.

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  37. Paul on July 22, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Will, no one, including the OP, ir recommending abandoning the KJV. As you and I and others have cited, it is the “official” English-language Bible in the church. There are plenty of articles about why that is important to us, not the least of which is the common language between it and the Book of Mormon passages which quote it.

    As to your suggestion that a person who used a different version in front of a General Authority would be reprimanded, there are MANY examples of alternative translations in use in General Conference in recent years. Elder Holland and Elder Nelson do so often. Thanks to HG for going the extra mile and finding the reference she did.

    That said, I doubt very much anyone would even NOTICE that someone quoted from an “alternative” translation given the way we use scriptures in our talks these days. General Authorities model a pattern that does not cite the reference they quote, and we are no longer encouraged to invite people to turn to the reference to read with us (in order to encourage reverence).

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  38. Badger on July 22, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    Way back in comment #2, Jeff Spector advocated studying the OT as a book of scripture unto itself. Although it’s not necessarily what Jeff had in mind, I’m reminded of criticisms of Christian scriptural interpretations as retconning of the OT to make it fit better with the NT and later ideas. In college, my brother took a couple (secular) classes on the Bible from a professor who was also a rabbi, and who tried to approach the OT entirely on its own terms. I read some of the material and my brother’s class papers, and learned a little about letting the OT speak for itself.

    It’s often a question of emphasis. Many Mormons can quote Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” How many have read the Book of Amos, and understood what it is about? (especially if using the KJV, which is very opaque for Amos). Amos chapter 3 is not the minutes of correlation committee meeting, laying out points of doctrine. Allow me to paraphrase it (loosely):
    Israel, you are my chosen people. That’s what makes your sins the worst of all. When a lion has found a victim, doesn’t he roar? Well, in the same way, surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Here is what the Lord has to say to the wealthy among you: you are living in luxury, obtained dishonestly and by violence. The day is coming when I will send an enemy to destroy your land, and tear down your mansions and your altars. Only a few will survive.

    On a related matter, one reason (not the only one) for clinging to the KJV is attachment to specific wording for purposes of proof-texting. An example not specific to Mormonism is the Isaiah passage “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel” (quoted, or mis-quoted, from memory). There are those who just can’t stand it if “virgin” is replaced by any other English word, because VIRGIN BIRTH! As I understand it, the Hebrew word in question, uncontroversially, just means “young woman”. However, the Gospel of Matthew (an enthusiastic proof-texter), which is written in Greek, quotes a Greek translation of Isaiah to support the virgin birth (Matt 1:23). So the attachment to “virgin” has an excellent pedigree.

    In an LDS setting, there is an older tradition of finding restoration prophecies in the OT; “Stick of Joseph” is just the tip of the iceberg. As I recall, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder is full of examples. Many are very strained interpretations that are not terribly plausible even given the exact wording of the KJV, and would likely fare badly with a different English translation. These days this isn’t a big deal, because those interpretations are mostly relics of an earlier time and don’t have much of a following. However, given the age of the top LDS leaders, I wonder if it accounts for some of the attachment to the KJV.

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  39. Ray on July 22, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Badger, I had a religion class in college (not BYU) that included as a textbook, “Jesus Before Christianity” (Albert Nolan). It did for the NT what you describe for the OT – analyzed it based on the real time in which it was written. Granted, the professor (Harvey Cox) picked it because of his own liberation theology beliefs, but I absolutely loved reading that perspective and wish everyone in the Church could have an experience like that – from that book or any other like it. (A very different book in focus but equally fascinating was, “The Changing of the Gods” – Naomi Goldenberg. It provided an intriguing look at the rise of goddess theology.)

    That class was fascinating, and I highly recommend the book to anyone who hasn’t read it.

    #35 – Andrew, although I live in a ward where that rarely happens to me now, I understand what you mean – and Amen to your entire comment.

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  40. hawkgrrrl on July 22, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    The other suggestion of Stephen’s hasn’t been discussed as much – doing lessons that are discussions of practical topics to improve lives. I think this could be a good approach, but also one that the correlation committee might shy away from as it is hard to control.

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  41. Paul on July 23, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    HG, I also like Stephen’s idea of topic lessons, and commented so earlier. As for the correlation crowd’s issues, I don’t know. We give the first Sunday each month to quorum and RS leaders to use as they see fit; they could talk about any uncorrelated subject they choose. (In our ward, they tend to choose to do another Teaching For Our Times from conference talks, however.) And of course the bishopric gets the 5th Sunday for uncorrelated discussion on a topic of their choosing.

    So it doesn’t seem that far afield to do something similar in Sunday School. I suspect the only issue there is that SS has for many years been bound by manuals and “curriculum”; that will be the difficult tradition to change, I suspect.

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  42. Stephen M (Ethesis) on July 23, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    Or, the topic lessons could be correlated ones. Though the first Sunday lessons, the way they are now, do not seem to be going too badly astray.

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  43. Jeff Spector on July 23, 2011 at 7:50 PM


    “Although it’s not necessarily what Jeff had in mind, I’m reminded of criticisms of Christian scriptural interpretations as retconning of the OT to make it fit better with the NT and later ideas. In college, my brother took a couple (secular) classes on the Bible from a professor who was also a rabbi, and who tried to approach the OT entirely on its own terms. ”

    This is exactly what I have in mind. Our study of the OT (which is probably better than most Christian Churches)is to justify the NT and the Book of Mormon. What I would like is a study of the OT, as you said, on its own terms.

    If, the foundational idea of the OT is that God wanted to reveal his Gospel to the Israelites and Jews, why did it not happen? Where did things go off the rails, if it did?

    How do we get to the point when God finally says, “OK, Jesus, time to go down….”

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  44. Toni on August 5, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    To answer the OP’s question:

    I would go through the scriptures slower. There would be much discussion encouraged. If we only got through one chapter in a class, we would simply pick up the next Sunday where we left off. This may mean taking two or three years to go through what now takes a year. (I’m not advocating reading every single scripture in detail. I would not spend much time on all of the sins the newly-freed Israelites were told not to do.) Also, I would freely cross-reference with other scriptures, since each chapter/verse is a particular topic.

    We would spend a lot more time on the JST footnotes than I usually see in classes. I also think the class members should be encouraged to think for themselves. “What does this scripture really say to you?” instead of “so-and-so scriptorian/prophet/apostle/etc. said this means thus and so.”

    Historical background would be great. I was in a class where the teacher did this. He pointed out that when the prodigal son wanted his inheritance, he was essentially saying to his father, “I wish you were dead.” Most fathers would have disinherited the son. This father was more kind and long-suffering than we realize. I had not realized/known this before.

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