The Joseph Smith Translation and Italicized Words in the King James Version

Thomas A. Wayment and Tyson J. Yost

Thomas A. Wayment and Tyson J. Yost, “The Joseph Smith Translation and Italicized Words in the King James Version,” Religious Educator 6, no. 1 (2005): 51–64.

Thomas A. Wayment was an assistant professor in ancient scripture at Brigham Young University when this was written.

Tyson J. Yost was a graduate student at the University of Chicago School of Divinity when this was written.

A passage from the Sermon on the Mount

The New Translation of the scriptures, known to Latter-day Saints as the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) makes changes to the King James Version (KJV) on several different levels. The JST restores, edits, and changes. It restores original text that has been lost and restores what was once said but never became a part of the Bible. It edits the Bible to make it more understandable and to bring it into harmony with modern rev­elation. It changes the original text of the Bible from what was written by the original authors to reflect new light and understanding brought forward in the Restoration of the gospel.[1] Therefore, the JST restores text and meaning, which are both revealed only in English translation with no restoration of actual words in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic.

To establish a relationship between the JST and the ancient texts of the New Testament, we made some preliminary considerations. First, what is the nature of the translation? In other words, do textual clues suggest that the JST is a new translation dealing with issues associated with the English-language translations familiar to the Prophet in his day, or should the JST be considered a restoration of ancient text? Admittedly, the JST likely does both of the above, but previous to this study, no criteria had been developed to distinguish the two types. Second, what views did Church leaders hold toward the accuracy of biblical text prior to and including the time the JST was completed?

A New Translation or a Restoration of Text?

This study will look at the first of these questions and provide a framework for understanding at least one special category of JST changes to the biblical text—the changes to the italicized verses.[2] As we set out to answer this question, our initial inquiry led to the problem of the italicized words in our English translations of the Bible[3] because there are no italicized words in the ancient manuscripts of the Bible, either in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic.[4] Therefore, the issue of the italicized words is exclusively an issue of the English translation of the Bible, including other modern translation languages as well.

The italicized words of the King James Version represent words and context that were provided by the translators that did not directly correspond to a Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic word in their manuscripts. These italicized words have perpetuated an aura of honesty on the part of the translators, who, many thought (based on the conclusions of earlier Protestant biblical scholarship), were so honest in their transla­tion of the sacred text that they would not introduce a single word into the text without calling the reader’s attention to it.[5] Unfortunately, this romantic reconstruction of the translation process may represent only one element of the introduction of italics into the biblical text. The significant inconsistencies on the part of the English translators of the Bible, including the KJV translators, reveals that at times the insertion of italics relied not entirely on honesty but also on previous conven­tions and impressions.

The 1611 KJV translators were not consistent with their intro­duction of italicized words.[6] Had they been consistent in their translation, we could logically conjecture that they were completely forthcoming and honest to identify all insertions and additions to the Greek texts in their possession. They would, however, frequently represent one type of Greek construction by introducing an italicized word or words, but when that same construction was encountered later on they would not use an italicized word even though they would translate the passage in the same manner. Some of these incon­sistencies can be ascribed to human error, but another portion is the direct result of the perceptions of the various committees of transla­tors who worked on the KVJ translation.[7]

Several classic examples of this inconsistency can be found in Luke 17:27 with the phrase “and destroyed them all” while the exact same phrase is rendered two verses later as “and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:29).[8] Another example of frequent inconsistency in the use of italics in the KJV occurs in vocative constructions—where the subject com­mands, directs, or invokes—as seen in Luke 19 “thou good servant” (v. 17). A few verses later, a similar vocative statement is translated “thou wicked servant” (Luke 19:22).[9] In both cases, the Greek employs the same construction for the noun and should be translated using italics in both. The issue facing the translators is that the Greek implies the “thou,” and in reading the text in Greek, readers do not have to sup­ply the pronoun. Therefore, is it necessary to italicize a word indicated by the Greek construction but not explicitly stated? Apparently, the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Typically, the italicized words of the KJV represent one of five categories: (1) supplying implied pronouns; (2) adding the verb to copular constructions—the implied use of the verb “to be”; (3) dealing with elliptical constructions—where a noun is implied such as “things” or “day” to make sense; (4) adding indefinite articles where Greek has none; or (5) working with vocative constructions—such as “Ye” in “Ye fools”—where Greek has only the noun. This is not an exhaustive list of all uses of the italics in the KJV text; however, it clearly demon­strates that the use of italics is an attempt by the translators to represent subtleties of Greek grammatical constructions.

