Robert J. Matthews, key to LDS edition of Bible, dies

Well-known expert on the Joseph Smith Translation dies at 82

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2009 5:00 p.m. MDT


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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