A few weeks ago, I read this humorous article in the Deseret News which basically said the men don’t attend book clubs. I loved this quote:
“Men realize that they are only allocated a certain number of spoken words in their lifetime, so being of a cautious nature, they choose not to waste words on book discussions â€¦”
So, a few days after reading this article, imagine my surprise when I got invited to a book club. My wife is in 2 book clubs, so I figured this might be interesting. My friend wanted to have the book club focus on Mormon History, which sounded intriguinging to me. Our first meeting was about 2 weeks ago, and was attended ONLY by men. It was a fun meeting. Our first book to read is Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess, by Richard Van Wagoner.
So, I thought I’d give you some updates on the book so far. It starts out a little slow, and talks about Sidney’s early ministry as a Reformed Baptist preacher. He meets Alexander Campbell, and his congregation becomes affiliated with the Campbellites, which later became known as the Disciples of Christ. Parley Pratt, also a Reformed Baptist and acquaintance of Rigdon, along with Oliver Cowdery first introduced Rigdon to the Book of Mormon in late 1830. Sidney was aware of the “Golden Bible”, and was skeptical of initial reports that he had heard about in the newspaper. After reading it, he found many similarities in the BoM as he held in his own religious beliefs, and urged his entire congregation to convert. Of course this upset Campbell, and there was much acrimony between them after this time.
Rigdon finally met the prophet Joseph Smith in Dec 1830, and helped work on the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. I found the following passage from the book quite interesting on page 72.
…Although Mormon usage designates this Bible revision as the Joseph Smith Translation (JST), ancient manuscripts were not used, nor were Smith and Rigdon familiar with foreign languages. From Smith’s description of the process the procedure was an “inspired version”, not a translation.
Between 1777 and 1833 more than 500 separate editions of the Bible or New Testament were published in the United States. Many of these were revisions of the King James Version (1611), containing modernizations of language, paraphrases, and alternate readings based on comparisons of Greek and Hebrew. Even Rigdon’s classically trained mentor, Alexander Campbell, had issued his own translation in 1826. Although Rigdon was not involved with the project, he was familiar with it.
Alexander Campbell had heartfelt reverence for the Bible but no special respect for the King James Version, being too well-grounded in first-century Greek to accept 1611 English as inviolable. As a basis for his personal interpretation of sacred writings, Campbell used renderings of the first four gospels published by George Campbell in Edinburgh in 1778, James MacKnight’s translation of the Epistles, published first in London in 1795, and the translation of Acts and Revelations by Phillip Doddridge, first published in London in 1776. Campbell made various emendations, added a preface, and included 100 pages of critical notes and appendices. As a wealthy farmer, he was able to publish his new edition from his own printing office in Buffaloe, Virginia.
I found it interesting that so many of Joseph’s contemporaries were engaged in translating the Bible, though Joseph’s Inspired Version is definitely quite different from these other translations.