PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION
This work is given to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and to the public in pursuance of the commandment of God.
As concerning the manner of translation and correction, it is evident, from the manuscripts and the testimony of those who were conversant with the facts, that it was done by direct revelation from God.
It was begun in June, 1830, and was finished July 2, 1833.
Joseph Smith was born in Dec., 1805, and was, at the finishing of the manuscripts of this work, in the 28th year of his age.
The manuscripts, at his death, in 1844, were left in the hands of his widow, where they remained until the spring of 1866, when they were delivered to Wm. Marks, I. L. Rogers, and Wm. W. Blair, a Committee appointed by the Annual Conference, of April, 1866, to procure them for publication; and were, by them, delivered to the Committee of Publication consisting of Joseph Smith, Israel L. Rogers, and Ebenezer Robinson, and are now presented as they came into our hands.
It is declared in the Book of Mormon that "many plain and precious parts" have been taken away from the Bible:
"For behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb, many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have been taken away; and all this have they done, that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord; that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men: wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God; and after these plain and precious things were taken away, it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles."--1 Book of Nephi, 3:168-172--Book of Mormon.
This declaration is fully sustained by the following quotations from history, relative to the transmission of the Bible.
Prof. Wm. Whiston, in his translation of the works of Flavius Josephus, in a note to chap. 11 of Book 9, Ant. Jews, in reference to a quotation, professedly from Nahum, says:
"By which quotation we learn what he himself always asserts, viz: that he made use of the Hebrew original, (and not of the Greek version;) as also we learn, that his Hebrew copy considerably differed from ours."
Dupin says in his "Complete History of the Canon and Writers of the Books of the Old and New Testament:"
"St. Jerome, in his commentary upon the 40th chapter of Ezekiel, says: 'When we translate the Hebrew words into Latin, we are sometimes guided by conjecture.'"
Again he says: "When Origen observed that there was less in the Greek than in the Hebrew, he did supply it from the version of Theodotion, and put an asterisk or star to it, to signify that this was to illustrate what was obscure. St. Jerome makes frequent mention of the additions, corrections, and subtractions made in the versions of the Septuagint, by Origen. * * * St. Jerome says in the preface to his commentary on Daniel, that in all, both the Greek and Latin churches, both in those in Syria and in Egypt, the edition of Origen is made use of."
Again, Dupin says: "By the carelessness of the transcribers, and sometimes of those who set them at work, the asterisks being either misunderstood, or entirely left out in some places, the additions of Theodotion were confounded with the version of the Septuagint, which perhaps moved St. Jerome to say that Origen had corrupted and confounded the version of the Septuagint."
Dupin continues: "In short we must confess that there are many differences betwixt the Hebrew text and the version of the Septuagint, which arise from the corruption and confusion that are in the Greek version we now have. It is certain that it hath been revised divers times, and that several authors have taken liberty to add thereunto, to retrench and correct divers things. That in the first centuries there were different editions, and that corrections have been inserted from the versions of Theodotion and others, which made St. Jerome say with reason, that in his time the version of the Septuagint was nowhere to be found in its purity. * * * It is mere superstition to assert, as some authors do, that the Hebrew text which we have at present is not corrupted in any place, and that there is no fault, nor any thing left out, and that we must indisputably follow it at all times. This is not only to speak without all evidence, and contrary to all probability, but we have very good proof to the contrary, for in the first place there are differences betwixt the oldest of the Hebrew copies which the Massorites have observed, by that which they called Keri and Ketib, and putting one of the readings in the text and the other in the margin, we have the different readings of the Jews of the East and the Jews of the West, of the Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali, and the manuscript copies of the Bible are not always alike. "
This "Complete History of the Canon," &c., says: "The Council of Trent, (held in 1540,) when it declared the vulgar version authentic, did not thereby declare it as done by divine inspiration, neither as a piece conformable in all respects to the original texts, or free from all errors. * * * Notwithstanding the care and precaution of the Massorites and Jews who have wrote or printed the Hebrew Bibles, there are still a great many differences between the manuscripts and printed Bibles, as Buxtorfe has observed in his Rabbinical Library, and Capelle after him. There are differences in the punctuation about the consonants, and whole words and verses, which shows that let them be never so diligent, it is impossible but some faults will slip in, either in the copying or printing of a work. * * * Nor can it be said for certain that all those books which are cited in the Holy Scriptures were of divine inspiration. 'Tis a medium and middle way that ought to be followed according to the opinion of the fathers, who have acknowledged that there may be some books divinely inspired, and others of human composition among those that are cited in the canonical books. * * * It cannot be said that no fault has crept into the scriptures by the negligence or inadvertency of the transcribers, or even by the boldness of those who have ventured to strike out, add, or change some words which they thought necessary to be omitted, added or changed. This is the common fate of all books, from which God has not thought fit to exempt even the sacred writings. From hence have proceeded those various and different lections between the Greek copies of the books of the New Testament, which began to appear in the first ages of the church, and are still continued."
