This year for sunday school we are studying the Book of Mormon. It is my new years resolution to take this study seriously and to make a real effort to have a positive experience with Studying the Book of Mormon this year. So far, I have gone through the first ten chapters, using various study aids, and am having a good experience. I figured I would pass on some the aids to you, and give you a review of which ones I found worthwhile and which ones, not so much.
First, let me give you the basis of my analysis. I graded all the materials with scores of either great, ok, or disappointing, with the idea being that the book, to be worthwhile had to be as good or better than the very affordable (free) church produced material, and the book had to supplement actually studying the text of the Book of Mormon itself. (Sorry, that means I disqualified the excellent â€œBy the Hand of Mormonâ€)
This one was compiled by over 100 of the top scholars on the Book of Mormon, and with itâ€™s $40 to $50 pricetag, and encyclopdia formatting, will look great sitting on your bookshelf, where you will never use it, because it mainly tells you stuff you already know. Granted it has some nice stuff in their, but the encyclopedic formatting does not lend itself to day to day study and really hurts the value of what otherwise is an attractive and worthwhile endeavor. It does get bonus points for referencing a great Holland talk when discussing the killing of Laban. Rated: Ok.
This one is a short little book, and has some things in it I would have otherwise have thought of, like graphing peace and prosperity over time in the â€œPride Cycleâ€ Years. The Book has the feel of supplemental teaching aids for a Sunday School Class, and sometimes likes solid notation on the value of its supplements. Also, some pages are not charts, but are just quotations in large print. â€œHandouts for a Book of Mormon Classâ€ may have been a better title. Rated: Ok.
This one I was really excited about because Kevin Barney had given it such a great review in FARMS. The problem here: This is NOT a study aide to the Book of Mormon. It is the book of Mormon with a modernized typeface. Granted that it was mainly due to my false conceptions (I was hoping for something like Kevinâ€™s New Testament Footnotes piece) I was disappointed in this book. I didnâ€™t feel like having it added anything to studying the Book of Mormon for me personally. Maybe if you are into aesthetics, you’ll have a better experience. Rated: disappointing (but I really wanted to like it!)
I love Robert Millet, his excellent introduction to the Church, The Mormon Faith, was my first introduction to the church, and it was a great book and really helped me understand the church. However, this is not like this book. Here it feels like the Authors were trying to cash in on Bruceâ€™s â€œDoctrinal New Testament Commentaryâ€ with the tone and feel. Unfortunately, it just comes across feeling heavy handed and speculative to me, where it doesnâ€™t come across as redundantly restating what is already clear in the text. It’s available free in Gospellink, BTW. Rated: disappointing
This is an older commentary, and is 7 books long. This is a good commentary, with my only complaint being that it feels old, and sometimes suffers from the same redundant restating of the facts that Millet and McConkie suffer from. I found that there were nice things here, every few pages, like diamonds in the rough, and the verse by verse formatting was nice, but many times when I thought of questions and turned to the commentary for supplementation, the answers were not there or seemed somewhat dated. It’s available free in Gospellink, BTW. Rated: Ok
I am not a Nibley person, but this series does two things. First, it proves Nibley was brilliant and interesting. Second, it proves Nibley desperately needed an editor who was more brilliant than he was. It is a writing by shotgun methodology, where ideas are spewed forth in a Vonnegut like â€œstream of consciousnessâ€ fashion that, while interesting, I found myself reading it more as a Study of Hugh than of anything else. It’s available free in Gospellink, BTW. Rating: Ok
This one is a compilation of articles by various authors that go along with oneâ€™s study of the Book of Mormon, similar to the excellent Life of Christ series Deseret Book more recently put out. However, the chapters I went over were sort of â€œhit and missâ€, some being interesting and others ranging from mediocre to what Iâ€™d call â€œbook closersâ€. This inconsistency hurts what is otherwise a great idea for a project. It’s available free in Gospellink, BTW.Rated:Ok
This is another book I really wanted to like, and I do like it. When Holland gets exegetical, it contains some really interesting concepts relating to Grace and the Atonement. However, much of it is Holland letting the scriptures speak for themselves, which I personally gloss over in books like this, because I already have and read the scriptures. Still, the Christ focused ambition of this book is worthwhile, even if sometimes I have to skip what feels like entire chapters looking for what insight Holland brings. It’s available free in Gospellink, BTW. Rated: Ok+
This is it. Itâ€™s being published right now by Kofford Press, so you may wonder to yourself, â€œMatt, how have you read thisâ€ Well, the author has a free rough draft on his web page for now (I emailed the author and he tells me the resellers may ask him to take it down, but he’s leaving it up until they do) and the amount of study he brings is excellent. I have gone verse be verse with this series through the first 11 chapters of 1st Nephi, and I have gained new insights, felt spiritually fed, and all in all, thoroughly enjoyed Brantâ€™s efforts here. Try it out. Rated: Great.
There are some commentaries I have not had the chance to check out I. If youâ€™d like to post a review of any in the comments, be my guest.
Also, I started a new Job on monday, so may be unable to check this regularly, so please be kind.