Have you ever wanted to get more resources for the Book of Mormon? David Hocking has put together an amazing resource, the Annotated Book of Mormon. We’re going to dive deep into his edition. It’s a beautiful book, with not only gold leaf, but he has the words of Jesus in red, similar to those red letter Bibles. I was surprised to learn the LDS Church hates red lettering! David will tell us more about his dealing with Church leaders over this edition. Check out our conversation…
Overview of Annotated Scriptures
GT 03:13 Well, you’ve rewritten the Book of Mormon, the Bible, well, I guess it’s just the New Testament. Can you show us? You’ve got five books of scripture here. It’s just amazing.
David 03:24 Yeah. So, this is the beginning of my journey into the world of taking sacred scripture and putting it in a format that is easier to comprehend and to read, as well as to highlight the beauty of the scripture. So, this was my first foray into it. And this was published in 2018. It was a collaboration of what I did to reformat the text, and then, also, to incorporate information that I believed in, and I learned from many sources…
David 04:39 So this is my first foray. Once I did this, I then said, “You know, I’ve got the format down. I think I’d like to continue.” So, I then did the next book, which was, of all things, called the Book of Jasher. And I’ll refer to that a little bit later. But it’s an interesting book, a great provenance and, in fact, once the original publisher, which is a New York Jew by the name of Mordecai Noah, once he passed away, the copyright and the licensing of this book, went to the G.H. Perry Company out of Salt Lake City. So, the consumer of this Book of Jasher, were actually Mormons. So, the next one that came after that was the Book of Isaiah. This one was my personal journey, to take the divine commandment of all of the scriptures, when you think of all the books, there’s only one book that the Lord has given a divine commandment, and that is to search Isaiah, casually. No, no, no, to search Isaiah, by just reading a few verses and then passing over it. No, no. He said that you have to search Isaiah diligently. And I didn’t do that. And here I am in my late 60s. Now, I’m 70, going on 72. And I said, “You know what? I’m going to do that.” So, this is my effort to search Isaiah diligently.
David 06:05 And then after that, I then went into the Book of Enoch. And I did this because I took a class from Hugh Nibley in my senior year at BYU in 1975, Senior Topics of Religion. We went to the Joseph Smith Library, and there was maybe 15, maybe max 20 of us around the library table. And Hugh Nibley, was with all his disheveled look to him, with all of his notebooks and papers, and he would just rattle on like Hugh Nibley does. And then at the end of this semester, in my senior year, [we’d had] no quizzes, no tests, until the last day of class, and on the chalkboard was, “What are Joseph Smith’s credentials?” And I had to write an essay. We all had to. So, if he was still living today, I’d present this to him. And hopefully, he would say, “You’re the Hugh Nibley, heir apparent.”
GT 07:08 (Chuckling)
David 07:09 So, anyways, that’s why I did this, and we’ll get into that. Then my final one is the Joseph Smith Translation of the New Testament. And I went ahead and was bold enough, and have the gumption to take the challenge, if you want to call it that, by being bold enough to research the provenance of that manuscript that Joseph Smith called as his–another calling that he had that was given to him by the Lord, a branch of his calling, to revise the errors and the interpolations of men that were part of the Bible. And so, in 1867, the Reorganized Church published it. And so, this is in the public domain, the text. And so, I went ahead and felt that that would be important [that] we, as members of the Utah Mormon Church, if you want to call it that, we’ve never had the full benefit of everything that Joseph Smith did, by way of commandment. And because of that, I felt that since next year would be Come Follow Me in the New Testament, what better opportunity for we, as Church members, to actually read what Joseph Smith contributed. So, this is my latest book.Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon at Duke Divinity School
GT 20:34 Well, very cool. So, the Book of Mormon, was that what you had presented to the Duke Divinity School?
David 20:41 Yes. So, when I first moved to North Carolina, which was in 1979, we were in a branch, the Chapel Hill branch. And we were meeting in a junior high school, the Culbreth Junior High School. So, there was no church building. We had no facilities. And since Richard Rust, Professor Rust was an English professor there, when we first moved to that branch, he was the gospel doctrine teacher. And it just so happened to be the Book of Mormon timeframe cycle. And he opened my eyes up to the beauty of the literary aspects of the Book of Mormon. He had just completed a book called Feasting on the Word: The Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon. And retrospectively, now that I’m older, I can look at that particular volume of scholarship that he did as a pivotal point in my life, not only because I knew him personally, but because what he did, and what he wrote, affected me internally. So, from that internal moment that I recognized that this Book of Mormon is more than just words, or a spiritual thing, but there’s actually literary qualities to it. And there’s a literary testimony built within, whether it be chiastic forms, or Hebrew poetry, all of the different elements that go into it. But that moment, I said [that] if I ever had an opportunity to do what I had envisioned, I would present it to the Duke Divinity School, because they’re in my backyard. The reason I thought that is because Duke Divinity School owns two original copies of the 1830 Book of Mormon.
