Studying the Gospel has been important to me for a very long time. While on my mission, I woke up an extra half-hour early every single morning to have that much more time to study the scriptures. As I got more serious about getting as much out of it as possible, I began to consider different methods of scripture study. When meeting with my Mission President, the topic of Gospel scholarship came up. I asked him and many others about the different methods they used to understand the scriptures.
One method that I saw many folks use was to take a red pencil and underline something that jumped out at me from what I was reading. This method of studying the scriptures didn’t and still doesn’t make much sense to me. I have nothing against it. Should someone find it effective, I’m glad they have a way to study the Gospel that works for them.
Another way some of the missionaries studied their scriptures was to mark passages of different types in different colors. For example, things marked in yellow could be Christ’s direct words. Blue could refer to a prophet making a prophecy. Other colors could refer to other concepts or types. My questions here were, “What happens when I run out of colors?” and “What if a given passage fits multiple categories?” I ended up not choosing this manner of studying my scriptures.
For a long time, I did take extensive notes in the margins of my scriptures. This allowed me to easily refer back to a thought I had about a given passage when I again was reading it. One problem with this is that you unknowingly lock yourself into assigning that passage as having the meaning you wrote. You aren’t as free to ponder upon what you are reading. Your mind says, “I already know what this means because there’s the note I wrote about it the last time I was studying this passage.” I couldn’t think of a better method, so throughout the remainder of my mission, I studied in that manner.