Mormonism and the Bible/Joseph Smith Translation/As the Church's official Bible
This page is based on an answer to a question submitted to the FAIR web site, or a frequently asked question.
"I am wondering why we don't use the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible as 'our' Bible. We use, of course, the Authorized ('King James') Version. We are not bashful about proclaiming Joseph Smith as the translator of the golden plates into The Book of Mormon, but it seems that we are less forward about his translation of the Bible."
The answer to this question is a complex one. There is no single reason why we don't use the JST as "our" Bible. Here are a few reasons, however:
- The primary reason is that there is no revelation that has directed the Church to replace the KJV with the JST. Such a change would certainly require such a revelation to be submitted at General Conference and sustained by the members of the Church.
- The original manuscripts for the JST were retained by Emma Smith when the Saints went west. She later gave them to her son, Joseph III, and he had the first JST Bible printed under the auspices of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. At this time there was a great deal of animosity between the LDS and RLDS churches; Brigham Young believed that the RLDS church had tampered with the JST text and that it didn't accurately reflect Joseph Smith's original translation. This mistrust — along with the fact that the LDS Church did not own the copyright to the work — kept the Utah Saints from embracing the JST. It was only through Bruce R. McConkie's interest in and use of the JST, along with Robert Matthews' research on the JST manuscripts in the early 1970s, that these attitudes were reversed.
- From a practical sense, adoption of the JST would be a stumbling block for converts. Not only are we asking them to accept Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, etc., but we'd also be requiring them to abandon their traditional Bible. We already do that to some extent — readers of the NIV have to learn to adopt the KJV — but we'd be asking them to go a step further and accept Joseph Smith's translation of the Bible, which no other church uses. In this sense, the KJV serves as a connection between the LDS Church and the remainder of the Christian world.
- Portions of the JST have been canonized: Our Book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew are excerpts from the JST.