Joseph Smith’s Views on the Accuracy of the Bible

The Prophet Joseph Smith became part of this biblical tradition as a youth. He learned from early experience that English translations of the Bible contained flaws and expressed this sentiment on a number of occasions, “From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.”[10] He later taught, “I believe the Bible, as it ought to be, as it came from the pen of the original writers.”[11] The Lord shared the same sentiment when He told the Prophet, “A commandment I give unto thee—that thou shalt write for him; and the scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect” (D&C 35:20; emphasis added).

Most likely the Bible of Joseph Smith’s youth was the Authorized Version, or as Americans have called it, the King James Version.[12] This Bible, however, was not without flaws, and in the minds of early Church leaders, there was room for improvement. The early Saints expressed concern for the accuracy of the text of the Bible, and although we do not possess the initial revelation and direction to begin the New Translation, we can see that the need to retranslate was perceived in the Church in the 1830s.[13]

Unfortunately, no direct statement can be attributed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that would clarify his approach or mindset when he began the New Translation. Several statements from the period when the JST was nearing completion do, however, provide valuable context and may reflect what the Prophet Joseph Smith was teaching publicly in the months prior to the completion of the New Translation. For example, he taught, “The book of Mormon, as a revelation from God, possesses some advantage over the old scripture: it has not been tinctured by the wisdom of man, with here and there an Italic word to supply deficiencies.”[14] And again, “The old and new testaments are filled with errors, obscurities, italics and contradictions, which must be the work of men.”[15] A later statement by John Taylor or Wilford Woodruff reflects the continuing concern felt for the accuracy of the King James translation and the issue of the italicized words.

Much has been said about the bad translations of the Bible. . . . Every school boy seems to know that when either of the sectarian translators failed in making the two ends of a sentence meet, he filled up the vacu­ity with italic, by which means God has been greatly helped towards expressing himself so as to be understood by the learned world. . . . If their thoughts should not happen to be God’s thoughts, it is a matter of fact that the mother of harlots holds in her hands a golden cup full of the filthiness of her abominations.[16]

Certainly a significant issue facing the early Church was the accu­racy of the translation of the Bible. The Saints had a living prophet who could translate ancient records; therefore, they may have felt it expedient that they also have the most accurate translation of the Bible as they did with the Book of Mormon. The work on the New Transla­tion began in earnest in June 1830 and was declared finished on July 2, 1833.

The intellectual environments of the late New York, Kirtland, and early Missouri periods reflect a significant concern regarding the accuracy of the English translation they were using. Unfortunately, statements by early Church leaders begin to appear toward the end of the period when the JST was nearing completion or already completed. They may reflect more of what the Prophet learned in the process rather than what he sought to accomplish prior to beginning the New Translation.

By the time the Prophet began work on the New Testament, he had already gained a considerable amount of experience in translating the biblical text from his work on the Old Testament. Neither Joseph Smith nor any other Church leader, to our knowledge, spoke of the New Translation in terms of the restoration of lost text but instead referred to it as a restoration of “meaning,” “intent,” or “correction of error.”

The Prophet realized early in his career that Moroni had quoted scriptures differently than they were recorded in his Bible, that some things in the Bible disagreed with newer revelations, and that the Book of Mormon prophesied of the corruption of the Bible. Our most accu­rate appraisal of the events surrounding the impetus to begin the New Translation suggests that it restores meaning to the text. In that pro­cess, the Prophet certainly did restore meaning, and as the following data will suggest, an important part of the JST would be a corrective effort to emend the KJV. In that process, the Prophet also restored many truths that cannot simply be considered part of the correction of the English text of the Bible. Whether he began the New Translation with the restoration of text in mind is impossible to tell. Our data will show that the New Translation of the New Testament focused heavily on issues associated with the English translation and that, likely as an outgrowth of this effort, it restored many plain and precious truths that go back to the original texts. A future publication on the JST will pres­ent evidence to support our belief that the JST also restores lost text.

