I like reference books. Yes, I was the weird kid who actually read the dictionary for fun. In second grade, I went through the school library’s entire collection of biographies.
So, when Deseret Book offered me the opportunity to review the new Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, I jumped at the chance.
And it is even cooler than I imagined.
While the hefty, 862-page encyclopedic work isn’t likely to take up residence in my scripture bag or be toted along to Sunday School this year, it will definitely improve my study of church history. The Doctrine and Covenants has long been my favorite book of scripture and I have always wanted to know more about much of what I’ve read, like the history and context of many of the revelations. This book promises to answer many of my questions.
Topics in the Reference Companion are arranged alphabetically. In addition to doctrinal topics, there are entries for every person mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants, as well as for every place mentioned–biographies of important people in church history–yay! The articles are well-written and well-researched, with primary sources noted. The ones I read have an objective, scholarly feel, allowing readers to come to their own conclusions about historical events and settings. And that is as it should be, as contributions have been made by more than 100 LDS scholars, including such familiar names as Susan Easton Black, Brent L. Top and Robert L.Millet.
In addition to the clearly written articles laid out in a familiar two-column format (reminding me of the Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary), beautiful illustrations, photographs and graphics, many of which were new to me, enhance the entries.
The appendices are also helpful with definitions from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary to help explain words and phrases that are either no longer in common usage or that have definitions not quite the same today as they were then. For a logophile (word nerd, to the rest of you) like me, this is a totally cool feature. I will admit that I do stop and research words from time to time because I have thought they did not mean then what I think they mean now.
It also contains a list of every prophecy and promise given in the Doctrine and Covenants and a wonderful poetic version of Section 76 penned by Joseph Smith, Jr. I had not seen this before, and apparently it is something rarely seen in print by most of us, but it is a beautiful version of one of the most beloved sections of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Just browsing through this book and reading randomly has already made me more eager to sit down with it and my scriptures and really get to studying.
I think I’m going to be learning more about church history and the Doctrine and Covenants this year than I have since seminary.
And if you’re the electronic type, The Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion is also available in an eBook version. This is definitely a book worth adding to your personal gospel study library.
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