Sperry Symposium

You Shall Have My Word: Exploring the Text of the Doctrine and Covenants


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The 41st Annual Brigham Young University Sidney B. Sperry Symposium

Scott C. Esplin, Richard O Cowan and Rachel Cope, Editors.  Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Companay, 2012.  Hardbound, 6.25×9.25″, 304 pages.


Prophets throughout the ages have counseled us to liken the scriptures unto ourselves, but how do we accomplish that goal with the Doctrine and Covenants?

As both a historical document and holy writ, the Doctrine and Covenants is closely linked with context—of its history, its language, and its modern-day use in the Church. Learning additional contexts of the Doctrine and Covenants can help us apply this collection of revelations in our lives.

This book provides multiple perspectives on key revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, all with the aim of showing that, as Elder Gary J. Coleman attests herein, this book of scripture can become personal for each of us.

The history behind each revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants can help us better understand the significance of the knowledge given to latter-day prophets. In this volume, Kenneth L. Alford discusses the theological history of prophecies about the return of Elijah. Craig James Ostler presents a faithful interpretation of the “treasure” God instructed Joseph Smith to seek in Salem. And Matthew C. Godfrey examines what Joseph Smith knew about the priesthood before receiving section 84.

The revelations of scripture are all conveyed through language, a fact that several authors discuss in this book. Steven C. Harper discusses Joseph Smith’s editorial changes to the revelations and how these relate to his calling as a prophet; Lisa Olsen Tait displays the complex intertextuality between the Doctrine and Covenants and the King James Version of the Bible; and Nicholas J. Frederick shows how the Doctrine and Covenants uses doctrines and language from the Gospel of John to reveal a distinctly Latter-day Saint theology.

Because we have continuing revelation through the Church, the use of scriptures can change over time. In this book, Kate Holbrook explains how the Word of Wisdom developed into the guidelines we have today, Samuel Morris Brown examines how section 88 has taught us about our heavenly family, and Mary Jane Woodger traces the journey of section 138 to canonization.

This volume provides readers with a variety of insights on the Doctrine and Covenants that can enlighten, educate, and uplift every student of the scriptures.

The Sperry Symposium, named in honor of pioneering Latter-day Saint scripture scholar Sidney B. Sperry and held on the campus of Brigham Young University, seeks each year to examine an aspect of the religious and cultural heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The following gospel scholars are contributors to the 41st Annual Sperry Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants:

  • Elder Gary L. Coleman
  • Kenneth L. Alford
  • Terry B. Ball
  • Justin R. Bray
  • Samuel Morris Brown
  • Amy Easton-Flake
  • Scott C. Esplin
  • Nicholas J. Frederick
  • Matthew C. Godfrey
  • Steven C. Harper
  • Kate Holbrook
  • Craig James Ostler
  • Matthew O. Richardson
  • Spencer S. Snyder
  • Mark L. Staker
  • Lisa Olsen Tait
  • Mary Jane Woodger

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