Robert J. Matthews, key to LDS edition of Bible, dies
Well-known expert on the Joseph Smith Translation dies at 82
According to an essay
by BYU professor Robert L. Millet in the book "The Joseph Smith
Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things," Matthews
was sometimes chided by fellow Mormons for even quoting the JST.
lived in that time period," said Monte Nyman, a retired professor of
ancient scriptures from BYU and a friend of Matthews. "Nobody knew
anything about the Joseph Smith Translation — I mean they had a little
knowledge — but today we have it footnoted in the LDS Bible and openly
talked about. ... Bob just made a great contribution to the church's
understanding of it."
arose because the RLDS Church had not allowed any member of the LDS
Church to inspect the original documents of the Joseph Smith
Translation. Matthews began requesting permission to see the source
materials. It took him 15 years before he was finally allowed to
see them in 1968.
"He was the first
Latter-day Saint since 1845 to have access to the original manuscript,"
said Kent P. Jackson, BYU professor of ancient scripture. "His research
caused a serious change of thinking on the part of church members and
In short, the version published by the RLDS Church was very accurate.
Barlow, Arrington Chairman of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State
University, said Matthews made three major contributions concerning
the JST. First, no scholar working on the JST can ignore Matthews'
work. Second, without Matthew's work, it would be hard to see how the
JST could have been included in the LDS edition of the Bible. Third,
Matthews' efforts played a role, along with the work of other scholars,
in the warming of relations between the LDS Church and the RLDS Church.
1979, the LDS Church published a new LDS edition of the King James
Version of the Bible. Matthews worked with the Scriptures Publication
Committee, led by Elder Thomas S. Monson, Elder Boyd K. Packer and
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve. The new Bible
included, for the first time, footnotes that contained excerpts from
the JST. Matthews also contributed his expertise to the volume's Bible
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