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Respect The Bibles Genres
No serious Bible student can ignore the various genres in the Bible. Ten predominate: narrative, law, wisdom, psalms, and prophecy in the Old Testament and gospel, parable, Acts, letter, and apocalypse in the New Testament. To understand and appreciate the Bibles content, each of these genres must be read differently.
Consider two examples: Parables are stories told to willing students, not those who refuse to bother with what seems irrelevant to them . Thus, they resemble puzzles, containing punch lines that help willing readers see a truth they might have otherwise missed. Western culture is not used to parables, but with reasonable study, the parables of the New Testament reveal a great deal about the nature of Gods kingdom.
Similarly, proverbs, part of Old Testament Wisdom Literature, frequently present lifes choices in a semi-riddle fashion, which requires that readers take time to understand them. Those who work out the meaning of a proverb often read it repeatedly and thus learn its content while trying to understand its point.
Take Seriously The Importance And Quality Of The Book Youre Studying
Although we may wish the Bible were entirely clear, students of literature would never expect that from other important books. When it comes to the Bible, it should be obvious that studying the Bible is necessary to understanding it.
Some writinga newspaper story, for examplemight be understood by almost any mature reader. Other writingsuch as a Shakespearean playmight require readers to consult dictionaries, study guides, and other aids because of the nature of the language and the subject matter. Yet other writinga calculus textbook, for examplemight require years of prior study as well as patient, focused effort to understand even a single page.
The Bible contains literature at all these levels: some parts any reader can follow, some parts that require help, and some that are difficult enough that even seasoned scholars struggle to comprehend them.
This is to be expected. A book claiming to be authored by the one whose thinking and communication can range from the simplest level to far above human understanding should require serious effort from seekers of its truth. It is naïve to think that the Bible differs from other literature in being automatically comprehensible or that our good intentions and love of God will overcome our need to study in order to appreciate the quality of the ideas he has put into writing for us.
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Filtering Options For Commentaries
I have an extensive Logos Bible Software library. One thing that has always bothered me is that I had trouble sorting my commentary library in a logical fashion to find the type of commentary I wanted on a specific passage of Scripture. In the past, Logos simply offered me the commentaries they thought were the primary commentaries on a passage.
But I have always been a bit of a contrarian. And honestly, I rarely agreed with the priority selection of commentaries that Logos offered to me.
Thankfully, they have now offered numerous ways of sorting my commentary collection, not only by priority, but also by series, author, denomination, type, and era.
I am THRILLED. I can now select the type of commentary I want to consult first, before expanding my research to other resources.
Accordance Bible Software 13
Accordance 13 runs incredibly fast for a large, powerful Bible study program. Users with a little computer skill can learn to use the program while advanced scholars and translators will also find a lot to stretch their skill and knowledge with Biblical interpretation and translation.
The above video shows you new features added in Accordance 13s upgrade. It added some nice new features.
Accordance has one new feature in the version 13 upgrade that holds a users hand until they gain the skill to use the program without needing help. The Tutorials button shows a list of step-by-step tutorials that will direct users and perform tasks for users.
Accordance performs searches incredibly fast and gives users tools to build powerful searches. However, its also very easy to just find a word in the Bible or a range of texts like the Old Testament, the Psalms, or Mark 1.
If you have a mobile device, you can download your books and do some research or just read. The app supports iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.
Accordance does a lot to help students learn to use their software from the in-depth help site to tutorial videos and live webinars. Check out their Support site.
People used to Wordsearch will find the Accordance user interface easy to get used to. It has a Library that shows up on the left-hand side of the screen. I call this the Windows Explorer or macOS Finder style interface. The Folders of the books are on the left and panes open on the right.
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Dont Try To Reinvent The Wheel And Dont Go It Alone
As you read through the Bible, look up anything you dont fully know or understand. Make use of the many good resources available to help you be a better student of the Bible than you would be on your own.
Bible dictionaries give an overview and a brief analysis of virtually any topic mentioned in the Bible, and they also connect that information to the various books and major doctrines of Scripture. Likewise, Bible commentaries explain Bible passages from an expert angle. Reading with a good study Bible provides additional help. Such resources introduce Bible books and special topics and provide aids that explain the particular verse or passage under investigation.
