In January 2018, on their regular every-fourth-year scriptural study schedule, adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once again embarked on a year-long study of the Old Testament in their weekly Sunday School Gospel Doctrine class. To enhance your study and make it more meaningful, How Often Would I Have Gathered You, a book of 229 stories from the Old Testament written especially for adult and young adult Latter-day Saints, is recommended as the ideal study aid. This is true for the following reasons:
- This book of 229 stories is more comprehensive than any other book of Old Testament/Bible stories that we know of. In addition to the stories that you knew and loved as a child, it includes many wonderful, rarely-told and little-known stories.
- The stories in How Often Would I Have Gathered You are written specifically for Latter-day Saint adults (Note, however, that though the stories are written for adults, they are also a valuable aid for parents who want to teach their children the stories of the Old Testament.)
- The stories are told in chronological sequence, insofar as can be determined, beginning with the Grand Council in heaven and ending with the return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon.
- As the previous item suggests, the stories also contain information and perspectives from non-Old Testament sources. These include the Pearl of Great Price; the Book of Mormon; and the works of Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian. The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, and other LDS scripture-study aids have also been used.
- The King James translators replaced the name Jehovah in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament with the term “the LORD,” putting LORD in small capital letters. How Often Would I Have Gathered You takes “the LORD” out of the account and puts Jehovah back in—with significant effect. (Note: The ancient Jews neither spoke nor wrote the name YHWH [which we now pronounce as Jehovah) because it was too sacred. The writers of the Masoretic text [the authoritative Hebrew text] instead used dots [. . . .] or wrote, in its place, the name “Adonai” [which means “lord”].)
- The stories are told in modern English, except for the use of the old-style pronouns (Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine and their related verbs) when talking about Deity.
- Unlike a translation of the Old Testament, How Often Would I Have Gathered You does not go through every word and every verse–or even every thought. Instead, it includes only what is relevant to each story—leaving out those parts where most of us get bogged down. Some stories cover only a few verses; others cover (in much less—but essential—detail) entire books.
- Insofar as we can tell, no other collection of Old Testament stories provides any more than just glimpses into the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah during the period of the divided monarchy, after King Solomon. These stories—as told in parts 9, 10, and 11 of this book—provide the help you need to better understand the kings, their reigns, and their interaction with the prophets and the people during this significant period of Old Testament history.
- Extensive footnotes (not end notes) provide helpful insights and background to the stories as well as cross references between related stories in the book.
- The book has two complete indexes—one index to names and one to subjects. You will also find a pronunciation guide to offer helpful suggestions on how to say the names.
- There are also maps at the end of the book to offer geographic perspective. (One reviewer said he thought the maps were the best part of the book!)
- With the help of these wonderful stories you will come to understand the Old Testament better than you ever have before. And when you understand it, you will grow to love it.
The Old Testament: understand it, love it