Joseph Smith and the Gospel of Matthew

Joseph Smith and the Gospel of Matthew
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Joseph Smith and the Gospel of Matthew

Author Robert L. Millet

Joseph Smith was a man of deep spiritual insight, one who loved the Bible and delighted in making plain those passages which had particular relevance to Latter-day Saint doctrine. That he was one of the great biblical minds of his day is evident in his sermons, discourses frequently interspersed with biblical passages and built around the explication of biblical texts.

The manuscript of Joseph's work with Matthew, chapter 1, is dated 8 March 1831. He and his scribe, Sidney Rigdon, worked on Matthew (1:1–9:2) and Genesis simultaneously until 5 April. From 7 April to 19 June, they concentrated their attention on Matthew (9:2–26:71a) and after a short break continued working into September, when the translation of the first Gospel was completed. In all, the Prophet changed 483 verses in Matthew, the most alterations he made in any book of the Bible except for Genesis (662) and Luke (563). The changes all seem to fall within the four categories suggested by Robert Matthews: (1) restoration of content once written by biblical authors but since deleted; (2) a record of historical events not recorded before, or recorded but not included within the biblical collection; (3) inspired prophetic commentary, in which Joseph Smith enlarged, elaborated, or adapted passages to a latter-day situation; and (4) harmonization of doctrinal concepts revealed to the Prophet independently of the translation, by which he was able to recognize biblical inaccuracies.