A New New Testament

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but on more than one occasion, I have seriously considered stealing scriptures from the temple.

And apparently I am not the only one because the last time we were there, I noticed that they had new stickers in them saying PROPERTY OF THE HOUSTON TEMPLE PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE.

Why would I consider stealing scriptures? Because the ones in the temple have the following awesome features:

–Hard backs, so you could stand in front of a class and teach from them without it flopping around your hands.

–No supplemental material, which means that the Bible is no thicker than the Triple Combination.

But you can’t buy these amazing scriptures! So I’m still considering swiping them. I figure that I don’t have to feel guilty about it if I make a donation to the temple fund for what the scriptures would cost, right? Right?

But this is not really the point of my post. The point is this: the Church is test-driving a new scripture format, which you can read about here.

And I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this format.

On the plus side, I think getting rid of the supplemental material is a good move in general. People tend to treat it, in my experience, as if it were infallible scripture, and that is not a good thing. (I do think they should have left the JST in. To me, that is a different category than the rest of the supplemental material.) Given that most people have access online to these study aids if they want them, it seems to make sense to save back strain and paper costs by not printing them. In fact, even better study aids are available from the Church online.

On the other hand, it makes my heart hurt to think about studying the New Testament without the Old Testament in hand. Let me try that again: I don’t think you can really study the New Testament without the Old Testament in hand. There is almost no passage of the New Testament–and certainly nothing Jesus said–that cannot be better understood with reference to the Old Testament. The Old Testament is quoted over 400 times (some say over 600 times; depends on what you count) in the New, and there are many more allusions and thematic links.

So I’m glad to see the Church experimenting with different scripture formats, but I don’t like the idea of packaging the NT for study at Church (by Primary kids and adults in Gospel Doctrine) without the OT. Maybe we could keep the size down by omitting the supplemental material and footnotes, but keeping the OT and NT together? And go ahead and put the hard backs on while you are at it. Because I really don’t like the idea of having to go through a temple session with a bible hidden under my clothes.

18 comments for “A New New Testament

  1. I’m fine with lugging my Quad to Gospel Doctrine class, but this would be perfect for slipping into my work bag and reading on the bus. Currently I only read the book of mormon because that’s the only thing that allows me to also comfortably carry lunch, breakfast, water, and at least one other book.

  2. I hadn’t seen this; very interesting.

    I actually like omitting the JST. We simply misuse that too often in our classrooms. Instead of being a point of departure for discussion of some issue, it’s used to clamp down any discussion whatsoever.

    So you’re reading along and come to some interesting, difficult passage in the KJV. Someone in the back raises her hand and says, “Oh, but the JST says X.” Question answered, problem solved, no more discussion, lesson moves on. This used to drive me absolutely insane in BYU religion classes, and was the impetus for my Dialogue article to the effect that we can’t simply assume that the JST represents the original text.

  3. Hunh. I have a three-inch-thick “Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament” — haven’t cracked it yet, but expect to get lots of use out of it next year (I *should* be using it now, in sort of a forward-looking consideration of how this year’s Sunday School texts are used later in the New Testament). I could do without all the useless Topical Guide and most of the Bible dictionary, but I don’t think I could do without access to the full scriptural canon no matter which book I was focusing on. Reading just to be reading, just to be passing my eyes over the lines, isn’t much use, I think.

  4. I hadn’t seen this, thanks for calling it to my attention! I’ve ordered two. Now if only these were paper NRSVs the Church was offering ;)

    I share your concern about the lack of the OT, but then, LDS don’t often show awareness of where the NT cites or riffs on the OT, and our footnotes rarely help us there. So practically speaking, perhaps we’re not losing anything but already-unrealized possibilities.

    I’m with Kevin on the JST. It’s used too much as a crutch.

    And Ardis, I have an electronic copy of that, (got it on sale for half price.). It’s often very useful, particularly in supplementing our KJV’s lack of citations to OT quotations in the NET. I think it merits its own post once we get closer to NT study time.

  5. I shrug. It will make it easy for people to carry less stuff to Church, depend on those who do bring the OT or have a mobile phone with the full scriptures in them, etc etc. My e-reader has the full Church curriculum and commentaries in it, and I know there are more than six others in meetings who have a similar device they carry to Church.

  6. our SS class seems to have moved mostly digital, so i don’t know who the target audience here is. not people under 45 with mobile phones, and the older group need large print :-) i’m less interested in format than translation. please let’s get a different english version!

  7. you mean baptism for the dead might not be the only thing we’ll have in common with the marcionites?

  8. Would it shock anyone that there are lots and lots of technology-minded late-30-somethings who actually like paper and hate reading the scriptures on a tiny screen?

  9. #7 – I would be more inclined to depart with some of the beautiful fake flower arrangements. I also saw two small end tables in the Nauvoo temple that I was seriously lusting for. I was left pondering the eternal question, “Is the temple like the ‘Hampton Inn’ where I can order anything found in my hotel room for my own home?” If so, I’m gonna start making my list of cool temple furniture and fixtures. That would be serious motivation for me to visit all the temples and decide which style I liked best.

  10. I think they could cut 200 pages out of the Quad if they consolidated the Topical Guide from the Bible and the Index from the Triple Combination into a single Topical Guide and put all the reference material AFTER the standard works, rather than splitting them up. That would make it more compact, less unwieldy and easier to move from one book to another.

  11. “If so, I’m gonna start making my list of cool temple furniture and fixtures.”

    My cousin Jeff made many of the furnishings for the Nauvoo temple, and many of the other modern temples. I can’t really say if he would welcome orders for home furniture. Let me know if you’re serious — I can try to put you in touch with him.

  12. The KJV contains so many archaic words that are not relevant/understandable/meaningful today. We need a translation that makes the Bible readable to youth and adults alike and still maintains the integrity of the book. When I’m studying the Bible, I keep a NIV version nearby. That helps a lot.

  13. It’s a very short, very straight line between stealing scriptures from the temple and murder! ;D

  14. To the comments of desiring hardcover scriptures, the LDS Church introduced last year a triple combination ($7) and Bible ($10) in hardcover material in the regular size.

  15. I am handicapped, and my ability to manipulate scriptures is painfully limited, but I can use my pocket pc fairly well. I wish the church would publish scriptures in the appropriate format — what I use now is less than ideal.

  16. Jim, the scriptures are available in a number of digital formats. Not only PC, but apple app as well.

    The dictionary needs a major overhaul. Parts of it are still from the free dictionary the publishers of the older edition threw in for free. But it dates back a hundred years in some places (e.g. Ba’l as a sun god, sure).

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