The JST and the Italicized Words of the Gospels—A Test Case[17]

The Bible used by Joseph Smith to carry out the work of the New Translation was an 1828 stereotyped edition published by H. & E. Phinney, Cooperstown, New York.[18] Its text is in almost all particulars identical to the 1979 Latter-day Saint edition of the KJV. However, there are slight variations in the number and content of the italicized words, and therefore the following results are based solely on the 1828 Phinney edition. The study is limited to the Gospels because the num­ber and consistency of the italicized words vary greatly beginning with Acts and continuing through Revelation—a direct result of a change in translators of the KJV.[19]

The four Gospels in the 1828 Phinney Bible contain 1,628 italicized words ranging in length from “a” to “righteousness.”[20] The italicized words are not all of equal value. The vast majority of the italicized words, perhaps as many as 90 percent, are implied in the Greek without any reservation.[21] Therefore, in our test case, we grouped the italicized words into three categories.[22] The first category (A) consists of all those italicized words that should be supplied without reservation based on the Greek syntax and grammar. The second category (B) contains all those places where the KJV translators included a word or phrase based on a variant reading or a reading that differed from the Greek Textus Receptus that was used in the KJV translation.[23] The third category (C) includes those instances where the translators supplied words or phrases that were foreign to the Greek grammar and syntax and, in some cases, alter the meaning of the Greek text dramatically. Category A is by far the largest and includes 1,410 words. Category B is the smallest, with 35 words. Category C contains 183 words. These categories are derived from a careful comparison of the Greek and English KJV translation and are not based on previous scholarship.

The Prophet Joseph Smith treated the italicized words in three different ways: he either (1) altered them, including the alteration of the italicized words into a new context; (2) removed them entirely—in some instances altering other words and context within the verse and at other times not altering the verse in which they appear, or (3) simply retained them as they were recorded in the KJV text.[24] The JST manu­scripts do not employ any means of identifying the italicized words that were retained. An italicized font is a feature of the printed word and not the handwritten; therefore, the italicized words, when retained, do not appear in the JST manuscripts differently than any other words. The Prophet did not indicate whether his retention of an italicized word meant that the word should be considered accurate. He also did not clarify whether the New Translation would continue to italicize words when it was printed, but the earliest publications of JST materi­als did not use italics.[25]

We wanted to determine whether the New Translation dealt par­ticularly with the italicized words and therefore with the issue of the English translation. If a significant number of JST changes revolved around the italicized words, then the conclusion could be drawn that the italicized words created a starting point for changes. If an insig­nificant number of italicized words were altered or removed, then the Prophet’s work in the New Translation at times coincided with the italicized words but did not necessarily focus on them. Our hypothesis was that Joseph Smith was drawn to the italicized words and that he viewed their accuracy with suspicion.

We also noted one other significant point in our test case. Up to John 5:47, the Prophet Joseph Smith had his scribes write out the entire text of the New Testament with Joseph Smith reading the text to them out loud. He then made changes to the text as he read it, but he also made subsequent changes after the original dictation—a fact signaled by the many cross outs and erasures beyond corrections of spelling and grammar. At John 6:1, however, the Prophet’s scribes ceased to write out the entire text with changes. Joseph Smith began marking insertion points for corrections in his Bible and dictated the altered text to his scribes, who wrote the new words in a separate manuscript. The number of minor JST changes decreases dramatically at John 6, and therefore our data reflect this change in procedure.

If we include all four Gospel accounts, the JST alters 29 percent of all italicized words, removes an additional 21 percent, and retains just under 50 percent. By combining the first two percentages, we see that the JST changes slightly more than 50 percent of all italicized words in the four Gospels. This figure, how­ever, does not include differentiation between the three categories of itali­cized words. When the three types of italicized words are factored in, we find that category A words—that is, words that were supplied based on the Greek syntax or grammar—were altered 29 percent of the time, removed 20 percent of the time, and retained 51 percent of the time. For category A italicized words, there is no significant differentiation from the overall percentages.

