The following is excerpted from the Church News. To read the full article, CLICK HERE

After decades of research and scholarship, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on the verge of publishing the final two of 27 volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers.

The intensive project, completed with the expertise of skilled historians, scholars and volunteers, has produced 7.5 million words, 50,000 footnotes and nearly 19,000 pages, as well as a resourceful, informative website. Each document was subject to a rigorous review process to determine validity and accuracy.

The Joseph Smith Papers project has not only benefitted scholars who are researching the Church and its history, but it also has provided newly discovered insights that have enhanced other Church projects, such as “Saints, Vol. 1: The Standard of Truth.”

Why was it important for the Church to take on such an expensive, time-consuming project?

First and foremost, because of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling, which testifies of Jesus Christ, said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“Why do we do it? Because he is a Prophet of God, and he restored the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said President Ballard, who shares ecclesiastical and blood ties to Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith. “We should honor him. We should thank our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ that they gave to us Joseph Smith, to restore the fullness of the gospel that gives us light and knowledge. … How blessed we are to know what we know about Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the dispensation of the fullness of times.”

President Ballard was one of several individuals, including Church leaders, historians and scholars, who reflected on all aspects of the Joseph Smith Papers project and its future influence in recent Church News interviews.

Why preserve the Joseph Smith Papers?

The Church went to great lengths to preserve the Joseph Smith Papers to build faith in Jesus Christ, to document his life as the first Prophet of the Restoration and to be transparent, said Elder Kyle S. McKay, a General Authority Seventy who serves as the Church’s historian and recorder.

To read the full article, CLICK HERE