In the History of the Church, Volume 5, pp 424-425, it is recorded that Joseph Smith said the word “paradise” in Luke 23:43 is a mistranslation. He, however, did not change/correct this in the Inspired Version. He also says, “Hades, shaole, paradise, spirits in prison are all one: it is a world of spirits. The righteous and the wicked all go to the same world of spirits until the resurrection.”
My question is two-fold: (1) Am I understanding this correctly – there is only a spirit-world and not a paradise and a spirit prison as we are taught? (2) If the word “paradise” is a mistranslation, why did the Prophet not correct it in the Inspired Version?
Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the redemption of the dead answers your first question. President Smith sees the dead gathered for the arrival of the newly dead Savior. There is a clear division here, with the righteous dead gathered as a sort of spirit world Zion. They are then further organized to carry the gospel to those in the spirit world who are not yet gathered in. Although there is a clear division here (not unlike the division we experience in this life between believers and the world – which will increase until the resurrected Savior returns), there is much in common. All are dwelling in the same realm, otherwise proselyting would prove impossible. All are in some sort of prison, with the righteous anxiously awaiting the reunion with their bodies while the wicked wait in the anxiety of sin. So I’m not seeing any issue with the prophet’s statement and the way we understand the spirit world.
My understanding of the Inspired Version (Joseph Smith Translation) of the Bible is that it was much like the other revelations of the prophet. Just because it was ready to publish did not mean it was complete in a final and exhaustive sense. We have a number of sections in our Doctrine and Covenants where the prophet was inspired to add clarifying sections as more was revealed. I view the inspired translation the same. Joseph had made an initial pass over the scriptures and so it was ready for publishing, but as he received further light and knowledge he was prepared to ponder and inquire over different passages.