When it comes to scripture study, slow down!

01.06.2017 | Blair Hodges

When it comes to scripture study, perhaps one of the best and most surprising pieces of advice I can offer is: slow down! Of course, the advice isn’t original to me. LDS philosopher James E. Faulconer was the first person I can recall who told me to take my time. In his great book Scripture Study he recalls learning the benefits of slow, close reading from a Jewish professor at Pennsylvania State University:
Though his specialty in philosophy was the philosophy of science, knowing his background, I asked if he would allow me to study part of the Old Testament with him. He agreed and asked me to propose a course of study for the next quarter. “Well, since I don’t want to go too fast, why don’t we just read the book of Genesis?” I said. He was amazed. Though I thought studying one book of scripture in eight weeks was a snail’s pace, he thought it impossible to do that much reading in so short a time. He suggested that we read only chapter 1. Since that was equally amazing to me, we compromised on “as much as we can get through.” He warned me that we might not get very far, and we didn’t.” ((The book is available to read online for free here.))
That experience forever changed the way Faulconer read scripture. What’s the longest time you’ve ever spent on a single chapter of scripture? How about a single verse? If you’d like to learn how to get more out of your scripture study, you should consider the Mormon Theology Seminar, co-sponsored by our Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies. Each summer, the Seminar selects one small passage of scripture, as well as a small group of students and scholars to study it together. Some fruits of their work can be found in the Proceedings of the Mormon Theology Seminar series. Or you could apply to take part in the Mormon Theology Seminar yourself. Applications are due by January 15. See here for more. Take your time when you read the scriptures, but don’t delay your application!