At first blush, the Joseph Smith Translation for Mark 14:8 doesn’t appear to do anything:
Here’s the KJV text of Mark 14:8-9, which is Jesus’ commentary on the woman who has just anointed him:
She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
Here is the JST text for those verses:
She hath done what she could: and this which she has done unto me, shall be had in remembrance in generations to come, wheresoever my gospel shall be preached; for verily she has come beforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
You’ll notice that, unlike most JSTs, this one doesn’t correct false doctrine, add information, or clarify the existing information. In fact, it seems to simply repeat words that are already in the passage. But, I discovered, what it does is create a chiasmus that is not otherwise in the text:
A she hath done what she could . . . had in remembrance
B in generations to come
C wheresoever my gospel shall be preached
D for verily she has come beforehand
E to anoint my body to the burying
Dâ€™ verily I say unto you
Câ€™ wheresoever this gospel shall be preached
Bâ€™ throughout the whole world
Aâ€™ this also that she hath done . . . for a memorial of her
This structure suggests several interesting things:
(1) The focus of this story is on the anointing; not on the objection (“Why was this waste of ointment made? For it could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.”) and the response. It is easy to get sidetracked into thinking that the real issue here is whether the woman (and possibly Jesus) has exercised wise stewardship over some very expensive nard, but the real point of the story is not that it is a controversy story but rather that it is the anointing of Jesus’ body.
(2) the ‘verily I say unto you’ in the D and D’ lines is a formula saying that emphasizes what Jesus says next; it is the ancient equivalent of “you might want to write this down because this might be on the test.” The two ‘verily’ sayings serve to emphasize the central point of the chiasmus by literally surrounding it; they also serve to make an interesting comparison between the phrases that follow them: Jesus’ words are compared to the woman’s actions. This is especially significant in a passage where Jesus is physically passive but speaks frequently in contrast to the anointing woman (who does not speak at all) but is described in v3 with three very active verbs and is described in v6, 7, and 8 with active verbs as well. The theological implications of a comparison between her actions and his words are staggering.
(3) The B and B’ lines are also noteworthy in that they extend the scope to include not just space but time–not just the whole world but throughout all generations.
As I said on the BCC thread, I’m not terribly interested in using chiasmus apologetically, but I find that using it literarily can yield rich dividends; in this case, it ensures that we don’t miss the key ideas that this story is about the anointing, not the objection, and that the woman’s deeds are parallel to Jesus’ words. More on this pericope here.