Lesson 7: Study Aids in the Latter-day Saint Editions of the Scriptures

“Lesson 7: Study Aids in the Latter-day Saint Editions of the Scriptures,” Scripture Study—The Power of the Word Teacher Manual (2001), 21–24

“Lesson 7,” Scripture Study Teacher Manual, 21–24

Lesson 7

Study Aids in the Latter-day Saint Editions of the Scriptures

Teaching Objective

The study aids available in the Latter-day Saint editions of the standard works provide invaluable assistance in understanding the scriptures.


  1. The LDS scriptures contain significant study aids.

    1. Chapter headings and section introductions

    2. Footnotes

    3. Joseph Smith Translation

    4. Topical Guide

    5. Index to the triple combination

    6. Bible Dictionary

    7. Bible Maps and Photographs

    8. Church History Chronology, Maps, and Photographs

    9. Pronouncing Guide (Book of Mormon)

    10. Italicized words in the Bible

  2. The study aids help us increase our understanding of the scriptures.

Teaching Ideas

1. The LDS scriptures contain significant study aids.

  • Explain to students that in 1979 the Church published a Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible in English. Included in this edition were numerous helps to make a study of the scriptures more meaningful and rewarding. Share the following testimony by Elder Boyd K. Packer, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “This work … will one day emerge as a signal inspired event of our generation. Because of it, we shall raise up generations of Latter-day Saints who will know the gospel and know the Lord” (Bruce R. McConkie, Apostle [address at the funeral of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 23 Apr. 1985], 4).

a. Chapter headings and section introductions

  • Invite students to turn to the chapter heading of Genesis 3 in the Bible.

    Explain that chapter headings emphasize the main points of each chapter; they are particularly informative and often present doctrinal insights.

    Note the following examples.


    Genesis 3 heading
  • Have students examine a section heading in the Doctrine and Covenants. Explain that background information is given first, followed by a synopsis of the content. For example:

    Doctrine and Covenants

    Section 29 heading and synopsis
  • Have students answer the following questions by looking up the headings for the chapters and sections cited:

    1. Who performed the marriage for Adam and Eve? (see Genesis 2).

    2. What battle will usher in the Second Coming? (see Ezekiel 38).

    3. Who created all things? (see John 1).

    4. Who are the fierce-looking beasts John saw? (see Revelation 13).

    5. Where will the Jews be gathered? (see 2 Nephi 9).

    6. When will the Jaredite writings be revealed? (see Ether 4).

    7. Who was Jesse Gause? (see D&C 81).

    8. Which eyewitness to the martyrdom of Joseph Smith wrote Doctrine and Covenants 135?

    9. What records were kept by Adam’s seed? (see Moses 6).

    10. How did Abraham learn about the sun, moon, and stars? (see Abraham 3).

b. Footnotes

  • Ask students to turn to a page of your choice in the Bible. Share with them the many advantages of the footnote system in the LDS scriptures. Point out that each verse is independently footnoted and is in alphabetical sequence. The first footnote in each verse is marked with the letter a, the second footnote for the same verse is marked b, and so on.

  • Show examples of footnotes that point to the Bible Dictionary (BD) or Topical Guide (TG), give key Hebrew (HEB) and Greek (GR) meanings, give modern synonyms for archaic or obscure words in the King James Version (IE, OR), and present insights from the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).

  • The following examples provide students an opportunity to practice using the study aids.

    1. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:85, what is meant by the phrase, “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say”? The footnote will refer you to Matthew 10:19 and Luke 12:11, where the phrase is footnoted and explained as meaning “Do not be anxiously concerned.”

    2. What is the meaning in Hebrew of the word translated as “created” in Genesis 1:1? (“Shaped, fashioned, created.”)

    3. Did Nebuchadnezzar remember or forget his dream that Daniel interpreted? (see Daniel 2:4–5a). (He remembered it.)

    4. What is “pulse”? (see Daniel 1:12). (“Foods made of seeds, grains, etc.”)

    5. What is the stick of Judah? Why is it called a stick? (see Ezekiel 37:16). (The Hebrew word used is Etz, which means “wood.” “Wooden writing tablets were in common use in Babylon in Ezekiel’s day.”)

c. Joseph Smith Translation

  • Share with students the information about the Joseph Smith Translation found in the LDS Bible Dictionary (“Joseph Smith Translation,” 717). Explain that although not all passages from the JST are included in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible, more than six hundred verses are. Verses or passages that are too long to be included as footnotes have been placed in the Bible appendix.

  • For an example of JST contributions, have students refer to Amos 7:3a; Matthew 4:1b; John 4:24a; Acts 3:17a.

d. Topical Guide

  • By using the Topical Guide, students can search over 750 gospel topics more deeply. Help them to understand that this guide contains scriptural references from all the standard works and that it may serve as a concordance or an index.

  • Ask each class member to choose a subject they would like to discuss when they are asked to speak in Church. Have them use the Topical Guide to determine scripture references they could use in their preparation.

  • Invite students to turn to the Topical Guide and note the wealth of information concerning Christ that is available from the fifty-eight entries under “Jesus Christ.”

e. Index to the triple combination

  • Explain that the index in the triple combination is a combined index for the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, and it gives numerous references from each. It is similar to, but not exactly like, the Topical Guide found in the Bible. The index gives a short summary of each reference, while the Topical Guide gives an exact quote for each scripture reference mentioned. The index covers the triple combination only, while the Topical Guide covers all the standard works. One very helpful feature of the index is that it identifies people or places that have the same name by using superscript numbers to differentiate between them.

