The Joseph Smith Translation — Rich Kelsey


Joseph Smith Translation


"The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore truths to the Bible text that had become lost or changed since the original words were written. These restored truths clarified doctrine and improved scriptural understanding... Because the Lord revealed to Joseph certain truths that the original authors had once recorded, the Joseph Smith Translation is unlike any other Bible translation in the world." (LDS.org, The Scriptures Internet Edition: Introduction to Joseph Smith Translation)


Section 73 from the Doctrine and Covenants spells out:

“Now, verily I say unto you my servants, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, saith the Lord, it is expedient to translate again; …it is expedient to continue the work of translation until it be finished.” (Verses 3-4)

What Smith and Rigdon were working on is called the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible:

“Beginning in June 1830, Joseph Smith began a careful reading of the Bible to revise and make corrections in accordance with the inspiration he would receive…  In a process that took about three years, the Prophet made changes, additions, and corrections as were given him by divine inspiration while he filled his calling to provide a more correct translation for the Church…” (Statement from Kent P. Jackson, who was a professor of ancient scripture at BYU, How We Got the Book of Moses, Kent P. Jackson, in Religious Educator 3, no. 1, 2002, p. 127)

Joseph Smith started off by adding an introductory revelation to Genesis.  He then added to the existing Genesis text.  Three thousand, four hundred, and twenty two words were added to Genesis up until chapter 6:13 which is where the Book of Moses ends.  That almost exactly doubles the conventional word-count of Genesis up to that point in the King James Version. This supposed restored work of Moses is published in the Pearl of Great Price; which is LDS scripture.

Envision Moses from Old Testament time, writing an introduction to Genesis, (Moses One) only to have dishonest scribes remove that work from the biblical canon. Envision corrupt scribes also going through the remaining chapters of Genesis and removing thousands of other words which Moses had written.

Yet, is this what really happened?

Here is a section of the bible before Joseph Smith corrected it:

Genesis: Chapter 1, KJV:

Verse (1): In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Verse (2): And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Verse (3): And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Here is the same section showing the corrections: (the added words are in bold/italics)

Genesis: Chapter 1, JST / Moses 2:

Verse (1): And it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven and this earth; write the words which I speak.

Verse (2): I am the Beginning and the End; the Almighty God. By mine Only Begotten I created these things.

Verse (3): Yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest.

 It may only seem appropriate for the Joseph Smith Translation to begin with the words,

"And it came to pass... ."

This phrase is used throughout the Book of Mormon.  But one might wonder: Is there any textual evidence available to support a different beginning to Genesis 1 than what is found in Bibles penned before the Joseph Smith Translation?


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) explains that,

"Selections from the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price ... was revealed [to Joseph Smith] ..." (1) 

The opening quote in this study spells out,

" ... the Joseph Smith Translation is unlike any other Bible translation in the world." (LDS.org, The Scriptures Internet Edition: Introduction to Joseph Smith Translation)

One thing that makes it unlike any other bible translation ever written, is, it has Moses using doctrinal terms which were commonly used in Joseph Smith's day: (see documentation)

It also has God speaking of,

" ... the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.)

Obviously, this is not scripture, because the words

"eternal life"

are not found in Old Testament sripture.

Neither is the word,


These are New Testament terms.

The bottom line:

Moses had nothing to do with the supposed lost words that Joseph Smith accredited to him.


Other articles of interest:

■  Book of Moses Changes / Anachronisms

■  Cognitive Dissonance and the LDS Faith

LDS Index



(1) “Selections from the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price is the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of Genesis 1:1-6:13, the beginning pages of the New Translation. The material in it was revealed [to Joseph Smith] between June 1830 and February 1831. In some ways, the Book of Moses can be considered the most significant part of the JST, because it has contributed more distinctive Latter-day Saint doctrine than any other part of that work. It has stood since the beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as one of the doctrinal cornerstones of the Restoration and as an enduring testimony to the divinely inspired work of Joseph Smith.” (History of the Book of Moses - Kent P. Jackson, The Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005), p. 1-52)