Both in my classroom and in my other interactions with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have found that people tend to struggle more with understanding and being edified by the Old Testament than they do with any other book of scripture. As we have been pursuing the Come Follow Me program of study for the last several years, it seems as if we have been learning more than ever from the scriptures. While this is exciting, many have expressed to me that they fear they will be disappointed this year because they are not sure they will gain as much from their Old Testament scripture study as their other years of study.
It is my desire, and I believe the desire of many of my colleagues, to do everything I can to help our fellow Church members get as much as possible out of their Old Testament study this year. A tremendous amount of resources have been created to help with this, if only members knew where to find them. While I am sure there are more resources available than I will describe here, I hope that this little article serves to help you find some resources that can greatly aid you. I also hope you will share these resources widely. The goal is to help the entire membership of the Church to have their best year of studying the Old Testament, and enable us all to share with each other and edify each other.
I feel strongly that there is great power to be drawn from the Old Testament, and I also know that many people struggle to draw on that power. Thus I have set aside all my other research and writing for the last few months to try to create resources that will help my fellow Church members understand the Old Testament. I have been creating new material and reformatting old material to make it available for all who want to find success in their Come Follow Me studies this year. I have other colleagues who are also going to great lengths to do the same thing.
Below you will learn about some of the resources I have created, as well as some of those created by my colleagues.
Meridian Magazine should be one of your first stops. They regularly post material that explains the curriculum from a variety of viewpoints.
I am not a genius at creating websites, so I hope readers will be patient with my limited web building skills and instead look for the content available on a website I have created (I chose to spend my time creating the content instead of working on making the website look just right). With my limited abilities I created a website called www.outofthedust.org/. There you will see at the top a menu. One of the items on the menu says “Old Testament Aids.” If you go there you will find charts, maps, handouts, links to articles and videos, etc.
You will also find a link to some YouTube resources I will talk about below. I will also be posting links to a whole bunch of podcasts and tv shows where I am a guest trying to help people understand various weeks of Come Follow Me readings. I will continue to add resources to this page throughout the year. I plan to put up summaries of the storyline of the Book of Kings, more charts and handouts and articles and a variety of other things. This website also has links to pages designed to help you understand the Abrahamic Covenant, the Book of Isaiah (more coming on this page later), and a number of other things that will be discussed further below.
I also recommend the following websites:
https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/ posts a weekly blog with insights from a variety of scholars.
Pearlofgreatpricecentral.org (for articles and videos about both the Book of Abraham and the Book of Moses).
BookofAbraham.org (for information about the Book of Abraham)
RSC.byu.edu. This is the website for the Religious Studies Center, run by Religious Education at BYU. They will consistently draw from a huge range of articles, books and lectures on Old Testament topics in an effort to help you with your studies.
A number of books have been published to help us with our Old Testament study. I am sure I do not know all of the books available, but here are some that I think are helpful:
Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament, by Richard Holzapfel, Dana Pike and David Seely.
The Old Testament Study Guide, start to finish, by Thomas Valetta
Approaching Holiness: Exploring the History and Teachings of the Old Testament, edited by David Seely and Krystal Pierce
Books for specific aspects of the Old Testament
The Book of Moses: From the Ancient of Days to the Latter Days, by Aaron Schade and Matthew Bowen. In this book Drs. Schade and Bowen examine in depth the Book of Moses.
Let’s Talk about the Book of Abraham, by Kerry Muhlestein. In this book I explain the history behind the Book of Abraham and how we got it. I also explore questions people typically have about the Book of Abraham and the Facsimiles. Then I discuss the doctrines taught in the Book of Abraham. This is an affordable and readable little booklet that is part of Deseret Book’s Let’s Talk About series.
From Creation to Sinai. The Old Testament through the Lens of the Restoration, edited by Daniel Belnap and Aaron Schade. This book consists of chapters by different authors that explore in-depth various aspects of the scripture stories we encounter in the Old Testament up through the Mount Sinai period. This is an understandable scholarly in-depth way to cover this part of the Old Testament.