Pie Chart

Bar Graph

For category B italicized words—words that were supplied on the basis of textual variants—34 percent were altered, 17 percent were removed, and 49 percent were retained. Thus, 52 percent of all category B italicized words were either altered or removed, a percentage that is not significantly different than the overall percentage for the four Gos­pels. However, for category C italicized words—those words that were supplied that distinctively alter the meaning of the Greek text—nearly 35 percent were altered, 28 percent were removed, and 37 percent were retained. Altogether, nearly 63 percent of all category C italicized words were changed or altered, indicating that they received significantly greater attention by the Prophet during the compilation of the JST.[26]

Comparison of Two Sections (Matthew 1:1–John 5:47 and John 6:1–21:25)

We subjected the data to further testing by dividing the test group into two sections based on the natural division created when the scribes ceased writing out the entire manuscript and began including only those verses that contained changes.[27] The only significant change in the data was the increase in the percentage of changes to category C italicized words, indicating that for Matthew 1:1–John 5:47, the Prophet changed the italicized words more often. That procedure may reflect a trend in the JST toward a more textual-oriented approach rather than an English-language-only approach. The suggestion made by the data is that category C italicized words were of greater concern by the Prophet in the process of creating the JST.

In the material for John 6:1–21:25, only 4 percent of category A words were altered, 2 percent were removed, and 94 percent were retained. No category B words exist for this subset, but category C italicized words were altered 3 percent of the time, removed 10 percent of the time, and retained over 87 percent of the time, a stark change from the Matthew 1:1–John 5:47 section. Obviously, the JST initiated a new approach to the text beginning with John 6, changing only 17 italicized words out of a total 238.

We then subjected the above data to further testing to determine whether the dramatic shift in percentage was significant for our study. Because we had determined the categories before collecting the data, we ran the risk of predetermining the outcome of our test. We sub­jected the data to a probability test using a generalized linear model test to determine whether there was a significant change over time—determined by the natural progression from subset one (Matthew 1:1–John 5:47) to subset two (John 6:1–21:25)—in comparison to the differences in types of italicized words. What we wanted to determine was whether there was a significant difference in the way the Prophet treated the first subset versus the second subset, which we called the progression of time. Joseph Smith worked sequentially through the New Testament, and therefore time is an important consideration. We also knew that the percentages of changed italicized words were different for the two subsets, but we needed to know whether the Prophet treated the types of italics differently than he had previously, even though he changed them less often.

Again, we determined that a p-value less than or equal to a (a = 0.05) would indicate that there was not a significant difference in the way the JST treated categories A, B, and C over time. Surprisingly, we determined that there was not a significant difference in how the sources (p-value .0478) were treated over time (p-value < .0001) and that the comparison of source versus time was an insignificant comparison, meaning that the JST treats both sections similarly but with varying frequency. In simple terminology, Joseph Smith did not treat the italicized words in a significantly different manner over time, even though the percentages decrease dramatically for the subsets of Matthew 1:1–John 5:47 and John 6:1–21:25.


The overall effect of our study was to determine statistically, if possible, what percentage of the JST dealt with the KJV text on the issue of translation and what percentage may feasibly be considered to do other things such as restore lost text, restore meaning, or teach more complete doctrine. The tests that we conducted determined conclusively that the JST does focus on the issue of the English translation roughly 50 percent of the time when italics are present, indicating that half of all JST changes can be considered issues associated with correcting the English translation.[28] However, these data also indicate that 50 percent of all JST changes do not fall into the category of English translation—at least at the level of the italicized words.

We also sought to determine whether there was any differentiation in how the Prophet treated the different types of italicized words. Our results indicate that Joseph Smith was significantly more likely to alter a category C italicized word—a word supplied in error—than he was to alter a category A italicized word—a word that was supplied from syntax or grammar. The importance of this information for our study is twofold. First, it helps substantiate the claim that Joseph Smith was concerned about the accuracy of the KJV English, and second, it reveals that the JST offers more than a new English translation. Our further testing may be able to reveal how the JST relates to ancient manuscripts of the New Testament.

