Many people take a quotation-centered approach to their study of the Book of Mormon, according to the author of “Beholding the Tree of Life.” While thMany people take a quotation-centered approach to their study of the Book of Mormon, according to the author of “Beholding the Tree of Life.” While this method is useful for talks and lessons, it reduces the Book of Mormon to a collection of scriptural sound bites while ignoring its value as a literary work, or selecting the parts over the whole. Kramer proposes that a rabbinic approach is also appropriate because the Book of Mormon is a story of Jews in exile written not only for the descendants of the Nephites and Lamanites, but also for modern Jews, who would be most familiar with rabbinic methodology.
Most students of the Book of Mormon are unfamiliar with a rabbinic approach, so the author has provided detailed information and examples of this method. He contends that study of the Book of Mormon requires sustained mental effort, attention to details, consideration of deeper levels and alternative perspectives, a connection with other works of scripture, experience with God, and the creation of a personal divine relationship with the book rather than integration of textual information.
The view of works of scripture as multi-layered texts is common, but Kramer goes further, explaining that as rabbis study Hebrew Scriptures, they work at four levels, called peshat, remez, derash, and sod. Each requires a level of devotion and gives the student a different result.
Peshat involves the hard work required to not only determine the literal meaning, but to examine details and put them in context. Peshat can be seen in Lehi’s life as he studied the plates of brass and lived his life in accord with what he learned.
Further understanding comes through remez as the reader works to comprehend allegories, and understand ideas. Nephi’s explanation of Lehi’s dream of the allegory of the tree of life is an example of remez, as he moves beyond the surface meaning to the principles and truths contained therein.
Sermons leading to a better life are found in derash. The student of the scriptures must seek for the lessons beyond the original setting through this living art form. Nephi encouraged his readers to liken the scriptures unto ourselves, which is the essence of derash.
The final level is the mystical one of sod. This is where the scriptural scholar learns of God. While this approach is different in English than with Hebrew Scriptures because of the nature of the languages, we can still take this approach with the Book of Mormon, as noted by King Benjamin as he stated that the scriptures contained the mysteries of God.
The rabbinic approach is not for the casual reader, so Kramer provides details on how to read closely. He explains the importance of considering opening sentences as they set the tone and often have deeper meaning that what we see. The importance of context is identified through the contiguity principle, which states there is no meaning in isolation. Kramer also encourages the reader to consider similarities and differences between accounts of the same events and learn from the comparisons. He states that we should strive to understand the purpose behind repetition and redundancies as well as word order.
Additional suggestions made by the author include reading with others to help improve our experience with God, and looking at the roots of the Book of Mormon. As we understand its relationship to other scriptures, we receive additional witnesses of the truth and affirm words of the prophets. In addition, we are then able to see what we believed to be academic points, such as the Nephite experiences with kings into principles such as the societal dangers of having a king. Comprehension of historical context also helps with application to modern life and the significance of events such as Moses as a type for Christ.
Many may choose to argue that guides such as Kramer’s work are not required as the Holy Ghost is the only assistance required to understand the scriptures. He argues that guides, such as prophets, have always been provided to help in our search for understanding of God’s will. Many of these prophets felt they were failures because their contemporaries rejected their messages; however they have provided much guidance for future generations and continue to be sources of prophetic hope despite historical setbacks. Kramer argues that the Holy Ghost does not eliminate the need for guides, but is a supplement to them.
The author provides a type for our scripture study within his book. He encourages us to persist and continue in a lifelong study of the scriptures although his book has ended, as he writes that his conclusion isn’t really an ending. I will be continuing to use this book as a model for my scripture study in the coming year. I found its methods, while they may seem innovative, have been proven over centuries as appropriate for a lifelong relationship with the divine.
This is true literature with the impact of "The Kite Runner" without the horrific details. I enjoyed this book so much I suggested it to the 9th gradeThis is true literature with the impact of "The Kite Runner" without the horrific details. I enjoyed this book so much I suggested it to the 9th grade English teachers at my school....they thanked me. Do yourself a favor and get your copy now. ...more
Huber has a difficult life. A bully picks on him constantly, he can’t attract the attention of the girl he likes, his twin sister makes him look likeHuber has a difficult life. A bully picks on him constantly, he can’t attract the attention of the girl he likes, his twin sister makes him look like a weakling, and his parents fight constantly.
Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, Huber’s beloved grandfather dies. Huber inherits a map, a journal, and a mysterious gold coin. Huber is soon off on the adventure of a lifetime as he tries to beat a mysterious Spaniard to the treasure.
