A year of Book of Mormon Study in review

Over the last two years I have joined a group of people from my ward for a regular study group. Last year was the New Testament, and we used various translations along with supplemental readings, largely drawn from Raymond Brown’s magisterial Introduction to the New Testament. We got together, shared questions and comments from the readings, and ate cheese or brownies as we discussed the intersection of our lives with scripture. As we turned to the Book of Mormon this year, things were different. I used Skousen’s Earliest Text for my scripture reading, and others largely used the Maxwell Institute’s Study Edition. But the supplemental reading was less concentrated in a single text, and the food was stripped from us as was our sociality. Zoom was a passible solution, and in many ways formed the core of my devotional life during the period my stake ended all meetings, even if they were online.

As we finished our last meeting of the year this week, I thought it would be worth taking a critical look at the content we covered and ask what people liked or didn’t. The following is the content schedule we followed over the last twelve months.

A consistent feedback I received was that the podcasts were a great addition. It makes sense—you can listen in far more contexts that you can read. Unfortunately, the Maxwell Institute’s podcasts for their Brief Theological Introductions didn’t catch up to our reading until the latter portion of the year. And there were many meetings without. I think we will work harder to find relevant audio content moving forward.

Regarding the supplemental readings, like the podcasts, the publication schedule meant that we didn’t include any of the Maxwell Institute’s volumes this year. In four years, I think that would be different. Still, we had a lot of great content. People really enjoyed Grant Hardy’s Understanding the Book of Mormon chapters. I received specific call outs for the papers/chapters by Janiece Johnson, Sam Brown, David Pulsipher, Joseph Spencer, and Jared Cook. I think moving forward, we would replace Kimberley Berkey’s chapters with her Maxwell Institute volume. And the material in Ellison was a bit repetitive of some of the previous material we hit. The Mormon Theological Seminar content was by nature preliminary, and a little difficult to incorporate. Again, the Maxwell Institute volumes will make great replacements.

Looking forward to the Doctrine and Covenants things are going to be a bit more complicated, and I think require a bit more work. Hopefully with the vaccine in place we will son be able to sit down together and share food as well as thoughts.


  1. Josiah Reckons says:

    I also enjoyed reading from Skousen’s Earliest Text this year. It was really nice to see it all laid out in sense lines.

    I also enjoyed our study group at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately when the covid lockdowns began, my friend running them didn’t choose to continue them online and I wasn’t in a position to organise them.

    I really like some of the resources you used, but I’m not familiar with all of them. I look forward to finding out more, and starting some of the maxwell institutes books and other things I didn’t manage to read this year. It’s been a weird year, and I read surprisingly less than I might have expected given so much lockdown time.

  2. J. Stapley says:

    Josiah, I’ve found it really challenging to read during the lockdown. Having the group had been good for that.

  3. Olde Skool says:

    You know, it’d be really useful if all that supplemental reading were available in one location, print or digital….

  4. I was really bummed the Brief Theological Introductions were not timely. They were great and the podcasts with Blair were awesome. He does such a good Job.

    This is super cool J., your Ward is lucky to have such a program.

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