Says Dupin: "We do not find that the two greatest men of the church, I mean Origen and St. Hierom, who had searched the ancient copies of the scriptures with so much care and diligence, and have visited so many churches in the East, have ever spoken of the originals of the New Testament, written with the hands of the apostles, which they would not have failed to do if there had been any in their time." To account for this, Dupin continues, "But it hath been already made to appear, elsewhere, that it is no wonder that the primitive Christians, who had not a regular body of a state in which they lived, and whose assemblies, on the contrary, were furiously disturbed by the Jews and pagans had lost the originals of their books." From the same work we take the following: "In the primitive ages there was no talk of reading the Holy Scriptures in the originals; any copy whatever, provided it was used in the orthodox churches, might be relied upon as if it had been the first original, written with the hands of the apostles."
Dupin continues: "The critics have sometimes reformed the text, because they looked upon it as faulty; they have met with a sense that shocked them in the text, and which might be reformed by taking away one single word; they have determined that the text ought to read so and so, and have boldly corrected the text upon a mere conjecture. The copiers or the regulators of the copies have taken a great deal of liberty upon this respect being pursued--that they should do some service in explaining it more clearly, but sometimes have determined the text by such words as give it quite another sense."
"St. Chrysostom observes: The Jews having been at some times careless and negligent, and at other times profane, they suffered some of the sacred books to be lost through their carelessness, and have burnt and destroyed others."--Simons' Crit. Hist. N. Test.
"The common version of the Bible was printed in A. D. 1611. The only printed editions of the Greek Testament at that time were Cardinal Ximenes', printed A. D. 1514; Erasmus', in 1516; Stephens', 1546, and Beza's, in 1562, with some editions taken from these; substantially the same may be said of the Old Testament. King James' Translation was made from no uniform edition whatever. Although there is, by authority, a standard English edition of the Bible, there is no standard Hebrew or Greek text for the original of that version. That called the 'received text,' is the text of Erasmus, which is a version of the Latin Vulgate compared with the Greek text. This edition was corrected severally, by Stephens, Beza and Elzevir, and published by the latter, at Leyden, in Holland, in 1624, thirteen years after King James' translation was published. In the compilation of this 'received text,' Erasmus consulted but eight manuscripts, only one of Revelations; all of which copies were later than the tenth century. The manuscript of Revelations was but a partial one. To supply what was wanting, he translated the Latin of the Vulgate into Greek, to supply the deficiencies, to make up the 'received text.'"--March's Introduction, Vol. 2, p. 846, and Penn's Annotations.
It is also declared in the Book of Mormon, touching the restoration of the Scriptures: "Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines, and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days; and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord."--2 Nephi 2:19-23.
And again: "And the angel spake unto me, saying, these last records which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him or they cannot be saved; and they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb."--1 Nephi 3:192-194.
In the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 22, verse 24, we read follows: "And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto you concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak, and in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught, and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold I will raise up another like unto thee, and they shall be had again among the children of men; among as many as shall believe."
Again in Sec. 42, verse 15: "Thou shalt ask, and my Scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety; and it is expedient that thou shouldst hold thy peace concerning them, and not teach them until ye have received them in full. And I give unto you a commandment, that then ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people."
PREFACE TO 1944 EDITION
This corrected edition of the Inspired Version of the Holy Scriptures was prepared under the direction of the First Presidency and the Board of Publication of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The committee found some words and phrases transposed or improperly placed in the work done by Joseph Smith, Jr. These errors, together with others involving spelling, punctuation, and typographical or other omissions, were corrected, particularly in those instances where the meaning of the text had been affected. Few other corrections were required.