Noted LDS Scholar, Educator Robert J. Matthews Dies at 82
LDS scholar and author Robert J. Matthews, who died Sunday at the age of 82.
Robert J. Matthews, 82, well known and beloved scholar and educator in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has died in a hospital in Provo, Utah, at the age of 82.
Matthews was instrumental in bringing the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible to widespread use in the LDS Church.
Born in Evanston, Wyoming, September 12, 1926, Matthews was the youngest child of nine to Roland and Elsie Gulliver Matthews, immigrant parents who'd converted to Mormonism in England and relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, where they met and married.
His long association with service to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began in 1946, when he served a two-year mission to California as part of what was then the Western States Mission. In 1955 he started teaching for the LDS Church Educational System (CES) as a seminary and institute teacher, later becoming a course writer and editor. Three years after receiving his Ph.D. in Ancient Scripture from Brigham Young University in 1968, he began teaching in the Department of Religious Education and Ancient Scripture, eventually rising to the position of department chair of Ancient Scripture, and then Dean of the College of Religion at BYU, a position he held for many years.
He has the distinction of being the first member of the LDS Church to receive permission from what was then the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS), now Community of Christ, to view and handle Joseph Smith's "inspired" translation of the Bible, the text of which later came into widespread use in the LDS Church. He was a noted scholar and author of works on John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and the New Testament in particular, in addition to his extensive work on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). He was a senior editor for the LDS Church's massive encyclopedic undertaking in the 1990's, The Encyclopedia of Mormonism.
He served in numerous leadership capacities in the LDS Church, including as a member of the Church Adult Correlation Committee, and was first president of the Mount Timpanogos LDS Temple in American Fork, Utah.
A popular educator and speaker within the LDS Church, he travelled extensively in that capacity. On the occasion of his 80th birthday, several of his colleagues honored him with the publication of a collection of essays as tribute, A Witness for the Restoration: Essays in Honor of Robert J. Matthews. At the time of his death, he was serving as a Stake Patriarch in Lindon, Utah.
He was married to the former Shirley Neves, who survives, along with four children and several grandchildren. He passed away quietly in the presence of his family on Sunday afternoon, August 30, 2009, at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah, after an extended hospitalization following cardiac surgery.