Olive Tree Staff
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By Olive Tree Employee: David Mikucki
The great part about Strong’s Tagged Bibles is that anyone can use them. You don’t need to be seminary trained or have years of experience. You can just tap and read. The tool is powerful and practical enough to be useful even for personal study.
As with many powerful tools, these resources can do more if you know how to use them. They can also be somewhat dangerous if you don’t know how to use them. We don’t just want to provide you with the resource; we want to help you get the most out of it and avoid the dangers of misinterpretation. In this post, we’ll talk about the basic features of Strong’s Tagged Bibles and about how to get the most out of each of them.
Tap to See Greek/Hebrew Word
The first feature is the most obvious. As soon as you tap, you can see what Greek or Hebrew word is behind it. This is the first thing you’ll see when you tap on a word. It’s probably most helpful for people who know Greek or Hebrew.
Now, if you tap on a darker word and it doesn’t open to do anything, that means that the word isn’t explicitly in the Greek or Hebrew text. The word was added by the translators in order to help the sentence make sense. We do this all the time in English, leaving out words because they’re assumed. Of course, the words left out in Greek aren’t necessarily the words we can leave out in English. Different languages have different rules for what’s important and what can be left out.
The takeaway here is that, while a word might not be in the original Greek or Hebrew, that doesn’t mean the word isn’t implied by other words. Sometimes the Bible translators add those words so that we English readers won’t be left scratching our heads.
Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary
The Enhanced Strong’s Dictionary is what appears when you tap a word that does have a Greek or Hebrew word behind it. This is a really handy tool because it will show you all the ways that the word gets translated throughout the Bible and give you an idea of how common each translation is. This can give you a fuller idea of what the word meant in the original language.
The thing to keep in mind here is something that all languages share in common: just because a word can mean something in one place, doesn’t mean it means that thing everywhere else. How and where a word is used in a sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book is a critical part of understanding what the word means.
Many words in English have several diverse meanings. For example, the word “dodge” can mean to get out of the way of something. It can also mean to lighten part of an image or photo (like the “dodge brush” in image editing programs). If you were to simply look up the dictionary definition and pick the first one, you could find yourself very confused. Another example is the English word “love.” When someone says “I love ice cream,” he means something very different from when he says “I love my wife” (or at least he ought to).
The point here is that we want to let the dictionary help us get an idea of what the word can mean, then let the context of the passage determine what the word does mean. If we’re in a class on photography, “dodge” probably doesn’t mean “get out of the way.” It probably means “lighten.” But we wouldn’t want to make that assumption in gym class.
View All Occurrences
This is probably my favorite feature in The Bible Study App for word studies. It’s the button that says “Search for g5457” (or some other number). This feature allows you to search for everywhere in the Bible where that particular Greek or Hebrew word is used. Since a translation might translate one word twelve different ways, it’s hard to know when that word is being used. But this feature can help.
The best way to use this feature is to start with where the word is used closest to the verse you’re studying, then work outward from there. Look in the verse, then the chapter, then the book, then other books the author has written, then in the whole Bible.
In this way you can get a sense for how a certain author used a particular word in its context, in all his writings, and how the word gets used throughout the whole Bible. While this doesn’t necessarily result in the same mastery of the word that a scholar might have, it certainly does help us to better understand the word and the passage we found it in.
Generally speaking, this isn’t going to completely change the way you read a passage of Scripture. The translators know the languages a lot better than most of us, so most often we’ll end up agreeing. But doing a word study can help us discover a richness to the word that we otherwise might not have seen. It can also help us to connect things in Scripture that we otherwise might not have thought to connect.
Look Up Word in Dictionaries
The Look Up feature allows you to look up a word in any Greek/Hebrew dictionaries that you might have. There are a lot of really helpful dictionaries out there by scholars who have already done the work of a detailed word study. They may also include information about where the word came from and how it was used in books outside the Bible. These can be extremely helpful to supplement the word studies that you’re already doing with the ESV with Strong’s. Here are a few you might find helpful:
- Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
- Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
- Easton’s Bible Dictionary
Tools like Strong’s Tagged Bibles and Bible dictionaries can be really helpful in understanding what God has to say. We should pray that, in our study, we will allow God to correct us with what we learn about the words of Scripture. This is very different from using the tools to bend God’s words to mean what we want them to. Humility and openness to correction are important here.
