“Introduction to the Student Manual,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (2017)
“Introduction,” Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
The Doctrine and Covenants is a sacred volume of scripture comprised of divine revelations and inspired declarations given through the Lord’s latter-day prophets. These revelations provide instructions to Church leaders and members as well as to all of the inhabitants of the earth. Through these revelations the voice of the Lord is heard in this dispensation, giving direction regarding the establishment of His Restored Church and the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children.
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) explained how valuable the Doctrine and Covenants is to us: “[The] Doctrine and Covenants contains the word of God to those who dwell here now. It is our book. It belongs to the Latter-day Saints. More precious than gold, the Prophet [Joseph Smith] says we should treasure it more than the riches of the whole earth” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie , 3:199).
Religion 324–325 is a two-semester course designed to help you understand the historical background and meaning of the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants and to help you learn and apply the sacred truths they contain. Through your study of the Lord’s revelations, you will have the opportunity to come to know the Lord more personally as you hear His voice speaking to you through these scriptures (see D&C 18:33–36) and through the power of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2–3).
The text for Religion 324–325 is the Doctrine and Covenants. This student manual is not designed to replace your reading of the scriptures, nor can it substitute for the inspired guidance of the Holy Ghost as you combine your scripture reading with humble prayer and thoughtful study. This manual can assist you as you study the Doctrine and Covenants by helping you better understand the historical setting for each section and by helping you deepen your understanding of these scriptures and the doctrine and principles they teach. This manual can also help you consider how the truths taught in the Doctrine and Covenants relate to your circumstances and how you might incorporate these truths into your life. Although there are several ways you might use this manual to enhance your study, it is primarily designed to be used in harmony with your scripture reading.
This manual is not intended to replace the experience you will have studying the Doctrine and Covenants in class. It is intended to help you better understand the Doctrine and Covenants through your personal study and prepare you to participate in class in more meaningful ways.
Because one purpose of this Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual is to help you prepare to have a more meaningful experience in class, each chapter in this manual coincides with a lesson in the teacher manual. Each chapter includes an introduction and timeline, additional historical background for each section, commentary, and guided study helps.
Each chapter begins with a brief introduction of the section or sections of the Doctrine and Covenants you will study. The introduction provides a brief summary of the historical context and the content of each revelation, which will help orient you as you study the revelations. The timeline provides context for each revelation by helping you see when the revelation was given in relation to other events in Church history.
The Additional Historical Background provides information about questions, concerns, or circumstances surrounding the coming forth of each section of the Doctrine and Covenants. It also provides details about people, places, and events that might help you better understand the section. A map will sometimes be included in this section to help you understand where events relating to the section of the Doctrine and Covenants took place, as well as other helpful geographical information.
The commentary will help you better understand the content of specific scripture passages you are studying and the doctrine and principles they contain. This commentary will help clarify the meaning of difficult words and phrases, help you connect historical context to the teachings and counsel in the scriptures, and deepen your understanding of doctrinal truths. Teachings of latter-day prophets and apostles and other Church leaders provide doctrinal commentary and clarify important or difficult scripture passages. As you carefully study and ponder this commentary in connection with your study of the Doctrine and Covenants, you can invite the Holy Ghost to deepen your understanding of the doctrine and principles of the gospel and to strengthen your testimony of Jesus Christ, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel in these latter days.
Throughout each chapter are guided study helps. These study helps include suggestions regarding what you might look for as you read the scripture passages and questions to help you to search, analyze, and in some instances, consider personal application of the scripture passages. The following are examples of study helps contained in this manual:
Taking time to incorporate these suggestions and questions into your study will enhance your learning experience and help you have a more meaningful experience in class. This will also help the truths of the Doctrine and Covenants become a part of your life.
As you consider how you will use these suggestions and questions during your study, keep in mind the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. It is in the sincerity and consistency of our faith-inspired action that we indicate to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our willingness to learn and receive instruction from the Holy Ghost” (“Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 64).
As you study the Doctrine and Covenants and consider the questions and suggestions in the guided study helps, you may want to use a journal or notebook to record thoughts, goals, and spiritual impressions. Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “It is through the repeated process of feeling impressions, recording them, and obeying them that one learns to depend on the direction of the Spirit more than on communication through the other five senses” (“To Learn and to Teach More Effectively” [Brigham Young University devotional, Aug. 21, 2007], 5, speeches.byu.edu).
The information in this manual is based on the 2013 edition of the English-language scriptures published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 2013 edition of the scriptures includes revised section headings for some sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Changes to the section headings have been made to reflect recent research and historical findings and to provide additional or clearer context for the scriptures. In some cases, dates or locations have been adjusted in the section headings to reflect newly available research.
The text of the 2013 edition of the English-language scriptures is available online at scriptures.lds.org and in the Gospel Library app.
If you are using the previous (1981) edition of the scriptures, you should not feel obligated to purchase the new edition, since most of the changes are minor and will not impact your study of the Doctrine and Covenants. You should simply be aware that on occasion, a date or place given in this manual may differ from what you find stated in a section heading in the edition you are using. In these instances you may want to refer to the 2013 edition available online or in the Gospel Library app.
Much of the historical information in this manual is based on research from the Joseph Smith Papers Project. You can access the transcripts of many of the original documents online at josephsmithpapers.org. If you desire further information, the citations for the Joseph Smith Papers references in this manual that are available online include a link that will take you to the transcript on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
Alternate formats of this student manual may be available at institute.lds.org. If you have difficulty using this manual due to a disability, please contact your instructor for additional resources.