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Know the Scriptures
~Inside and Out, Backward and Forward~
by Woody Brison

We have captures from the revelations given to four people: The Jews, the Christians, the Nephites, and the Mormons. In our search for truth, God, and eternal life, these scriptures are crucial. There is a lot to understand. How to conquer this?

1. Just Read the Scriptures. Think back to when you read some fascinating book. You were scarcely aware of your environment. You turned 300 pages without being aware of turning a single one of them. This ability to get immersed in reading is a gorgeous powerful skill or tool; we understand and remember the material easily. This effect can be applied to the scriptures (or any other matter).

Distraction a problem is. It's hard to get immersed in reading if we are in a very noisy environment, or if weird strange people are staring at us on the bus, or we are near things needing our attention, such as crying babies, friends talking, etc. etc. TV blaring? Radio? Ads? Texting, email, etc. ... turn them off for half an hour. Psalms 46:10, DC 101:16

Having a certain time in the day when you read your scriptures can help with the concentration. You expect that your family will be doing certain stuff and won't bother you. Very early in the morning might be good, but some people are a little groggy when they first wake up (that reduces comprehension, but it enhances memory). Late at night you might be too tired to get much out of it, but it's a nifty idea that this would be on your mind as you sleep, to influence your dreams. Maybe an hour before bedtime would be right.

A good reader can read the entire Standard Works in about a half hour per day over the course of a year. If it takes a year and a half, or two years, who cares? This is way more than most people do.

With the chart below, you don't have to just plug along in boring fashion; yellow hilite each chapter after you read it. Thus you can skip around, read them in order of interest; and still know when you've read them all. Then start over with a new copy. After several iterations you will know it all fairly well, but scripture has an odd property that there are things hidden in it. You can read it for the fortieth time and notice something you never did before.

Old Testament (in the traditional Jewish order)
New Testament
Book of Mormon
LDS
Torah
Neviyim
Ketuvim
Gen 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 Ex 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Lev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Num 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 Deut 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 Josh 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Jud 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 1Sam 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 2Sam 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 1Kings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 2Kings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Isaiah 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 Jer 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 Ezek 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 Hos 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Joel 1 2 3 Amos 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Obad Jonah 1 2 3 4 Mic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Nah 1 2 3 Hab 1 2 3 Zeph 1 2 3 Hag 1 2 Zech 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Mal 1 2 3 4 Psalms 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 Prov 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Job 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 Ruth 1 2 3 4 Lam 1 2 3 4 5 Ecc 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 The Song of Solomon is not scripture. Esther 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Dan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Ezra 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Neh 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 1Chron 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2Chro 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

Matt 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Mark 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Luke 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 John 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Acts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Rom 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 1Cor 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 2Cor 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Gal 1 2 3 4 5 6 Eph 1 2 3 4 5 6 Philip 1 2 3 4 Col 1 2 3 4 1Thess 1 2 3 4 5 2Thess 1 2 3 1Tim 1 2 3 4 5 6 2Tim 1 2 3 4 Titus 1 2 3 Philemon Heb 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 James 1 2 3 4 5 1Pet 1 2 3 4 5 2 Pet 1 2 3 1Jn 1 2 3 4 5 2Jn 3Jn Jude Rev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 1Nephi 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 2Nephi 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 Jac 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Enos Jarom Omni W-Mmn Mosiah 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Alma 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 Helaman 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 3Nephi 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 4Nephi Mormon 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Ether 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Moroni 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 DC 1 2 3 4l 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 OD 1 2
Moses 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Abraham 1 2 3 4 5 Fac.1 2 3
JS-Matt
JS-Hist
Articles of Faith
Proclamation on the Family
General Conference
Your Patriarchal Blessing


Note the space here - there is more to come.

You might believe that some parts are more valuable, so you'd want to intentionally repeat those more often and others less. You can use other colors for chapters you read a 2nd and 3rd time. A devout Jew might say the material to the left is the best, decreasing toward the right. A really advanced student will say it's the other way - the Doctrine and Covenants is the purest, loftiest, most valuable of all extant scripture. But that person needs to teach others. So he should study it all.

I cannot emphasize this too much. President Kimball told how he read the entire Bible as a boy. He felt a great sense of accomplishment when he finished. I did the same thing and felt the same. If you haven't done this, do it. Read the entire standard works.

2. A Chapter a Day. There are about 1600 chapters in the Standard Works. It would take a little over 4 years to study them at 1 chapter a day. With review and discussion, they become permanent friends. To study it all evenly, each month study 3 chapters of the LDS material, 5 of the Book of Mormon, 6 of the New Testament, and 19 of the Old - you see what a large fraction of the total that is! It makes sense to study Abraham and Moses with Genesis, and Joseph Smith's corrections on Matthew 24 with Matthew 24, etc. The LDS Bible has his amendments alongside. There are also numerous parallel chapters, that should be studied together, like Isaiah 36 and 2Kings 18.

[Tumbleweeds] 3. Follow references. Follow the footnotes or links, see where they lead and what they teach. The footnotes in the LDS Scriptures aren't very competent, they were created by about 1600 BYU undergraduate students, and they didn't all do very well with their chapter. Compare other Bibles and other books, and compile your own footnotes. And of course, you yourself will be able to identify correlations that everyone else missed. A note such as "Paul told Timothy to make teachers stick to the right doctrine, 1Timothy 1:3" is better than "1Timothy 1:3". Space isn't at a premium today as it was in print media.