If we come to the Scriptures with our tools, ready to be taught by the Scriptures, then we will be in the right place to see God’s love for us in Christ and how we are to live in light of that love. We hope these tools prove helpful in your studies.
Psalm 119:130 (ESV)
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple
David is a front end web developer at Olive Tree. He also writes on his personal blog, And the Rest of It.
Dr. Bill Mounce explains the benefits of learning Greek.
The Understanding The Bible Commentary Series is now complete and consists of 36 volumes spanning the entire Old Testament and New Testament.
Each volume in the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series breaks down the barriers between the ancient and modern worlds so that the power and meaning of the biblical texts become transparent to contemporary readers. They present a careful section-by-section exposition of the biblical books with key terms and phrases highlighted and all Hebrew transliterated.
(screenshot below is of The Bible Study App on PC, click for larger view)
Notes at the close of each chapter provide additional textual and technical comments for those who want to dig deeper. A bibliography as well as Scripture and subject indexes are also included. Pastors, students, and Bible teachers will find in this series a commitment to accessibility without sacrificing serious scholarship.
Watch the video below to hear more about The Understanding The Bible Commentary series.
R. Kent Hughes was in pastoral ministry for 41 years, the last 27 as senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He earned his B.A. from Whittier College (history), an M.Div. from Talbot Seminary and a D.Min. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Kent is the author of numerous books, among them the best-selling Disciplines of a Godly Man. He is also editor of the projected 50-volume Preaching the Word series to which he has made numerous contributions.
I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Hughes and ask him to share how this series came about and to reflect about the role a commentary can play in a preacher’s study.
Of the 29 volumes of the Preaching The Word Commentary, you wrote 22 volumes.
How did this project start?
I was [the pastor] at College Church in Wheaton which had lots of students and academics. I was very careful about doing all of my work on my sermons and then making them come alive when I preached. Lane Dennis (President of Crossway) and I were at an event and he approached me about publishing my sermons. We came up with the name Preaching the Word, which comes from 2 Timothy 4:2.
As you wrote a particular commentary, what goals did you have in mind?
The commentaries are homiletically arranged with careful attention to history, background, words, structure, and theology and with a focus on clarity in how they are presented. It’s important to also know that the content of each commentary has been preached live before a congregation.
If you were to pick the type of person that The Preaching the Word series is aimed at, who would it be?
It’s aimed at pastors, small group leaders, and Bible study groups. For preachers, it’s not meant to be a substitute for personal study. It’s important that you do your own work first and then come to a commentary like Preaching the Word. If you come right to the commentary without doing your own study and outline first, then you’ll most likely end up preaching the commentary.
If I’m going to preach on a specific book of the Bible, what role should a commentary play in my sermon preparation?
If it were a small book like Philippians, I’d first read it 30-40 times through, mostly in my preferred translation but also in some others. If you’re able to, also read it in the Greek. Then I’d ask, “What is the big theme of the book?” and look at structure, turning points, and applications – just try to get the text inside of me. Then I’d try and think of how to break up the book homiletically – how many sermons, where to break up the passages, and do my best to outline it.
Then, having done that, I’d open up a commentary and modify my sermon where needed. You should use a commentary like Preaching the Word as a part of your sermon-prep process. But if you use a commentary to start your process, you will become a commentary cripple.
When you look back at your own preaching ministry, what are a few things you wish you would have known as a young preacher that you’d exhort other young preachers toward today?
This matter of doing your own work is very, very important. You can borrow from all kinds of people and not really do your own thinking. The hardest thing to do is to sit down with the biblical text and ask God to help you. Do your own work first and then you can use a commentary to help you adjust.
Over the years I’ve read some great books by various Christian authors on a wide range of topics. One thing that many of the different devotional and theological books have in common is that they all quote Scripture – a lot of Scripture. That’s a good thing but in cases where the Scripture isn’t copied into the main text of the book it can be distracting. You either have to look in the appendix or have your Bible nearby to look up the verse that the author references. Often times I’ll tell myself that I’ll go back and look up the verse later but… that doesn’t always happen.
