Dr. Einar C. Erickson
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But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. And those who have been united in the bridal chamber shall no longer be separated.


About 400 years ago the King James Version of the Bible was completed. Some sources say it was published on May 2, 1611. Since 1557, all books published in England had to be registered with the Stationer's Company of London and the date of their registration became their date of publication. However, the first edition of the King James Bible was not registered because it was probably considered a revision of the Bishop's Bible that had been approved and published nearly 50 years earlier in 1557 by Queen Elizabeth. Initially the KJV was called the Authorized Version. Some printers of bibles chose to mention the exact date when their Bibles had been officially authorized. The fourth edition of the so-called GREAT BIBLE, was authorized on May 6, 1554. It seems to be the only early English Bible published in May. (Lupas p. 17) Still the KJV was destined to become the most powerful influence for good of any book every published. It is evident that God had his hand in it through all time. from the beginning, in its preparation, finalization and finally use. The Reformation had started in 1517 with Luther who also provided a unique German translation of the Bible.  Once things got started it took a century to get things really rolling, and then another two hundred years before things were ready for another book, the Book of Mormon. Now, 400 years later an assessment can be really made. The first book was the New Testament and the second was Another Testament, the Book of Mormon, both about Jesus Christ, who he was, what he was, what he did, where he did it, when and where it all began, what is now going on, what is to come and where it will all end and why. 

Many things and events are known about the reformation preparing for the restoration of the gospel. All because God and heaven had willed it. But what else had been done to prepare for the restoration and what had been willed for all the nations of the earth? On that spring day in 1823 Joseph had been permitted to come into the presence of God the Father  and his son Jesus Christ. "And why? Because heaven willed it, designed it, and desired it to be." (Hinckley. 227) But what else besides what is customarily discussed about the Reformation had God and heaven willed, designed and desired to prepare for that great event, the fullness of the restoration? For more than 1800 years a lot had been going on and then things really changed. In this series of studies we will examine other approaches to the singular events of the restoration, the publication of bibles especially the King James Version, and the emergence and rise of Bible Societies.


How could a country as big as China with a billion and a half people be prepared for the introduction of the gospel?  Before advancing into the mainland from its Temple center in Hong Kong, might the Church need greater financial resources to build and sustain the infrastructure, chapels, stake houses, eventually temples and other facilities needed for the large number of expected converts?  Before peoples of a nation can be introduced to a "Second Witness" to Christ, do they need to know about a ''first witness'?  Does it not seem mandatory to have a country familiar with the first witness, the "New Testament" before it can be approached about a second witness, the "Book of Mormon"?  Some nations have been successfully proselytized without having been conditioned by the presence of the Bible.  Consider Japan following WW 11, how many followers of Shintoism and Buddhism were familiar with the Bible?  The Church established a mission home in Tokyo in 1948, I was there at its dedication, at the same time, the same spot was dedicated for the Temple which now stands there to help in this great work. The last person I baptized was a faithful Buddhist believer and interpreter, who risked all to join the Church, he had not been familiar with the Bible. Will the seven Arab nations mentioned in Isaiah, Chapter 11:11. (Skousen p. 249) need to be preceded by the presence of the Bible and people who revere it? The scripture states that a remnant of the Lord's people are there and he is going to set his hand to recover them.  With a few exceptions, it is evident from history that much of the world could not receive the restored doctrines and the true knowledge of Christ before it had been introduced to the Bible in whatever form because it is effective as a forerunner. Billy Graham, the great evangelist, spoke of the realities of the power of faith [and knowledge] in the Lord Jesus Christ, that 'impossible faith'--with a God who is, with an Incarnation that is earthly and historical, with a salvation that is at cross purposes with human nature, with a Resurrection that blasts apart the finality of death--able to provide an alternative to the sifting, settling dust of death and through a new birth open the way to new life." (Bennett p.11)   C.S. Lewis said "one must train the habit of faith...Faith in Christ in the only thing to save you from despair...and out of that Faith in Him good actions must inevitably come." (Bennett p. 11) Are these just interesting quotations?  What is the real substance there? What is hinted at?


