Book review: 'The King James Bible and the Restoration' provides some remarkable insights

Published: Saturday, Nov. 26 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

More than a dozen Mormon scholars contributed to More than a dozen Mormon scholars contributed to "The King James Bible and the Restoration." (Deseret Book)

"THE KING JAMES BIBLE AND THE RESTORATION," edited by Kent P. Jackson, Deseret Book, $23.99, 304 pages (nf)

"The King James Bible and the Restoration" was put together in the spirit of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible this year. At the same time, a readers' view on the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ might at least think it has undergone a bit of a rebirth after reading this collection of studies on the influence of the King James Bible on Mormonism.

Particularly focusing on the relationship of this particular version of the Bible with what might have occurred in the religious thoughts of Joseph Smith from the late 1820s to the early 1840s, contributors like Robert L. Millet, John S. Tanner and Thomas M. Wayment consign their published research of various parts of the King James Bible — including details behind why William Tyndale might have chosen particular English words in place of Hebrew and Greek to New Testament references to temple worship.

It is particularly useful information to know, considering that Royal Skousen once said in a 1998 study that 83 percent of the New Testament and 76 percent of the Old Testment, each of the King James Version, are a product of Tyndale.

As readers better understand Tyndale's perspective at the time of his translation, they will come to better appreciate that Joseph Smith would have used Tyndale's diction in the Bible to insert as the meaning for the reformed Egyptian character he would have been seeing on the Book of Mormon plates. Its teachings explain that Joseph was influenced by the text and world around him as he made translations to not just the Book of Mormon, but also the Pearl of Great Price and his adjustments to the Bible, without compromising his prophetic label in the slightest.

Most of the contributors' work in the book is also assembled to emphasize that later translators like John Wycliffe approached Tyndale's work with great respect, making allusion to the reality that Wycliffe was largely inspired himself as he fulfilled a work that led to his execution for heresy in 1536. The translators, among whom were the best Hebrew and Greek scholars in Britain, retained the vast majority of Tyndale's words, his syntax, and his vision for how Hebrew and Greek phrases should appear in English scripture, reminding readers of the legitimacy of the doctrine found in 1 Nephi 13.

Though some of the passages of the book find themselves suffused in academic jargon to the point that a non-scholar may have to constrict himself to understand, this compilation of biblical studies with the restoration context will broaden the view of the reader, emphasizing that the Spirit does speak in a language that we all understand.

Email: rhett.wilkinson@usu.edu Twitter: wilklogan

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