GT 22:46 Oh, I didn’t know that.
David 22:47 Yeah, they have two copies. And every once in a while, they’ll have a notice. They send it out to the newspapers, as well as the media, is that they’ll have a showing, a special showing of those books. And so, in my mind, I thought, if it ever happens, if I’m able to make this go forward, that if I did it, I would present them with my version of the Book of Mormon. And it happened. And it happened when I was called to be the Historical Chairman when the Raleigh Temple was dedicated. And so, I got a call from an Area Seventy, “Brother Hocking, we’d like to have you be the—and write a book, about the temple, the open house and so forth, and the rededication.” So, I was on the committee members’ meetings, and one of them has to do with the VIPs and making sure that the government knows about it, and the media knows about it.
David 23:57 And I brought up, “Does Duke Divinity School know about this?”
David 24:01 “Yes, we need to do that. We need to let them know [and find out] if they’re coming.”
David 24:28 And so they had the VIP tour. They then go back into the stake center where they have the displays. And I had a really nice conversation with a really nice-looking guy that looked like he was professional. I didn’t really ask for his name, nor did I know where he was from, because the conversation just flowed the way it flowed. And then he left, and I had that impression [that] I need to find out who he is. So, he’s just about to exit the stake center and I go, “Excuse me, what was your name again? I didn’t catch it.” And he gave me his name. I said, “And where are you from?”
David 25:05 He said, “I’m from the Duke Divinity School.”
David 25:07 “Oh, I’m so glad I caught you before you left. Do you have any extra time?”
David 25:12 “Yeah, I can do– what do you have in mind?”
David 25:14 I said, “Just sit here on the sofa here in the foyer, and I’m going to get something for you. I’d like to show you something.” So, he sat down, I opened up. I gave him a Book of Mormon to look at. I said, “I’d like to show this to you, because I want to donate this book to the Duke Divinity School.”
David 25:29 He looked at me. He said, “Okay.” And he opens up the book and he goes through the pages. He goes, “Wow, this is gorgeous. This is beautiful. Now, who are you again?”
David 25:42 “I’m Brother Hocking, David Hocking.”
David 25:45 “Are you a professor?”
David 25:50 “No, I’m not.”
David 25:51 “Gosh, this is great.”
LDS Church Hates Red Letter Scriptures!
David 28:19 So, what we wanted to do is get their permission to use that text. And that’s how I actually did the formatting was using that text. And so, what had happened, then, was–I kind of knew beforehand that they weren’t going to do it. And the reason why I knew that beforehand is because, previously before I knew Rod Meldrum, before I knew anybody, anywhere, I’d already formatted the Book of Mormon for my own personal use. And I put it in a spiral bound. I printed all the pages out, put it in spiral bound. And I showed people, “Oh, I love what you’re doing. I want to buy one of those.” So, I have to print out every page and they go to the thing and print out and get a spiral bound. And so, I sent one to L. Tom Perry. He set me apart on my mission.
GT 29:11 Oh, wow.
David 29:12 He was as the stake president, at the time.
GT 29:15 Oh, yeah, in Boston.
David 29:17 Yeah, in Bawston, in Boston. Anyways, so I sent it to him. Unfortunately, he sent me back somewhat of a terse letter. Oh, I mean, it was like “Brother Hocking, you’ve done a really remarkable job here. However, there are so many copyright issues, and I’m forwarding this to our legal department, and they will contact you shortly.”
GT 29:41 Oh, no.
David 29:42 So, three weeks later, I get a letter from the legal department, Intellectual Reserve, “Brother Hocking, wow, you’ve done a good job here.” But then they list all of the things that are copyrighted.
David 29:57 And I go, “Bingo. Now I know not what to do. And now I know what to do,” unbeknownst to them. So, I went ahead and did the 1981, knowing they would reject it, but I had a plan. Because when I went my mission in 1971, what edition did I have? The 1920 edition that was done by James Talmage. And you can get that online as a text. And there are sources where you can see where there’s changes in that text.
