Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants (Bookshelf eBook)
A Guided Tour Through Modern Revelations(edit)
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Have you struggled with understanding the Doctrine and Covenants? As a collection of separate and diverse texts, it can be rather daunting to study. After all, it is the only one of the standard works that does not tell its own story.
Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants addresses this challenge in a creative new way. Rather than giving a verse-by-verse commentary, author Steven C. Harper takes readers on a guided tour through the revelations. Drawing on the earliest manuscripts of those revelations, he provides historically grounded insights into why each revelation was given, what it means, and why it matters.
Chapters on every section of the Doctrine and Covenants begin by delving into the historical record to recreate the question or problem each revelation was given to resolve and end by showing readers the outcomes for individuals and the Church.
Families and scholars alike will relish the depth and accessibility of Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is an invaluable addition to any gospel library and a fascinating resource for anyone who wishes to become more closely acquainted with this marvelous book of scripture.
Download a printable 8x10 pdf map.
Download a smaller map to fit inside scriptures. Great for each member of the family to have their own copy to refer to all year or could be used as a handout for classroom use.
- Pages: 601
About the Author
Steven C. Harper, previously a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University and an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers series, is a historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After serving a mission to Canada and graduating from BYU, he earned a Ph.D. in early American History from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and taught for two years at BYU-Hawaii before teaching for a decade at BYU. He has written award-winning articles on Church history topics and is the author of several book, including Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants: A Guided Tour through Modern Revelations (Deseret Book, 2008).
Brother Harper has served in the Church as a Sunday School teacher, high councilor, and temple ordinance worker and as branch clerk while he taught at the BYU-Jerusalem Center. He and his wife, Jennifer Sebring Harper, are the parents of five children.
Doctrine & Covenants 2
“When I was about 17 years,” Joseph Smith said, “I had another vision of angels; in the night season, after I had retired to bed; I had not been asleep, but was meditating on my past life and experience. I was well aware I had not kept the commandments, and I repented heartily for all my sins and transgressions, and humbled myself before him, whose eye surveys all things at a glance. All at once the room was illuminated above the brightness of the sun; an Angel appeared before me.” He introduced himself as Moroni, saying,“I am a Messenger sent from God.” He said that God had vital work for Joseph to do. There was a sacred book written on golden plates, buried in a nearby hillside. “He explained many of the prophecies to me,” Joseph said, including “Malachi 4th chapter.” Moroni appeared three times that night and again the next day, emphasizing and expounding the same message contained in Doctrine and Covenants 2. There was something vital in that message, something Joseph needed to know.1
When Joseph wrote his history in 1839, he recorded the words Moroni spoke regarding Malachi’s prophecy of Elijah, also written in Doctrine and Covenants 2, noting the “little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles.” Moroni “quoted the fifth verse thus, ‘Behold I will reveal unto you the Priesthood by the hand of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.’ He also quoted the next verse differently. ‘And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to the fathers, if it were not so the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.’”2
Malachi foretold that Elijah, the Old Testament prophet, would return to the earth on a mission to unite the hearts of the first Israelites, with whom God had made covenants, with the hearts of their descendants, to whom Malachi wrote. The prophecy as recorded in the Old Testament is vague. All a Bible reader can surmise is that the Lord would send Elijah some time before the Second Coming. To do what? Moroni makes the prophecy directly relevant to Joseph and specifies that Elijah will reveal priesthood powerful enough to unite families forever.
Young Joseph sought forgiveness of personal sins, but in Doctrine and Covenants 2 an angel told him he had a role in fulfilling ancient prophecy, adding that “if it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted.” Moroni’s words obviously made a deep impression on the teenaged seer. Whether Joseph understood them all that night is not clear, but they remained in his mind and heart until he witnessed their fulfillment nearly thirteen years later when Elijah fulfilled the prophecy by bringing to Joseph the priesthood keys needed to seal families together (see D&C 110). Joseph was called to receive and use those priesthood keys. He was to give every willing soul, living and dead, full access to the atonement of Jesus Christ and assist the Savior in offering eternal life. Elder Russell M. Nelson taught that “eternal life, made possible by the Atonement, is the supreme purpose of the Creation. To phrase that statement in its negative form, if families were not sealed in holy temples, the whole earth would be utterly wasted.”3 In Doctrine and Covenants 2, Moroni told Joseph Smith that his job was to save the earth.
