Whenever I read the Doctrine & Covenants, it quickly becomes apparent to me that I’m only getting half of the story. The revelations the Lord gave to Joseph Smith were in response to certain questions and conditions. The section headings sometimes give perspective, but many times they don’t.
Happily, the church has brought out a new booklet called “Revelations in Context” designed to give background on people mentioned in the revelations and questions that led to Joseph Smith receiving revelation. It draws upon the work of the Joseph Smith Papers, but presents it in a more accessible way. It also has links to the Joseph Smith Papers and the D&C and gives some information about how the individuals mentioned in the revelations responded going forward.
The articles in “Revelations in Context” can be found by searching for it by name on lds.org. What’s also neat to me is this booklet is available on the church’s Gospel App. From “Library,” just find “History” at the bottom. That means it is free if you have a device with the Gospel Library App. (Yaaaaay for free!) I’ve heard they have English, Spanish, and Portuguese translations of that content.
This is a pretty recent addition to the Gospel Library; it was only completed in August of this year, probably in preparation for 2017’s study of the Doctrine & Covenants.
I’ve been enjoying reading it, and I hope you do too. It is neat to get more of a narrative. So much of the scriptures are written with narrative context that I think this adds something we’ve needed.