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This question is about the rendering of some passages in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). This is a collection of verses that add or replace sections of the King James Version which was deemed to have been corrupted by apostasy in the early Christian Church.

The introduction to the JST states (here) that:

Following are selected portions of the Joseph Smith Translation of the King James Version of the Bible (JST). The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore truths to the King James Bible text that had become lost or changed since the original words were written. These restored truths clarified doctrine and improved scriptural understanding.

Because the Lord revealed to Joseph certain truths that the original authors had once recorded, the Joseph Smith Translation is unlike any other Bible translation in the world. In this sense, the word translation is used in a broader and different way than usual, for Joseph’s translation was more revelation than literal translation from one language into another.

Here I wanted to ask about differences in the rendering of Isaiah 42:19-23 in the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) in comparison to the Great Isaiah Scroll.

The Great Isaiah Scroll (1QIsaa) is one of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls that were discovered in Qumran in 1947. The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls website says about it that:

It is the largest (734 cm) and best preserved of all the biblical scrolls, and the only one that is almost complete. The 54 columns contain all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the biblical Book of Isaiah.

According to an article at allaboutarchaeology.org the Great Isaiah Scroll has been carbon dated to between 335 B.C. and 100 B.C. The article (here) states:

As far as dating, it appears that pieces of the Great Isaiah Scroll (1Qls-a) have been carbon-14 dated at least four times, including a study at the University of Arizona in 1995 and a study at ETH-zurich in 1990-91. The four studies produced calibrated date ranges between 335-324 BC and 202-107 BC. There have also been numerous paleographic and scribal dating studies conducted that place 1Qls-a at a date range of approximately 150-100 BC.

For comparison, here is how Isaiah 42:19-23 reads according to Joseph Smith Translation (from here):

19 For I will send my servant unto you who are blind; yea, a messenger to open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf;

20 And they shall be made perfect notwithstanding their blindness, if they will hearken unto the messenger, the Lord’s servant.

21 Thou art a people, seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears to hear, but thou hearest not.

22 The Lord is not well pleased with such a people, but for his righteousness’ sake he will magnify the law and make it honorable.

23 Thou art a people robbed and spoiled; thine enemies, all of them, have snared thee in holes, and they have hid thee in prison houses; they have taken thee for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

And this is how Isaiah 42:19-23 reads according to King James Version (from here):

19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant?

20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.

21 The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.

22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?

Note that although verse 19 of JST seems to be similar to verse 19 in KJV, the verse 23 in JST seems to match verse 22 in KJV.

Below text on another hand is the English translation of Isaiah 42:19-23 from the Great Isaiah Scroll (from here).

19 Who is blind but my servant or deaf like my messenger whom I send? Who is blind like the one allied with me and blind like the LORD's servant?

20 You have seen many things, but you do not observe. His ears are open, but he does not hear.

21 The LORD had desired, for the sake of his vindication, that he should increase his torah and glorify it.

22 Instead, this is a people despoiled and plundered. All of them are trapped in holes and hidden in prisons. They have become prey whom no one rescues, a spoil and no one says, "Restore."

23 Who is among you that will hear this? Indeed let him pay attention and listen for the time to come.

(Above translation is by Professors Peter Flint from Trinity Western University, Canada and Eugene Ulrich from University of Notre Dame)

Based on the carbon dating, the scroll preceded the Christian era and the subsequent apostasy. Still the KJV follows this passage more closely than what the Joseph Smith Translation does.

The question I had on this:

Does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints view the Dead Sea Scrolls also as having been corrupted?

  • If they view the Great Isaiah scroll as having been corrupted, it would mean that the "original truth" was not reinstated even to 1st-century Christians (because all pre-KJV manuscripts follow the wording in the Great Isaiah scroll much more closely rather than the wording in the Joseph Smith Translation). One would think that if the corruption thus appeared before first century, it would have been corrected by Jesus, or Paul or some other inspired 1st-century Christian author. Lack of such correction implies that the JST did not reinstate 1st-century Christianity but maybe something else. – user100487 Aug 24 at 15:43
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Probably. It's kind of complicated. First to re-iterate the intro to the JST

The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore truths to the King James Bible text that had become lost or changed since the original words were written

While many Latter Day Saints believe the corrections the JST make are from the period when the KJV was originally translated, that isn't explicitly stated by Joseph Smith and much of the KJV is translated correctly (so to me this hints that some of the errors were introduced earlier). Instead the errors could have been introduced at any point after the original words were written.

An article on the Dead Sea scrolls gives the most direct answer to the OP question:

However, with the exception of the copies of biblical books, there is no evidence to suggest the scrolls ought to be regarded in the same category as the standard works.1

Continuing from that article:

Another reason for Latter-day Saint interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls community is the theme of apostasy and restoration found among both groups. The scrolls indicate that the Qumran sectarians regarded themselves as the true Israel surrounded by spiritual traitors and false brethren in a corrupt world. They possessed the true covenant that God had restored or renewed with them. They went off by themselves to establish the “Community of the Renewed Covenant”....They witnessed firsthand the apostate conditions among the leadership and priesthood of Judaism in their day. They tried to do something about it. They accomplished much, but without the Melchizedek Priesthood and authorized prophets they erred in many things.

In addition, Isaiah was written in the 8th century BCE, which is long before the Great Isaiah Scroll was written, so it is not an original text but an earlier text.


To try to show you how truths could've been lost we can use the OP citations as an example. Let's assume that the Great Isaiah scroll is the original text. If that is the case the other copies that were used in the KJV must have been copied from it at some point. While there are no major differences you can see there are slight differences. Part of these could be because the English language changes and translation isn't one to one, but there could be other differences (I don't have the original of both side by side, not fluent in ancient languages -- so I can't really say, but from my research it looks like there are some differences in text content that scholars have found).

So the Great Isaiah scroll isn't the original, since the timeline is off, so it is probably at least one copy off of the original. So it can't be taken as the correct truth at least by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

1 The Dead Sea Scrolls and Latter Day Truth---READ ME, I'm much better written

all emphasis added by me

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