Brigham Young University is reporting that professor Donald W. Parry has been assigned to work on the book of Isaiah in BHQ which will replace BHS once it is complete. Parry makes the rather curious statement that “This work will impact virtually all translations of the Old Testament (including the King James Version) for many years to come, including all translations of all of the world’s languages.” Obviously the KJV was translated four hundred years ago and nothing can impact its form. This statement stems from the Mormon reliance on the KJV, which they believe is the closest to God’s intended revelation, although even it has errors such as excluding mention of Joseph Smith’s status as prophet. What does Parry mean when he claims that BHQ will impact the KJV? Is he suggesting that the LDS will be able to create a translation closer to God’s intended word? Does he imply that he will discover new things in Isaiah that will provide evidence for the Mormon view of doctrine and scripture?
Does it make sense to have a Mormon work on BHQ? As much as most of the disinterested scholars, I suppose. So far most of Parry’s published work deals with the Bible’s relation to Mormonism and the Book of Mormon. It will be interesting to see how his views are confirmed or changed through this process.
I read a summary of a lecture Don Parry’s made on the DSS thanks to the ping from heartissuesforlds (see comments). One of the comments on that summary quotes from Parry’s book Harmonizing Isaiah (FARMS, 2001) and demonstrates the bias Parry works with:
“translators who lived before the restoration of the gospel [i.e. LDS] believed doctrines and teachings that biased their translations. Likewise, translators since that time tend to be biased in similar ways. Like their earlier counterparts, they may embrace teachings that are not compatible with the doctrines of the gospel as revealed through Joseph Smith and other prophets of the latter days. Such false teachings include predestination, creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing), the Trinity as three in one, an immaterial God who cannot be seen by humans on earth, and a denial of living prophets of God, modern temple worship, the gifts of the Spirit, angels, and so on” (12-13).
All translators have some kind of theological bias but most are either within orthodox Christianity or are supposedly disinterested in proving any theological points. Parry works within an entirely different paradigm as this makes clear. Is he truly blind to the fact that he is biased towards ensuring that he embraces a translation that is compatible with the revelations of Joseph Smith? Whenever you accuse someone of bias you need to be aware of what bias is causing you to make that claim. Which bias is true? 😀