4. Memorize. As you read, go back and review what you read yesterday and the day before. Memory becomes permanent when you keep something in your mind for about 3 days. Often the sound of it sticks in the mind (see Recordings, below) but some people more easily remember the appearance of the words on the page, and there are other ways.

5. Study by Topic. Collect a list of topics and study them one by one. Identify every passage in the scriptures that relates to that topic, and study and memorize them. You could start with Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and so on.

6. Write summaries. The chapter summaries in the LDS Scriptures are not perfect. In other Bibles they are worse. You can probably do better. Study questions can be a useful alternative to summaries, and I don't mean vapid little questions like "Who were the Lamanites". (When the chapter summaries are placed in a file of their own, they become a useful tool to find things.)

7. Write a Commentary. This is a very old and honorable tradition. Copy and paste a chapter into a text file, then insert your own explanations. There should be some way to distinguish your text from the scripture, such as a different font, different color, or different area on the page. We might also mention, "Read Commentaries". Famous commentaries include the Targums, the Mishna, the Talmuds, Origen's, Moses Maimonides', Adam Clarke's, Matthew Henry's, Sproul's, Joseph Smith's many comments, Bruce R. McConkie's, Joseph F. Smith's, etc. etc. It doesn't take long when you learn the Restored Gospel to see the difficulty some of the above labored under.

8. Write Essays. Even if you have little ability at this, the exercise will do you immense good. Think about what the people around you need, and address those problems. Write about what the scriptures have to say about it. Find a way to make your essays available. Then you don't have to sermonize to anyone, just refer them to your essay. Imagine a missionary (or an ordinary Mormon) who composes a sermon each day. After a year they would become a power to reckon with.

You won't get this lucky in one trip 9. Compare translations. Sometimes one translator will express something a little better than the others. Bible Gateway has a goodly collection of Bibles in English, and many other languages. Used book stores have treasures waiting for you.

10. Get Closer to the Original Manuscripts. You can learn Greek and study the New Testament, or Hebrew and study the Old Testament. Joseph Smith recommended this to the Elders, so that they could preach the Gospel with much greater power. These languages are not difficult, and if you know Spanish or some other Mediterranean language (or English, for that matter) you already know a lot of Greek words.

11. Explore Mysteries. Ward leaders will be terrified, but Nephi will be glad (1Ne. 1:1). The most intriguing, most valuable, most important mysteries, however, are the basics. When you get those down, most of the supposed mysteries, like the Adam-God theory etc., open rather easily. (By the way, if you conclude that Brigham Young really taught that Adam and God the Father are the same person, you can be certain your comprehension of the basics is flawed.)

12. Discuss. LDS Sunday School is generally pretty tame. There isn't time to delve into anything much, the priority is on getting the people to understand the most needful things, and there's many in the room who think open discussion of anything interesting is a frightful menace. You can organize a study group in your home, or at work, and there are internet forums. Stay away from anything where the Spirit doesn't endorse your involvement, or any forum moderated by antimormons. If those creeps can control the discussion, you may lose your testimony and your eternal life. I'm Not Kidding.

You could write an email or a letter to someone and discuss the scriptures with them at that slower pace. Albert Einstein used to discuss things with people via letters, and he certainly did change the world.

13. Make Audio Recordings. Your family will be THRILLED to hear you read the scriptures, it can bring you closer together, especially if you're on the road a lot. You can do a lot better than the metallic robot guy they have on lds.org. It can also teach you something about yourself, as well as improve your reading skills. You can get an audio recorder for $40. There are programs, such as Audacity (free) that you can use to edit, remove goofs and interruptions. You need a quiet place, such as a soundproof room, or a forest, to record in. A hotel room might be OK, depending on how many fights, rock concerts, etc. are going on in adjacent rooms.                 read more

I should mention that listening to the scriptures as audio (or having some kind person just read them to you) is a great way to get them into your soul. You can listen while you drive a car, babysit, build banjos, etc.

14. Make Music. Handel turned passages from Isaiah et al into The Messiah. Haydn heard it and tried to outdo him in Die Schopfung. These guys didn't have audio recorders, computers, music software, printers, sound systems, teleprompters, the internet, any of that stuff we have now... You can start with any tune, copyright law provides for this; or make up your own... How can I tell you how to do it? You might be restricted by too narrow of ideas from me.

14. Teach. If you're called to teach a class in church, accept the calling and do your best! The teacher learns the most. But a faithful Latter-day Saint could teach a Bible class better than any minister or professor of the world, without exception, because of our additional scripture, in conjunction with the Gift of the Holy Ghost and their testimony.

There is a fine line between being too pushy and too modest. If no one knows you know the scriptures, you're being too modest with your knowledge. The right balance is exactly between these two extremes, then just a little bit toward the enthusiastic side of the line so no one mistakes you for an inert bag of potatoes. But with love.

After you've studied something for a few years, you will become one of the world's leading experts on it. This is because most professionals, once they master something and proceed to make a living at it, don't study it very much after that. Also, they aren't you!

One more thing. Now that these ideas have passed thru your mind, you probably realize what I've said here is true; and more, you must have felt - even if only a tiny bit - the challenge: You ought to organize your doings and become more of a scriptorian. This is the path.
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Notes

1. Woody Brison is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but this website is not affiliated with the church. It may be thought of as an additional, somewhat independent witness.

2. I want this page to be as accurate as I can make it. If you have a correction, please email me.

3. All biblical quotations are from the King James unless otherwise noted.

Copyright 2013, 2017 Woody Brison. All rights reserved.