With 2018 comes new curriculum for LDS Church classes and quorums. For gospel doctrine students, the focus is on the Old Testament, along with the Pearl of Great Price. Here are several recently published books — seven for gospel doctrine and one for Relief Society and Melchizedek Priesthood quorums that can be a resource to teachers and students.
"PEARL OF GREAT PRICE REFERENCE COMPANION," edited by Dennis L. Largey, Deseret Book, $34.99, 315 pages (nf)
The "Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion" is the latest in a series designed to give Latter-day Saints a comprehensive encyclopedia dictionary of information and increase gospel knowledge.
This glossy-covered, 315-page volume addresses 400 topics related to the Pearl of Great Price, exploring people, places, words, phrases, doctrine, themes and historical background from Abraham and the Aaronic Priesthood to Zion and the City of Enoch.
In the book's preface, general editor Dennis L. Largey writes that the Pearl of Great Price is an additional testament of the divinity of Jesus Christ, helping to restore lost truths. Studying the "Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion" will expand a reader's knowledge of the Savior.
"Jesus Christ is the central figure in the Pearl of Great Price," Largey wrote. "The gospel of Jesus Christ did not begin with Christ's birth in Bethlehem or his ministry in Galilee or in Jerusalem; its inception was from before the foundation of the world. It was taught by Adam and Eve, and it was preached by the ancient prophets."
Along with an A to Z look at the Pearl of Great Price, the reference companion comes with maps, illustrations, outlines and other images prepared to offer greater insight. The volume also contains extensive cross-references to the previous two reference companions covering the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.
The "Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion" was compiled through the work of multiple LDS scholars and faculty members at Brigham Young University with Largey as the general editor.
— Trent Toone
"MIRACLES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT," by Alonzo L. Gaskill, Cedar Fort, $34.99, 480 pages (nf)
Alonzo L. Gaskill, associate professor of LDS church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University, analyzes and successfully finds practical applications for the modern reader in his latest book titled "Miracles of the Old Testament." He covers miracles from the well-known, such as Moses parting the Red Sea and Daniel surviving the lion’s den, to more obscure — though no less miraculous — events like Elisha making an ax head float and a hand appearing and writing on a king’s wall.
Each chapter comes in digestible chunks, starting with a scriptural citation of where the miracle is found, followed by a brief summary of the miracle in layman’s terms. To help put the miracle into perspective, Gaskill provides the historical background of the events and people involved as well as customs that may be unfamiliar to the modern reader.
Next, the symbolic elements are described. It’s this section of each chapter that brings to light the complexity of many of the Old Testament miracles. Layers of symbolism are peeled away to reveal how the miracle applied to ancient peoples and nations.
The final section of each chapter provides a unique look at how the miracle, symbolism, and events have been interpreted by biblical scholars over the years. These serious students of scripture provide highly personal applications that encourage the engaged reader to apply the miracles to himself.
"Miracles of the Old Testament" is easily accessible for those looking to enhance their understanding of popular, and some not-so-popular, miracles of the Bible.
— Stacey L. Nash
In 2000, Gee published “A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri,” intending to provide readers with the latest scholarly research and LDS commentary. However, so many new discoveries have come to light in the past 17 years Gee decided to write a completely new book instead of revising the old one.
Gee sets out to provide general readers with an understanding of the complex historical and academic issues associated with the Book of Abraham. He presents synopses of important issues ranging from how Joseph Smith obtained the papyri to what is known about the original Egyptian owners to the book’s central role in revealing the Latter-day Saint doctrine of premortal existence.
Readers interested in learning more will be delighted by chapter notes that provide bibliographic references with very short — and understandable — summaries. The book has a number of helpful charts and illustrations as well as frequent references to the latest research from the Joseph Smith Papers.
“An Introduction to the Book of Abraham” is an ideal resource for those studying the Old Testament and Pearl of Great Price.
Gee has a doctorate in Egyptology from Yale University and is the William “Bill” Gay Assistant Research Professor of Egyptology at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU.
— Kurt Manwaring
"WALKING WITH THE WOMEN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT," by Heather Ferrell, Cedar Fort, $34.99, 308 pages (nf)
In the Old Testament, there are many women who are well-known such as Eve, Sarah, Lot's wife, Leah, Rachel and Bethseba. However, the Old Testament is filled with many more women who may be unfamiliar to the general public.
Heather Merrill, blogger at womeninthescriptures.com, pulls together a comprehensive list of about 80 women in the Old Testament in her newest book titled "Walking with Women in the Old Testament."
With each woman, Merrill provides historical context, insights to the culture of the time period, as well as words from leaders and scholars of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Merrill provides personal insights and experiences along with extensive footnotes, appendices and sources of information.
