The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Together with the Apocrypha: Translated Out of the Original Tongues, and With the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. With Caine’s Marginal Notes and References, to Which are Added, an Index: an Alphabetical Table of All the Names in the Old and New Testaments, With their Significations; Tables of Scripture Weights, Measures, and Coins, &c. Cooperstown, NY: H. & E. Phinney, 1828. The copy presented here was used by JS in his Bible Revision project and is currently held at CCLA.
Beginning in 1611, the King James Version (KJV) became the standard Bible for English-speaking Protestant churches. Later editions of the KJV corrected errors, altered punctuation, revised spellings, and amended or modernized other minor elements of usage—in particular by supplying word substitutions or clarifications such as “astonished” for “astonied” and “establish” for “stablish,” and so forth.
Prior to the American Revolution, Bibles in British North America were obtained almost exclusively from Great Britain. The first publication of a complete edition of the KJV in the occurred in 1782, by permission of the Continental Congress. Several printers in the early republic subsequently issued editions of the KJV in various sizes. Among the more prominent printers and publishers of that era was Elihu Phinney, who set up his shop and business in Cooperstown, New York, in 1795. He was eventually joined in his enterprise by his two sons, Henry and Elihu Jr. They first published an edition of the Bible in 1813 and continued with more editions for many years. After Elihu Phinney’s death in 1813, his sons operated the business as H & E Phinney (Jackson, “Joseph’s Cooperstown Bible,” 41–42, 45–50, 55–56).
purchased an 1828 Phinney edition of the King James Bible for JS in 1829. The book was quarto-sized (about 9" x 12"), the conventional size for a “family Bible.” On the first page, Cowdery inscribed, “The Book of the Jews And the Property of Joseph Smith Junior and Oliver Cowdery Bought October the 8th 1829, at s Book Store Wayne County New York.” At the bottom of the page he added, “Price $3.75” and “H[o]liness to the L[ord].” The Phinney Bible included the Apocrypha, some illustrations, and a selection of reference material.
This was the Bible used by JS and his scribes when he undertook a revelatory revision of the Old and New Testaments beginning in 1830, an endeavor that came to be known as JS’s “New Translation,” or Bible revision. It is not certain JS used this Bible exclusively for the Bible revisions, but the Phinney Bible was unquestionably used when JS adopted an abbreviated approach to recording changes in the KJV text.
Initially, the entire verse or passage being amended or expanded was recorded by scribes on the manuscripts associated with the Bible revision. Beginning after John chapter 5 in New Testament Revision 2, however, JS marked his copy of the Bible as he read in it, indicating where a change should be made. In the manuscript, the scribes wrote the scripture reference and the specifics of the revisions. The same practice was adopted in July 1832 when JS resumed the revision of the Old Testament, which had been set aside to take up work on the New Testament. (See Old Testament Revision 2.) Thus, for much of JS’s revision of the Bible, both the Phinney Bible and the manuscripts recording the changes to be made constituted the Bible revision.
The Phinney Bible apparently continued in the possession of JS’s family for the remainder of his life, and passed to his son after JS’s death. It is now owned by the Community of Christ at Independence, Missouri, along with the manuscripts for the Bible revision.