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Gramps,

Here’s my question. I was reading a report by Hugh Nibley on the atonement in which he talks about how in the New Testament, the translators of it used the word “reconcile” instead of “atonement.” (He said this is found in the translation from a Latin or a Greek source I forget which) This makes sense if you read some of the passages in which reconcile was used. I can be reconciled with a friend but to be At-One-Ment is much more personal.

If the translators of the New Testament replaced Reconcile for Atonement (presumably because they did not believe in the pre-existence, and to be At-One-Ment means a return to Christ) then why in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible did he not change any of the scriptures with Reconcile? Now I know that we (the Church) don’t use the complete JST but excerpts. This is not testimony shattering just a curiosity.

Zach

 

Answer

 

Dear Zach,

You seem to be building innuendo upon supposition. In the first place, what translation of the New Testament was Dr. Nibley using? In the second place, the words “reconcile” and “atonement” are English words that some translator used to express his impression of the Greek terms that were used in the earliest copies of the New Testament of which we have record. In the third place, why would the translators of the New Testament not believe in the pre-existence when it is so obvious from the New Testament doctrine? I.e.,

And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? (John 9:2)

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9)

to name just two.

The word “reconcile” is used in the New Testament only twice–Ephesians 2:16 and Colossians 1:20, and the word “atonement” only once–Romans 5:11. The word “reconcile is taken from the Greek “apokatallasso” which is defined as “to reconcile completely, to reconcile back again, bring back a former state of harmony,” while the word “atonement” is translated from the related term “katallage,” which is defined in the New Testament context as “the restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the expiatory death of Christ.”

If you look at the references where these words are used, I think you will find that they are appropriate in the context where they appear. You might replace atonement for reconcile in the first two references and reconcile for atonement in the third, and I believe that you will find that they would be contextually somewhat inappropriate. Why don’t we accept the words and the works of our modern day prophets, and let well enough alone?

What do you mean that we use only excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible? Wherever the JST varies from the King James version by only words or short phrases, the JST is found in the footnotes. Where the differences are more extensive they are printed in full just following the the Dictionary in the back of the Bible. If Joseph Smith did not change the wording of the New Testament in the above locations, he must have felt that the translation was accurate. I would hesitate to second guess the Prophet.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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