"In his formative years Joseph probably listened to some of the most passionate Bible-based lessons and sermons one could ever hope to hear, and partly because of them he yearned for the salvation of his soul." (Bennett p. 14) Those were bible thumping times. Most Latter Day Saints know how driven Joseph was by the scriptures especially the call that resonated through his entire being that he found in James. Few have tried to assess the depth of preparations that came to Joseph through his contact with the Bible.  Do we even know what bible he used?  Would it have made a difference? "In various lands where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints has been established, it uses a translation of the Bible in the local language, but generally based on the KJV.  In English-speaking areas, the Church uses the King James Version, mainly because it was the basic English text used by the Prophet Joseph Smith and because subsequent Church Leaders have approved its use." (Ogden p. 1100) We need only to note that Moroni's quotes of scripture were from the KJV, though where they differed hinted at a more accurate text somewhere. Most often the quotes of scripture in the Book of Mormon are from the KJV, however, there are many passages added here and there that are not from the KJV, and in fact, there are 35 or so places where the Book of Mormon agrees with the Septuagint Version, as noted from the Dead Sea Scroll documents, and  lastly, the Inspired Version prepared by Joseph was a correction of the KJV. "Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light," wrote Miles Smith, the author of the Preface to the Bible [KJV]. It is in that sense that Joseph's Inspired Version is a translation. The LDS believe the Bible to be the word God, as far as it is translated correctly.


In the opening chapters of the Book of Mormon there is reference to the "Book of the Lamb of God" which was promised to come forth unto the remnant of the seed of Israel (1 Nephi 13:38) And didn't the Christ say through his prophets of old that "I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon ALL the nations of the earth." (3 Nephi 29:7) Can this be interpreted as saying that all the nations for the most part will be conditioned for the restored gospel by the 'Book of the Lamb of God'?  And what would be required for the "stick of Judah" (the Bible) to be united with the "stick of Joseph" and "become one in thine hand?" (Ezekiel 37:19) As Bennett points out, this could not happen until the Bible and the Book of Mormon both came forth, and were present to be compared and studied: each bearing witness of the other. But would one particular version of the bible be the most useful to fulfill this assertion?                                                                                                                                     

'The rise of the Holy Bible is a miracle in its own right. A modern readership may take for granted this availability of holy writ, but in the early 1800's Bibles were not at all plentiful on the American frontier." (Bennett p. 18)  And especially is this true for China where until recent times Bibles and religious literature was prohibited from being brought into China. In 1981, a year or two after the end of the destructive Cultural Revolution in China, when we visited that country, we were checked carefully for any such books. They were not allowed then and it would be years before changes began to occur which permitted such books to enter the mainland. But one way or the other bibles were being smuggled into China. Some years ago one of my grandsons was on a mission in Korea. One Sunday they were alerted that some visiting Chinese tourist might stop at their chapel, could they provide a presentation for them? Of course! Wow! It was not a few! Large bus loads of Chinese tourists arrived, nearly 300 in all.  They assembled attentively to hear the missionaries, who did very well, providing a spiritual feast for the visitors. To their surprise afterwards, the tourists lingered, sought more information and copies of the Book of Mormon, and soon it was evident many were seeking baptism; it turned into a spiritual experience never to be forgotten, 120 of the visitors were baptized, others were no doubt impressed, and bus loads of Chinese returned to China carrying with them a 'Second Witness' to the savior, but they had been prepared by the 'First Witness,' the Bible.  Where are they now?  What previous contact had they with the church or church members that they would be so motivated to seek out missionaries in Korea; a pre-planned carefully crafted trip out of China?  Who did they report back to in China that they  had been baptized and what are they now contributing to building up the Kingdom in China?              


First it had been in Xiwanzi, China that the Laszarists found retreats in 1830, the very year the LDS Church was organized. Here also, the Scheutvied Fathers of Belgium established their Headquarters in 1866. The Baptist missionaries arrived in Macao in 1835.  Did this lay the foundation for the growth of the Church there and in Hong Kong leading eventually to the Temple there?  Hudson Taylor found the China Inland Mission in Shanghi in 1854.Two years later the London Missionary Society was established in Canton, Hong Kong, Xiamen and Shanghai. And in 1857 The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions had stations in Canton, Fuzhou, Shanghai, and Xiamen. The Roman Catholics became involved in 1844 and by 1850's the Jesuits had developed missions in the lower reaches of Chang Jiang and by 1854 Hsien Hsein in Hebei became their northern center. By 1865 Ningbo was the base of the China Inland Mission. Two years later the Presbyterian Church (US) was established in Hangzhou. By the turn of the century, the Methodists, Scottish, Canadian, English, Ohio, Swedish, Norwegian, American, and Baptists were spread out in many places in China. (Dowley p. 129) The Dominicans and Franciscan orders were dominant in many areas as well, and there was a widespread women's mission of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221) a priest from Castile, recognized that clergymen needed better teaching in order to pass on the faith to the people. "To fulfill this need he founded the Dominican order and another order of friars known as the Order of Preachers." (Dowley p. 107) About the same time, Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) who had renounced his inheritance to live a life of prayer and poverty, but with an emphasis on living and teaching a spiritual rule, established preaching monks known as friars and one group known as the Franciscans, that eventually exerted a world-wide influence. (Dowley p. 106) By 1912 there were more than l.5 million Christians in China. The  motivation was strong, all of it preparing for the coming restoration and the great thrust of the Church yet to come. Everyone was getting in on the work of preparation for missionaries who would eventually be coming with another witness, the Book of Mormon;  especially  acquainting the Chinese with the Bible.


