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Radio Free Mormon: 187: “Borrowed Robes”–The JST’s Reliance on the Adam Clarke Bible Commentary

In their long anticipated and recently released research paper, Haley Wilson-Lemmon and BYU Professor Thomas Wayment demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith used Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in his production of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.  RFM walks us through each and every one of the seventeen examples set forth in their groundbreaking article!  This one is a game changer!


4 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 187: “Borrowed Robes”–The JST’s Reliance on the Adam Clarke Bible Commentary”

  1. Joseph just received an “F” for his Bible translation project and is being sent to the principal’s office to discuss further penalties…………

  2. To supplement your conclusion that Joseph Smith’s claim of what he was doing– restoring by revelation– vs what he was really doing– following Adam Clark’s commentary– you might summarize what Joseph’s “revelations” in the D&C say about the JST. The Lord really heavily “prompted” him to get this done.

  3. The phrase “many are cold, but few are frozen.” alone made this podcast worthwhile. Although I find that the Adam Clarke JST plaigirism a bit like old news by now. At least for those of us in the know circles.

    At church, well, I almost feel like I don’t know what is going on at church anymore even though I’m still active in a COVIDLY type of way.

  4. Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon might have given more weight to the endowments that came with being the Prophet of the restoration. They might give Professor Bloom’s reverential awe consideration. Yale professor Harold Bloom who died last year famously called Joseph Smith “an authentic religious genius.” “Joseph Smith hovers in me,” Bloom once divulged. “There cannot be too many Mormons who are as imbued with him as I am in my own odd way.” Bloom was an American literary critic and the Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. Now comes a real satisfying answer from Kent P. Jackson who modestly of offers “Some Notes on Joseph Smith and Adam Clarke” Jackson said, “I had no reason not to welcome the discovery.” Jackson goes on to prove with detailed research and logic Haley Wilson-Lemmon’s work is wanting: “ “Since then I have studied closely the Wayment article and the Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon article and their proposed connections between Clarke’s commentary and Joseph Smith. I have examined in detail every one of the JST passages they set forth as having been influenced by Clarke, and I have examined what Clarke wrote about those passages. I now believe that the conclusions they reached regarding those connections cannot be sustained. I do not believe that there is an Adam Clarke-JST connection at all, and I have seen no evidence that Joseph Smith ever used Clarke’s commentary in his revision of the Bible. None of the passages that Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon have set forward as examples, in my opinion, can withstand careful scrutiny.” He precedes to dismantle Haley Wilson-Lemmon’s case, brick by brick.
    Wayment states that Adam Clarke “shaped Smith’s Bible revision in fundamental ways.”101 Even if all of the passages he attributes to Clarke were really influenced by Clarke, it seems difficult to justify such a sweeping statement, given the mostly minor rewordings that we have seen. If among the verses listed above are the best examples, as Wilson-Lemmon states,102 then the Adam Clarke-JST theory can be dismissed out of hand. I see no smoking guns here, no examples that show real evidence of being influenced by Clarke. Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon speak and write with complete certitude about their theory, but to their credit they sometimes include words like “may have,” “likely,” and “seems to” when referring to individual examples. Those modifiers only underscore the fact that their case has little to stand on. “Joseph Smith had supreme confidence in his prophetic calling and believed that his authority even exceeded that of the Bible. That is why he so freely revised it and reinterpreted it. Before Joseph Smith started revising the Bible, he had already produced a new volume of ancient scripture — the Book of Mormon — with thousands of words that correct, reinterpret, and redefine almost every aspect of how we view the teachings and text of the Old and New Testaments. As for his Bible revision specifically, prior to arriving at the point at which Wayment and Wilson-Lemmon believe he started using Adam Clarke, Joseph Smith had already reinvented the Bible itself. He had announced that Christianity was revealed from the beginning of the world, and he had identified Adam, Eve, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses as Christians. He had redefined the nature of God. He had announced the scope of God’s work to cover the universe, with myriad worlds throughout the cosmos inhabited by God’s children. He had explained God’s plan for human salvation in terms better than any found in the New Testament. It does not seem likely to me that someone as confident of his prophetic calling as Joseph Smith was, who had already revised the biblical text so dramatically, would be inclined to search for suggestions in someone else’s book.”

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