On studying the Doctrine and Covenants
Many have observed that this year’s Gospel Doctrine curriculum is different from most years (see an item at By Common Consent here , and at Meridian Magazine here.) Rather than a reading of section-by-section, our study of the Doctrine & Covenants is instead divided by topic in the Gospel Doctrine manual. The student guide gives a few verses of reading each week, based on the lesson topics planned to be discussed. And the whole is supplemented by the slim Our Heritage volume on church history.
If ever there was a year to recognize that attending Gospel Doctrine alone (and even reading the scripture selections for the class) is inadequate personal scripture study, this is the year.
I don’t mean to say anything disparaging about the curriculum. Yes, it is basic, but it’s written (as we know) for a worldwide church with members of all different experiences. The slim historical overview in Our Heritage is too brief to be anything but a reminder of common stories. And for me, reading a few verses from four or five sections, while it prepares me for the Gospel Doctrine discussion, is not enough for me to study the revelations.
So I find myself looking for additional ways to study this volume of scripture. I will, of course, read entire Doctrine & Covenants during the year. (I plan to read the full section when we read selected verses from a section each week.) I’ll also make an effort to put the sections into some historical context.
Of course the church is offering remarkable helps with personal study of the revelations now with more publications from the Joseph Smith Papers project. Frankly there’s so much there, it’s hard for me to sort out how to incorporate it into my study, and I suspect it will take me much longer than one year to sift through it. I’m also drawn to other biographical works – Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling is a favorite of mine, as is Lucy Mack Smith’s history of Joseph, and I received the new (last year) history of Brigham Young as a Christmas present.
I’m interested in others’ thoughts about how you’re studying the Doctrine & Covenants this year.