"In the years immediately leading up to the First Vision, something quite remarkable occurred that went far to create a Bible culture in the West- an awareness and widespread popular ownership of the bible that had not existed before." (Bennett p 18) Regardless of what preparations were made under what we now call the Reformation, in Europe and the American colonies, until the Bible was readily available the restoration was on hold. Part of Reformation and preparation of the world for the restoration was the arrival of the printing press, without it there could not have been a world-wide preparation for the restoration and there would not have been a restoration. One needs to recall that 1408 the Archbishop of Oxford, Arundel, "expressly forbade the translation of the scriptures into English," (Goodspeed p. 89) But the reformation could not be stopped. Johannes Gutenberg (1395-1468), was born in Mainz, Germany, to an aristocratic family. He seemed to have learned his skills from his uncle who was master of the mint. Mainz was a center of goldsmiths and jewelers, but because of political and financial squabbles, he was  exiled to Strasbourg where he experimented and developed the idea of the type mold. Types could be arranged in even lines of composition, then locked in place with a wedge to make up a unit. A number of pages containing thousands of types could easily be put on and taken off the press after printing, the types could be separated and used again. Gutenberg developed and adapted his ink from the materials utilized by the great Flemish painters. Gutenberg and his associates, Johannes Fust and Peter Schoffer, perfected the method, and as their ability grew and was refined, they produced the magnificent 42-line Bible, known as the Mazarin Bible, also best known as the Gutenberg Bible, in 1456. By then they has mastered every technical detail. Was it by coincidence that one of the first large tomes they elected to print was the Bible? A replica of their original printing press is displayed in their original workshop in Mainz Germany. They had changed the world, they had provided the basis for acquainting men of all nations with the 'First Witness'. But it would be a little less than two hundred years before the restored church would start calling on such skills to send out to the world the 'Second Witness.' On a trip to western China, we had the great experience of seeing examples of printed texts by Chinese printers three thousand years before Gutenberg set his type. They and the Koreans had invented moveable types of metal and porcelain. But both their languages were so complicated and required so many different types they could not make practical use of the art. Gutenberg applied the method to the alphabet and was immensely successful. The Chinese curator got bent a little out of shape when I made some tracings of these ancient examples of the printing art.  


It was Easter in Egypt in A.D 367, the Egyptian pope, Athanasius, who became pope immediately after the Council of Niceaea, and held that office for 50 years, issued an edict in the form of an Easter Letter, he "took  as its subject the books to be read in church, and the list he provided is exactly those we have in the New Testament today." (Goodspeed 82)  He ordered all other books to be burned, and as attested by the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi documents, he left out more than 67 important books, and many others that could have been added. In 382 the great scholar of the Western Church, Jerome, translated the New Testament into Latin, later adding the Old Testament in what is known as the Latin Vulgate, the standard Bible of Western Europe, and is still that of the Catholic Church." (Goodpeed pp. 84-85)

The oldest surviving Bible versions in English, tediously hand copied or otherwise, are only highly fragmental portions of the bible most often times paraphrases of the history of salvation. Some such are attributed to Caedmon, the seventh-century poet of Whitby.  In the ninth century, another poet, Cynewulf, prepared a lengthy poem on the gospel story, the Crist. Then Aldhelm, first bishop of Sherborne in the next century did partial translation of portions of the bible. Bede of Jarrow was working on an English version of the gospels when he died in 735. Alfred the Great in 901 included some of the bible in his national law-code. In the tenth century we get the Lindisfarne and Rushworth Gospels, about the time independent versions began to appear.  Aelfric's partial translation appears about the same time. Up to the fourteenth century there were some versions and paraphrases of parts of the Old Testament, and most of the New Testament. But the first complete versions of the English Bible are the two associated with John Wycliffe and his school. The earlier version, mainly prepared by Nicholas of Hereford, with others including Wycliffe, appeared about 1384. It was a literal rendering of the Latin Bible prepared by Jerome (the Vulgate) in the 4th Century. The later version was a thorough revision of the earlier one, couched in idiomatic English, produced several years after Wycliffe's death by his secretary, John Purvey, with some of his own personal principles in about 1395.  They defended the right of the common people to have access to God's law in a form they could understand. But, because of Purvey's alliance with the proscribed Lollard movement, it incurred official disapproval. However, the Lollard movement laid the foundation for the Reformation in England. As noted, in 1408 the Constitution of Oxford forbade the production or use of vernacular Scriptures without the permission of the diocesan bishop or a provincial council. "After Wycliffe died, his body was ordered to be exhumed, burned, and the ashes scattered in the river Swift, a small tributary of the Avon." (Tanner p. 13)  Purvey's (Wycliffe's) work retained its popularity until the sixteenth century, when a Scottish adaptation of it was produced by Murdoch Nisbet. Most of this early work was superceded by the work of William Tyndale (1494-1536) exceedingly influenced by the commencement of the Protestant Reformation in Europe 1517, printing and especially the spread of Greek learning. Now they could get a more accurate text.


