Translating Bible was 'divine appointment'

The Book of Mormon presents an account describing the Bible as a "record of the Jews" containing writings of "the prophets" and of the "Twelve Apostles of the Lamb." (1 Ne. 13:21-41.)

Robert J. Matthews, in an entry in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, wrote that the vision recorded in 1 Nephi asserts: that the ancient authors wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, that originally their words contained the fulness of the gospel and were plain and easy to understand, but that many things which were plain and precious, and many covenants, would be "taken away" from the original manuscripts; as a result, afterward a great many persons, even with a Bible, would not understand the fulness of the gospel, but the lost material would be restored through "other records" that the Lord would bring forth.Brother Matthews explained: "Latter-day Saints believe that the `other records' referred to include the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, the Joseph Smith Translation [of the BibleT, and other records still to come forth, and that the prophet divinely raised up to begin restoring the last material is Joseph Smith. In light of the foregoing statements, it is worth observing that the principal difficulty in the Bible apparently has been omissions. The remaining text may be generally correct in itself, but many important doctrinal items (resulting from the loss of a single word, a verse, a longer passage, or even whole books in some instances) are now missing.

"The Prophet Joseph Smith claimed a divine appointment to make an inspired rendition or, as he termed it, a `new translation' of the Bible. This appointment can be illustrated by excerpts from his writings. After laboring off and on for ten months on the early chapters of Genesis, Joseph Smith received a revelation from the Lord on March 7, 1831, directing him to begin work on the New Testament. (See D&C 45:60-61.)

"The manuscript of the [Joseph Smith TranslationT shows that Joseph Smith began the translation of Matthew the next day. On Dec. 1, 1831, he entered the following in his journal: I continued to labor in this branch of my calling with Elder Sidney Rigdon as my scribe.' (History of the Church 1:238-39.) On Feb. 16, 1832, he reported a revelation concerning the resurrection of the dead that includes the following reference to his divine commission to translate:For while we [Joseph Smith and Sidney RigdonT were doing the work of translation, which the Lord had appointed unto us, we came to the twenty-ninth verse of the fifth chapter of John' (D&C 76:15). On March 8, 1833, he reported the word of the Lord to him as follows: And when you have finished the translation of the [Old TestamentT prophets, you shall from thenceforth preside over the affairs of the church' (D&C 90:13). On May 6, 1833, Joseph Smith reported the following revelation:It is my will that you should hasten to translate my scriptures.' (D&C 93:53). Although not a complete list, the foregoing items illustrate Joseph Smith's claim to a divine appointment to translate the Old and New Testaments."

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