Joseph Smith did indeed have concerns about the accuracy and validity of the KJV translation. He did not approach the text as inerrant; and, in fact, his work on the Bible reveals a profound concern that it needed correction. There can be no doubt that the KJV formed part of God’s preparatory work in bringing about the restoration of the Gos­pel, but the Prophet approached the issue with caution and concern. He sought to correct it, and he altered it freely according to the inspira­tion given him. He gave us no indication that it was an infallible text.

A similar sentiment can be found throughout the early years of the Church in Salt Lake City. In 1852, after returning from a mission in Europe, Elder John Taylor gave a public report of his success and efforts there. He also took the occasion to comment on the accuracy of the Bible, a result of being exposed to various translations, saying, “I believe the English Bible is translated as well as any book could be by uninspired men.”[29] Elder Orson Pratt taught shortly after the pub­lication of the Inspired Version by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ), “One thing is certain, King James’s translators, being among the wisest men and greatest scholars of their day, did justice to the subject as far as it was possible by uninspired men.”[30] Elder George A. Smith was perhaps the most decisive on the issue of the KJV translation being uninspired. He taught, “You will remember that not one among this body of learned divines even professed to have the inspiration of God upon him.”[31] President Brigham Young also dealt with the issue, offering a ray of hope for the KJV, stating, “If it [the Bible] be translated incorrectly, and there is a scholar on the earth who professes to be a Christian, and he can translate it any better than King James’s translators did it, he is under obligation to do so, or the curse is upon him. . . . But I think it is translated just as correctly as the scholars could get it, although it is not correct in a great many instances.”[32]

A more favorable view can be traced to President J. Reuben Clark Jr.’s Why the King James Version:

It is the author’s hope that his Notes (contained herein) will help our people who may read them to a renewed confidence in the King James Version, and so to a firmer testimony of the Messiahship of Jesus, by indicating to them that we may rely, as substantially declaring the Word of God, upon the great text of the King James Version, corrupted though it is from the original texts of the Sacred Autographs, . . . especially where that Version is supported by the uncompleted Inspired Version of the Prophet Joseph Smith.[33]

President Clark was responding to the increasingly hostile claims being made by Protestant scholars on the issue of the validity of the Bible. The twentieth century also witnessed a proliferation of Bible translations where many secular Bible study programs were beginning to move away from using the KJV and instead were using new trans­lations thought to be more correct. President Clark argued that the KJV was part of the language of the Restoration and that it is literarily superior to other translations.[34] The context of his statements suggests that he was arguing for the retention of the KJV among Latter-day Saints and against the trend of secular scholars who were arguing against its accuracy.

Many important reasons exist for continuing to use the KJV, including its beautifully crafted prose, its similarity to the language of the Restoration, its part as a building block of the Restoration, and the use of KJV language in the Book of Mormon Isaiah passages and elsewhere. These important reasons do not force the conclusion that the KJV text is infallible or better than the original texts of the Bible. The JST bears solemn witness to the simple fact that the English of the KJV needed improvement so that the translation of the scriptures would reflect them “even as they are in [God’s] own bosom” (D&C 35:20).


[1] These categories are proposed by Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manu­scripts (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 2004), 8–10; Robert J. Matthews, “The Role of the JST in the Restoration,” in Plain and Precious Truths Restored: The Doctrinal and Historical Significance of the Joseph Smith Translation, ed. Robert L. Millet and Robert J. Matthews (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995), 45–46; and Robert J. Matthews, A Plainer Translation: Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible, A History and Commentary (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), 253.

[2] The origin of the italicized words in English translations of the Bible can be traced to Sebastian Münster (AD 1489–1552), who introduced them into his Latin translation to indicate differences between his text and Pagnini’s previous Latin translation. Coverdale used the Münster text, which in turn influenced the English translation known as the Great Bible. Coverdale, however, introduced a second type of italics into the text, those that represented changes made in the Latin text but not found in the Greek. This dual usage of the italics, to indicate words that are not in the original and to identify alternate readings, is found in the King James Version (see Walter F. Specht, “Italics in the English Bible,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 6 [1968]: 88–93).

