Sunday, February 24, 2013


When I was starting on the road to my Master’s degree from Brigham Young University, I was able to convince my employers at the Church Education System and the administrators at BYU to allow me to pursue my degree in Ancient and Modern Scripture. Since this particular degree had not been offered at BYU for some time I was allowed to write up a proposal for the classes and other requirements which I would have to complete in order to qualify for a Master of Arts degree in the area of Ancient and Modern Scripture.

As you can imagine this ended up being one of the most enriching and gratifying times of my scholastic pursuits. The subjects and teachers I was involved with for those wonderful two years were all of my own choosing and completely in areas of most interest to me. It was a rare and golden opportunity.

During these exceptional years and even though it wouldn't be accepted by very many scholars of ancient writings, I came up with a personal way of distinguishing between ancient and modern scriptures. I separated the scriptures canonized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints into those scriptures written before the Savior’s mortal life as being ancient, and those which included His mortal life and which came through revelation after His mortal life as being modern.

This makes for an interesting division of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Dividing the scriptures in this way makes the Old Testament fall into my category of Ancient Scripture and the New Testament into the category of Modern Scripture. The Book of Mormon falls into Ancient Scripture up to 3rd Nephi and includes the book of Ether, while the books of 3rd Nephi, Mormon and Moroni fall into Modern Scripture. The Pearl of Great Price is entirely Ancient Scripture while the Doctrine and Covenants is entirely Modern. The revelations of the latter day Prophets and the present day Living Oracles would all be classified into the Modern Scripture group.

For those of you who are still reading I will try to make a point about why I have chosen to review a bit of my personal ancient history.

Although we cannot know all that the ancient prophets understood, we can examine their words which have been preserved. It seems that one of the concepts gleaned from studying the scriptures after dividing them in this way is that truths are revealed in an evolutionary way through His servants to Heavenly Father’s children.

Isaiah 28: 9-13

Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
To whom he said, this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little…

Once we understand that the knowledge of the Lord is dealt out in portions as we are prepared to receive it,

Alma 29: 8

For behold the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.

this should open up to us the reality of the limitations of understanding given to any generation and the minuteness of our personal understanding during our mortal sojourn and why Joseph Smith would have written the following in his Wentworth letter:

Article of Faith 9

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

I am grateful for the times of my life when I knew very little and was driven in my quest to know more.

I am grateful for the times of my life when I knew everything and was often challenged and shown how little I yet knew.

I am grateful for the times in my life when I was being tutored by those who knew much more and was driven to gain some of their knowledge.

I am grateful for the time in my life when I came to know that wisdom includes the understanding of how little I yet know.

I am grateful for the time in my life when I came to know that the light I now have is but a cornered shadow of the Eternal Light.


  1. Mil gracias por sus pensamientos y experiencias en BYU.Son muy valiosos para mi.Saludos a la hermana Kathy.

    Armando Gomez

  2. OK, Bill, you managed to "do it again" (this one goes in your "keeper" file!) I thoroughly
    enjoyed reading through "FOR THESE THINGS AND MORE I AM GRATEFUL". As I read what you wrote (clear to the end) I was able to understand the "drive" you have to do things that are challenging ~~ you listen to the Holy Ghost as He prompts you for He knows you better than you know yourself! He knew you would benefit from this experience in getting your Master's degree in Ancient and Modern Scripture in the manner in which you did, and in the process you would be able to share your knowledge with others! That is what we're supposed to be doing in this life ~~ and you've been doing it all your life! Thank you for staying in tune with the Holy Ghost ~~ I am one of many who benefit because you do!

    I appreciate you, dear Friend!

    Carla Johnson

  3. Excelente, gracias

    Alexander Ospina Rubio

  4. Brother Riley,

    This was beautiful. I always have loved learning from you!

    Natalie Heer-Bell

  5. Loved it. I thought you knew everything! Well, everything there is to know in mortality anyway!

    Debi Woffinden

  6. President,

    Like always I truly appreciate, you sharing your thoughts. Your a true inspiration!! And a Great Man!!

    Tysen Fausett

  7. Amen!! I'm looking forward to the greater Light and Knowledge the Lord has for me (just hope it doesn't hurt too much) ;)

    Sue Mastretti

  8. Ancient Scripture, and Modern Scripture. We look forward to learning more modern scripture in three weeks. Love all of the scriptures. Grateful hears and souls surely feel Heavenly Father's love.

    Jean Seavey