Olive Tree Staff
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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.
By Olive Tree Staff: Matthew Jonas
I teach a weekly Bible study, and recently we were reading through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). This has always been one of my favorite passages in the Scriptures and I was especially excited to get to the section on prayer and specifically to discuss the Lord’s Prayer. I began by reading over the text of the passage itself. I generally prepare my notes working from the Greek and Hebrew, but I then read from a number of different English translations in the study itself. For this particular passage, I was reading from the ESV. As soon as I had finished reading, someone pointed out that there was a line “missing” from the ESV at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. She was using the NKJV, which adds the line “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” at the end of verse 13. This question led to a discussion about why that line is in some translations but not others.
Since I started working for Olive Tree, I’ve transitioned to using almost entirely electronic texts of the Bible. I had my notes and my Bibles there on my tablet, so I was able to quickly look up this addition in the NA28 critical apparatus.
The first thing that I noticed was a T-shaped symbol at the end of verse 13 in the main text. If you consult section three in the introduction (“THE CRITICAL APPARATUS”), it is explained that this symbol means that one or more words is inserted by the manuscripts listed. If you are unfamiliar with the apparatus, I would recommend that you simply memorize the list of symbols used. I believe that there are only eight of them, and they indicate what is going on. For example, a T-shaped symbol is used to indicate an addition, an O-shaped symbol is used to indicate an omission, an S-shaped symbol with a dot in it is used to indicate a transposition, and so on. It should be kept in mind as well that “additions” and “omissions” are relative to the main text of the NA28. An addition is material that the editors of the NA28 chose not to include in the main text, but that some manuscripts contain. An omission is material that the editors of the NA28 included, but that some manuscripts do not contain.
Clicking on the symbol in the text will open a popup. If you wish to open this in the split window, tap on the “tear out” icon in the top corner. The first addition listed is simply the word αμην, which is found only in a few manuscripts. As far as the abbreviations for manuscripts go, a Fraktur letter P followed by a superscript number is used to indicate papyri, uppercase Latin and Greek letters (and the Hebrew Alef) are used to indicate the different uncial manuscripts, and numbers are used for the miniscules. There are also additional special abbreviations for medieval cursive manuscripts, lectionaries, the different versions (e.g. the Vulgate, the Peshitta, etc.), and citations in the Church Fathers. These abbreviations are explained in the introduction, and more complete information about each of the manuscripts is given in Appendix I in the end matter. The star next to 288 indicates an original reading that was subsequently corrected. “Vg” stands for Vulgate and the abbreviation “cl” indicates that this reading is found specific in the Clementine Vulgate. The take away here is that there is not much manuscript evidence for adding just the word αμην to the end verse 13. (more…)
The Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28) sets a new standard among Greek New Testament editions with its revisions and improvements. In the Bible Study App by Olive Tree Bible Software the NA28 is an invaluable resource for those who want to study the original language of the New Testament.
Watch the video below to see how the NA28 works in The Bible Study app running on a Mac.