As I prepared this lesson, I feel like the first few sections will be pretty quick discussions unless you have a ward full of brand-spankin’ new converts who didn’t get taught about the four books of scripture during their missionary discussions. Or maybe I’d just skip over them because I think it’s all kinds of fun to talk exegesis, i.e. biblical interpretation. My thoughts are in italics, more official sources are presented in regular font.
I’d start this lesson with the hymn, “As I Search the Holy Scriptures” on pg 277—this alone could teach the lesson.
The Scriptures Are Available to Us Today
We are blessed to have four books of scriptures, but with that blessing comes the responsibility. I love the following quote by Sister Okazaki in her book, Aloha:
The manuals and the Ensign and other commentaries and sermons and essays are meaningful and perceptive; but if we read only them and don’t study the scriptures for ourselves, we still have only a secondhand relationship with the scriptures.
This is a concern I have right now. Speaking as someone who fully participates as a lesson organizer and a searcher for great lessons, I have to say that with the Internet and the easy accessibility of lesson helps, I have noticed that sometimes, I plan a whole sharing time without cracking open my scriptures. Someone has already found great passages, and so lesson preparation (a significant part of my scripture study) has been lost to me unless I make the conscious effort to go to the scriptures with the topic in mind before preparing my lesson.
With the scriptures accessible today, yet competing with other media, what do you do to keep your relationship with the scriptures an important one?
Have someone read D&C 109:7
How can we remember the importance of deep and thoughtful study that is discussed in this scripture?
There’s some great material in the four book section (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) here, which can be covered rather briefly. I think it would be neat to go ask a handful of women scripturists in one’s ward to talk about their favorite book of scripture and how they came to love it for a few minutes each. I think it’d also be lovely to ask people to share their favorite passage and why it speaks to them.
The Book of Mormon
The Doctrine and Covenants
The Pearl of Great Price
I just want to highlight this excellent line of questioning. It makes me want to sneak out of Primary this week to go hear my ward’s discussion:
What are some stories from the scriptures that have inspired you? What are some teachings from these books of scripture that have helped you?
Words of Our Living Prophets
This section is a great reminder. I would push the line of questioning a little further…
How do you identify inspired words from our prophets? Does anyone have a good story of when they’ve heard a prophet speak and felt the importance of his words?
Studying the Scriptures
Yay! The fun part! Some questions I would cover:
What blessings can we receive when we study the scriptures?
How can we keep the commitment to study the scriptures each day? Consider planning a time and a place to study the scriptures each day.
I would finish, as the teacher, by sharing what has been helpful for me to study the scriptures—how I pick what I read, how I pick what time I’ll do it, what study tools I use.
Here’s something I would share…I use different study techniques depending on my mood. I have an ongoing project to look up every footnote in the Book of Mormon, write all my questions and ideas in a journal, and jot particularly pertinent connections in my BoM. Of course, I started this 5 years ago, and I’m in 2 Nephi. So, I’ve had to look for new ways to study that would help me. These days, I think of a theme, look it up in the Topical Guide or Bible Dictionary, see what looks interesting and go through the different passages on the theme that are listed until I want to move onto something else.
I’ve also found it helpful to read other versions of the Bible (I love the NRSV) when I’m really stuck on a story’s or passage’s meaning.
Again, this is the fun part. Invite your class to share what works for them (and what doesn’t).
Close with testimony
Note: This lesson was originally written for the Relief Society audience in 2010-2011, when the Gospel Principles manual was temporarily used as curriculum for Relief Society, Elders Quorum and High Priest classes. The lesson may require adaptation for Gospel Principles classes, which are mixed gender and primarily serve new members and investigators of the church.