Last time, I was discussing different ways that I have tried pondering the scriptures. During my mission, as I had mentioned, I wrote short notes in my margins. Then, I would write a unique number (for that page) next to the note. Next, I wrote that number right next to the line and verse to which that note applied. For longer notes, I wrote them out on a small sheet of paper, then glued them into the spine where the note applied.
In this way, I was able to keep track of all of my thoughts. But then, I began to notice things I didn’t like about that way of studying the Scriptures. My scriptures were getting quite messy and tattered. I also realized that if I lost them, I would lose all of my notes. Also, when I began studying a new set of scriptures, I would have to hand-copy all of the notes from the old set to the new set.
From then on, my method of scripture study slowly evolved. When I got home from my mission, I began keeping electronic copies of my notes so that I could easily print them out again if I needed to. Also, if I lost my scriptures, I wouldn’t lose all of my notes.
After a short while, I noticed that I would sometimes want to link notes to other notes. I would have to write something like “see note on D&C 132:5 about marriage” at the end of a note if I wanted to link them together. Also, I would want to add scriptures to the end of my notes so as to create scripture chains. But then, I would have to physically write on the printed note that was glued into my scriptures if I wanted to have the changes in my current set.
It was at that point that I sat down and considered creating a method of gospel study that could be either electronic or printed out or both. Next time, I will describe where that took me.
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.