Anybody out there remember the old Equitable Insurance television ad? We are talking 1973. It featured quick shots of several bowlers in their various forms with the catchy jingle “Is there anyone else in the whole human race with your kind of style and your kind of grace” in the background.
I look at scripture study like that old insurance ad. Everyone has their own kind of style that works best for them. It may be studying long before the sun peaks over the mountains or reading while curled in bed late at night. Some enjoy studying on a bus headed to work or at lunch gnawing on an apple. Others prefer a red pencil to mark impressionable passages while some use a rainbow of colors to highlight and code scriptures according to subject. Many read cover to cover while others study by gospel subject.
Regardless of your “kind of style and your kind of grace” you will enjoy using a companion guide titled Revelations in Context: The Stories Behind the Sections of the Doctrine of Covenants when studying early LDS Church history as it pertains to the Doctrine and Covenants, a sacred book in the scripture canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
First published in 2016, this guide has proven to be a valuable asset to me as I study the revelations given primarily in the dawn of the Restored Gospel.
Rather than covering each scripture section and the entire book cover-to-cover or in chronological order, chapters are written by subject. Here are sample titles of some of the 54 chapters: “A Mission to the Lamanites,” “Thou Art an Elect Lady,” “The Faith and Fall of Thomas Marsh,” “Jesse Gause: Counselor to the Prophet,” “A School and an Endowment,” “Restoring the Ancient Order,” and “The Book of John Whitmer.”
Historians in the Church History Department write in a narrative style about the historical background and specific events leading up to the revelations.
As noted in the book’s preface, most sections of the Doctrine and Covenants contain only the Lord’s dialogue and not the questions leading to the revelation. The narratives give depth to the section headings that provide some context for the Doctrine and Covenants sections. They are told from the point of view of those people who experienced them in their immediate context.
I love the fact that references at the end of each narrative direct the reader to a myriad of historical documents and materials.
A few weeks ago, the first line of the chapter “Religious Enthusiasm among Early Ohio Converts” grabbed my immediate attention. The chapter started “Levi Hancock was 27 years old…” I said to myself, “Levi Hancock. I know him. He is my second great-grandfather and one of my sons is named Levi Hancock Roberts.
The story goes that his brother Alvah brought him word of the Book of Mormon. “Four men have come and have brought a book with them that they call a history and record of the people that once inhabited this land. Tomorrow they are to hold a meeting at Mr. Jackson’s in Mayfield. They lay hands on those they baptize and bestow on them the Holy Ghost.”
Levi describe his reaction: “At these last words… there seemed to fall on me something pleasant and delightful. It seemed like a wash of something warm took me in the face and ran over my body which gave me that feeling I cannot describe. The first word I said, was, ‘It is the truth, I can feel it. I will go and hear for myself tomorrow.’”
He was among more than 100 baptized as a result of visits by Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Ziba Peterson in Ohio in the fall of 1830.
I strongly urge you to get a copy of Revelations in Context.
And if studying scriptures with hard copies of books is not “your kind of style, your kind of grace,” you can read it free online on the Church website or in the Church’s Library app.
Charlie Roberts and his wife Janna are currently serving in the Zambia Lusaka Mission from their Tooele Valley home for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.