Gearing up for OT Sunday School 2022

As 2021 draws to a close, in just a couple of weeks we will be transitioning from our 2021 CFM curriculum on the D&C to our 2022 CFM curriculum on the Old Testament. So I thought I would post a few resources and suggestions our readers might find useful as we transition from the contemporary church to ancient Israel.

Four years ago when we were doing OT the blog posted weekly lesson plans/helps. I think there are 48 of them. So that should be a tremendous resource for you. Just search the blog (search field is in the upper right above) for bccsundayschool2018 to find all of those lessons and scroll to the one you want; if you know a particular lesson number, just add Lesson X to your search to go right to it. One virtue of reviewing these lessons is that each one at the end contains links to posts from our archives that are relevant to that particular lesson. This resource should be a tremendous help for teachers and students alike.

For the first introductory lesson I suggest you review my post “Introduction to the Old Testament.” This material includes things I always wanted to convey to the class in the very first lesson when I was teaching OT.

If you go to my post “An Index to my GD-Related Posts” you will find a listing of 125 posts of mine that are relevant to Gospel Doctrine classes. Only about a third (maybe 40) of those posts are relevant to the OT, but it should be easy to find them by just scanning the list of titles.

You should also consult Ben Spackman’s blog throughout the year; his first OT post is already up.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of combining OT, Moses and Abraham in the curriculum for the first couple of months. My preference would be to study OT specifically. But I understand why the Church does it this way; these are canonical books that cover the same time periods. For a useful introduction to the BoA consult my post The Book of Abraham.

Moses is just the beginning of the JST. I don’t have an introduction to that in the can somewhere, so let me suggest a few notes off the top of my head: Joseph initiated the JST in June 1830, just a couple of months after the Church was organized. The project took just over three years and was concluded on July 2, 1833. Joseph wanted to publish it, but both time and money were lacking. 

At first the entire revised text was recorded in longhand, but eventually Joseph and his scribes (and a lot of scribes worked on this project) made notations in the Joseph Smith “marked Bible” and just included the changed wording in the manuscript. He started in Genesis, then was directed by revelation to go to the NT, and after finishing the NT he returned to finish the OT. The Apocrypha was published between the testaments, so he inquired whether he should translate that material as well and was told it was not necessary.

There are different kinds of changes in the JST. If you are interested in those differences, check out my post Toward a Paradigm of JST Revisions. (The one in my Dialogue article on the JST of 1 Corinthians is more refined, but this one will do for most purposes.)

Most students do not realize that the JST extracts we have in our Bible only represents a small portion (maybe 15%) of the actual changes. When the Church did the 1979 Bible they faced severe space constraints and so only included a smattering of the revisions. You can see all the manuscripts at the JSPP, but those are really awkward for reading use and are intended more for scholarly purposes. There is a useful website that conveniently gives the KJV and JST in parallel columns; just google KJV and Inspired Version and it will be the first hit.

Well, I think that’s about it for now. What tips or tricks do you use in your OT study that would be useful for the rest of us to consider?


  1. Thanks for the JST/Moses/BoA overview, Kevin. I also second your recommendation of Ben’s blog, it’s really transformed my OT study (and has great resources for other topics, too). The NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible has updated language and solid notes/essays that are helpful. Peter Enns also has some good material that’s quite accessible—The Bible Tells Me So and How the Bible Actually Works are both great, and I just got a copy of Genesis for Normal People that I’m looking forward to reading.

  2. Aussie Mormon says:

    The BYU scripture citation index also gives you easy access to the JST as whole sections rather than just snippets. In the left section, go into the book, and you can pick between the normal version and the JST. It’s not parallel, but it’s very accessible.

  3. Michael Harris says:

    Jeffrey Bradshaw has provided an extraordinary resource:

  4. Thanks Kevin. Some great resources here. I’d say that a study bible has been the single MOST transformative thing in my OT scripture study the past decade and I’m looking forward to trying the “Cultural Backgrounds” edition this coming year. If I may, I’d also give a plug for “The Bible Project,” which has animated videos outlining the literary design and main messages for every book of the Bible (plus a terrific “How to Read the Bible” series. My wife and I watch these regularly and they’re just terrific.

  5. Michael Harris,

    Both volumes written by Jeff Bradshaw (the second by David Larsen) are extraordinary, but for those who don’t have time to get through their combined 1700 pages, he’s just released The First Days & The Last Days, which distills quite a bit of it. (I recommend the color version, which is the electronic or there’s a paperback from Amazon). He’s also got a new one on Enoch coming out next week.

    I agree with Kevin, Ben Spackman’s posts are helpful (as are Kevin’s).

    I prefer the Jewish Study Bible from Oxford, followed by the Harper Collins Study Bible, although the New Oxford Annotated Bible have a few of the books that I prefer the translator/editor. Actually, any of the three would be helpful in your study.

  6. Not a Cougar says:

    For those who enjoy learning via podcasts, I’ve found the History in the Bible podcast to be immensely helpful as a jumping off point for all the craziness of the Old Testament. Garry Stevens is a self-deprecating Bible history buff from Australia who I think does a tremendous job introducing us laypeople to the basics of Biblical history, archaeology, and Jewish, Christian and (occasionally) Islamic theology that are based on the stories of the Bible. As a mere buff, he studiously avoids making assertions but rather quotes liberally from experts in various fields. I also enjoy how he will read and analyze the text of a story, pointing out that the text often says something very different from the meaning that so many branches of Judaism and Christianity have layered onto it (the snake in the Garden of Eden who is never identified in Genesis as anything but a snake being just one of many examples). The Old Testament season has been done for a few years now as is the New Testament, and he is finishing up a third season focusing on Jewish and Christian groups (and the religious texts they wrote) of the first two centuries A.D. If you’re looking for a changeup to compliment LDS-focused Bible study, this podcast might be for you.

  7. Thanks for the tip, Not a Cougar!

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