Best Bible Study Software Recommendation
Most people reading this probably already own a Bible study program, but if not I hope this gives you some options to find the best Bible study application for Mac or Windows. If you also use a mobile device, be sure to consider that in making your choice.
Olive Tree has the best mobile application while e-Sword gives users the cheapest way to get into Bible study. Even if you do pay for the third-party books from eStudySource.com theyre often cheaper than the larger companies charge.
Scholars and more advanced Bible students should look first at Logos and Accordance. People with older machines should consider PocketBible and e-Sword, but Accordance and Olive Tree run well on older machines too.
Most of these have a free option to try out before you sink a lot of money into them. So, based on these descriptions, go download them and try them out.
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The Best Free Bible Study Tools
We live in a day of staggering privileges. There was a time when the only copy of the Scriptures would have been chained to the pulpit in the towns church, and there are places where the rulers still ruthlessly hunt down copies of the Bible to be destroyed. But today in the English speaking world, we are infinitely privileged to have such free access to the word of God.
Beyond the accessibility of the Bible itself, we also have extraordinary access to powerful Bible study tools, many of which are available for free. Here are five of the best free Bible study tools onlineor at least, five of my favorites that I personally use all the time.
Best Bible Study App #: Bible Gateway
With more than 200 versions and translations of the Bible easily available to search, study, or simply read.
In addition to this, Bible Gateway Bible study app also has devotions and reference material available. Its a solid app and also easily usable from your laptop.
The reading plans and audio Bibles available make this a leading Bible app for busy women who want to listen to Word from the treadmill, carpool line, or while picking up toys at the end of a long day.
Check out their Daily Audio Bible study app, too!
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Beginners Bible By Zondervan
The kids in your own life can study the bible in their pill and have fun for hours doing this. This type of analysis bible is particularly designed to engage kids.
The Beginners Bible program relies on the bestselling Bible storybook, which has sold over 6 million copies globally. This program includes improved sound using narration, music, and sound effects that help attract the 94 Bible stories. Your kids will truly love learning these bible stories about the pill or iPhone.
Logos 9 From Faithlife
Bible scholars and beginners alike will enjoy Logos 9 just like they can enjoy Accordance 13. The company recently upgraded the program last fall with a few new features to benefit their customers.
The thing that first sold me on Logos back in version 3 was the Passage Guide. Type in your passage and it runs through your library and finds all the books related to say John 3:16. Since then other programs offer a similar feature. Now what usually excites Bible study software buyers is the incredible litany of features available. Logos also has the best cross-platform syncing available in the software world. They sync library listings, notes, highlights, workspaces, and more.
Logos makes it easy to study the Bible in a basic way. But advanced scholars can also work in Logos 9 to translate texts, research arcane topics for a Ph.D. study or research papers in seminary.
What makes Logos 9 one of the best Bible study software programs? Id offer a few things as follows:
Logos runs on all platforms including iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. You can also use Logos on the web. They give users the best online study option available on the Internet today .
The programs offer too many features to list here. Check out many of the tools they tout on their support sites.
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Free Bible Study Tool #: Commentaries On Ccel
I am a huge fan of CCEL, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. I have read deeply into the works of Augustine, Calvin, Spurgeon, and more through their ministry of preserving classic Christian works online. If you havent checked out their website, do so now.
My favorite tool on CCEL is the Search Scripture tool, which allows you to search through their vast library to find all the documents that contain references to a specific passage. So, heres the results for everything on CCEL related to John 1:14.
The list includes giants of the Christian faith like Athanasius, Augustine, John Chrysostom, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, and more. You can do that for any passage of Scripture you like. These resources are gold in the heritage of the Christian traditionthe works that believers for hundreds and thousands of years have read, studied, and profited from as they studied the Scriptures. When we read the legacy that they have left in their writing, we stand on the shoulders of the giants of faith who have come before us.
Best Bible Study App #: Bibleis
This is seriously FANTASTIC. Bible.is is a great witnessing tool to have on your smartphone, too.