David Anyways, when they gave me, in that meeting, they said, “It’s not that you can’t use the text, which we’re not going to give you anyways. But it’s not that, per se, it’s because you have red lettering. We will never produce a red letter of the Book of Mormon. We just won’t do it.” Now, I hate to say this while I’m on camera, and it’s going to go out into the world and people are going to hear this. But they also told me and us all of us that were there, “And you’ve got a map. You’ve got maps in the Book of Mormon, and we will never produce a Book of Mormon with a map in it.”
GT 34:47 So, the Church has an issue with red lettering?
David 34:50 Yeah, they don’t want it.
GT 34:51 Because it’s too Catholic or something?
David 34:52 Well, I don’t understand. I think they want the individual to study it and then find the voice on their own. Whatever. But I’m not going to figure out their view of it. And then, of course, I have blue lettering, too. I struggled with the fact that if I’m going to use the red lettering. I had to have the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. I can’t have them–I will have them all red lettering, but I have to differentiate them from voices. There are different voices. They’re not the same. Now, the Catholics and the Protestants thinks they’re the same. But, no, we don’t. So, when you get into the 3rd Nephi, for example, Christ will quote his Father, “Thus saith the Father.” So, I made the Father[‘s words] italicized red.
Book of Jasher in Book of Mormon
David 47:35 This Sefer haYashar gets published in Italy in 1625. It’s in Hebrew, without points, meaning that it’s predates the Masoretic text that we get in the King James version that was done in 1611. So, what does that mean? It’s without points means the Masoretes are the ones that said, “We need to standardize how the rabbi’s read the Torah. Because there’s no vowels. We’re going to put the vowels in by these points. And there’s got to be a way you say the words or how you teach the words. So, we’re going to put in,” what they call diacritical marks above the lettering. So, all the works that are done that we get, have those marks in it. But this Book of Jasher didn’t. So now this gets published in 1840 in England. I mean, it gets translated in 1839 in England, and gets published in 1840 in New York, by Mordecai Noah. So that’s, again, in 1840, the same year that the Book of Jasher is being read by Parley P. Pratt. And guess what? Chapters three and four in the Book of Jasher is about Enoch, fulfilling the prophecy that the Lord gave to Joseph. So, I’ll talk about that later in another episode or whatever. But I then find, within the Book of Mormon, passages from the Book of Jasher. And so how does that…
GT 48:59 Jasher that was…
David 49:00 That got translated, meaning that it helps validate that what they found in Jerusalem is authentic. Because it’s showing up in the Book of Mormon? And how does that show up and why does it show up? Because Nephi had to go get the plates of brass. Why? Because we have to keep the commandments. And the only way we can keep the commandments is to live the law of Moses. So, we’re going to have to get these plates. But now we’ve got the plates. So, there’s breadcrumbs interspersed throughout the Book of Mormon, that show you that they did have the plates of brass. And so, when I see passages from Jasher, when I see passages from Enoch…
GT 49:41 In the Book of Mormon.
David 49:42 In the Book of Mormon, those are the breadcrumbs and then it dispels the idea that he has just–so where is he going to get plagiarism from?
We’re going to focus on his amazing scriptures with the Book of Enoch and Book of Jasher. We’ll learn more about why David felt it was important for LDS audiences to see these books which are considered scripture in other Christian groups. We’ll also see his amazing work on the Book of Isaiah, including both JST and Book of Mormon differences. Finally, we’ll talk about his latest book, the Joseph Smith Translation of the New Testament. David has done some amazing things with it. You won’t want to miss our conversation. Check it out….
Book of Enoch
GT 19:14 So let’s talk about your fourth book. That’s the Book of Enoch, right?
David 19:18 Yeah, Enoch is the one that’s the most controversial, if you want to call it, because if you just look at Enoch at face value, it’s woo. It gets out there. Because there’s different iterations. Like I say, you’ve got Ethiopic, you’ve got Church Slavonic. You’ve get your Hebrew with a Sephohecolog. And then you’ve got your–in the Book of Jasher, you’ve got Chapter 3 and 4. And then I also include another thing called the Legends of the Jews by Lewis Ginsberg. He was a German Jew, during the– before World War I. What he did is he took all of the literature that was available at that time, the Hebrew corpus of material, and he came up with a narrative. Here’s this story. It’s like a Josephus type of thing, a story. So it’s not chapter and verse. It’s just like reading history. So, in the back of the book, I have his Volume 3, Section 1– Volume 1, Section 3. And what that does is that it’s part of the Enoch story. And again, It’s called The Legends of the Jews, by Lewis Ginsberg. And so when you get in here, it’s just, it’s his writings about Enoch, based on all the literature. And look how many pages have to do with Enoch. I mean, there’s a lot. So, there’s a lot of history about the people that knew and taught about Enoch, that we don’t get in our Old Testament. So, I assembled every one of those issues that were found at different times and translated into English. And what that does, it helps one to see that Enoch was a major figure. And for some reason, and I don’t know all the reasons, there was a decision made that this stuff is just a bunch of made-up stuff, and therefore we’re not going to include it in any of our material. However, the Russians, they’ve highly regard Enoch as being an important book in their corpus of material.