Return Unto Me. Old Testament Messages of God’s Love for You, by Kerry Muhlestein. In this volume I explore how the Old Testament’s main message is of love, mercy and hope. While some feel that the God of the Old Testament is a God of justice and anger, I demonstrate that we see His compassion and mercy more strongly in the Old Testament than anywhere else, and how it applies to our lives. This is designed to help us develop a lens that will affect the way we see everything else in the Old Testament and make sense of some difficult stories. This book is out of print, but an electronic version is available through Amazon.com.
Covenant of Compassion: Caring for the marginalized and Disadvantaged in the Old Testament, edited by Avram Shannon, Gaye Strathearn, George Pierce, and Joshua Sears. These are articles from the Sperry Symposium that explore the ways those in need were taken care of in the Old Testament.
God Will Prevail: Ancient Covenants, Modern Blessings, and the Gathering of Israel, by Kerry Muhlestein. In this book I explore the Abrahamic Covenant, what it has to do with us and our modern covenants, and how it affects the way we view and live our lives and how it affects our understanding of every book of scripture, including the Old Testament. You will not understand the Old Testament if you don’t understand the Abrahamic Covenant, but when you do, scripture (especially the Old Testament and Book of Mormon) opens to you in new and powerful ways.
Learning to Love Isaiah, a Guide and Commentary, by Kerry Muhlestein. In this book I outline general principles for understanding Isaiah, and then provide commentary for every verse in Isaiah. It is formatted so that the KJV of Isaiah is in one column, and the commentary for it is in the adjacent column. Special attention is given to understanding the original context of Isaiah so that we can better understand Latter-day applications. This book is designed to help those who believe they should understand Isaiah but don’t, and feel frustrated as a result. It also includes Book of Mormon highlights, and an index that makes it possible for you to use this commentary to enhance your study of the Book of Mormon.
Podcasts and TV shows
There are so many podcasts available that I do not pretend to know about all of them, nor will I try to list all those I know about. Instead I will try to highlight some that I think will be particularly good at helping you understand the Old Testament.
Of course the Meridian Magazine Come Follow Me podcast with Scot and Maurine Proctor. It is an excellent resource week-in and week-out. Don’t miss this one.
I have just launched a new podcast called The Scriptures Are Real. I have started this podcast because I believe that there is so much power in the scriptures that we are not tapping. When the scriptures are more real, we more easily apply them to our lives and draw more power from them. I am not necessarily trying to follow the Come Follow Me curriculum. Instead, through interviews with others, with my co-host, or sometimes on my own, we explore times that something made the scriptures very real to us. Yet I am trying to post episodes that cover topics that have to do with Come Follow Me in roughly the same order as the Come Follow Me curriculum. For many weeks this podcast will explore elements of the Come Follow Me readings that you will not encounter anywhere else. You can follow the podcast at its RSS homepage, or on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, or Google Podcasts. Soon it will also be on a YouTube channel as well. There is also a page for this podcast on https://www.outofthedust.org/.
I have also created a YouTube channel called The Scriptures Are Real. While I intend to get all of my podcasts on that channel before too long, it is already populated with another resource I have decided to make available. On this YouTube channel I have created a playlist called “Old Testament Class Videos.” I am posting there videos I made for my Old Testament classes which were designed to give them helpful historical, geographical, archaeological and language background information. The videos are certainly not professional, but they are packed with information. I will continue to add more, including a playlist with videos I made for my Isaiah classes, and eventually for my New Testament classes as well. I will also add a playlist for The Scriptures are Real Podcast. By the time we get to the weeks we start studying the life of Abraham you will find the “Old Testament Class” playlist to have a ton of information that will help you better understand your readings. You will find these videos listed on the Old Testament Study Aids page at https://www.outofthedust.org/.
In years past I wrote some articles for Meridian Magazine that were designed to help people understand the Old Testament. Here are some of those articles:
I am sure that I and others will continue to try to create more resources to help you in your study of the Old Testament. I will try to keep posting those at https://www.outofthedust.org/, and I am confident that others will keep trying to make you aware of the resources they are creating. Hopefully together we will all be able to make this a year where the Old Testament begins to enlighten our understanding, begins to become delicious to us, and edifies us greatly, drawing us nearer to God.