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George A. Horton Jr.

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    George A. Horton, Jr., associate professor of religion, Brigham Young University. The Topical Guide in the LDS edition of the King James Bible incorporates the strengths of a concordance, an index, and a topical guide. Because of space restrictions, it wasn’t possible or desirable to include these three study aids separately.

    The original Topical Guide, which was published as a separate book before being added to the scriptures, had 640 categories. For the new edition of the Bible, these topics were refined and improved and others were added, making a total of approximately 750. To these were added other items, for a combined total of 3,495 entries (citing about 50,000 verses), which were somewhat more “concordance” in nature. With these modifications, the new Topical Guide is more comprehensive than the old Cambridge concordance used in the Church for many years, plus it has the additional feature of having “topical” characteristics.

    Nevertheless, topical references still had to be limited because of the lack of space. Hard decisions had to be made as to what must be left out. This influenced the tendency for some categories to be organized in more generalized ways. Fortunately, few categories present problems. Most are very well defined.

    As you use the Topical Guide, consider these guidelines:

    1. The Topical Guide is not intended to be comprehensive on any topic. (See its introductory note.)

    2. It does not serve as a precise elaboration of any subject.

    3. It is an aid to scripture searching, not a short-cut to scripture study.

    4. You must examine each scripture in its context. What comes immediately before and after often reflects a specific meaning.

    5. Both positive and negative instances are sometimes listed under a topic heading. It may list references that tell what something is, as well as what it is not. For example, Alma 40:12 says righteousness brings happiness, and Alma 41:10 says “wickedness never was happiness.” Both the positive and the negative are listed under the category “Happiness.”

    6. References are listed in conjunction with their first occurrence, in this order: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. For example, although the scripture “the just shall live by faith” is found in Romans 1:17 [Rom. 1:17], it is listed in the Topical Guide under Habakkuk 2:4 [Hab. 2:4], because that is the first occurrence of the scripture. The Romans reference is listed in parentheses after the Habakkuk reference. Therefore, if you don’t find a scripture listed where you expected it to be, look back through the earlier references to see if by chance there is an earlier occurrence.

    7. Check possible cross-referenced topics—those listed immediately after the topic title—to see if there is a chance that the scripture you are looking for is listed under another topic or if the wording is not exactly as you remembered it.

    Since the Topical Guide is not a comprehensive concordance, you might consider adding full concordances to your library, such as Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1890), which includes English-Hebrew and English-Greek dictionaries in the back, and R. Gary Shapiro’s An Exhaustive Concordance of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Hawkes Publishing, 1977).

    The Topical Guide found in the LDS edition of the King James Bible is a superb aid to the study of the sacred scriptures. There is no better illustration of its significant contributions than in the fifty-three topics on the life and mission of the Savior. Surely this is a powerful witness that his “word also shall be gathered in one” (2 Ne. 29:14), and a reminder that “all things bear record” of Jesus Christ (Moses 6:63).