Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Gospel scholarship

Posted by NathanG on August 6, 2010

I have the opportunity to give an Enrichment lesson on gospel scholarship.  I thought I would pose a couple questions to people who are definitely more experienced than I in this subject.

What is gospel scholarship?  More specifically what should it mean to regular members of the church who may not have a career that allows them to spend vast amounts of time in the scriptures?  What is the goal of pursuing knowledge of the gospel?

What topics would you address if you had 30-40 minutes to spend on this topic?

How would you teach?

Part of my instruction was to discuss ways to study the scriptures, how to make the most of the features within the scriptures (footnotes, topical guide, etc.), and external resources (books, magazines, online resources).

What do you think?

7 Responses to “Gospel scholarship”

  1. RuthS said

    I would talk about How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler. I would talk about the various methods of proof texting and how to avoid them. I would talk about the importance of looking for patterns and understanding how repetitions enhance understanding. I would also talk about the importance of reading regularly and writing your own glossary and commentary.

  2. Andrew G said

    I remember on the mission, my first ZL conducted an exercise with the BoM, as he read each chapter, he wrote down his own chapter headings on note cards. This allowed him to master the content of each chapter in a more personal way. I’d suggest something like that.

    The other suggestion I’d give is to actually read the scriptures, and don’t merely treat them as a proof-text for your own ideas. Don’t tell God what His theology is and then look for support in the scriptures, look for His theology as revealed in scripture.

  3. Jeremy said

    Funny, as a lowly Elder I was recently asked to speak on the same subject to the High Priest group in our Ward. I focused my thoughts on the following quote by Elder Packer:

    “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Do Not Fear,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 79)

    I think at least some of your questions can be answered with this quote. One of the major reasons I started studying the scriptures was an attempt to overcome the natural man. And it worked! Ever since I started my quest for knowledge I have changed the way I think about the gospel, the Church, and my fellow man. It truly changed both my attitude and my behavior.

    Another goal of pursuing gospel knowledge is to lift others. I routinely study the scriptures with the intent of one day being called upon to teach what I have learned to others. It’s no secret that teaching another person helps the teacher learn the subject better – so both are benefitted therefrom.

  4. Janell the Great said

    I would take a little time to focus on the importance of the question “Why?” So many people just read without really experiencing the depth of the scriptures. Asking questions helps you better understand the doctrine. Why did David carry five stones for his sling when one was all he needed? (And why five and not twelve?) Why did Satan invite Christ to jump off a church – and how or why could that relate to me? Why is so much time spent on recording genealogies of men? Etc.

    Like a prior comment mentioned, I also find it helpful to write my own titles and headers for chapters. I also try at times to memorize my own headers (a very slow work in progress) so that I can turn to certain sections of scripture and to help identify overlapping sections of scripture (Kings, Chronicles, Isaiah).

    It would also be appropriate to spend a little time teaching the relationship between testimony, the spirit, and study. You cannot gain a testimony through scholarship alone, but, likewise, often the spirit requires preparation before you can teach.

  5. Robert C. said

    The scriptures teach that we are to serve God with our mind as well as our heart. Scriptures engage the mind and there is no substitute.

    FWIW, for me there was a hump at some point in my study of scripture that was hard to get over. I had too many questions and too few answers, and I was growing impatient and losing faith that my questions would be answered. I got frustrated and, partly in relation to other life challenges and complications, my study of scripture significantly waned. In many ways, this forum and others like it was an answer to my payers for help. I think it is very helpful to study scripture with others—incl. family, other ward members, and others who are like-minded. Technology is a great blessing in this sense.

    If God is to be at the center of our lives, his word must be there too—else we risk mistaking our own will for God’s will. The scriptures are a great check on our own self-deceptions, and studying them seriously—meaning diligently, carefully, thoughtfully, prayerfully, etc.—is the best (only?) way to build a Christ-centered life, IMHO….

    • Jim F. said

      Robert, your experience is a good guide for others when it comes to scripture study. Thanks for sharing.

  6. AJT said

    Take a look at Faulkner’s “Scripture study: Tools and suggestions.” It has a bunch of good ideas and even some exercises.

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