I was grateful for Ardis’ blog post at Keepa’ because I personally find lds.org a bit maddening when I am trying to find something. I don’t browse the site, and I never would have known to look for this new page. Now that I’ve found it, however, I’m loving it!
For yesterday’s Gospel Doctrine lesson, for instance, I was able to read about Martin Harris and the Three Witnesses in two separate posts. (I’m not the teacher, just a lowly student, but I was able to point out Martin’s huge contributions to the work of the restoration as the classroom banter focused on his misstep in requesting the 116-page manuscript.)
Ardis reports about the historical articles:
Written by historians – real live actual working professional historians who are also faithful members of the Church – drawing on the formidable resources of the Joseph Smith Papers project – illustrated by photographs from the Church History Library – linked to images of the original (or earliest extant) written revelations – footnoted to suit even the giddiest lover of footnotes – Revelations in Context explains what was going on at the time and and in the place when a revelation was given.
These essays identify the people involved, and tell of religious and civil history, about social customs, and the state of science and technology, and the geography related to the revelations, and whatever else is helpful to our understanding. They are long enough to be thorough, yet brief enough to be practical. The writing is authoritative yet accessible to all.
And, wonder of wonders, they are, or very shortly will be, linked to the Gospel Doctrine lesson manuals online, so that teachers and class members alike can be easily directed to these resources we have so long wished for.
This is really cool stuff, and will certainly aid me in my study of the Doctrine and Covenants this year. I’ve read about half the articles so far, and I’ve been impressed with their readability (both in terms of length and complexity) and thoroughness. In the Martin Harris article, for instance, I read about Martin’s switching out Joseph’s seer stone for another and, upon finding Joseph could not use the substituted stone, confessed that he was trying to put at rest nay-sayers. I’d never read that story before and was pleased to find it in the church-published article.
As I’ve thought about how to study the Doctrine and Covenants this year, one thing I wanted to do was get a better sense of the history of the revelations, and these articles on the church’s website will be a big help to that. Of course, the articles owe a great deal to the Joseph Smith Papers project and to the Church History library.