The Joseph Smith Papers Project (JSPP). Yes, it is a wonderful thing. It will change the way the Church references and divides Early Mormon History. Indeed, it will change the very way we understand and deal with our most fundamental stories and texts. Eventually, the JSPP will impress its work onto the very face of Mormonism, and that is as it should be. We are a history-driven religion — in the sense that our stories define much of what we believe and where we place our faith. JSPP is not about synthesis so much as it is about revelation (there is a pun here — a spectacular one). Revelation in terms of what our earliest records actually say and to some degree the context in which they say it.
I think a reminder is in order in regard to the breathtaking riches found at JosephSmithPapers.org. There is now a fabulous archive of online material there, much of it relating to already published volumes in the series. The Joseph Smith Papers is following in the wake of ground-breaking efforts of other “Papers” documentary editing projects by placing many heretofore unavailable-to-the-masses documents into the public sphere. Anyone can now not only read early Mormon documents, but take advantage of first class transcription efforts and the careful document scholarship of the JSPP. I should say as well, that the JSPPs efforts at imaging are in some ways unprecedented. We are getting the best here people.
Focused for years to come on Joseph Smith, I have high hopes that this effort will continue and spread to other collections and people of prominence in Mormonism. There is yet an Everest-sized mountain of material in the LDS archives that deserves not just the sterile light of scholarship, but the unfolding of a tale that will bring to light our very best (and worst) moments unshrouded by rumor, tale-bearing, hearsay or heavy-handed paternalism.
The Church deserves the JSPP. It will yield future benefits still to be conceived I think. God bless it.