Monday, August 30, 2010

Great Isaiah Study Ideas

Make Your Own Book
There is not nearly enough space in the margins of the LDS scriptures for all the notes, cross-references and markings that a serious student of Isaiah will need.  If you're just becoming familiar with Isaiah, you may not think so (I didn't), but in a lifetime, as you pick up something new here and there, it will really add up. 

So, in preparation for our lessons on Isaiah, here is great idea from CES instructor, Gary Poll:  Photocopy Isaiah out of your regular-size Bible with a white paper frame taped on the glass around it, so that you have 8-1/2 by 11" size pages, with the Isaiah text in the center, slightly larger, and large white margins around it.  Punch holes and keep the pages in a 3-ring binder, or take it to a copy shop and have them spiral bind it with a vinyl cover.  (Add in a couple of blank pages at the front, and more at the back.)  Now you have plenty of space for the notes and markings you will add in your lifetime, all in one place, for your ongoing Isaiah study!  Plus, if you later get a new set of scriptures, you won't lose all your work!  (Please look at the comments below this entry to see instructions from a reader, CarlH, on how to download and print your own copy of the book without having to wrangle with photocopying.)

  • Benefits of spiral-binding:  It's narrower, lighter, easier to carry with you to Church.
  • Benefits of a 3-ring binder:  You can add photocopies of relevant articles, talks, charts or maps to it at any point in the text.

If you're in doubt as to which to do, I recommend the 3-ring binder method, because you can always take the pages out and have them spiral-bound later if you change your mind.

Why not just buy the large-print Bible?  Because although the print is larger, the margins are actually narrower.  This copy idea gives you lots more space, plus if you copy it single-sided, you will have a blank page beside each copied page for even more notes.

I wish I had done this back when I first heard the idea, but it will be a fun project to start on now.

Use the Amazing Online Scripture Study Program
Okay, I did not know about this, until I posted this blog entry and "Teresa From Colorado" made a comment informing me.  (You can read her comment below.)  I can't believe how cool it is!  I was still using the old scriptures I had loaded onto my computer a decade ago, which is fine for just reading or looking things up, but you can do all kinds of things with your scripture study if you use the Church's online program. 

You just go to and create your own account.  You need your church membership record number, which is on your "Individual Ordinance Summary," or you can get it from your ward clerk.  You follow the steps to create your account.  They send you an e-mail, you verify and complete your registration, and then you're good to go.  You sign in to the website, click on "menu," and you'll see all the amazing options. 

You can click on "scriptures," go to the exact chapter and verse you want, highlight in four different colors, underline, add tags, or type in notes and cross-references.  Teresa said that you are allowed 4,000 characters of notes per verse!  You can also create your own on-line "study notebook," and you can organize by topic.  Read Teresa's comment below to see what she does.  (And, Teresa, if you read this and want to add more detail about what you do, please feel free!)  I haven't figured out how to do it yet, but I'm sure you can print out your notes, as well as printing out the scriptures.

This is a great option for those who always have access to a computer and the internet, and I'm assuming it would be especially handy if you had a "smart phone" that would allow you to "carry" your internet scriptures and notes with you.

(Okay, now I feel like I was living in the Dark Ages...Thanks for bringing me into the 21st Century, Teresa.)

Read Chapter Headings
The chapter headings of Isaiah give a great overview and a great commentary from one of the best LDS scriptorians who ever lived.

In answer to the question of who wrote the chapter headings of the LDS scriptures, Robert J. Matthews, who was a member of the scripture committee, said, "I would be glad to tell you who did that, but first let me say one other thing. The Scriptures Publications Committee used many people for many things. It was somewhat agreed that it was a group project and that although individuals worked on certain things, it would not be noised abroad that this person did this thing and that person did another thing. So that is why you cannot find in any published works who did what. I think it would be no breach of etiquette or of confidentiality if I were to say with pleasure that Elder Bruce R. McConkie produced those headings. Now I don’t know anybody else who could do it so well. All of the headings are definitive and interpretive; they are a valuable part of the new edition of the scriptures. Occasionally people say to me, 'We have a marvelous topical guide...there are a lot of other good things in this new edition of the scriptures, but there is no commentary.' It struck me one day that the commentary is in the chapter headings. In fact, try this exercise sometime. Start with Genesis and just read the headings–Genesis 1, then Genesis 2, Genesis 3, and do this for about fifteen chapters. You’ll see that those headings are not only good for the chapter in which they are placed, but they are consecutive and relate well to one another." (Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet, The Joseph Smith Translation, p.300-301)

I was considering typing up the chapter headings of Isaiah, when I got the comment from Teresa, that I mentioned above, and I can see that on that scripture website, if you pull up Isaiah, you will first get just the chapter headings.  Excellent!  Reading straight through all the chapter headings will give you a great overview of the repeating themes creating the tapestry that is Isaiah.


Teresa in Colorado said...

OR... you could use the new Scriptures website and keep your notes there.

Love your lesson comments, you're on my bookmark list. Noticed you were recommending photocopying, which is also cool and not everybody's "electronic" -- But I have been using the new scriptures website and it is totally revolutionizing the way I study.

You get 4000 characters PER VERSE, and you can organize your notes into folders. I am the Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward so I organize not only by Lesson (OT 33 Jonah, OT 34 Hosea) but by topic (Assyria, Fall of Judah, Lost 10 Tribes) and even by "Who said it" (James Talmage, Bruce R McConkie).

It just changed this week from "" to "" so I think it's going live and is available to all.

Seriously, take a look. It's so cool!

Teaching Gospel Doctrine in Colorado!

Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

Wow! Teresa, that is so cool! How did I not know about this? You are my new best friend! I am going to have to play with this website and figure out how I would want it to work for me. Thanks!!!!! I will put a note up above for everyone, so they don't miss your comment.

CarlH said...

Nancy, I really appreciated your suggestions for creating a "book" for Isaiah study. In case some readers may not be aware, the LDS version of the scriptures--including all the study aids, maps and pictures--are available from the website ("old" only--as far as I can tell) at the following link:,7777,579-1,00.html

(Be aware, these are massive files--took about 8 minutes to download the 35MB+ file of the Holy Bible on my high-speed link at work, after my home computer hung about less than a third of the way through. The Triple Combination is about 22.5MB. Spanish language versions also available in this format.)

Using these .pdf files, you can print your notebook pages directly from your computer without having to copy with a frame, etc. But be sure that your printer settings do not scale the pages to fit the printable area or you will lose the desired large borders.

I hope this may help some others who, like me, still like the feel of paper in our hands and/or haven't figured out how to use the new Study Notebook feature from effectively.

Thanks again for your insights and suggestions!

Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

That is a great idea, too, Carl! The photocopying was a little challenging, and your way would probably be easier and look nicer.

Darrel said...

I Photocopied the Isaiah pages of the bible over 30 years ago and marked up those pages with notes from 4 comentaries on Isaiah.

When I went looking for them this year I could not find them.

Thanks for the tip about the updated Church website. I looked at it the other day and wondered why it had been updated. It is always frustrating to deal with the new look and feel of any updated website (Meridian Magazine for instance) so I was not too impressed.

Now that I know I can make personal notes on line I will be using the site for my next reading of Isaiah. I have decided that that the church database is more likely to be available 30 years from now than a new set of photocopies.

LDS Scriptures said...

I'm always looking for great ways to study Isaiah. I don't think it's any surprise that most people find him difficult to understand at first, and I am no exception.