B.J. Bostick's novel will be a fun and interesting read for both boys and girls. The nonstop action coupled with the realities of life in middle school will keep them reading and wanting more. This book would also be a high-interest book for high school students with disabilities. ...more
Started reading these when John was on his mission in South Africa to better understand the culture. Love this series! Interesting mysteries, great chStarted reading these when John was on his mission in South Africa to better understand the culture. Love this series! Interesting mysteries, great characters....more
If you're looking for the perfect book to read during a cold spell, "Bumpy Landings" is it! This tale of love and lies, pilots and pani popo will drawIf you're looking for the perfect book to read during a cold spell, "Bumpy Landings" is it! This tale of love and lies, pilots and pani popo will draw you in from the first page.
Don Carey's characters are as warm as the Hawaiian climate. You'll enjoy this coming of age story. I know I'm hoping for a sequel!...more
Living Well on the Spectrum by Valerie Gaus, PhD--available 4/1/2011
If only there were a book written in laymen’s terms, that adults on the autism speLiving Well on the Spectrum by Valerie Gaus, PhD--available 4/1/2011
If only there were a book written in laymen’s terms, that adults on the autism spectrum could use to help with social struggles. Oh, but there is! Written by a psychologist who regularly counsels adults on the Autism Spectrum, this practical guide will help not only those on the spectrum, but their families and teachers.
Readers are taught how to analyze their day for problem times. After identifying challenging situations, they look for possible reasons behind the difficulties, identify potential solutions, select and implement one, and examine the results. This is presented in a matter-of-fact manner that should appeal to those on the spectrum.
One very important aspect of this book is the explanation of differences in thinking between those on the spectrum and neurotypical people. While these discrepancies can be challenging, the author also notes the advantages of these mental patterns. Emotional, sensory, and movement differences are also discussed.
Although primarily written for adults, the questionnaires and related strategies can also be used to help teens work through the potentially sticky situations found in secondary school. Teachers could use these problem-solving methods with social skills classes. The positive focus will encourage students to participate in the exercises, and they will be encouraged to keep working as they examine the results of successful social solutions.
Written in laymen's terms, this useful guide is a must for the library of those on the spectrum, their loved ones, and professionals who work with them. I highly recommend this practical book. ...more
Daron Fraley has provided us with three varied short stories.
"Petitions" is a modern day tale I would recommend every teen read. I would certainly usDaron Fraley has provided us with three varied short stories.
"Petitions" is a modern day tale I would recommend every teen read. I would certainly use it for classes if I were still teaching English. It's one of those rare stories that is difficult to forget and provides insight into our humanity.
"Angel's Song" is speculative fiction. Based on the world created in "The Thorn", it's a creative twist on a familiar tale.
"Water" is set in biblical times. Inspired by Carl Bloch's painting, "Healing at the Pool at Bethesda," the author brings a new perspective to the story.
There is something for everyone in this volume. ...more
Had to wrestle this away from my 19-year-old daughter. We both loved the characters and action. This is a fun book you don't have to worry about yourHad to wrestle this away from my 19-year-old daughter. We both loved the characters and action. This is a fun book you don't have to worry about your children reading. Can't wait for the next installment!...more
This true story is difficult to get through at times due to the subject matter, but can be a valuable tool for the family members of those who commitThis true story is difficult to get through at times due to the subject matter, but can be a valuable tool for the family members of those who commit suicide. The author took a courageous leap, sharing intense personal emotions and events while attempting to understand the incomprehensible. I believe that this work will help many people find peace in the face of tragedy. Definitely worth the effort it takes to face the unthinkable. ...more
Many authors are currently rewriting Jane Austin's works with a modern twist. Most of those are thinly-disguised updates that are poor imitations of tMany authors are currently rewriting Jane Austin's works with a modern twist. Most of those are thinly-disguised updates that are poor imitations of the original. "Chocolate Roses", however is fresh and original. Janie Rose Whitaker is a complex and interesting character, a mix of independence and self-doubt.
Joan Sowardsmanages to infuse this story with tragedy, comedy, and romance. Not only will LDS readers find a clean, compelling, and fun read, but this story can be enjoyed by readers of all faiths. Take your time and savor this book just like gourmet chocolate.....without the calories!
I enjoyed this book so much I ordered Joan's previous book, "Haunt's Haven", and am in the middle of savoring every word. ...more