Studying the Doctrine and Covenants

Next week begins the Sunday School study of the Doctrine and Covenants (and church history), and I’ve been gearing up for this for the last three years. It’s no secret that my favorite book is the Doctrine and Covenants and I look forward most of all to this part of the Sunday School cycle. But it’s also something of a drag—the curriculum approaches the challenge of a scrapbook of sections, a narrative-less book of scripture, by maintaining the haphazard and accidental section order of the book. This results in readers jumping between historical developments and then getting those developments all out of sequence, which doesn’t help an already proof-texted approach to pulling verses and applying them subjectively to the whims of the class. I prefer working through the Doctrine and Covenants in the chronological order of the texts’ productions. This means starting with D&C 3, not getting to D&C 1 until nearly halfway through the book, and not getting to D&C 2 until the very end, for example. Having taught the two-course sequence of Doctrine and Covenants at BYU for ten years now, I’ve learned how to draw thematically on the authentic development of the revelations. So my approach is something of a chronological plus thematic trajectory through the book.

I’m excited to bring this approach to my own home with my family but also share it with you. I intend to record audio discussions I use in my classes and share them here. To follow along, it will help for you to have my lesson schedule and course outlines. I have prepared the first month’s worth of material, which you can download as a PDF here:

Doctrine and Covenants Outlines

As we move through the year, I’ll continue to update this file.

Lesson Schedule

I can’t say whether this will have to change due to unforeseen interruptions, but I’ll be doing my best to follow this schedule:

Unit 1: Introduction to Church History and the Doctrine and Covenants

3 Jan Studying Church History and the Beginnings of Mormonism (First Vision, JS–H)

10 Jan Interpretation and the History of the Doctrine and Covenants

Unit 2: Christ

17 Jan Nature of Christ—God Cannot Be Frustrated (D&C 3)

24 Jan Work of Christ—A Marvelous Work Is about to Come Forth (D&C 4–5, 10)

31 Jan Revelation of Christ, Part 1—As Often as Thou Hast Inquired (D&C 6)

7 Feb Revelation of Christ, Part 2—A Knowledge Concerning the Engravings (D&C 8–9, 11)

14 Feb Atonement of Christ, Part 1—His Joy in the Soul that Repenteth (D&C 18)

21 Feb Atonement of Christ, Part 2—Nevertheless, Glory Be to the Father (D&C 19)

28 Feb Keystone and Cornerstone—The Book of Mormon in the Doctrine and Covenants

7 Mar Covenant of Christ—A New and Everlasting Covenant (D&C 22, 24)

Unit 3: Church of Christ

14 Mar Congregation—Remembering unto the Father (D&C 20, 25–27)

21 Mar Succession—None Other Appointed to Receive Revelations (D&C 28, 43)

28 Mar Scripture—But Little Children Are Holy (D&C 35, 74, 45)

4 Apr (Easter)

11 Apr Law—The Law of the Lord (D&C 42)

18 Apr Spirit—That All May Be Edified (D&C 46, 49–50)

Unit 4: New Jerusalem

25 Apr Zion—Honored in Laying the Foundation (D&C 29, 56, 58, 61, 68)

2 May Mission—Knowing the Calamities, I Called upon Joseph (D&C 1)

9 May Temple—The Lord Who Shall Suddenly Come to His Temple (D&C 67, 133)

16 May Priesthood—The Holy Priesthood (D&C 107*)

23 May Restoration—Israel, Priesthood, and Joseph Smith’s Narrative

30 May Cosmos—The Vision: He Lives, For We Saw Him (D&C 76)

6 Jun Stewardship—To Advance the Cause (D&C 78, 81, 77, 82, 99)

13 Jun Ordinance—The Power of Godliness Is Manifest (D&C 84)

20 Jun Preparation—The Warning Voice (D&C 86–87)

Unit 5: Solemn Assembly

27 Jun Peace—Another Advocate (D&C 88, Part I)

4 Jul Light—Shining in Darkness (D&C 88, Part II)

11 Jul Holiness—Sanctified from Blood (D&C 88, Part III)

18 Jul Theophany—God Made Visible (D&C 88, Part IV)

25 Jul Knowledge—A Word of Wisdom (D&C 89, 91)

1 Aug Truth—Grace for Grace (D&C 93)

8 Aug Sanctuary—For the Pure in Heart (D&C 97, 94)

15 Aug Glory—Who Would Have Received Me (D&C 107–B, 137, 109–110)

22 Aug Ancient Order—Abraham in Egypt

Unit 6: Affliction

29 Aug Tribulation—They Polluted Their Inheritances (D&C 98, 101, 103–105)

5 Sep Covetousness—That Which Is but the Drop (D&C 115–120)

12 Sep Atonement—O God, Where Art Thou? (D&C 121–123)

19 Sep Peace and Violence among Latter-day Saints

Unit 7: Fullness of Times

26 Sep Dispensation—Hidden from before the Foundation of the World (D&C 2, 13, 124)

3 Oct Sealing—The Welding Link (D&C 127–131)

10 Oct Excavating an Accurate History of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

17 Oct Exaltation—Receive Ye Therefore My Law (D&C 132)

24 Oct Esotericism and the Nauvoo Endowment

Unit 8: After Joseph Smith

31 Oct Eulogy—Testament of the Martyrs (D&C 135)

7 Nov Exodus—The Camp of Israel (D&C 136)

14 Nov Brigham Young, Racism, and Restrictions

21 Nov Politics—Manifesto, Senate Confirmation, and Race (OD–1, D&C 138, OD–2)

28 Nov Unpublished and Minor Revelations

5 Dec Major Themes of the D&C

12 Dec The Lord of the Revelations and the D&C as a Textual Holy of Holies