As we start the new cycle of scripture study this coming Sunday, just how should we study the Old Testament? As was pointed out in comments made in Part 1, we cannot really study the Old Testament in one year. In fact, two years is not nearly enough time. If you really wanted to study, let’s say, Isaiah in great detail, it could take a whole year by itself with its 66 chapters!
So what do we do?
First, we follow the course of study in Gospel Doctrine. We recognize that the intent of the class is to use the Old Testament to reinforce LDS Gospel Principles. Not to study the Old Testament as a book of scripture unto itself. But, there is much to be gained by the class itself. We also recognize the intent of the class so it is no use trying to make it more than it is. We can add insights and historical perspective but after all, we only have 40 minutes a week so we really do not study but a small portion of the entire Old Testament.
Second, we can, through personal study expand our study as much as we like. Here are a few suggestions:
- Understand the historical aspects of the book itself. The time line and the events.
- Recognize that for many hundreds of years, God was dealing with new converts to His teachings. Up to that point, there was a lot of pagan worship. You’ll note that much of the time, it was difficult for the people to give up their old ways for the new ways. And they faltered a great deal of the time. Not much different than today, really.
- Look for the preparation for the coming of the Messiah. It is not so clear as the Book of Mormon, but it is there. Be careful not to assume that scriptures point to the Messiah because of what we know now.
- Try to put things in the perspective of the time. it is easy to pass judgment on the harshness we read about. But we need to put it into proper context with the time.
Any other suggestions on how to go beyond the study we do in Sunday School?