This Bible app integrates with the Jesus Film so you literally watch Scripture come to life.
Its more than a Bible study app its a way to experience the Word more fully in a new way.
This is also great for parents who have kids that are very visual. They can watch the Bible.
Best Bible Software For Average People In The Pew
What is the best Bible software for people in the pew? That question doesnt get a lot of attention, especially here. However, I want to change that with this post. What are the best Bible software options for the lay Bible student? These all run on one of the most popular platforms Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android. A few will run on all of these platforms.
Advanced Bible Study software gets most of the focus on this site, but plenty of Bible students dont need the high-powered scholarly Bible study software that a pastor, researcher or Bible translator needs. They only need to do a few things like
- Search for verses
- Study the Bible for teaching a class
- Writing blog posts
- Personally study the Bible
These lay people want more than a simple Bible reading app but dont need as much as the expensive and powerful suites offer for hundreds of dollars. If youre interested in simple Bible study apps to just read the Bible, look up some verses by searching by word or topic, and creating a reading plan, then take a look at my list of the best simple Bible apps that I published over at ChurchTechToday.com. Our purpose in this post is to look at the apps and software that fit between those simple Bible reading apps and the powerful tools that scholars and pastors need.
Logos Interlinear Ribbon Shows You Hebrew & Greek Insight Right Away
I grew up doing Bible word studies with print books. That meant that when I wanted to know what kindness meant in Pauls list of the fruit of the Spirit, I had to go through a process involving multiple books:
SHEEEESH. Thats a lot of flipping around, and it involved two beloved-yet-heavy tomes.
But with Logos, I dont have to do that.
Instead, I can turn on the Interlinear Ribbon, and all this information floats right below the Bible like so:
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Respect The Multidisciplinary Nature Of Careful Study
There are several different ways to look at any piece of literature. In the case of the Bible, it pays to look from every angle that might yield a payoff. It is convenient to think of 11 such angles, or steps, in the study process:
1. TextSeeking the original wording to avoid treating a scribal error that accidentally crept into the text as original.
2. TranslationStudying how to best convey in a modern language the concepts conveyed by the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek.
3. GrammarAnalyzing the language of the passage under consideration to be sure it is not misunderstood.
4. Lexical contentSeeking the correct meaning of individual words and phrases found in a passage.
5. FormStudying the literary category and the characteristics that make any passage special.
6. StructureAnalyzing the way that the elements of a passage are ordered and how that affects its meaning.
7. Historical contextStudying the milieu in which the Bible was revealed, which helps yield the point of its contents.
8. Literary contextStudying how a passage fits within the book of which it is a part and how that affects its meaning.
9. Biblical contextAnalyzing what a passage contributes to the Bible as a whole and what the rest of the Bible contributes to understanding the passage.
10. ApplicationSeeking to conform beliefs and actions to the guidance the Bible imparts.
11. Secondary literatureExamining the wisdom and diligent study of others as they have put it into books and articles.
Free Bible Study Tool #: Blue Letter Bible
There are several powerful Bible software packages that you can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to help you study the Bible in the original language, with helps to parse the verbs, see lexicon entries to define the words used, or to see cross references to other places where those words are used. With Blue Letter Bible, however, you get 90% of that functionality for free.
I use Blue Letter Bible all the timeevery time I prepare to preach a sermon, write something where I need to do some closer exegetical analysis, or just where Im curious about whats happening behind the scenes. Heres how I use Blue Letter Bible.
First, from the search bar at the top of the home page, select the Bible verse you want to study:
Then, hover your mouse over Tools beside the verse you are interested in, and then select Interlinear:
This is the page that you are going to want to spend lots of time on. From Vines Expository Dictionary, you can get a short dictionary entry, and in the section marked Outline of Biblical Usage, you can see the various ways that the word in question is used in the Bible:
For a deeper definition, keep scrolling down to find the section marked Thayers Lexicon and get a very detailed definition of the word, including information about how the word was used in literature outside the Bible. But my favorite tool of all is the Concordance, where you can see all the places that the same word was used in other places in the Bible.
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