Here’s how to get the most out of The Bible Study App by learning about its powerful features and how they can work for you.
We are thrilled to announce that Olive Tree is the first to release the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in digital format!
This three-volume encyclopedia offers unparalleled, comprehensive coverage of the people, places and ideas of ancient Christianity. With Olive Tree’s Bible Study App you can access eight Centuries of the Christian church in just three taps!
Here’s three ways to use the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in Olive Tree’s Bible Study App! (Screenshots are taken from an iPad 2 – click for a larger view)
The first way is through the Split Window and Resource Guide. Open your favorite Bible translation in the main window and the Resource Guide in the Split Window. As you read through your Bible text, the Resource Guide searches through all the downloaded resources in your library to find related Bible study content.
You’ll notice that the Resource Guide pulls related content from all of your downloaded resources. If you scroll down the Resource Guide results, you will see the section headings “People,” “Places,” and “Topics.” These headings give you the results of articles based on your downloaded resources.
Tap or click on the person/place/topic you want to learn more about. I chose “Anointing” in this example. The Bible Study App then brings you results from within the resources you have on your device. This is where you will find the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity within the Resource Guide.
You’ll notice that the resource has the words “Article on Anointing” underneath the book cover. Tap/Click on the book cover and The Bible Study App will take you directly to the article within the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity. As you are reading the article, any Scripture references become hyperlinks that you can tap/click to view as a pop-out window:
The second way you can utilize the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity is as a traditional dictionary in The Bible Study App. Open the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in the main window, and then just tap the “Go-To” button and scroll through this awesome resource as you would a hard-copy dictionary. For faster results, tap “Browse Dictionary” and enter the term you are looking for in the search bar.
The third way is to use the Bible Study App’s Lookup Feature. Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.
If you’re on an iOS device, you can also tap the verse number and a menu bar will appear. Tap “Guide” and you will get hits from your resources on that specific verse. Then just follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option.
The Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity covers eight centuries of the Christian church and comprises 3,220 entries by a team of 266 scholars. Using the Bible Study App’s lookup feature makes the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity great companion tool for many other resources.
Use the lookup feature when you’ve got the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture in the split window:
Taking a Church History course and want to learn more about the Council of Nicaea?
Reading a biography of St. Augustine and want to know more about the city of Carthage?
Any resource you have in The Bible Study can utilize the content in the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity! As you can see, the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity is an extremely helpful resource for studying the Bible and ancient Christianity. Right now you can get this amazing resource for only $149.99. That’s $150 off the regular price! Hurry because this is a limited time offer!
What is the Resource Guide? As you read along in your Bible in the main window of The Bible Study App, the Resource Guide in the split window follows along, looking in your library for any Bible study information that is relevant to your reading. As you scroll or change scripture references the Resource Guide will stay in sync looking to all of your study resources making for a powerful and easy to use study tool.
Your Very Own Research Assistant Think of the Resource Guide as your own personal research assistant. If you were reading about Paul’s first missionary journey in Acts 13, your research assistant has a map of Paul’s journey, cross references to passages in Paul’s letters written to the churches he founded, charts that give an overview of Paul’s life, and all sorts of other resources. You didn’t have to do anything, in fact, you didn’t even have to ask. All of the work was already done by your personal research assistant, the Resource Guide.
Completely Customizable The configuration of the Resource Guide is also customizable. To access the options for customizing the Resource Guide tap on the double arrow button (double gear for Android) in the upper right corner. You will then see the various options for customizing the different sections in the Resource Guide.
Here’s a short video on the basics of the Resource Guide:
What types of resources work with the Resource Guide? The Resource Guide is ‘verse driven’ which means that the Bible passage that is open in the main window directs what references appear in the Resource Guide. Not every resource is verse driven but some examples of verse driven resources are:
- Articles on people, places, and other topics
- Study Bible notes
- Introductions to books of the Bible
- Cross references
Throughout the book of Psalms, believers are admonished to lift their voices and offer praises to God. For centuries now, the faithful have composed “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” to express their trust in God and their love for Jesus Christ. Included in Hymns of Praise are a short introduction and the complete words to ten best-loved hymns, to offer inspiration and encouragement in your daily walk with God.
Find this great resource in the Bible Study in-app store or go HERE for install instructions.
Please note that a Free Olive Tree account is required to access this Free Download.
Lent begins this with Ash Wednesday—February 18 this year—and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. To many people, it is a 40-day period—not including the six Sundays—devoted to reflection, repentance, fasting, and preparation prior to Easter.
Unlike Christmas, Easter is not a fixed date on the calendar; it is sometimes described as a “moveable feast.” The Western church decided long ago to set Easter as the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the first day of spring). Since the date of Easter varies widely (from March 22 to April 25), the dates of every other holiday related to Easter vary as well. The week before Easter is referred to as Holy Week. It begins on Palm Sunday, which recalls Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Thursday of that week is known in some traditions as Maundy Thursday because it memorializes Jesus’ final instructions and last meal with His disciples. The term “Maundy” is related to the Latin word mandatum, meaning “commandment,” which is the first word in the Latin version of John 13:34 that records Jesus’ new commandment to His disciples that they love one another. Since Jesus washed his disciples’ feet that fateful evening, Christians often do as Jesus did and wash one another’s feet. Good Friday follows. It is the day that commemorates the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Calling the day “good” seems ironic since Jesus died such a horrid death that day. However, what Jesus’ death accomplished for the redemption of the world is the greatest good the world has ever seen. The Sunday following Good Friday ends the season of Lent and is designated Easter. It may be the most celebrated day on the Christian calendar, for it commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the beginning of the new Kingdom. - Adapted from The Voice Bible.
