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Some Notes on Joseph Smith and Adam Clarke

TitleSome Notes on Joseph Smith and Adam Clarke
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsJackson, Kent P.
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
KeywordsClarke, Adam; Joseph Smith Translation; Plagiarism; Smith, Joseph, Jr.

Authors of two recent articles believe they have found evidence that Joseph Smith, in preparing his revision of the Bible, drew ideas from a contemporary Bible commentary by British scholar Adam Clarke. The evidence, however, does not bear out this claim. I believe that none of the examples they provide can be traced to Clarke’s commentary, and almost all of them can be explained easily by other means. The authors do not look at their examples within the broader context of the revisions Joseph Smith made to the Bible, and thus they misinterpret them. Some of the revisions they attribute to Clarke are ones that Joseph Smith had made repeatedly before he arrived at the passages where they believe he got ideas from Clarke. In addition, there is a mountain of material in Clarke that is not reflected in the Joseph Smith Translation, and there is a mountain of material in the Joseph Smith Translation that cannot be explained by reference to Clarke. The few overlaps that do exist are vague, superficial, and coincidental.