While studying the Old Testament several years ago, Val Greenwood realized that the book is full of inspiring stories that many people don't know.
"As I was reading the Old Testament again in connection with the (LDS) Church's emphasis in 2002, I just had the impression that there were lots of good stories here, and somebody should write them from the LDS point of view," he said. "I thought. 'I can do that.'"
The Riverton resident spent the next five years working on his project. This month he saw his vision fulfilled as his book "How Often Would I Have Gathered You" became available for public purchase.
The book contains 229 stories from the Old Testament and related sources, geared for a Latter-day Saint audience, with cross references and footnotes to help increase readers' understanding of the subject matter.
"There's lots of stories in the Old Testament that are really good stories, but people don't know them because they haven't had much exposure to them," Greenwood said.
Some of the subjects of the stories include Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, Moses and his efforts to take the children of Israel to the promised land as well as Saul and David. The book also has two comprehensive indexes, one with a pronunciation guide of names and the other about subjects to facilitate study.
One thing he tried not to do, Greenwood said, was draw morals for each story and instead let the stories speak for themselves. He also tried to keep them as close to the scriptural version as possible without using the same language. The footnotes cross-reference between related stories or stories that may shed more light on a subject.
Overall, Greenwood says he is happy with the finished product.
"I'm well pleased. I think it's everything I thought it would be, maybe even more," he said. "I just love the cover the way they've done it."
A number of people have told Greenwood that he's releasing his book in the wrong year since the LDS Church's course of study this year is the New Testament. He says he has adopted the philosophy that the Old Testament is no longer only for every fourth year. Students in high school and junior high seminary will also be studying the Old Testament in the 2007-2008 school year, and the book could be helpful for them.
In looking back over all the work it took to research and prepare "How Often I Would Have Gathered You" over the last five years, Greenwood said he feels like it was a worthwhile endeavor but is not sure he plans to take on another book anytime soon.
"Writing books is a lot of hard work," he said. "It's one of those things that you get to a certain point and say this is so much work but you say, 'I'm too far down the road to quit."'