Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reading the Book of Mormon again, for the first time


I've been a Mormon all my life, and I've read the Book of Mormon many times from cover to cover. However, until recently, I had never sat down and read the thing like an actual book. Back in April, a friend suggested that I join a group that had worked out a schedule to read the Book of Mormon in the same time frame in which it was translated by Joseph Smith. In a few days, I will finish this reading of the Book of Mormon, having read the whole thing in about three months.

It's amazing what a difference an accelerated reading of the Book of Mormon can make. This time around, I've gained a better appreciation for the overall scope and timeline of the book. It's been a study of the macro instead of the micro. I think too often, we (or I, at least) get caught up in the mini-lessons of the book, in a collection of verses here or there, in a story that begins in one chapter and ends in the next.

But there is so much to be gleaned from the overarching themes, movement, and patterns of the Book of Mormon. And you can only really get that when you read it all in one go over a relatively short period of time, rather than in-depth and piecemeal over many months.

It helps that I'm reading Grant Hardy's A Reader's Edition of the Book of Mormon, too. Hardy stripped away the sometimes disorienting verse/chapter layout of the book, returning it to its original 1830 paragraphs. The chapters and verses are still there for ease of citation, but the text is now allowed to flow more naturally. Hardy has also added subheadings to guide the reader through the text. Oh, and footnotes. Lots and lots of footnotes. Plus super-awesome bonus material in the appendices, like the translation chronology, maps, and glossaries.

(All that said, I still got totally lost in the war chapters of Alma. I would need someone in a beret to push little soldier figures around a map with a riding crop to keep track of all the military maneuvers that are going on there. Even on this accelerated reading schedule, I basically had to summarize a few dozen chapters as "there were some wars.")

If you've never read the Book of Mormon in a short length of time, I recommend it. And I recommend you enrich your reading experience with Grant Hardy's The Book of Mormon: A Reader's Edition.

9 comments:

Ariana said...

As a teen, our YW did an activity (two years in a row, actually) where we read the BofM together, out loud, all the way through in 24 hours. Like straight through, no breaks. We listened to the cds during meals so it didn't drag out. It was grueling, but absolutely a different experience than reading small chunks. I loved it! It was fascinating to hear the "voices" of the different writers change.

Liz Johnson said...

I actually got the Grant Hardy book for Christmas and have been meaning to do this. I'm glad to hear it was good for you! I should really start it up.

Bridget said...

Wow! That is quite the challenge!

Amira said...

When you're done with that, you should try Hardy's _Understanding the Book of Mormon_.

Susanne said...

I've never read the BoM at all although I've thought of it from time to time. Glad you've enjoyed this experience.

Jennifer said...

I've read it in less than 60 days two different times and it is such a great experience. I like the sound of the reader's guide.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I would like to try this way of reading the BofM.

Bridget said...

Should you ever decide to read it, there is no shortage of Mormons out there who would love to give you a copy. :) You can also request one on mormon.org, for free.

kaylee said...

So I've been typesetting the Book of Mormon (putting it in paragraph/poem form, marking dialogue in different colors depending on who is speaking, etc.). It's been the coolest thing ever! It's so much more engaging when you are constantly thinking about who's talking and why and how all the pieces fit together. It *sounds* like a lot of work, but it's actually really fun. I've been using files from this guy:
http://nathanrichardson.com/gospel/redesigned-scriptures/
He's also got a draft of the Book of Mormon with his own paragraph/subheadings/notes.

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