Scripture Reading, Goals, and Motivation: a photo

Part iv of the Hebrew series is coming. In the meantime, here’s a picture with commentary of my little desk where I try to do a good bit of my reading.Scripture Table

I made some personal goals, short, medium, and long-term, involving these books. From left to right, I have my watch and pens, beat-up mission Quad, Joseph Smith manual, D&C Study guide, Jewish Study Bible, Reader’s Hebrew Bible, Basics of Biblical Greek, UBS Greek New Testament:Reader’s Edition, NIV Study Bible, Arabic Through the Qur’an, my Arabic study notebook, and English/Arabic Holy Qur’an.

Above the desk are three of my motivators and intellectual role models, James E. Talmage, B.H. Roberts (in his don’t-mess-with-me disguise “he used to enable him to retrieve the bodies of two murdered LDS missionaries) and John Widtsoe.

Among my long-term goals is the following: I will read in toto the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek, and the Qur’an in Arabic. (And the Book of Mormon in Hebrew/Egyptian/Nephite, but that will have to wait.)

I have my reading for devotional and lesson preparation, as I do actually try to be prepared for lessons I don’t teach. I have my original language versions. And since my Arabic and Greek grammar need more help than Hebrew, I have my material for those. I keep a notebook of what I study and read, and things that occur to me while doing so. I also have some printed Excel sheets with a cell for every chapter of every book. When I read something in the original language, I write the date in the cell. I also have an Excel sheet of my daily goals, such as 30 minutes each of Hebrew and Arabic reading, devotional study, and other things like exercise. I rarely accomplish all of them every day, but having it printed on paper serves as a good reminder.

I certainly wasn’t this way on my mission, resented it even, but years down the road, I find that setting goals and tracking them actually helps me get there. And it helps me feel at the end of the day that I’ve actually accomplished something. Those daily goals contribute to my long term goals.

If you struggle with scripture reading, shake it up a little. Get a new translation. Write your own paraphrase. Set some kind of goal, or find some kind of study pattern, even if it’s as basic as reading the Gospel Doctrine assignment. Find an Institute class to go to, or even community Hebrew class or Bible study group. Whatever rekindles your interest is good. I recently met a friend of my parents’ who once set a goal to read the Book of Mormon every month. He’s kept it up for the last 20 years. That man really knows his Book of Mormon. More admirable than his knowledge is his endurance, perhaps. Ask me in ten years how I’m doing.

4 Replies to “Scripture Reading, Goals, and Motivation: a photo”

  1. Nitsav,

    Fun post!

    I have a number of your books as well. My introduction to Classical Arabic was with Thackston’s grammar though.

    Oh, and have fun with Job in Hebrew!

    I’ll be sure to ask you how things are going from time to time.

    Best wishes,


  2. This is awesome, Nitsav. I know a guy (a partner in my former law firm) who is a lawyer professionally but also a rabbi. He reads the entire Tanakh in Hebrew twice a year, and has done so for many years now.

    Reading the whole OT in Hebrew has always struck me as a goal that is probably beyond my abilities, but now that I have the Readers Hebrew Bible (which you touted and encouraged me to get) it does seem more doable. It’s not a goal I’ve set for myself yet, but I might in the future (same with the NT).

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