JST on John 5 – So what did the historical Jesus Christ say?

JST on John 1, JST on John 2, JST on John 3, JST on John 4

 John 5:29 (JST)

And shall come forth; they that who have done good, unto in the resurrection of life just; and they that who have done evil, unto in the resurrection of damnation the unjust; and shall all be judged of the Son of man. 

How come Joseph didn’t like the word damnation in this text? 

John 5:31 (JST)

Therefore if I bear witness of myself, yet my witness is not true.


Did Joseph think John 3:31 (KJV) contained an error?  Looks like it.  But compare this with Isaiah 29 (JST).  What’s up with this?  Lots of ideas are swirling in my mind around the connected theme of witnesses.

 John 5:34 (JST)

But I receive And he received not his testimony from of man:  but these things I say, that ye might be saved of God.  And ye yourselves say that he is a prophet, therefore ye ought to receive his testimony.  These things I say that ye might be saved.

 Joseph saw another error in Jesus’ words?  Do you see the same alleged errors here in John 5?  Each textual revision that I discover by Joseph seeks to dethrone the very things that the Spirit has been teaching me through the written record.   The traditional text offers rich nuances of the absolutely unique character of Christ.  What about the inseparableness of the Father and Son in verse 31?  And in verse 34, it is we who need John the Baptist’s witness.  Jesus, the one with inseparable communion and absolute union with the Father, does not need John to remind him of who he is.  Makes me laugh just thinking about the utter contrast between Jesus and other men.  There are crucial distinctions being made in John 5 of the contrast between the God-man and mankind. 

Joseph Smith is a higher critic (though crude and unsophisticated) not just of the English translation but of the Greek manuscripts themselves.  He is introducing ideas not found in the Greek manuscript copies but providing his own textual reconstruction.  We are not talking about debate over various interpretations of the same words but a direct revising of what Joseph thinks should be in the original Gospel witness.  And it is the revised messages of the historical text that easily leads many of my LDS friends to all-together different interpretations. 

Is the JST, Joseph Smith critical textual theory or heavenly inspired revision?  This seems debatable.  BYU professors, D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner make clear it is the latter.  So I assume there is a good debate over this in the LDS church, except among the devout in wards, which read mainly the publications from the Deseret bookstore and listen to General Authorities.  If I believed in modern day restorative prophecy, I too, would be strongly inclined to believe that the biblical message—the recorded words of O.T. prophets, N.T. apostles, and the Savior—is packed plum full with errors and vitally missing core truths.  But as you all know, I don’t.


There are higher critics (rationalists) who demolish both the biblical record and the LDS standard works.  There are higher critics (compartmentalists) who point out all the textual errors they perceive in scripture, but yet they leave the BoM and D&C unscathed.  That is sort of humorous.  And then there are critics who unleash the fangs of higher criticism in the reverse, which is sort of a ridiculous inconsistency, too.


I choose supernatural revelation over rationalism as a higher authority for my life’s journey.  This is where my presuppositional faith rests.  I respect LDS who believe in supernatural revelation.  But here is the problem.  Biblical written words and latter-day written words by LDS prophets don’t fit hand in glove in the same measure as Old and New Testament continuity.  I feel a prophet needs to come along and do some editing and revising of latter-day works (comparable to the JST action of biblical works) so that they can finally faithfully fit the Bible and the message of the one divine Author.  Wouldn’t this be fair?


In retrospective, I don’t see how any devout conservative Mormons can cry foul play to other active Mormons like Blake Ostler or even TT over at Faith Promoting Rumor for their exploratory and sometimes radical textual criticism of the Bible.  Why? because Joseph Smith led the way for sweeping higher criticism among Latter-day Saints in the 19th century.  In front of the American public, no LDS has done more drastic measures to the Bible text than Joseph.  A lot rests on this man.


Perhaps this might be one of the reasons that General Authorities will not jump into the fray on this issue as I would desire.  Too bad.  It makes me swing like a pendulum from madness to sadness (and please, may the Lord reign over my wayward emotions; I sincerely pray for this, a proper attitude with my friends.)  The more I study the JST, the more I am seeing that biblical higher criticism is actually hip for LDS.  There is a fundamental doctrinal boundary for the LDS Church.  None believe in a preserved Bible today closely connected to the fundamental message of inerrant original autographs.  Even among conservatives.


But we know, Lord Jesus, even in your infamous discussion on gods in John 10 that “the scripture cannot be broken”.  And we know that the Father’s “word is truth” (John 17:17).


  1. Joseph saw another error in Jesus’ words?

    It would be more accurate to say that Joseph Smith saw another error in how Jesus’ words made it into the canon hundreds of years after the last witnesses of Jesus Christ in the flesh had died. Transcription error, illiteracy, differences in dialect, the changing and evolution of language over hundreds of years, even simple bad handwriting, could contribute to small changes over time as people copied copies of copies of copies, the original manuscripts having long since vanished.

  2. John, I would agree that there are thousands of variants. I would acknowledge also there are many illustrations of scribal errors.

    But based on the textual evidence, which century or centuries do you think Joseph believed that these alleged errors crept into the Johannine text?

  3. I don’t know. As far as I know, God never saw fit to provide Joseph with that level of detail and it probably would have been impertinent to ask.

  4. How would that be impertinent, Seth?

    Wasn’t it noble for the people of Berea to compare what Paul was saying with written words before they actually committed themselves in belief?

  5. If God the Father were to appear before me in person and declare parts of a Holy Book to have been corrupted, I would imagine I would not be of a mind to quiz Him on names and dates.

  6. Yes, to be in the presence of God, one is usually prostrate on the ground and not asking questions. I think of Job.

    But neither Joseph or Paul are God the Father. These are questions that I would ask them or any prophet or apostle or even you when asking me to change my beliefs, not on interpretation, but on the text of inspired written messages.

    It is interesting that Jesus, the very exegesis of the Father, did not do that with textual phrases of the O.T., at least from what we scrutinize over in the N.T. text.

    But maybe you might have record elsewhere, rumoring Jesus did this, pointing out error in O.T. text and revising the messages themselves. I would not be knowledgeable in this area.

  7. But based on the textual evidence, which century or centuries do you think Joseph believed that these alleged errors crept into the Johannine text?

    My best guess as to when Joseph Smith believed that errors crept into the text and plain and precious parts went missing would be between the death of the last Apostles and the solidification of the scrolls into a canon in the mid-fourth century. That is really the dark period as far as the manuscripts containing what would eventually become the New Testament because we have no way of knowing the provenance of the scrolls that were used to make the canon and whether they were identical to the original manuscripts written by the writers of the Gospels, the Pauline letters, and the other “books” of the New Testament.

  8. The Spirit bears witness that the Joseph Smith translation is True. The Truth will take US home.
    Dennis Poulsen
    JST John 5:29 made me happy. Thanks.

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