Tutorial 3: Basic Notes and Asking Questions

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tutorial 3 basic notes and asking questions

Scripture Notes Tutorial Day 3: Building Your Powers of Inquiry

Today’s lesson is all about digging into individual scriptures as you study and we’ll discuss ways to approach marking your digital scriptures as well. For this example, we’ll just start at the very beginning, Genesis 1:1. That’s a very good place to start… 😉

Part 1: In the beginning…

Open up a reading pane for Genesis 1 and expand it to show your verse notes.

Now, read the first verse very carefully. I want you to examine each word and ask a question about it. Some words won’t have much meaning initially, but maybe they will later after multiple readings. The important thing is to read slowly and think about what you are reading. Write your insights and questions in the verse notes.

For example, if I was doing Genesis 1:1, which simply reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” I might write the following questions in my basic verse note space.


Why is it “in the beginning” instead of “at the beginning” and is there a difference?

Beginning of what?

When did the beginning start? A particular event such as this “round of creation”?

Joseph Smith taught in the King Follett funeral sermon in April 1844, “I take my ring from my finger and liken it unto the mind of man—the immortal part, because it has no beginning. Suppose you cut it in two; then it has a beginning and an end; but join it again, and it continues one eternal round. So with the spirit of man.” This being the case, what is Genesis 1:1 the beginning of?

Who is God in this verse?

Earth was created in the presence of God before the fall, so technically it was created in heaven. As such, what is the heaven that God created here? This must be different than God’s heaven. Perhaps the heaven of the earth, or atmosphere?


You’re welcome to copy/paste my questions over to your notes and add your own. Add your own questions to the comments below too so we can all benefit. You can’t get good answers without good questions!

This tutorial isn’t going to answer these questions, but I encourage you after you go through the remaining information to continue asking these questions in all the verses of Genesis 1. This exercise will enhance your ability to spot things you’ve never noticed before. Later on, you can ponder each question and look for answers to it either in the scriptures, or by revelation. By study, and by faith.

Part 2: What to do with quotes

Lets say you have a lengthy quote which you want to add to your database. You can either paste it into the basic note for the verse, or click the top right note icon and create a collection note just for this verse and paste the quote there.

new collection note

For me, longer quotes make more sense to put in a collection note because I may choose to link it to multiple verses and I may want to assign tags to it that will let me find it in my topic tag tree later. If it really is isolated to a particular verse, you can just put it in the basic verse note and find it by searching later.

Here is a quote. Lets save it as a collection note and name it “Baurau – to organize” and tag it however you like. Perhaps “Creation, Beginning, Ex Nihilo” for three terms. Ex Nihilo is a term used by some to say the world was created out of nothing. Click the category dropdown and select Quote. Then paste this quote in and save the collection note.

Joseph Smith: “You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing and they will answer ‘Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?’ They infer from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau (sic), which does not mean to create out of nothing, it means to organize the world out of chaos – chaotic matter, which is element and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he (God) had. The pure principles of element which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and reorganized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end.” – History of the Church 6:308-9

Side note – Q&A: You can also store questions as a collection note title, then use the master note area to build your answer with supporting verses. Just categorize those with the “Question & Answer” category for finding them better later. There will later be a feature that utilizes this category field, but I’ll save that for a later surprise. 🙂

Collection Notes Categories

Side Note 2 – Quote collections: You can also create a single collection note and call it “Quotes on Humility” and tag it “Humility” and categorize it “Quote” and paste all your quotes on that topic into this one note. You may not even include any verses if you choose.

Part 3: Tools – Footnotes

Now we’ve got some tools at our disposal. Double-click a word like “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 and notice the tools on the bar that pops up over the highlighted text. You can bold, italicize, underline, change the font color, change the background color, create a footnote, and clear all formatting (be careful using this one!).

Click the link second from the right (Fn) to create a footnote and type “Heb: Baurau – to organize – See J.S. quote”. This is a quick way to point out the meaning and to know you have a longer quote saved as a basic or collection note.

toolbar footnotes

Part 4: Tools – Marking

When it comes to marking the scriptures, there are many ways to approach it. You can get some ideas doing a web search or look on Pinterest for “scripture marking ideas”. You’ll find plenty. The only thing available in your paper scriptures has been underlining or highlighting key points, but now you can also bold and italicize as well change the font color. Want a red letter edition of the scriptures? You can make one! 🙂

One of the features we’ll eventually be adding to Scripture Notes will be to archive a set of colorings and start a different set. You’ll keep your notes, but be able to toggle between which set of scriptures you are marking in case you have a special project you want to mark in a certain way. Think of those possibilities…

One fun thing you might try is to look for principles that contain if-then statements. If you live this principle, then you get this blessing. If you fail to live this principle, you’ll lose this blessing. You can mark if statements in one color, and then statements in another.

For me, I like to bold things I feel are important for me to personally pay attention to. Sort of like God shouting at me to pay attention, this point was directed at me! 🙂 Then I’ll underline points of doctrine or principles that I feel are important for me to understand. The scriptures are full of lists of things and underlining or highlighting those points in a similar color helps those items to stand out. You could also use the footnote tool to mark items in a list 1 through 4 or however many there are.

Conclusion: Revelations upon revelations

Until you settle on a method of personal marking, just do basic marking and don’t worry about developing a complete system of marking. The most important thing is that you are thinking about the scriptures and developing a way to build on your knowledge and not have to recreate it every time you read the scriptures.

By journaling your thoughts, and asking questions, years into the future you’ll re-read those bursts of revelation you had and be amazed at thoughts you had given to you. New thoughts will further enhance the old. It’s one of life’s greatest journeys.

Now keep going through Genesis 1 recording your questions and impressions, marking the text, creating footnotes and build your inquiry skills!

Tutorial 3: Basic Notes and Asking Questions
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God, family, country, scriptures, soccer, Sanderson, disc golf, dessert, development. These are a few of my favorite things. :) - Oak Norton

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