To more effectively study Isaiah, do NOT try to “eat the whole elephant” all at once. This book has 66 chapters, with each containing valuable insights, teachings, and prophecies. Mentally digest Isaiah one chapter at a time and study each chapter in its smaller units, such as individual paragraphs or sections.
☛ First, read all the 66 chapter headings of Isaiah in your LDS edition the King James Version of the Bible. Read just the chapter headings; NOT any verses or footnotes. This is almost impossible! Select the key chapters that you want to study first. Note – Isaiah chapters are not in chronological order. Different topics are scattered throughout the book – so select those of greatest interest to you.
☛ Second, select the single chapter you want to study first and read that chapter in its entirety, without stopping. Then, read the chapter again. And if that chapter is quoted in the Book of Mormon, read it again and note any differences between the KJV Bible and the Book of Mormon.
☛ Third, identify the smaller sections of the chapter, such as the individual paragraphs (noted with a ¶ symbol in the KJV). read the chapter again and select the key section that highlights the chapter’s major message for you. It might even be the least understood portion of the chapter, or just a portion which you want or need to study in greater depth.
☛ Fourth, this step is very important, study that one key section of the chapter in depth! First, Reread all the verses of that key section in their context and use the footnotes to clarify. Note any Hebrew (heb) clarifications or Joseph Smith Translation (jst) insights. Note the scripture verses cross referenced in the footnotes and read them in their context. Look up the topical guide (tg) entries and note some other scripture passages in the Standard Works that deal with the same theme you are studying; then read these passages to gain additional insights. (As you read the section, consider if there might be any terms, names, places, etc. which might be in the Bible Dictionary; see if they are listed.) Then, prepare a brief outline of the major ideas or keywords of that section. Try to identify any poetic patterns or parallelisms of the ideas. Reread the section and write down your summary of its message in just one brief sentence. To review — read, study, reread and summarize that key section.
☛ Fifth, study the other sections of the chapter following the suggestions above. Try to identify how the sections connect with your key section. Review the chapter’s major or important ideas in your mind and write them down. What for you, at this time in your life, are the significant concepts? Highlight the verses of greatest value in your scriptures. Ponder how can you “liken Isaiah’s words unto yourself”? (See 1 Ne 19:23-24.) Pray for insights as you seek to apply relevant messages into your own life. Record key ideas in the margins of your scriptures. You may also want to write your feelings in your journal. Try to bring Isaiah’s words and thoughts into your own mind and heart!
Note: Reading Isaiah is often like camping in the woods and walking through a strange forest at night – it’s not until after the third or fourth time that it begins to feel comfortable for you.
☛ Sixth, after a brief break and a fresh drink, sit down in a comfortable chair and reread that chapter in its entirety, without stopping. Or, you could read along with an audio version. You might also try reading that chapter in a complementary (that is, ‘enhancing each other’!) modern English translation such as the New International Version (NIV) or the New English Translation (NET).
☛ Finally, during this and future Isaiah study, follow Moroni’s admonition on how to study the scriptures as you read, remember, ponder, and pray. (See Moroni 10:3-5.)
You will be pleasantly surprised how much you can learn in your studies of Isaiah!
Check out more of Victor Ludlow’s Insight.