One-Stop Scriptures

Review of Kenneth Lutes and Lyndell Lutes. Words of Christ Restored for the Last Days. Midway, Utah: Lutes International, 1999. 251 pp., with index. $21.85.

One-Stop Scriptures

Reviewed by John A. Tvedtnes

The price of this book exceeds what one might expect to pay for a volume of this
size. Much of the cost undoubtedly went into the beautiful imitation leather binding
with incised gold lettering and a ribbon to mark one’s place. But the book
is still overpriced.

The purpose of this book is to present to readers what the authors consider to
be a restoration of Christ’s words spoken anciently to his Jewish and Nephite
disciples. The New Testament portion of the text includes all those sections (with
necessary background verses included) of Christ’s teachings from the four
Gospels, with the changes to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible found in
the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). The text from the Book of Mormon version is
borrowed from portions of 3 Nephi in which Christ speaks to the Nephites. The
latter is merely a condensed version of 3 Nephi and, as such, adds nothing to
what we already have.

While the authors divide the various books of the Bible and Book of Mormon into
chapters, they do not indicate verses, which would be helpful for those who would
like to identify the KJV reading. Even though presenting the material in paragraphs,
the Luteses could have inserted versification (although the KJV and published
JST sometimes differ).

I shall comment only briefly on the portions of the Book of Mormon reproduced
by the Luteses, noting that they have failed to include portions of the Nephite
record outside of 3 Nephi where Christ is directly quoted. One such passage
is found in Moroni 2, in which Moroni fulfilled his father’s promise by recording
the words of Christ to which only passing reference is made in 3 Nephi 18:37.
Other omissions include the words of Christ addressed to Jacob, beginning in
2 Nephi 10:7, and Christ’s instructions to the twelve Nephite disciples in Mormon
9:22–25. The authors also omit “the words of Jesus Christ”; revealed to
Mormon and recorded in 3 Nephi 30:1–2 and Moroni 8:8 as well as Mormon’s quotation
of Christ’s words in Moroni 7:33–34. The words of Jesus to Moroni (Ether 4:6–19)
and his citation from Jesus’ instructions to “our fathers”; (Moroni 10:23)
are likewise not included. Also missing is the conversation between Jesus and
the brother of Jared in Ether 3.

The authors do not really make it clear whether they are trying to include all
of Christ’s words from the New Testament or only the ones that have been
changed in the JST, although I suspect it is the latter. Otherwise, it would have
been appropriate to include the words of Christ in Acts 20:35, 1 Corinthians 11:24–25,
and 2 Corinthians 12:9. Still, they should have included the JST modifications
to Jesus’ words in Acts 22:10, 18. Had I done a book like this, I, at least,
would have included Doctrine and Covenants 45:16–75, which the Lord told
Joseph Smith was something he had said to his disciples in Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, the authors are not precise. When it comes to the JST, they
presume that all changes made by Joseph Smith to the KJV are “translation errors
[that] have been corrected”; (p. 10). This does not account for the fact
that Joseph Smith sometimes revised his own changes, either giving a third reading,
or reverting to the KJV reading. They would have benefited from being acquainted
with the manuscripts and Joseph’s marked Bible.

More important is the fact that the authors allowed errors to creep into the
text. Indeed, I found an error on the very first page. In the account of Christ’s
baptism in Matthew 3:14, the authors show deletion of the word forbad in the
KJV and addition of the word refused in the JST. But they leave out two other
words that are found in both versions. The KJV reads as follows: “But John forbad
him, saying,” while the JST reads: “But John refused him, saying”
(emphasis added). The authors leave out the words him, saying, which are found
in both versions. They quote only part of the verse, a verse that does not,
in fact, have any words from Jesus.

In “A Word of Explanation,”; the authors acknowledge that their text
“shows selected deletions,”; but they seem to have established no clear
criteria for such selections. Thus, for example, they show the JST substitution
of God for devil, with a strikeover through the words tempted of the devil and
the JST wording with God in bold letters (p. 11). The KJV words the devil are
also crossed out in the fourth paragraph, but not in the third, where the JST
substitution the Spirit is included in bold. This lack of consistency throws
doubt on their research.

Generally speaking, I do not find books useful that merely recapitulate the
scriptures, in part or in their entirety, and provide the reader with no further
information. I have my own copy of the Joseph Smith Translation published years
ago by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community
of Christ), and also Paul A. Wellington’s edition of Joseph Smith’s “New Translation”;
of the Bible,
which compares the published JST with the KJV in parallel columns.
I also have Todd Andersen’s The Gospels Made Whole: One Complete Story of Jesus
in which he interweaves the KJV and other latter-day scriptures with
the JST Gospels in their entirety, rather than just the selections used by the
Luteses. So I would not find their book a useful addition to my library. But,
although the buyer must be warned of errors and omissions in the text, I suppose
a market exists for it among people who do not have these other books.