The scholarly community bears a sizable debt to Robert Matthews for his monumental work on the "New Translation" of the Bible commenced by Joseph Smith in 1830 and published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1867. The term "monumental" is used in the sense that Matthews has consulted every possible source in his effort to set forth the chronology of events surrounding Smith's work on his "New Translation." With meticulous care Matthews has compiled, as no one before him, the myriad references from primary and secondary sources bearing directly and indirectly on the work of the "New Translation." His book traces not only the intricate and sometimes sketchy course of Smith's MS work, 1830–1844, but also the history of the text as published and edited by the Reorganized Church since 1867.
Matthews' interest in this subject dates back to the early 1940s when his first articles appeared in the Improvement Era. Since then he has labored tirelessly to help the membership of his church appreciate Smith's biblical "translation" more fully, and to understand the basis on which it was produced. An aid to this effort, beginning in 1969, was the availability of the original MSS, held in the Reorganized Church Archives in Independence, Missouri. These had been inaccessible prior to that time awaiting satisfactory photoduplication. Matthews' research in the original MSS has unearthed a number of heretofore unnoted facets of the relationship between those MSS and the work as published (1867) and revised (1944) by the Reorganized Church.