Best D&C reference I've ever read
by Admin - reviewed on June 08, 2009
There is more here about the context of the revelations than in all of the other D&C commentaries published in the past 25 years. I am not exaggerating. Teachers should do their students and themselves a favor and use this book as a part of their lesson prep. It will make the class a lot more meaningful. Trust me.
wonderful resource material
by Liz - reviewed on January 10, 2009
I have enjoyed reading and searching this book for better understanding of the Doctrine and Covenants. I like the approach Harper takes in making the reader think about and review the scriptures. This will definitely be a great asset in teaching this year.
by Customer - reviewed on October 16, 2008
What a wonderful resource! The complete Doctrine and Covenants in one book. The author does a great job of not giving the reader 'fluff', rather a real 'meat and potaoes' book to satisfy the hungriest of learner- like sitting in on one of his lectures at BYU. Couldn't recommend it any higher.
I love this book!!!
by Heidi - reviewed on December 05, 2008
Can I just say Wow?! I have always been intimidated by the D&C's. Now I am excited to have some really thoughtful Sunday School discussions. This book has brought clarity to me I never expected! I would recommend it as a wonderful Christmas gift for all your loved ones.
Think page-turner and scripture reference in the same book!
by Jennifer - reviewed on December 02, 2008
This one says more in a single volume than other D&C books say in 2 or 4. And it's not only comprehensive but fresh and fast-moving. Some D&C references state the obvious. This one is full of little-known storylines and characters that bring revelations to life. On every page there are new insights. The author is one of the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers and it shows. Because of his research, every page bursts forth with new information. Each chapter begins by explaining why a revelation was given, then delves into the revelation, then sums up how the early saints acted on it. It's a completely novel approach; one wonders why it's not been done before. Truly this book makes sense of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Extremely knowledgable easy to read
by Joyce - reviewed on January 03, 2009
This helped me understand and learn the more about the revelations and prophecies in the D&C and the history behind them. Excellent learning tool!!!! Thank You Brother Harper!
A truly brilliant and profound way to present the Doctrine and Covenants to those that would like to understand its deeper meanings and interpretations.
by darl - reviewed on January 04, 2009
This is one of the greatest books I've ever owned and It has become one of my most prized posessions; Outside of the scriptures themselves. Dr. Harper was my former Professor for D&C at BYU and his presentation of the D&C in this book is the same way he originally presented it in my D&C class at BYU through powerpoint presentations. I can recall many sentences in this book from taking his class. If you desire to know further the happenings of the Prophet Joseph and the saints in the early days of the church; then this is a must read for you. My advice would be to read a section in the scriptures and then turn to Brother Harper's book for further depth and understanding of this sacred text. If you do so; you will be truly blessed I believe.
by Sharon - reviewed on January 23, 2009
i was recently called as gospel doctrine teacher for my ward and this book is a wonderful aide in better understanding the context of what i am teaching. the threefold explanation of each section is exactly what i was looking for.
Great Book, Highly Recommended
by Michael - reviewed on January 28, 2009
I purchased this book as a companion book to help develop a better understanding of the Doctrine and Covenants and the history and people at the time of many of the revelations. This book was great surprise and will be a reference on my book shelf for many years to come. Great writer, dont miss this book.
Wonderful study companion
by Daniel - reviewed on January 12, 2013
This book has made my study of the Doctrine and Covenants more meaningful. It gives the context and backgrounds of the revelations and increases one's understanding of the messages of the revelations.
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