    Have your class turn to the first page of the index and determine the number of men named Aaron and who they each were. Note too that by searching for key words in the index, students can quickly locate scripture references.

f. Bible Dictionary

  • Walk students through the Bible Dictionary. Explain that it contains 1,285 biblical topics prepared from a Latter-day Saint point of view. Share several specific topics, and then point out the following sections:

    1. Chronological tables (“chronology,” 635–45).

    2. Harmony of the gospels (“Gospels, harmony of,” 684–96).

    3. Analysis of Paul’s letters (“Pauline epistles,” 743–49).

    4. Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament (“quotations,” 756–59).

    5. Weights and measures (“weights and measures,” 788–89).

g. Bible Maps and Photographs

  • In 1999 the Church added a new section of maps and photographs to the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible. Indexes and helps for both the photographs and maps are grouped together at the beginning of the section. The color maps and photographs themselves appear together at the end. (Note: If your copy of the scriptures does not include the updated maps and photographs, these can be purchased separately and inserted.)

    Have students look at several photographs from the Maps and Photographs section at the back of the Bible and determine what each shows. The photographs in this section depict sites from Bible history. Ask the students to find a photo of the Temple of Herod (no. 9). Refer them to the description of the temple under the “Photographs of Scriptural Sites” heading at the front of the section. Ask them to name three important events that took place at this temple.

    Have students turn to the “Maps and Index of Place-Names” heading. The first page of this subsection explains map features. Refer students to the second paragraph for an explanation of how to use the index of place-names. Show them the index, beginning on the next page. The index lists the names of places alphabetically and includes coordinates for locating them on the maps.

    Some of the individual maps are accompanied by notes and scripture references related to locations on those maps. Have the students turn to map 12 and the accompanying page of notes. Ask them to find the temple and to identify two events that took place there during the life of Jesus Christ (see note 9).

h. Church History Chronology, Maps, and Photographs

  • In 1999 the Church also added new maps and photographs to the triple combination. These features are similar to the corresponding ones in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible. (Note: If your copy of the scriptures does not include the updated maps and photographs, these can be purchased separately and inserted.) This section also includes a chronology of Church history events. Have the students turn to this section and find what year and month Joseph Smith completed his translation of the Book of Mormon. Have them turn to map 2 and locate the Joseph Smith Sr. log home. Ask: What important event occurred at this location? (see note 1).

i. Pronouncing Guide (Book of Mormon)

  • The pronouncing guide at the end of the Book of Mormon provides a standard for the pronunciation of Book of Mormon names. Have students become familiar with this guide.

j. Italicized words in the Bible

  • Point out to students the meaning of italicized words in the Bible. Explain that italicized words are words inserted by the translator to render a correct English reading. When translated from Greek or Hebrew, a direct translation to the English language was not always possible. Therefore it was necessary to insert words in order for the scriptures to be grammatically correct.

2. The study aids help us increase our understanding of the scriptures.

  • Share the following story from Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It illustrates the worth of the study aids in the new publication of the standard works.

    “I remember when the new triple combination was introduced to the Brethren. Elder McConkie made the presentation. He held up a book and read from the flyleaf, ‘To Bruce R. McConkie.’ It was signed ‘Amelia’ and dated the day he entered the mission home. He said, ‘I have carried these scriptures all over the world. I’ve used them extensively. They have been bound three times. I can tell you the location on the page for many of the scriptures in that book.’ He then added, ‘But I’m not going to use that book anymore. It does not have the precious teaching aids and powerful tools to enhance study and understanding that are in this new volume.’ I was really impressed by that. The next day I had occasion to go into his office. He has a large desk, and there he sat, book in hand, with ruler and red pencil marking the new edition of the scriptures. Well, if someone who knows the scriptures as well as he does finds it worthwhile to use the new edition, I have resolved to do likewise” (“Spiritual Communication,” in Principles of the Gospel in Practice, Sperry Symposium 1985, 18–19).

Supplementary Study Sources

Suggested Student Study

  • At the conclusion of this lesson, give students the following quiz. You may want them to work together to complete it. They will need to use the scripture-study aids.

    1. Answer the following questions about baptism:

      1. What does the word baptism mean?

      2. What evidence is there that baptism was practiced before the time of Christ?

      3. What does baptism symbolize?

      4. What are four purposes of baptism?

    2. Below are several words with scripture references where the words can be found. Determine the meaning of each word. Notice how increased understanding of these terms brings added meaning to the passages involved.

      1. Incontinent (see 2 Timothy 3:3)

      2. Quick (see Hebrews 4:12)

      3. Meet (see Genesis 2:18)

      4. Kine (see Amos 4:1)

    3. Where would you look to find scriptural information about the following topics? List some of the scripture references cited.

      1. Last days

      2. Prophecy

      3. Revelation

      4. Lost scripture

    4. Turn to Matthew 4–5 and answer the following questions by reading the verses and referring to the footnotes:

      1. Why were some of the people in Galilee healed? (see Matthew 4:23).

      2. What is palsy? (see Matthew 4:24).

      3. Where is the region of Decapolis? (see map section).

      4. What are some meanings of the Greek word for meek? (see Matthew 5:5).

      5. What are some other meanings of the word blessed? (see Matthew 5:3).

      6. What does the Book of Mormon add to our understanding of Matthew 5:3?

    5. Read 1 Nephi 8 and then, with the use of your footnotes, discover all you can about the tree Lehi saw in vision. Identify the meaning of the river of water, the rod of iron, the mist of darkness, and the great and spacious building.

    6. Where in the scriptures could you read about Antionah or Josiah Butterfield?

    7. Identify the different states the Saints traveled through in their westward migration from New York to the Great Salt Lake.