[3] The tradition of including italicized words in English translations of the Bible is nearly obsolete today, except to show chapter headings and to indicate emphasis. Today almost all modern translations have done away with the practice of including italicized words because they are almost entirely unnecessary and often confuse the modern reader of the Bible. The New Revised Standard Version, the Revised Standard Version, and the New International Version are a few of the most important modern translations to cease using italics. The only Bibles to continue the practice are the New American Standard Bible and the New King James Ver­sion (see Walter F. Specht, “Italics in the English Bible,” 93).

[4] Joseph Smith’s later study of biblical languages cannot be considered part of his efforts to translate the Bible. He did not begin any serious study of ancient languages prior to the Kirtland period and therefore almost certainly relied on pure inspiration rather than on his abilities with the ancient texts in their original languages.

[5] For example, see Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999), 22), who states that “the italics enable the reader to distinguish between words found in the manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament that actually translate into English, and words that were necessarily added to make sense in English. This is a sign of the honesty of the translators, who wished to point out such places in their work.”

[6] The use of italicized words varies greatly among the different editions of the KJV. The modern italicized words are based primarily on a nineteenth-century edition of the KJV.

[7] Six separate committees worked individually on different portions of the Bible to complete the KJV translation. The committees incorporated italics dif­ferently into their translations, with some relying more on previous traditions and others relying more heavily on grammatical considerations (see Bruce Metzger, The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001], 70–80).

[8] Specht, “Italics in the English Bible,” 97.

[9] Specht, “Italics in the English Bible,” 97.

[10] This statement was made six months before the completion of the JST (see History of the Church, 1:245). Other important statements follow: “After tell­ing me these things, he [Moroni] commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. . . . Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus” (Joseph Smith—History 1:36). “Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understanding, and the true meaning and intention of the more mysterious passages revealed unto us” (Joseph Smith—History 1:49). “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (Articles of Faith 1:8). “I am now going to take exceptions to the present translation of the Bible in relation to these matters. . . . There is a grand distinction between the actual meaning of the prophets and the present translation” (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Words of Joseph Smith [Orem, Utah: Grandin Book, 1994], 185). “I will now turn linguist. There are many things in the Bible which do not, as they now stand, accord with the revelations of the Holy Ghost to me” (Ehat and Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, 211).

[11] Ehat and Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, 256.

[12] Joseph Smith almost certainly used the KJV at home as a youth growing up. Prior to beginning the JST, Oliver Cowdery was sent to the E. B. Grandin print shop to purchase a Bible. He purchased an 1828 KJV Bible printed by H. & E. Phinney (see Kent P. Jackson, “Joseph Smith’s Cooperstown Bible: The Histori­cal Context of the Bible Used in the Joseph Smith Translation,” BYU Studies 40 [2001]: 41–70). This Bible also included the Apocrypha, which Joseph left intact while completing the JST. See Doctrine and Covenants 91:1–6 regarding the Lord’s statement on the Apocrypha included in Joseph’s Bible.

[13] Joseph Smith referred to the JST as the New Translation. The term “Joseph Smith Translation” is a modern designation and was not used at any time by the early Saints (see Faulring, Jackson, and Matthews, Joseph Smith’s New Trans­lation, 3; see also Robert J. Matthews, “The Eternal Worth of the JST,” in Plain and Precious Truths Restored, 106).

[14] William W. Phelps, ed., The Evening and Morning Star, January 1833, 58. The Evening and Morning Star was published in Independence, Missouri, under the direction of William W. Phelps. Joseph Smith was in Kirtland. Phelps’s statement may reflect something communicated directly to Phelps in his visit to Missouri in the fall of 1832 or may have also been communicated by letter. The subject was weighing on Phelps’s mind in the first six months of 1833 because he published two very strong statements on the nature of the italicized words during that period but then remained silent on the issue thereafter.

[15] The Evening and Morning Star, July 1833, 106.

[16] John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, eds., Times and Seasons, September 1, 1843, 318; emphasis in original.