One of the things that makes The Bible Study App a great eReader is that nearly every scripture reference in an eBook becomes a hyperlink.
Tapping a scripture reference (clicking for PC and Mac) will then popup the scripture reference in your preferred translation for easy reading. Not only that but you can interact with scripture reference by easily scrolling or adding a note based off of what you were just reading in your book.
Olive Tree has a good selection of books available and in the coming months will be adding lots more new titles making The Bible Study App your go-to app for reading, study and devotion.
By Olive Tree Staff: Matthew Jonas
Many features of The Bible Study App make the NA-28 easier to use, but using certain features of the text and the apparatus can still be confusing. With that in mind, I’d like to explain how to do a few basic things with the NA-28 text with Critical Apparatus and Mounce parsings, available through the Bible Study App. We also offer the NA28 with critical apparatus (but no parsings), and the NA28 with parsings (but no apparatus). If you have one of these texts, you may still find this article helpful, but not all of the information will apply to the particular text that you have.
Using the Parsings
Accessing a parsing in the Bible Study App is as simple as tapping on a word. A popup should then appear displaying the dictionary form of the word, followed by a link to a Greek-English dictionary, followed by a gloss, then the parsing information. The parsing information is stored in the form of a code which is written out fully immediately below.
One feature that many users are not aware of is that the Bible Study App supports searching for specific forms of words by using these codes. To do so, first check the “options” when you initiate a search. You will need to have a parsed text open, and you will also need to switch the “search options” to “Search on Morphology. Next, type in the dictionary form of the word, followed by the @ symbol, followed by the appropriate parsing code. For example, searching for ἀγάπη@NNFS would return all occurrences of the noun ἀγάπη in the nominative singular.
At the bottom of the pop-up window, there is also a “lookup” button. This queries other dictionaries in your library to find out if they have any articles about that word. If they do, they will show up in the results. Tapping on one will open that article in the popup window. Often at this point, I will tap on the “tear out” button and choose to open the dictionary in the split window in order to read it more easily. When I’m done, I simply tap the slider bar, which closes the split window. The resource is still open there if I want to access it again, but it is out of view while I continue my reading. If I want to open an article on another word, I repeat the process that I just outlined rather than opening the dictionary and trying to navigate to the entry I want.
Using the Critical Apparatus
There are two ways to access the critical apparatus in the Bible Study App. The first is to tap on one of the text-critical symbols in the Greek text. This will open the apparatus in a popup window to the corresponding location. If you wish to keep the apparatus open in the split window, tap on the “tear-out” icon and select “open in split window”.
I have pretty large fingers and find that I only hit the symbol about half the time. When working with a parsed text, this can be obnoxious since I generally end up hitting the word and getting the parsing info rather than the apparatus. In order to facilitate more easily opening the apparatus, we have included it as a separate item in your library. This means that you can also get to it by opening the split window, clicking on the library button, and choosing the NA-28 Critical Apparatus from your library.
The critical apparatus has been “versified” which means that it will follow the main window (as long as your settings are set up this way). It also means that when you tap on the “navigate” button that you will see the familiar verse chooser rather than a table of contents. If the apparatus is left open in the split window with the Greek text in the main window, it will follow along as you read through a passage, providing an effect similar to reading from the print edition.
Probably the greatest obstacle to using the critical apparatus is becoming familiar with all of the symbols that it uses. Unfortunately, we do not have these all tagged at this point, which means that there is no simple way to access the meanings. However, we do include the introduction to the NA-28, which includes the definitions. These are listed under “III. THE CRITICAL APPARATUS” in the introduction. A simple hack which makes it much easier to jump to this section is to add a bookmark at this location. It will then show up under the “My Stuff” menu in your bookmarks. While this is not an ideal solution, it does help a lot when trying to look up symbols or abbreviations. In fact, you could bookmark the sub-sections as well to make it even easier to get to exactly where you want each time.