Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Joseph Smith Translation Proverbs 16:29

The Prophet Joseph Smith in his New Translation of the Bible at times makes the thinnest of changes. Attentive readers may appreciate such changes, but the same readers will be hard pressed to find mention of them in books or articles. 

For instance, Old Testament Manuscript 2 yields but three small corrections to Proverbs. Of these, Proverbs 16:29 shows a net change of just one word: the becomes a. A significant change? I'll leave that to the proverbial experts. One thing's for sure: the Prophet justifiably corrects "the way" to "a way," for the Hebrew reads veholikho bederekh lo-tov not baderekh lo-tov ("and directs him onto a path that is not good" not "the path that is not good"). The date of the change, 1833, predates Joseph Smith's study of Hebrew by nearly three years, yet the prophetic footing is sure.

In the KJV we read: "A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good." With the JST, we have "and leadeth him into a way that is not good" (or, dropping the crossed-out words in italics--a preliminary editorial sorting running throughout much of the Prophet's Bible--"into a way not good"). It's likely easier to entice your neighbor to join you in crime than anybody else; he sees the visible evidence of profit from ill-gotten gain. He sees that new car you're driving; he sees it trundling up the driveway every single day. The sense of the Proverb is: A man of violent will easily dupes a carefree and thoughtless buddy into going along with his schemes and thus quickly leads the fool down a bad and dangerous path. He dangles promises, while foregoing warnings of consequences.

In this case the translators slipped up (or went down the wrong path): baderekh not bederekh signals the demonstrative the. Does it matter either way in English? I don't know, but the preponderance of modern translations into English follow the Hebrew and translate "a path" or "a way" or "a bad path." 

There are many proverbs. So why Proverbs 16:29? Something caught his eye. Erlebnis. Nights spent running through woods or vaulting carriages down lonely roads leads one to wondering Just who in their right mind chases people down at night and all night over preachment and baptisms? (Or anything else?) Brother Joseph shakes his head. What tomfool of a fellow breathless runs with a mob? And where snores the plotter who put him up to it?

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