Monday, February 1, 2016

None to Give Room for Them in The Inns (Joseph Smith Translation Luke 2:7)

Perhaps you, like me, have sensed Christmas wonder in the wording of Joseph Smith Translation Luke 2:7. The inspired translation speaks of inns in the plural:

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was none to give room for them in the inns.

The inspired fullness echoes Nephi's new prophetic reading of Isaiah 50:2:

Wherefore, when I came, there was no man; when I called, yea, there was none to answer (2 Nephi 7:2).

That prophetic echo--dispensationally bridging Joseph Smith and Luke and Nephi and Isaiah--resounds even more clearly in the Greek of LXX Isaiah 50:2 and Luke 2:7: ouk en (lit. not + it was; there was none; there was not: dioti ouk en topos en toi katalumati).

In that Christmas wonder, you have certainly also sensed Luke's point about Christ's rejection and humility. If Joseph and Mary had gone from inn to inn and found rejection, for whatever reason, at every place, then that is rejection indeed. Truly there was no place for Christ, no place in the inn, no place in any inn anywhere.

"There was none to give."

We need a little giving, and that said, it wouldn't take much to slide a little didonai in place: dioti ouk en autois didonai topos en toi katalumati (for there was none to give them, or yield to them, place in the inn; cf. Luke 14:9).

The wonder of Christmas is not found, of course, in the moment of rejection--really, the round of rejection--it is found at the moment when Mary laid "her firstborn son" in the manger. There He rests, and there the shepherds--angel-stunned--find him.


The KJV, a rougher take on the Hebrew of Isaiah 50:2 than what we find in 2 Nephi 7:2 reads:

Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer?

I might translate:

Why was it, when I came, there was no man; when I called, there was no responder?


Why was there no man, when I came; no one responding, when I called?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie, responding to both the KJV and the JST says: "It was the traveling hosts of Judah generally, not just an innkeeper or an isolated few persons, who withheld shelter from Joseph and Mary. Though her state was apparent, the other travelers--lacking in courtesy, compassion, and refinement--would not give way so she could be cared for more conveniently and commodiously. This rude rejection was but prelude. . ." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 1:92)

Professor S. Kent Brown shares the following: