Using the New LDS Editions of Scripture—As One Book


Many centuries ago an ancient prophet prophesied of the coming forth of two records for the house of Israel. (See Ezek. 37:16–19.) One record would be of “Judah,” and the other record would be of “Ephraim.” He described them as “sticks” or wood, probably “wooden writing tablets” which were common in Ezekiel’s day. (See footnote 16a for Ezek. 37:16, LDS edition of the King James Version; see also Keith H. Meservey, “Ezekiel’s ‘Sticks’,” Ensign, Sept. 1977, p. 22.) He said he was commanded by God to join these records together so they would become as “one stick; and they shall be one in thine hand.” (Ezek. 37:17.)

From the beginning of this dispensation, this scripture has been interpreted to apply to the Bible and the Book of Mormon. The prophet Joseph Smith in April 1830 identified the Book of Mormon as “the stick of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim.” (History of the Church, 1:84.) And in August 1830, the book was again recognized as “the record of the stick of Ephraim.” (D&C 27:5.)

One of the most significant prophetic declarations from the Lord concerning the bringing together of these scriptural records was recorded by Joseph the son of Jacob. The Lord tells Joseph:

“Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.” (2 Ne. 3:12; see also JST, Gen. 50:31.)

That these scriptural records, one from Judah’s posterity and one from Joseph’s posterity, would “grow together” in use to confound false doctrines, lay down contentions, establish peace, and extend the knowledge of God’s covenants demonstrates the great strength the scriptures were intended to have in this era of the Restoration. Many Saints, however, have found difficulty in using these great tools effectively in tandem. But help is now available. To aid readers in their study of the scriptures, the First Presidency directed that new editions of the Bible and the Triple Combination be prepared that would improve doctrinal scholarship in the Church.

The new edition of the Bible (King James Version) was published in August 1979, and in August 1981 the new Triple Combination (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) became available. These new editions were the product of years of research and inspired direction. With the coordinated study aids and cross-references in each, these works are now truly “one” in the hands of the user.

The accompanying chart illustrates the coordinated scripture study aids and features of these new editions.

Feature in the new editions

LDS edition of King James Bible

Triple Combination

Book of Mormon

Doctrine and Covenants

Pearl of Great Price

Introduction (revised)

 

X

X

X

Chapter headings (provide summary, topical, contextual, doctrinal overview)

X

X

X

X

Section introductions (revised and corrected)

 
 

X

 

Running Page Heads (scriptural content of each page)

X

X

X

X

Pagination (continuous through Old and New Testament)

X

     

Textual corrections (primarily based on manuscripts)

 

X

X

X

Footnotes (including cross-references to other books of scripture, Greek and Hebrew meanings, Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, and Joseph Smith Translation)

X

X

X

X

Maps

X

 

X

 

Appendix: Topical Guide, LDS Bible Dictionary, JST extracts, Gazetteer, maps

X

     

Pronouncing guide (for Book of Mormon names and places)

 

X

   

Index (comprehensive and combined in the Triple)

 

To see how the study aids enable us to use the standard works as complementary companions in “Confounding … false doctrines” and “laying down … contentions,” let us consider the Sermon on the Mount. Some contend that the sermon recorded in Matthew 5 [Matt. 5] was given for the unbaptized and the unbelieving, that the promises of the Beatitudes are extended to all, independent of other gospel requirements. However, the same sermon was also given to the Nephites and is recorded in the Book of Mormon. There the writer explains the circumstances and conditions of obtaining these promises.

The Matthew account and the 3 Nephi account follow, with the items to be discussed identified as A, B, C, etc.

(A) First, the footnotes (Matt. 5:1, fn. 1a, and 3 Ne. 12:1, fn. la) give the parallel passages as reference.

(B) In the 3 Nephi account, the conditions of receiving the blessings are made clear. They are extended to those who receive the testimony of the Lord’s authorized messengers, are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and obtain a remission of sins.

(C) The original meaning of the term beatitude is found in footnote 3a for Matthew 5:3 [Matt. 5:3]. Additional information is provided in the Bible Dictionary (BD), which also refers the reader to the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). For a more expanded study of the topic, the reader is directed to the Topical Guide (TG) entry “Blessings.”

(D) The confusion about what “poor in spirit” means is addressed by footnote 3b. Not only is the term clarified by a clearer reading, but it is cross-referenced to 3 Nephi 12:3 [3 Ne. 12:3] (which also takes the reader to additional scriptures), James 2:5, D&C 56:18, and D&C 88:17.

(E) Similarly, the often distorted meaning of meek is clarified in footnote 5a. Here, the original Greek (GR) is cited as meaning “gentle, forgiving, or benevolent.”

The directions a student may go from here are many. He may want to refer to the Topical Guide entries and read the scriptural references cited. Or he may go to the maps in the appendix to locate the site of the sermon—Capernaum—in an attempt to put the sermon in historical and geographical context. The possibilities are limited only by the student’s interest and effort.

The aids have been provided, but there are no shortcuts to scriptural knowledge and understanding. These must be bought with the price of study and prayer and practice. But the student willing to make the effort will enjoy the fruits of having the scriptures become truly “one in [his] hand.”

Hints for Study

Here are some suggestions to help you in your scripture study. They are not intended to be all-inclusive, nor are they listed in any order of importance.

1. Keep it simple. The truths of the gospel are plain and precious.

2. Have a purpose or a plan. The scriptures can speak to one’s needs. Be cautious of detours, especially into speculative or narrow subjects.

3. Keep the scriptures in context. (Especially when looking up a specific reference, read a few verses before and after the reference—at times even the whole chapter.)

4. Learn to use the tools of scripture study. The internal tools are those aids contained in the new editions of the scriptures. The external tools might be any system or organized plan for referencing, memorizing, or marking. Marking is most beneficial when you mark what is significant and helpful to you personally. Remember, it is not the tools or the system which is important, but the scriptural text and message itself.

5. The Spirit of the Lord and living the gospel give true understanding. “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Cor. 3:6.) President Marion G. Romney explains this growth process: “Learning the gospel from the written word, however, is not enough. It must also be lived. As a matter of fact, getting a knowledge of the gospel and living it are interdependent. They go hand in hand. One cannot fully learn the gospel without living it. A knowledge of the gospel comes by degrees: One learns a little, obeys what he learns; learns a little more and obeys that. This continues in an endless round. Such is the pattern by which one can move on to a full knowledge of the gospel.” (Ensign, Sept. 1980, p. 4.)

Edward J. Brandt is associate director of the Salt Lake Institute of Religion (University of Utah). He served as vice-chairman of the Topical Guide task committee and as a member of the Triple Index committee for the new editions of the scriptures.