“Is it proper to refer to Joseph Smith’s revision of the Bible as a ‘translation’? I have never read that he actually translated the Bible from any other language to English—only that under inspiration he revised many sections of the Bible.” Ensign, Mar. 1974, 22
Without exception, the Prophet Joseph Smith himself referred to this work as a translation. (D&C 45:60–61.)
The dictionary supports his use of the word when it defines translation as “put into different words, to rephrase or paraphrase.”
There is, however, a deeper implication to the Prophet’s consistent use of the word “translate” when he referred to his work. Joseph Smith was engaged by direct command of the Lord to do what he did with the Bible. (See D&C 76:15.) He called it a “branch of my calling as a prophet.”
Since he did in many instances restore the original meaning and intent to passages that were once written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek by Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, Paul, and others, the work of Joseph Smith amounts to an English translation of what the ancient inspired prophets wrote in the first place.
Perhaps it was for this reason that the Prophet felt it proper to call his work a translation. When used as Joseph Smith used them, the words “version” and “translation” mean the same thing, although translation comes closer to the spirit of the work.