"Walking with Women in the Old Testament" shows the importance, the influence (both good and bad) and the value of womanhood not just throughout ancient history, but also in the plan of salvation and in the latter days.
This book contains stunning pictures of women by Mandy Jane Williams and is a great addition for those interested in learning more about the role of women in ancient times.
— Lauren McAfee
“PROPHET AND PROPHECIES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: The 46th Annual BYU Sidney B. Sperry Symposium," BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, $24.99, 273 pages (nf)
In “Prophets and Prophecies of the Old Testament,” speakers from the 2017 Sidney B. Sperry Symposium at Brigham Young University take a deep dive into Old Testament prophecies and explore the original linguistic, historical and theological contexts within. Edited by BYU professors Aaron P. Schade, Brian M. Hauglid and Kerry Muhlstein, the book consists of 10 chapters and includes a keynote address from Elder Spencer J. Condie, an emeritus General Authority Seventy.
As time has marched on, some Old Testament verses have evolved into something different from the original meaning. “Prophets and Prophecies” explains how old scripture verses fit with the newer interpretations.
Written with a modern LDS perspective, the presenters try to help readers develop a more resolute grasp on the Old Testament and its present-day relevance. While the writing may be too specialized for the average lay member, it might be a worthwhile subject to study for those interested in the Old Testament.
— Ryan D. Curtis
The Old Testament can sometimes feel daunting.
It is a powerful but sometimes complex scriptural package which may leave those studying it feeling a bit overwhelmed.
But teacher-turned-author Shauna Humphreys hopes to make a study of the Old Testament less daunting by offering readers the support of her newest book titled "100 Favorite Verses from the Old Testament."
Following the success of her previous study guides focused on missionaries, the New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants and scriptures about Jesus Christ, Humphreys now adds her insights to Old Testament teachings, which will instruct and inspire.
The pages are packed with relevant Biblical passages and supplemented with the author's own thoughts as she seeks to apply these teachings to our day. Each chapter shares one favorite scripture, a concise highlighted thought to match the doctrine and two pages of explanation and application of the chosen verse.
Humphreys also links each verse to additional scriptures from the New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and modern-day hymns, which gives life to these favorite verses by adding significance and understanding.
Humphreys asserts that a study of the Old Testament "can take us on an intense spiritual odyssey designed to tutor us in testimony and bring us closer to our Savior."
This work is a good guide for those studying the Old Testament individually, a starting place for family discussions, or a compact collection of thoughts for a Sunday School class.
— Melissa DeMoux
"THE USER-FRIENDLY OLD TESTAMENT: A Modern Approach to Ancient Scripture," by Marilyn Green Faulkner, Cedar Fort, $18.99, 288 pages (nf)
"The User-Friendly Old Testament: A Modern Approach to Ancient Scripture" helps to explain various aspects of the Old Testament, from the good to the weird, and helps extract eternal truths. Did Eve really talk to a snake? What can we learn from quarrelling brothers Jacob and Esau? How did David fall from faithful warrior to immoral king?
Written thousands of years ago, the Old Testament's themes of covenants, family and forgiveness are as applicable as ever. Written in the style of your favorite seminary teacher, this study guide will be a hit with your favorite teen or teen-at-heart.
Marilyn Green Faulkner teaches a weekly scripture study class and is the author of "Back to the Best Books: How the Classics Can Change Your Life" and "The User-Friendly Book of Mormon: Timeless Truths for Today’s Challenges." She is also senior content creator at FMG Suite, the mother of five children and has nine grandchildren.
— Rachel Chipman
"THE READY RESOURCE FOR RELIEF SOCIETY AND MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD," by Trina Boice, Cedar Fort, $12.99, 174 pages (nf)
In "The Ready Resource for Relief Society and Melchizedek Priesthood," Trina Boice addresses the format of the 2018 lesson schedule for both Relief Society and Melchizedek priesthood classes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first Sunday lesson will be counseling, second and third lessons from general conference talks, fourth lesson a topic chosen by general LDS Church leaders, and fifth will be a topic chosen by the local bishop.
Each of these Sunday lessons has its own designated section. In each section, there are topics given in-depth study. Each of the gospel topics includes music, a summary, quotes, a list of gospel art, videos, articles, object lessons, a challenge to give to the class, doctrinal mastery passages and page references in the "Preach My Gospel" manual. There is also a blank space left for notes for each topic.
The object lessons provide a particularly poignant way to enliven any lesson and get the class engaged in a memorable way. Although "The Ready Resource" provides plenty of ideas, it also gives the reader a list of additional resources to help in looking for more ideas. Additionally, Boice stresses the need to use the Holy Ghost in planning each lesson to ensure that it meets the needs of the teachers' audience.
Boice currently teaches at Le Cordon Bleu College for Culinary Arts and is also an instructor for Brigham Young University-Pathway.
— Jennifer Autry