The StoryGuide Scriptures

6 January 2021

The StoryGuide Scriptures are my attempt to make a version of the scriptures in which the typesetting and layout of the text reflects the internal literary structure and organization that the original authors used. In other words, I’m trying to recreate the outline that the prophets had in mind as they wrote, depicting it through such features as paragraphs, headings, and shaded boxes (read below for a more detailed description).

You can download here the current draft of each book. The drafts are currently messy and in various stages of incompleteness, but I’ve posted them due to repeated requests, so that others can benefit from them while waiting for me to finish the final versions.

PDFHardbound Print Volume
Book of Mormon
1 Nephi
Book of Mormon, Draft 1.x Sample
 But misaligned parallel bars
21 Jul 2014

1 Nephi 20 parallel Isaiah 48
Book of Mormon, Draft 1.x Sample
 Example of parallel bars
24 Mar 2012

2 Nephi 26–27 parallel Isaiah 29
Book of Mormon, Draft 1.x Sample
 Example of parallel bars
9 Oct 2013

Book of Mormon, Draft 1
 But very messy, unusable running headers, etc.
13 Sep 2012
Doctrine and Covenants
D&C 1–40 (New York period)
Doctrine and Covenants, Draft 3.x Sample
 Includes historical narratives between each section

Blog post
May 2020

Doctrine and Covenants, Draft 3
 Added historical summaries under each unit heading; removed timelines
26 Apr 2015

Doctrine and Covenants, Draft 2
 
Blog post
4 Sep 2012 Order a copy
Pearl of Great Price
Pearl of Great Price, Draft 3
 But misaligned parallel bars and shaded boxes, etc. Changed color coding of speech
May 2020

Pearl of Great Price, Draft 2 4 May 2012 Pearl of Great Price Structured EditionOrder a copy

More entries in this project will be forthcoming.

I try to emphasize the internal structure of the scriptures primarily by minimizing the chapter and verse divisions and maximizing the original divisions—using various typographical features such as paragraphing instead of verse breaks, multi-layered headings, coloring any spoken dialogue, digressions in shaded boxes, symbols indicating diverging narratives, bars alongside the text indicating parallel passages, occasional explanatory footnotes, etc. The text itself is the same as standard LDS editions; only the layout has been changed. My hope is that this edition makes the scriptures easier to read and understand. (Note: I previously referred to this project as the Structured Edition, so you may see some places where that term is used.)

Click here to join my StoryGuide Facebook page, where you can receive updates or suggest improvements.

If you’d like to try your hand at making your own custom version of the scriptures, see my Do-It-Yourself Scriptures page where you can download the Microsoft Word files of each book of scripture to get started.

Related Blog Posts

Redesigned Scriptures Project. An explanation of multiple endeavors that all involve redesigning the layout of the scriptures so that reading them is easier and more understandable, including ideas for doing this on your own.
Structured Edition of the Pearl of Great Price, Draft 1. A detailed explanation of the current draft, as well as some insights that can be drawn from it.

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21 Comments

  1. D. Rolling Kearney

    I love this! It looks awesome! Years ago, my friend did something similar with his “Scriptures Made Whole” series, but his was really technical. This looks like it will be easier for the average reader. Keep it up! This looks awesome!

    Reply
    • Nathan Richardson

      Will do! I’m very interested in learning more about your friend’s project, but I couldn’t find anything through Google. Can you tell me more about it?

      Reply
  2. Lauren

    Hello Nathan!

    I found your site via Debbie through Facebook; she posted a link some time ago, and I just now rediscovered it!

    I’ve often thought about how nice it would be to have the scriptures in more of a book form, without verse numbers and chapter headings. I’m a fast and prolific reader, and sometimes the verse structure can slow me down and/or break up the flow of the narrative. So, I’m very very glad I found your site!!

    I’ve downloaded all of the final versions you have available (since I actually really like the way you formatted it, and I wouldn’t be likely to format it differently if I did it myself). Is there an email list I can subscribe to so I can get alerts when you’ve posted another section?

    Thank you so much for doing this, and good luck in completing it! I’ll keep a look-out for the published final version when it comes out.

    Reply
    • Nathan Richardson

      I’m glad you’re liking it, Lauren. I originally wanted to remove all chapter and verse numbers, to enable reading it without any distractions, and so it’d look more like the original book. I’d still like to do a version like that eventually.

      I’d love to have some way to let readers receive automatic notifications when the site is updated. I know there are plug-ins and extensions for that, but I haven’t found one yet. I’ll keep digging around and looking for one, or if any readers want to recommend one, I’m all ears.

      Reply
    • Nathan Richardson

      By the way, it is now possible to receive email alerts whenever I update this site. Anyone can sign up for them under the Subscribe via Email section at the top right of the web page.

      Reply
  3. Patricia Hayes

    This is an awesome undertaking! So glad your Dad put us on to this website so we can keep up with you! Keep going!

    Reply
  4. Grace Jones

    It looks great. I’m just getting a book off to a publisher, on the Book of Mormon, so I know how much work has gone into your project. Keep it up. I look forward to reading it.

    Reply
  5. Kevan Dewitt

    I started a project about a year ago in what I call diagraming, using colors and indenting of scriptures to create more sense in the principles, doctrines, and purpose of the comments made by the Lord (or inspired), and those explanatory comments by the author, or comments by Mormon creating the record for the Book of Mormon.

    I find it fascinating that someone else has made the effort to create a visual effort to maximize clarity. Thank you. I look forward to looking at your efforts. Kev

    Reply
    • Nathan Richardson

      Thanks, Kev. Even if they’re incomplete, I’d love to see your results, if you don’t mind sharing!

