“What are the features in the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants that can aid us in our scripture study?” Ensign, Dec. 1984, 47
Bill Applegarth, Institute director, University of Idaho. There are seven major improvements in the 1981 edition:
1. There are important textual additions: Sections 137 and 138. “Official Declaration—2,” and excerpts from three addresses by President Wilford Woodruff concerning the “Official Declaration—1.”
2. A new “Explanatory Introduction” has been written.
3. Many of the section headings have been rewritten to give clear, concise historical background.
4. A synopsis of the verses has been added at the beginning of each section.
5. The footnotes have been expanded to include cross-references to all the standard works and to the Topical Guide in the LDS edition of the King James Bible.
6. The index has been expanded and combined with the indexes of the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price.
7. Maps of the areas of New England, New York-Ohio, and Missouri-Illinois have been included, as well as a map of the United States in 1847.
Using these new features as we study the Doctrine and Covenants during the 1985 curriculum year will increase our understanding of the principles taught in this book of modern day revelations.
The section headings tell us the date the revelation was received, where it occurred and who was present, and other historical circumstances surrounding it. This information can help us better understand what prompted the revelation or what questions the Lord was answering.
For example, in the heading for section 76, we are told that the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were working on the translation of the Bible and had just translated John 5:28–29: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
As Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were meditating on the passage “the Lord touched the eyes of [their] understanding … and the glory of the Lord shone round about.” (D&C 76:19.) Other revelations also become more meaningful as we see them in their proper historical perspective.
The section synopsis, immediately following the section heading, gives us a preview of the text before we read it, helping us understand what the section is about. The synopsis shows which verses the main ideas occur in, directing us quickly to specific ideas. For example, the synopsis at the beginning of section 76 indicates that information on “the glory and reward of exalted beings in the celestial kingdom” is found in verses 50–70 [D&C 76:50–70]. When we finish reading the section, we can review the synopsis to see if we have recognized and understood the main points of the revelation.
The footnotes cross-reference ideas and words in the Doctrine and Covenants to relative, helpful concepts in all the standard works. The footnotes also refer us to further references in the Topical Guide in the Bible.
The index can be a great tool as we study by topics. It can also help us find answers to questions about certain doctrines and prepare talks and lessons. We can look up key words in the index, and find a list of specific scriptural references for each subject. For example, if we want information on baptism for the dead, the index would direct us to five scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants that explain the Lord’s instructions and Joseph Smith’s teachings on the subject.
The four maps can help us better understand the geography of the United States during the time most of these revelations were received.
The study helps in the current edition of the Doctrine and Covenants have been developed so that we may better understand and apply the scriptures in our lives. It remains now for us to use them.