Robert J. Matthews

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Robert James Matthews (12 September 1926 – 30 August 2009) was a Latter-day Saint religious educator and scholar, teaching in the departments of Ancient Scripture and Religious Education at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah.

Beginning with personal contacts early in his career, Matthews was instrumental in conciliating relations between religious scholars affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and the Community of Christ, which had separated in a schism in the 1840s. The two religious communities, and their scholars, had long been at odds over access to and interpretation of important early texts of the Latter Day Saint movement. Matthews was particularly influential when, in 1969 and 1970, scholars affiliated with the Community of Christ were invited to meetings of the Mormon History Association. The new scholars were welcomed and some were chosen as officers in the organization in later years. Matthews is also noted for his promotion of the concept that the currently available text of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible is reliable and authentic.

Biography[edit]

Matthews was born in Evanston, Wyoming.,[1] the youngest child of immigrant parents who independently joined the LDS Church in England and moved to the United States. He earned a bachelors degree in Political Science, a masters degree in Geography, and a Ph.D. in Ancient Scriptures, all from BYU. His doctoral dissertation was titled A Plainer Translation: Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible — A History and Commentary.[2]

Matthews and his wife, Shirley Neves, are the parents of four children: Camille, Daniel, Robert, and Tricia.[3]

Matthews died August 30, 2009 in Provo, Utah, after an extended hospitalization for complications following open heart surgery.[4]

Teaching and scholarship[edit]

Matthews began teaching in the Church Educational System (CES), as a seminary teacher in Soda Springs, Idaho, in 1955. He also taught institute classes in Southern California under the direction of Paul H. Dunn and was a course writer and editor with the seminaries and institutes division of CES.

In 1968 Matthews received a Ph.D. in Ancient Scriptures from BYU. He began teaching in the Division of Religious Education at BYU in 1971. He served as dean of Religion Education at BYU for 8½ years, and subsequently was a professor and department chair of the Ancient Scripture Department until his retirement in 1992.

Matthews has the distinction of being the first person from the LDS Church allowed by the Community of Christ to work with the original manuscript of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, which was in their possession. He was a principal collaborator involved in compiling the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, and authored articles on the Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

LDS Church service[edit]

From 1946 to 1948 Matthews was a Mormon missionary in California, a portion of the church's Western States Mission.[5] His mission president was Oscar W. McConkie, father of Bruce R. McConkie.

In the 1970s, Matthews served on the Church Adult Correlation Committee. Earlier he had served as a bishop, high councilor and stake president. In the mid-1990s, Matthews was the first president of the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple. At the time of his death he was serving as a stake patriarch.

Matthews was the chief editor of the LDS Church's 1979 Bible Dictionary, which is printed together with the church's English-language edition of the King James Bible.[6]

Publications[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Robert J. Matthews, Joseph Smith Translation expert, dies". Mormon Times. 2009-08-31. Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  2. ^ SL Tribune[specify]
  3. ^ SL Tribune[specify]
  4. ^ Scholar's work on Smith's Bible soothed rift, The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Sept. 2009, p.B-6
  5. ^ "Noted LDS Scholar, Educator Robert J. Matthews Dies at 82 - Kathy Riordan". Open Salon. 2009-08-31. Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  6. ^ Lavina Fielding Anderson, “Church Publishes First LDS Edition of the Bible”, Ensign, October 1979, p. 9.

References[edit]