Janne M. Sjodahl
Janne M. Sjodahl was a Swedish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and authored several commentaries on Church scriptures. His titles included The Reign of Antichrist, or, The Great Falling Away: A Study in Ecclesiastical History (1913); An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon (1927); Commentary on the Book of Mormon (with George Reynolds, 7 vols., 1955); and The Doctrine and Covenants Containing Revelations Given to Joseph Smith Jr., the Prophet, with an Introduction and Historical and Exegetical Notes (with Hyrum M. Smith, 1955, 2nd ed.). In 1888 he completed a Swedish translation of the Doctrine and Covenants. In 1927, he translated the Pearl of Great Price into Swedish, and in 1935, he completed the third revised translation of the Book of Mormon into Swedish. Sjödahl was among the first commentators to advance a “limited geography model” for the theorized geography of the Book of Mormon.
Sjodahl was born on November 29, 1853, in Karlshamn, Blekinge, Sweden. Originally a member of the Lutheran Church of Sweden with his family, he was baptized into the Baptist Church in 1869 and completed his studies at a Baptist seminary in Stockholm in 1872. He became a Baptist minister. In 1874, Sjodahl moved to England and earned a divinity degree from Spurgeon’s College in 1876.
He married Ane Marie Johnson on August 28, 1879, and she died in August 1883 after giving birth to their second child, who also died.
He was excommunicated from the Baptist Church in June 1886, possibly for adultery. He began learning about the Church of Jesus Christ from a Danish missionary and decided to travel to Utah Territory to investigate the Church. His son Janne Jr. died on the sea journey.
Sjodahl settled in Sanpete County where a large number of Scandinavian Latter-day Saints had settled. He was baptized on October 7, 1886, in Manti. After the Manti Utah Temple was completed, he was the first individual to receive his Endowment. He and his second wife, Christina Christofferson were the first couple to be married in the new temple (May 30, 1888). They had two daughters born to them. She died in 1910.
In addition to being fluent in his native language, Sjodahl was fluent in English, Norwegian, German, Icelandic, and specialized in Greek and Hebrew. When serving a mission in Palestine in 1889, he learned Arabic and organized a branch in Jaffa. He also completed a mission to Bern, Switzerland.
Sjodahl was the chief editor of the Deseret News from 1906 to 1914. He then returned to England and became an editor of the Millennial Star. In 1919, he became an editor of the Improvement Era. He also assisted James Talmage in revising the footnotes of the Book of Mormon and revising Talmage’s volume Articles of Faith. He was also the editor of the LDS Church’s German, Danish–Norwegian, Dutch, and Swedish newspapers in Salt Lake City from 1919 until they ceased publication in 1935.
He died on June 23, 1939.