GT 21:22 The Russian Orthodox Church?
David 21:23 Yes, they do.
GT: All right, well, did we save the best for last with the New Testament?
David: Yep. So this is my, let’s say, what I consider my culmination of all what I’ve learned and how I format, how I create, what I call the visual way of learning, the elements that I’ve done throughout, and also my learning curve with the software and what I can do with it, and how it enhances my work. So, again, as I said before, without a software package, without an intranet, without my ability to learn that software– I’m self-taught in everything I’ve done. I’ve never had a program, or never been to school for any of this stuff. I’m truly self-taught. I believe, I feel I might have had this in the premortal life, who knows what’s happened. But I just know how to do it. But this is the culmination of it. And I chose as the cover, an equivalent cover to the Book of Mormon. So we know that when I came up with this cover, we made the decision that we’d have a picture of the Savior on it, and it because it’s another testament of Christ. And usually, when you have the New Testament, it just says the New Testament, but I wanted to make it look like the Book of Mormon cover that we chose. So now it’s the New Testament of Jesus Christ. And so by doing that, I’ve separated it as a unique way of saying that this is a special volume. And then I say, it’s the Joseph Smith translation, the 1867 first edition. So, in this case here, what I do is I take the actual text that’s online, and you can download it, it’s 1867. It’s in the public domain. You can look it up on wiki, and you’ll see that it says it’s in the public domain. And so I introduce every–so when you get into the Gospel of Mark, there’ll be a page that says, “Okay, now, we’ve got a new gospel coming up, and then there’ll be a little blurb. Again, you’ll see my references, where I got it from, that tells you that this is a little bit of a synopsis of who Mark was. And then you’re going to get into, now, the actual text. You have the same elements, you’ll have the blue when it’s quoting scripture. In this case, it’s quoting from Isaiah. You’ll see the same gold shadowing that tells you some information at the bottom. But everything that is from the Joseph Smith Translation will be bracketed text that’s been italicized. So, as you read, and you continue to read, you’re read, reading it fluidly, you’re not being disjointed. Every version that I’ve read, or I’ve seen, is that they’ll have either this is the original, and this is what the Joseph [Smith Translation says.] You’re always going back and forth. Or there’ll be a footnote, “This is from the Joseph Smith.” And so it’s cumbersome.
GT 35:36 Right.
David 35:36 So, I’ve made it, so it’s smooth. And it’s the entire–it’s not pieces, it’s not fragments. It’s not something that we’ve been in–our church, when I say our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. They have gotten an agreement with the Community of Christ Church, that they have access to portions of the Joseph Smith translation, not the whole part.
GT 35:59 Right.
David 36:00 And so, because they have copyrighted, like our church has copyrighted, for their own protection, things that have value to them, they’re going to want legal protection to, just like our church would do the same. However, once it’s out in the public domain, you can do anything. The book, the Bible is out of the public domain. The Doctrine & Covenants is out of the public domain, unless a new revelation comes and so forth. So what I ended up doing, is do that. Now the other thing that makes it very interesting, how I approach this, I’ll give you an example with the Beatitudes. So, the Beatitudes is Matthew 5. When you read the Beatitudes, you’re going to read it, just like you would normally read the Beatitudes. It’s going to be in red lettering, it’s the Lord speaking. But now I’m going to do– you’re going to turn a page and there’s going to be two insight pages. So, now, I want to compare the normal King James Version beatitude, blessed are they, blessed are they. But right next to it, I’m going to give you the Joseph Smith Translation of the Beatitudes. Look at the whitespace here, look at what’s being added. Now, all of that is bracketed because that’s coming from the new translation, not a phrase or too. It’s not Adam Clarke that’s making this. This is Joseph Smith. Well, you know, I don’t want to get into the controversy.
I think David has done an amazing job. If you’re looking for a Christmas idea, check out David Hocking’s Annotated Scriptures. They are available on Amazon, Costco, Deseret Book, and his website, Beaconlight Books: https://beaconlightbooks.com/
Comments or questions? Why do you think Church leaders hate red lettering?