Martin Luther (1483-1536) was extremely well educated, he was ordained a priest 1507, visited Rome in 1511 after he obtained his doctor of theology permitting him to be appointed to the chair of Leutra in Biblia at Wittenberg. He was constantly wrestling with the problem of his personal salvation, and a growing dissatisfaction with the Church, especially sale of indulgences finally compelled him to come out in open rebellion with the posting of his Ninety-Five Theses in 31 October 1517.  This led in 1521 to the formal bull of excommunication announced by the pope.  (Jensen p. 3) This was followed by many confrontations with the Papal and the state, but he continued to be prolific writer defining his doctrinal opposition and defiance until his death in 1546.  He married in 1525 and his family life was a happy one.  During the four hundred and fifty "years since his death, more books have been written about him than about any other figure in history, except Jesus of Nazareth."  (Douglas p. 611) He did not originally intend to found a church.

Luther's German New Testament appeared in 1522 and the Old Testament in 1534, again with emphasis on the vernacular. His New Testament translation had gone out in 85 editions by 1533. It was the beginning of German as a literary language and the beginning of German literature.  "It set so high a standard that for centuries no further efforts to translate the Bible into German were made." (Goodspeed p. 93) Efforts to do so in the vernacular have not been unsuccessful.  Joseph Smith thought Luther's work to be the most accurate of the early versions. Then came Tyndale who had studied Greek at Cambridge. Church authorities in England prohibited a new English translation, so Tyndale went to Germany. There he produced the first English translation directly from the Greek, using Erasmus's third edition of 1522.  He also produced translations of portions of the Old Testament from Hebrew in 1534 and 1535. The authorities could not tolerate his work so he spent the last seventeen months of his life in captivity and never knew that in the year he died there appeared in England, dedicated to Henry VIII, the work of Miles Coverdale. Like Tyndale, a committed Lutheran, he based is work on the Tyndale's work and the available Latin and German versions. (Douglas p. 127) The Coverdale Bible was the first published English Bible. Two years later, John Rodgers made a revision of Tyndale's work containing additional sections of Tyndale's unpublished work and Portions translated by Coverdale. Initially it was called the Matthew's Bible but when revised two years later by Coverdale himself it became known as the Great Bible. In that same two years Richard Taverner had made a revision, but Coverdale had incorporated good contemporary scholarship and large format that facilitated church use, so it was  "published by royal authority to be made available in every parish church in England."  (Douglas p. 127)  Now the bible could be read by anyone who wished to do so.  "And so the Great Bible (because it was huge) became the famous Chained Bible of English church History." (Goodspeed p. 103) English Puritans in Geneva in 1560, made a revision of the Great Bible with decidedly Protestant commentary and called it the GENEVA BIBLE. King James did not like this version, another reason he was thinking of another revision.

The  prime question had become: What form should organized religion take? King Henry compromised, keeping the Catholic form, but substituted himself instead of the Pope, as head of the Church of England He was succeeded by a young sickly son, Edward VI, who died in 1553. Mary, also called Bloody Mary, Edward's half-sister, assumed the crown, restored Roman Catholicism, but died soon after in 1558. Her half-sister, Elizabeth, restored her father's compromise, and, as sovereign, she became head of the official Anglican Church. At her death 43 years later, the heir to the English Throne, and the King of Scotland, King James  assumed the throne in 1601, as King James l. England was divided between old-time Catholics, conforming Anglicans, a great variety of Protestants, and groups called Separatists, who were extremists and wanted to be completely separate from the official Church. They came under heavy persecution. Some groups of Separatists were in England's- northern counties, such as Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Nottinghamshire, where they "gathered" their own individual churches," (Stratton p. 17) holding meetings within their own homes.

