I love the Holy Bible. It is the single most influential book in the history of the world. It is the book with the most distributed copies, it is the most read, and it has been translated into more languages than any other book.
For a span of forty years I have been studying, teaching, and writing about the Bible. One of my favorite adjectives in the English language is “biblical.” One of my master’s degrees and my doctorate are in biblical studies. I’ve written and published two books on the Old Testament and three books on the New Testament.
I’ve enjoyed nearly fourteen years’ personal experience in the lands of the Bible—in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. I’ve conducted thousands of hours of field trips in those lands, and led students on between 35 and 40 long walks in the footsteps of the prophets and the Savior.
Much of my life for four decades has been focused on understanding the Bible, and helping others understand it.
But! Having said all that, I quickly add that there’s a book that is far greater than the Bible, the most Christian book on earth, that teaches best the Christ-like life. It is the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is not just another testament of Jesus Christ—it is the best testament that exists.
I agree with the Prophet Joseph Smith, that a person can get nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon than by any other book in the world. And I agree with Elder Bruce R. McConkie when he testified that the Old and New Testaments are books preserved by the Lord to prepare people for the restoration of all things and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.
“Ponder the truths you learn,” the modern apostle wrote, “and it will not be long before you know that Lehi and Jacob excel Paul in teaching the Atonement; that Alma’s sermons on faith and on being born again surpass anything in the Bible; that Nephi makes a better exposition on the scattering and gathering of Israel than do Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel combined; that Mormon’s words about faith, hope and charity have a clarity, a breadth and a power of expression that even Paul did not attain; and so on and so on.”
Elder McConkie added these unequivocal declarations:
- Most of the doctrines of the gospel, as set forth in the Book of Mormon, far surpass their comparable recitation in the Bible.
- The Nephite record bears plainer and purer witness of the divine Sonship of Christ and the salvation which comes in and through His holy name than do the Old World scriptures.
- Men can get nearer to the Lord; can have more of the spirit of conversion and conformity in their hearts; can have stronger testimonies; and can gain a better understanding of the doctrines of salvation through the Book of Mormon than they can through the Bible.
- More people will flock to the gospel standard; more souls will be converted; more of scattered Israel will be gathered because of the Book of Mormon than was or will be the case with the Bible.
- There will be more people saved in the kingdom of God—ten thousand times over—because of the Book of Mormon than there will be because of the Bible. (Ensign, November, 1983).
All of that is not to depreciate the Holy Bible in any way; it is a great and influential record. It only tends to highlight the importance and excellence of the volume the Prophet Joseph Smith brought forth by the gift and power of God for the benefit of all humankind. As far as books go, the Book of Mormon stands supreme in its capacity to affect human lives here and forever.
Posted July 2011 on FairMormon.org
D. Kelly Ogden is professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. He has taught courses in Hebrew, Old and New Testament, writings of Isaiah, the Bible as literature, history of the ancient Near East, biblical and modern geography of the Holy Land, Pearl of Great Price, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. For a span of fourteen years he helped administer BYU’s study programs in the Holy Land and guided students on field study trips all over Israel/Palestine, the Sinai, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Greece. He led groups of students on many walks through the Holy Land, including retracing the “three-days’ journey” of Abraham and Isaac from Beersheba to Mount Moriah, the ninety-two miles Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the two hundred miles from Dan to Beersheba, and the two-hundred mile “Lehi Trek” from Jerusalem to the Red Sea. He has climbed Mount Sinai 18 times.
Brother Ogden earned a B.A. in English and Spanish, an M.Ed. in International Education, an M.A. in Hebrew language and historical geography of the Bible, and a Ph.D. in Middle East Studies (from the University of Utah). He has presented scholarly papers in Louisville, Kentucky; Washington, D. C.; Baltimore, Maryland; Atlanta, Georgia; Kansas City, Missouri; Seattle, Washington; Leuven, Belgium; Vienna, Austria; and Santiago, Chile.
He is the author of several books, including
- The Holy Land: A Geographical, Historical, and Archaeological Guide to the Land of the Bible (co-authored with Jeffrey R. Chadwick)
- Where Jesus Walked: The Land and Culture of New Testament Times
- Jerusalem, The Eternal City (with David B. Galbraith and Andrew C. Skinner)
- Discovering the World of the Bible (with LaMar C. Berrett)
- The President and the Preacher: Memoirs of a Mission President and Companion (with Marcia H. Ogden)
- Pioneering the East (30 years’ involvement in the Holy Land, 1972 – 2002)
- 8 Mighty Changes God Wants for You—Before You Get to Heaven
- Verse by Verse – The Four Gospels (with Andrew C. Skinner)
- Verse by Verse – Acts through Revelation (with Andrew C. Skinner)
- The President and the Preacher II – Memoirs of a Missionary Training Center President and Companion (with Marcia H. Ogden)
- Happy like Jesus: Lessons from Jesus Christ on How to Live
His articles have appeared in the Ensign, the Liahona (the International Magazine of the Church), the Church News, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Meridian Magazine, and other LDS and non-LDS publications. He is also a frequent participant in the BYU Television scripture discussions.
For five years Brother Ogden helped prepare the LDS editions of the Scriptures, and he served on the Gospel Doctrine Writing Committee for the Church. In the 1980s, he served as president of the Jerusalem Branch in Israel. In the 1990s, he served as a branch president at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, as first counselor in a BYU stake presidency, and as president of the Chile Santiago East Mission. He has served on the high council of the Provo Edgemont Stake, as an ordinance worker in the Provo Temple, and as president of the Guatemala Missionary Training Center. He is now a sealer in the Provo Temple.