      Reply
    • Kevan Dewitt

      I apologize that I did not keep your link and this website. It has been quite a while. I have continued in my project, but mostly in taking isolated verses to create projects for my son and brother. In those projects, I (what I call) “diagram” the verses, and coloring commands orange and blessings a light blue. I do not have the expertise you have with computers and have only been using Microsoft Word. Later I started saving my raw Doc file into PDF format to keep the formatting solid from disruption when I sent them, so they would keep their integrity when they read them. I would be happy to send you some samples if I had your email or a link that would allow download.

      My greatest desire is maybe not as advanced as yours (which is very good!). My desire is clarity and power in the words, to be seen as I see them in my mind for emphasis—to show the dynamics of Blessings from Obedience, emphasis of doctrine.

      As well as isolating the many instances where we have excerpts from the Brass Plates that exist nowhere else, and give us incentive and I think desire to pray for the Lord to bring to us the Brass Plates, so we have the REAL record of Judah (the stick of Judah) and not the current “stumbling block.” To this effort, I have begun reading Martin Luther’s translation (which Joseph said was better than King James). And found so much that is more exact, pure, and conforms with the Restored Church in the 1544 translation in German, which is my text I obtained from Germany in the 70s.

      Mormon said if he could have written in Hebrew, it would have had no errors (at least as he saw it). I think we have much cause to pray for that day when we have the true “book of the Lamb of God,” “the Brass Plates,” and the “Ten Tribes record,” and finally we will have the PURE and complete three promised written witnesses/testimonies PROMISED by the Lord for humanity!

      I do believe that your idea (and work product) and my desires and poor efforts are a path, sort of in the spirit of Elias (or preparation) to the greater and glorious truths of the real tapestry of TRUTH—which Father intended, and apathy, iniquity, and priestcraft has barred us from obtaining. You’re certainly not apathetic—I wish you good sailing in your quest.

      If you send me an email, put in the Subject line something like “DO NOT ERASE, This is about Diagramming,” and I will get back to you.

      Reply
  6. Jennifer Beckstead

    Thanks for posting the BOM! You are awesome. I love it!

    Reply
    • Jennifer Beckstead

      Ok, It is still a little rough. Definitely useful and helpful still though. Just scroll through and check the formatting on some of the pages. In some places the sidebars get cut off. I checked both PDF’s and it was the same.

      Reply
    • Nathan Richardson

      Yeah, the current draft of the Book of Mormon is VERY messy. I always hesitate to even post projects when they’re in these early stages; I like my drafts to be clean, even when they’re incomplete. But so many people have been asking me to post this, and I know that if I wait until it’s cleaner, it might seriously be a few years before anyone gets a look at it. So thanks for being patient with all the messiness.

      Reply
  7. Tony

    Any plans to create a list of simple chapter headings for each chapter in the Book of Mormon?

    Reply
    • Nathan Richardson

      Yes, as a matter of fact. But it would not be organized by chapter; it would be organized by heading. That is, the highest-level headings would have summaries. I’ve already done this for the book of Moses. If you’d like me to email you what I have so far, just send me a message using my Contact form and tell me your email address.

      Reply
  8. Cory Howell

    These StoryGuide Editions are a tremendous accomplishment! I am not a Latter-day Saint, but I am an avid student of the Bible, and have long been interested in LDS culture and scripture. I have often wondered why there don’t seem to be any “study editions” of the Standard LDS Works. We in “mainstream” Christianity have many (perhaps too many) study Bibles, but other than the notes and cross references available in official versions of the LDS Standard Works, study editions seem to be almost non-existent. The closest thing I’ve seen to what you’ve done is the Reader’s Edition of the Book of Mormon, edited by Grant Hardy, but I think you are doing something that’s far more extensive and useful. (Not to disparage Hardy’s work … I think his edition is excellent.) I will be following your site with great interest.

    (P.S. I also am fascinated by conlangs, and I see you have just a little section regarding conlangs and CS Lewis’s Calormen language. That’s neato.)

    Reply
    • Nathan Richardson

      I agree that there has long been a paucity of study editions. I think that part of it has been the Church taking a cautious approach toward how they allow their copyrights to be used, in an effort to make sure the work is always treated as sacred. The last couple decades have seen some bumps and starts in the direction of more accessible editions, which I’m glad for. I think “The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families” is a great entry in the category, but since it’s for younger readers it doesn’t make use of a lot of the available scholarship.

      You’re right that Grant Hardy’s is a fantastic start, although it’s correctly titled a reader’s edition rather than a student edition or study edition, because it doesn’t include much in the way of commentary, call-out boxes, insight boxes, or summaries and introductions (although its essays and appendices are good). Yes, mine has more extensive aims. I wish I had the tech know-how to program it as an interactive interface where you could, for example, subscribe to a friend’s comment series on insights about humility so that they float in the margin as you read, but unclick their comment series on insights about government because the topic doesn’t interest you. There is so much I want to do to make the scriptures more accessible to people and help them rediscover how thrilling they can be.

      That’s great that you like conlangs! I used to teach every year at BYU’s annual sci-fi/fantasy symposium, about how to create a realistic fictional language. You’ve reminded me that I need to post here on my site the series of handouts I used for that workshop. Let me know if you’d like a copy! Also, I love your email address.

      Reply
  9. Charis Emrich

    Ummmmmmm, this is amazing!

    Reply
  10. Pete Johnson

    For D&C 20:80, there is a note as to whether to include the additional information in the “StoryGuide Scriptures.” I would request that such items be left—they are invaluable insights and are appreciated! Thank you for your hard work and diligence.

    Reply
    • Nathan

      I’m happy to know people are reading through it so carefully. Yes, it is a very difficult judgment call to make, which insights to include in the footnotes. I have to whittle down the footnotes to a manageable number, but I wish I could include everything. Thank you for letting me know what readers are interested in.

      Reply

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