Richard Clyfton was the pastor of a group at Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, John Robinson was assistant minister, William Brewster was master of the post station, later a ruling Elder, and from nearby Austerfield, Yorkshire, William Bradford, friend of Brewster joined them. Among them were Isaac Allerton, Edward Tilly, James Alden, Pricilla Mullines, her father William Mullines , Elizabeth Tilley, her father John Tilly, and John Howland, part of a company of 102. In 1620, most of these names would appear on the Mayflower Compact signed on board ship while it was anchored at Cape Cod.  Three years later, their names would be on the 1623 Division of Land  document. (Stratton pp. 411-417) "The Mayflower in 1620...deposited John Alden and his King James Bible upon the shores of New England." (Tanner p. 6)  Joseph Cotton also quotes from KJV, while William Bradford consistently cites scripture from the Geneva Bible." (Tanner p. 8). In a school play, when in the eighth grade, I played the part of John Alden who proposed to Pricilla Mullines on behalf of Captain Miles Standish. Eleven years later I proposed to my wife, Georgia, a descendant of Pricilla and John Alden. The first two marriages performed at Plymouth united James and Pricilla, and John Howland and Elizabeth. The nineth descendant from Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland was Joseph Smith, the seventh descendant was Emma Smith. That contingent of Separatists was to change the world forever. Joseph and Emma, and my wife, share a common heritage with no less than seven passengers on the Mayflower. (Jones pp. 5-6) Twelve of the first 26 church leaders, apostles and seventies were descendants from this same line. Many of the prophets of this dispensation have the same heritage.


Mathew Parker, the pen name for John Reynolds, and others made a revision of the GREAT BIBLE in 1568. Forty copies of this bible was circulated among 'God's Secretaries' as the 54 translators working on the King James version were called, and served as the basis for the revision ordered by King James. Thus, 83 percent of the King James New Testament comes from Tyndale. The 54 translators "borrowed from previous translations...their stated  mission was to make "out of many good ones one principall good one."" (Tanner p. 10)  However, the KJV was a huge improvement over the Tyndale and all other earlier versions. "Over 90 percent of the separate editions of the Bible published in the United States from the War of Independence through the Civil War were King James Bibles." (Tanner p. 9) 

"The English Catholics had  no English Bible as yet, but in their English College then at Rheims in France, one Gregory Martin. in 1578, set about to translate the Latin Bible into English...It came out in 1582...waiting until 1610 for its publication...the college had removed to Douai, so the whole translation came to be called the Douai Bible...revised for the last time by Doctor Chaloner, in 1749." (Goodspeed p. 106)  It has been newly revised recently.  The KJV was the third AUTHORIZED English Bible. Since 1948 many new bible versions have been prepared, some meeting with only limited success.


BENNETT, Richard E., School of the Prophet, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 2010

BERNSTENGEL, Barbara, The Elegant King James Bible, Celebrating 400 years of influence, Record, Spring 2011, American Bible Society, Washington, D.C., 2011

BRATCHER, Robert G., A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Mark, United Bible Society (in USA American Bible Society) E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1961

DOUGLAS, J.D., The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1974

DOWLEY, Tim, Ed., The Baker Atlas of Christian History, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1997

GOODSPEED, Edgar J., How Came the Bible? Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1940

HINCKLEY, Gordon B., Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book 1997

JENSEN, De Lamar, Confrontation at Worms, Martin Luther and the Diet of Worms, Brigham Young University Press, Provo, Utah 1973

JONES, Gracia N., Emma and Joseph, Their Divine Mission,  Covenant Communicatins, Inc., American Fork, Utah, 1999

LUDLOW, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, MacMillan Publishing Co., New York, 1992

LUPAS, Liana, Dr. Bible Q&B, Record, American Bible Society, Washington,  D.C. Summer 2011

MATTHEWS, Robert J., Behold the Messiah, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1944

NICOLSON, Adam, God's Secretaries, Harper Collins Publishers, New York,  2003

OGDEN, D. Kelly, King James Version, in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. l, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1992

SKOUSEN, W. Cleon, Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times, Ensign Publishing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1984

STRATTON, Eugene, Plymouth Colony Its History & People 1620-1691, Ancestry Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1986

TANNER, John S., The King James Bible in America, in BYU Studies, Vol. 50,No. 3, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 2011

VAUGHAN, Curtis, Ed, The New Testament from 26 Translations, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1967

All research and opionions presented on this site are the sole responsibility of Dr. Einar C. Erickson, and should not be interpreted as official statements of the LDS doctrine, beliefs or practice.
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