If you’re building a bible study library, here are the basic tools you need to get started.
Bible Study Tools #1: Different translations
Since every translation is an interpretation of the original language, you should consult several translations of different types when studying the Bible. Bibles fall on an interpretation scale and it will improve your study if you know the difference and have one of each type.
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Bible Study Tools #2: Good maps
You’ll be surprised at how the information on a map can open your study. Consider how knowing that the road to Jericho was 17-miles changes the parable of the good Samaritan.
Bible Study Tools #3: Concordances
A concordance is an organized list of all the biblical texts which contain a given word. Concordances allow you to broaden your understanding of how a word is used and its range of meanings.
Bible Study Tools #4: Lexicons & Dictionaries
Lexicons & dictionaries can reveal what might be “lost in translation” but they also tempt us to fall into the trap of “I learned a fact about a word and I must use it.”
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Bible Study Tools #5: Multi-volume Encyclopedias
Multi-volume encyclopedias are good sources for historical and biblical themes. But background information does not impose meaning.
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Bible Study Tools #6: Commentaries
Commentaries can kick-start your thinking when you hit a dead end but should not be a substitute for your own work. Here’s my two rules of thumb.
Classic Commentaries Online
Many of the classic commentaries are free online, but how do you know which one(s) to use? And where do you find them? Here’s a quick list and explanation
Bible Study Websites & Apps
Online resources to help you study: maps, charts, outlines, key words, etc. On this one page, you’ll find links to websites and Bible study software.
Resources by Book of the Bible
Have you tried cooking without measuring devices? You may bake an edible cake, but it won’t be your best. Having the right tools makes the job better. On this one page, you’ll find links to the resources for sorted by book of the Bible.
Quotations: where Scripture quotes Scripture
The New Testament is our divinely inspired commentary on the Old Testament. When studying a passage, it’s often helpful to see how other biblical authors understood it.
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Should I learn Greek & Hebrew?
After a few years of Bible study, students often begin asking, “Should I learn biblical Greek and Hebrew?” While the tools for English readers continue to improve and less people are learning the original languages, knowing the original languages can be helpful. You can learn enough to widen the tools available to you and/or learn to read Scripture in the original language.
Modern Commentaries Online
You’re probably aware that many classic commentaries are free online, but did you know many modern commentaries (written after 1970) are also online?
Dictionaries & Lexicons Online
After gathering an idea of the word’s meaning from your own study, it’s a good time to check the conclusions of other scholars and reference works. Here are some free online places to look.
Maps: New Testament
Here are my favorite maps related to the New Testament and where to find them.
Maps: Old Testament
Here are my favorite maps related to the Old Testament and where to find them.
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