How are students reacting to the new Study Edition of the Book of Mormon?
Mark Alan Wright is an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. He formerly served as an associate editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.
Several years ago I had the opportunity to use an early draft of the Maxwell Institute Study Edition with students in my Book of Mormon course at BYU. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, echoing my own experience. They reported feeling more engaged and focused on the scripture’s content as they read, and that their study habits improved as they were able to read for longer blocks of time and with greater comprehension, all of which made them more eager to read each day.
Consider these student reactions:
“I really like the way the stories become almost more realistic. I always believed and enjoyed the scriptures, but with this edition I feel like because it’s easier to read it’s almost like the stories are more personal.
“The format helps me see better how the whole book flows and fits together
“I do enjoy reading more with this style rather than with the double columns. The story seems to flow much better this way…I also like seeing the original chapters, it changes your perspective of the story
“I really like the format of the Study Edition, how it puts the story into paragraphs and puts quotes when someone is talking. It makes it easier to read
Perhaps the strongest endorsement I can personally give is the fact that I began using the Study Edition draft not only in my classrooms, but also for my personal daily study of the scriptures. I’ve regularly benefited from the carefully chosen but incredibly insightful footnotes—from the cross-references that connect aspects of the narrative that I’ve never noticed to alternate readings in earlier editions and manuscripts of the Book of Mormon.
What’s more, the Maxwell Institute Study Edition marks the original chapters from the 1830 edition alongside its current chapter divisions, helping me better understand the narrative arcs crafted by the original authors and editors. I’ve been a religious educator for roughly twenty years now (nine years as a seminary teacher, and in my twelfth year here at BYU between adjuncting and my current full-time position), and I’m amazed at how something as simple as using bold-face type to emphasize words and phrases from Isaiah used by later prophets has helped me see with so much more clarity what Nephi, Jacob, and others were doing in their preaching and writing.
I simply enjoy reading my scriptures more when I read from this edition, and my students do as well. I strongly recommend the Maxwell Institute Study Edition of the Book of Mormon.
Now available at Deseret Book, local Latter-day Saint book stores in Utah such as Benchmark Books, and online at amazon.com.