[17] All calculations are based on the new transcription and facsimile reproduc­tion of Joseph Smith’s marked Bible (see Faulring, Jackson, and Matthews, Joseph Smith’s New Translation).

[18] See Jackson, “Joseph Smith’s Cooperstown Bible,” 41–70.

[19] This dramatic shift occurred because several different committees of trans­lators worked on the 1611 Authorized Version (KJV). The New Testament was divided into two parts: the Gospels were given to one committee, and Acts–Revela­tion were given to a second committee. Each of the committees, both for the Old and New Testaments, sent their work to be proofed by another committee. The original committee of translators, however, was responsible for the introduction and inclusion of italicized words. The Acts–Revelation committee was less careful in their usage of italics.

[20] Matthew contains 460 italicized words, Mark 294, Luke 590, and John 284.

[21] Specht, “Italics in the English Bible,” 106, citing Dewey M. Beegle, God’s Words Into English (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1960), 115.

[22] We categorized the italicized words based on the Nestle-Aland 27th edition of the Greek New Testament (Novum Testamentum Graece [Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993]). The Nestle-Aland Greek text contains the most extensive list of New Testament textual variants in a single volume and was therefore useful in distinguishing which italicized words were supplied from vari­ants and which were supplied from conjecture or syntax.

[23] The Textus Receptus was the Greek text created by Erasmus of Rotter­dam in the early sixteenth century. It became the basis of comparison for the KJV translators when they needed access to a Greek text. The Textus Receptus is not an ancient manuscript but is a modern collation or compilation of several medieval manuscripts.

[24] A difficulty in categorizing the italicized words is that there are several subcategories to each category. For example, a verse may be drastically rearranged in the JST text, including the transposition of the italicized words and their place­ment into a new context, even though italicized word remains in the text. In some of these instances, the JST alters the original context of the italicized words and is therefore considered in our study to be an altered word, even though the actual italicized word remains in the text.

[25] Excerpts from the JST were printed in The Evening and Morning Star, 1832–33; Times and Seasons, 1843; and the Millennial Star, 1851 (see Robert J. Matthews, “The Role of the JST in the Restoration,” in Plain and Precious Truths Restored, 51). The Prophet Joseph Smith asked William W. Phelps not to publish the new translation in a serial format in The Evening and Morning Star, but portions of it were printed in the Lectures on Faith, the Times and Seasons, and The Evening and Morning Star (see Robert L. Millet, “Hard Questions about the JST,” in Plain and Precious Truths Restored, 150; Robert J. Matthews, A Plainer Translation, 52).

[26] The figures were subjected to a chi-square statistical comparison to deter mine the probability of whether the relationship between change and source was a likely outcome from our data or whether it was statistically significant. If the p value is less than or equal to a (a = 0.05), then the outcome is determined to be statistically significant, meaning that there is a distinct difference in the way Joseph Smith treated the three different categories of italicized words.

[27] The percentages for the section of Matthew 1:1–John 5:47 are not significantly different from those achieved when we looked at all four Gospels. Category A italicized words were altered 33 percent, removed 23 percent, and retained 44 percent. The slightly higher percentage of verses that received some change in the JST for Matthew 1:1–John 5:47 (56 percent) is a reflection of the fact that the percentage of changes to John 6:1–21:25 is significantly lower. Category B and C italicized words are treated similarly for the Matthew 1:1–John 5:47 material, with 51 percent of category B words being changed and 77 percent of category C being changed.

[28] A similar conclusion was reached independently by Kent P. Jackson and Peter M. Jasinski, “The Process of Inspired Translation: Two Passages Translated Twice in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible,” BYU Studies 42 (2003): 60–62.

[29] John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–86), 1:25.

[30] Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 17:269.

[31] George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses, 12:264.

[32] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 14:226–27.

[33] J. Reuben Clark Jr., Why the King James Version: A Series of Study Notes, Neither Treatises nor Essays, Dealing with Certain Elementary Problems and Specific Scriptural Passages, Involved in Considering the Preferential English Translations of the Greek New Testament Text (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1956), 42–43, emphasis added.

[34] Clark, Why the King James Version, 6–34.