Robert J. Matthews, key to LDS edition of Bible, dies
Well-known expert on the Joseph Smith Translation dies at 82
J. Matthews was a teenager during World War II when he first heard that
LDS Church founder Joseph Smith had made what he said were inspired
changes to the Bible.
17-year-old was listening July 9, 1944, when Elder Joseph Fielding
Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve said during a KSL Radio broadcast
that Joseph Smith had corrected a verse in the Bible by revelation.
had a spiritual experience. "The word revelation meant something,"
Matthews said in an interview in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.
"I hadn't known that Joseph Smith had made some corrections in the
Bible. Joseph Fielding Smith's statement penetrated me."
day in 1944 began Matthew's quest to learn about what is called the
Joseph Smith Translation. Before he died Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009, at age
82 of complications following open-heart surgery, Matthews became known
as the world's expert on the translation.Matthews
probably would have preferred that people forget his role in bringing
the Joseph Smith Translation into popular acceptance among members of
the LDS Church. However, his work on the JST was his most lauded
achievement by those who spoke with the Deseret News on Monday.
W. McConkie, author and chairman of the law firm Kirton & McConkie,
was a regional representative for The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints when he called Matthews to be a stake president. "In
my judgment, Robert J. Matthews is one of the great men of this
dispensation. He did yeoman work on the Joseph Smith Translation,"
McConkie said. "My brother (the late Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the
Quorum of the Twelve) was insisting that we get the Joseph Smith
Translation in our scriptures, but he couldn't have done it without the
scholarship backing him up of Robert J. Matthews."
scholarship had as much to do with Matthews' personality and tenacity
as it did with his academic work. When he first became interested in
Joseph Smith's work on the Bible, the LDS Church did not trust the
printed copies of the JST that had been printed by the Reorganized
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called the Community
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