New scriptures from the Church

I’m sure we will see a lot more in-depth analysis in the coming days and weeks, but I wanted to refer readers to the Church document that shows a complete comparison of the changes made in the scriptures. These changes were announced Thursday Feb. 28. Take a look here.

Here is a summary of the changes that were made.

Two of the adjustments that will get a lot of discussion regard polygamy and the priesthood ban:

OD 1—Added the following introduction and historical background to Official Declaration 1, and placed it in an italic typeface to indicate that it is a study help:
The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless He declares otherwise (see 2 Samuel 12:7–8 and Jacob 2:27, 30). Following a revelation to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage was instituted among Church members in the early 1840s (see section 132). From the 1860s to the 1880s, the United States government passed laws to make this religious practice illegal. These laws were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the following Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.

OD 2—Added the following introduction and historical background to Official Declaration 2, and placed it in italics to indicate that it is a study help:
The Book of Mormon teaches that “all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once ap- plied to the priesthood.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

23 thoughts on “New scriptures from the Church

  1. I’d also like to see side-by-side comparisons of the Book of Mormon, Bible, Pearl of Great Price, and Study Aids. I think all of those would be excellent tools to clearly see all the changes in this new edition. If the Church doesn’t make them available, I’m sure someone will.

  2. The Gods to gods in Alma is interesting. I’m not sure what the change is supposed to mean. It seems as if the suggested correct reading is that, “mortal Adam and Eve were not as the Gods, but rather gods.” Which begs the question, who are the gods and how are they different from the Gods?

    I’m not really hung up either way, but in either case, I think the verse is just saying that they had (began to develop) a more full knowledge of good and evil, and understood it just like all exalted beings — Gods.

    Was that verse ever actually misunderstood to mean they were as God who could create worlds, etc. etc. after the fall? And even changing the case to a small-g doesn’t really inform me much.

    My operating belief on the plan of salvation is our Heavenly Father want to bring his children up to his level, capital-G. So who are the lower case g-s? Immortal, non exalted beings? (clearly Adam and Eve weren’t that either, unless this verse is suggesting they were)

    I’d love to know what discussions went on with the change, or if it was just as simple as a textual change to reflect the original papers.

  3. The changes appear to be excellent and overdue. I would also like to see the Church go back to the earliest Greek versions of the NT available and make an effort to correct errors made in subsequent translations. My all-time favorite NT version is that of William Tyndale whose 1526 English version has a few extraordinary translations of some of my “extraordinarily important” NT verses, such as:

    “Be ye therefore fulfilled (or complete).” Matthew 5:48 How many Church members have struggled with the word perfect (flawless) in the KJ version?

    “Faith without deeds (vs. works) is dead.” In various verses of James. I like “deeds”
    as the word “works” is unclear as to what is meant by “works.”

    “Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this: To visit the friendless (vs. orphans) and widows in their adversity, and keep himself unspotted from the world.” James. There are far more “friendless” people than orphans in the world.

    These small changes in translations are, at least to me, transformational, and led me to improve my understanding of the NT.

    The scholars who translated the KJ version in 1611 did not use the words of Tyndale, shown above, but I think Tyndale’s version clarifies the meaning of the verses.

  4. That brings up an interesting point. Does anyone here believe that at some point in the future, the Church will perhaps commission its own translation of the Biblical scriptures?

    Don’t get me wrong. I have been steeped my entire life with the KJV. I read it, love it, and appreciate it. But as Paul above showcased, it’s got its issues.

    I am just curious if anyone thinks that eventually (20 years, 40 years from now?) the Church will recognize a need to produce a translation of the Bible that eliminates the problems outlined above? (Obviously, I recognize that *any* translation will introduce issues/concerns of its own.)

    One objection I see from the outset is that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price all utilize a diction that is informed and shaped by the King James Bible English.

  5. Does anyone know when the Church will provide the new scriptures in PDF, EPub or MOBI, etc? My Kindle is aching to have these on them!

  6. Rameumptom, they are already available in all those formats. Just go to and click download.

  7. Here are various electronic formats of the 2013 edition available:

    Direct E-Books Downloads (epub, mobi)
    Holy Bible

    Triple Combination

    Book of Mormon

    Amazon Kindle Store
    Holy Bible

    Triple Combination

    Book of Mormon

    iTunes iBookstore
    Holy Bible on Apple’s Website
    Holy Bible in iTunes Application

    Triple Combination on Apple’s Website
    Triple Combination in iTunes Application

    Book of Mormon on Apple’s Website
    Book of Mormon in iTunes Application

  8. Paul, but what about in the BoM, Jesus says ” ye should be a perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”

  9. Mea maxima culpa! I made a mistake by writing that Tyndale had used the word fulfilled (or complete) in his translation of Matt. 5:48. He actually used the word “perfect” as did the translators of the older Wycliffe version in 1388. Sorry!

    Where did I get the idea of using the word “fulfilled?” From my copy of the Greek-to-English Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. In this book, the Greek adjective for perfect in the Matt. 5:48 context signifies having reached its end, (telos), finished, fulfilled, complete, perfect. Happily, Church authorities in Conference talks have mentioned these translations of the word perfect in Conference talks. Some scholars of ancient Oriental Languages at BYU have written more about the translation to “fulfilled.” However, the Tyndale quotes from James are as they appear in his translation. By the way, I am certainly not a scholar of ancient languages, but merely a member who loves the NT and likes to examine older and other language versions of the book.

    I would love to see the Church undertake a new translation of the oldest Greek versions of the NT books, although the oldest known are not really “originals” from the first or second centuries, but copies of copies of copies of more copies that appeared over later centuries. It would require spiritual assistance to make such an effort.

    The use of the word “perfect” in the BOM is understandable. My view: The Prophet used words that were familiar to him in English, words that also were used in the 1611 KJ version he read with his family, at the time he translated from the golden plates. He did not have a copy of an expository dictionary (1940) available at that time nor did he know Greek.

  10. Michael Towns,

    You may avoid reading a post from BCC, but I highly recommend this one, which explains very well why the KJV is so vital to LDS theology and scripture.

    In addition, I really think missionary work would suffer if we were not able to teach from an ecumenical Bible. For that reason, I don’t see us producing a Mormon translation – ever.

    (For my part, I appreciate the KJV, but think we should switch to a modern, but literal, translation-NRSV/ESV. Partly because they’re more accurate, partly because Mormons would better understand the Bible)

  11. CJ Douglass

    The only reason why I *would* avoid reading a BCC post, is that the proprietors of that there online establishment have made it clear that they don’t like me very much. The feeling is mutual. 🙂

  12. Where’s a good online discussion about the changes? Specifically, where to report errors? The new heading for D&C 42 appears to have a mistake. It says the section was received in two parts, with the division between verses 72 and 73. However, in Grant Underwood’s article “‘The Laws of the Church of Christ’ (D&C 42): A Textual and Historical Analysis” (search “73”), he shows multiple manuscripts listing the division as between verses 73 and 74. That makes far more sense, since verse 73 shares subject matter and phrases with verse 72.

    Anyone know if these kinds of things will be corrected before the print edition comes out in August?

    Michael, a group of LDS scholars are working on a translation of the Bible. I don’t think it’s “official,” but it’s definitely LDS-geared. I’ll see if I can find you a link about where to read more.

  13. Nathan, I would very much be interested in a link or more information! Thank you!

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