Lent is a great time to think about starting a new reading plan. To help you get started, we’ve added a new reading plan especially for Lent! Adapted from The Voice Bible, this plan starts on Ash Wednesday, February 18 and continues until Easter Sunday. This is a great way to prepare your heart for Easter.
Tap the ‘My Stuff’ icon in your app and select Reading Plans. At the bottom of the list of reading plans, tap the ‘Get More Reading Plan’ button. You’ll see a list of reading plans that are available to download here.
Once you tap the install button, the reading plan will be available to start.
Have you ever thought about preaching or leading a Bible study from your iPad or mobile device? What about preparing a study on that same device? If the answer is yes, then this is a video you’ll want to watch.
In this video Olive Tree employee LaRosa Johnson shows you how to use the Olive Tree Bible Study app to do, what he likes to call, advanced Bible study. LaRosa will walk you through the steps of studying the Bible and taking notes using the same steps that he uses when he is getting ready to preach a sermon. After watching this video you’ll be equipped with the tools you need to do in-depth Bible study using the Bible Study app, whether you’re preaching or doing it for personal study.
Guest Review: Abram Kielsmeier-Jones
An underrated but really good Bible dictionary is the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (NIDB). Published by Abingdon, the five-volume set is edited by Katharine Doob Sakenfeld and includes contributions of nearly 1,000 scholars.
For a short time the dictionary set is $99.99 in Olive Tree Bible software. Below I offer–from my perspective as a preaching pastor and Bible reader–my take on the set, with a focus on Olive Tree’s iOS Bible Study App.
What The NIDB Is and How It Has Helped Me
There are more than 7,000 articles in NIDB. The contributing scholars are diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, and denominational background–a refreshing mix of voices. The dictionary balances reverence for the biblical text with rigorous scholarship–though the dictionary is rarely arcane.
The NIDB has been eminently useful to me in my weekly sermon preparation. Last fall, for example, when preaching through Genesis, I knew I’d have to make sense somehow of the “subdue” command that God gives the first humans regarding their relationship to the earth. The dictionary’s “Image of God” entry helpfully clarifies:
While the verb may involve coercive activities in interhuman relationships (see Num. 32:22, 29), no enemies are in view here–and this is the only context in which the verb applies to nonhuman creatures.
The same article puts nicely the implications of humanity’s creation in God’s image: the “image of God entails a democratization of human beings–all human hierarchies are set aside.”
This sort of blend between technical detail and pastoral application is present throughout the dictionary.
I’ve also found useful background for my Greek reading. This year, for example, I’m reading through the Psalms in Greek with a group of folks (see here). In the “Septuagint” entry in NIDB I find this:
The 4th-cent. CE “Codex Vaticanus” contains all of the books of the Hebrew Scripture or Protestant OT, and the following material that is today classified as deuterocanonical: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Ps 151, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sirach, the additions to Esther (several of which were originally composed in a Semitic language; others of which are original Greek compositions), Judith, Tobit, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, and the additions to Daniel (Azariah and the Three Jews, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon).
The entry goes on to describe other Septuagint manuscripts, with hyperlinks in Olive Tree to related entries.
iOS Features in Olive Tree
Olive Tree is as cross-platform as a Bible study app gets: it runs on iOS (iPhone and iPad), Mac, Windows, and Android. The app itself is free, and you can get some good texts free, too, so you can preview the app before you buy any resources in it.
I’ve got the Olive Tree app on Mac, iPhone, and iPad Mini. It’s one of the best-executed iOS Bible study apps I’ve seen. It is visually appealing, highly customizable (especially with gestures and swipes), and easy to learn.
When reading the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (or anything else), here are a few features that have impressed me:
You can navigate with “flick scrolling” (how iBooks is set up) or “page scrolling” (like Kindle). This will make just about any user feel at home in the app. Flick scrolling (how you’d navigate a Web page) feels more natural to me, so I use that.
Dictionary entries are easy to get to. You can simply tap on “Go To” and type in the entry you’re looking for. The auto-complete feature saves having to type very much on the iPhone’s small keyboard:
You can search the entire contents of NIDB by word. If I wanted to see not just the entry for “Septuagint,” but every time the NIDB mentions the Septuagint, I would simply type that word in to the search entry bar:
Then I can select a result and read the given entry.
The full-color photos are zoomable. The NIDB contains full-color photographs that help visualize various entries. You can select the photograph and pinch-zoom for more detail.
I’ve noted this before–there is a great deal of customizable “Gestures/Shortcuts” preferences in the “Advanced Settings” menu. Olive Tree is the most versatile Bible study app in this sense. For example:
- Two-finger swipe left and right takes you through your history within the app. I can swipe between NIDB, and the last NIV Old Testament passage I was reading, and a commentary, and…. No need to go through menus.
- Two-finger tap gets you from any screen to your library; right away you can get at your other resources.
Concluding Assessment and How to Buy
One of my favorite features of Olive Tree’s apps is that you can view two resources at once that aren’t tied together by Bible verse. It’s like having split windows on an iPad. So you can have the NIDB open in the top half of your screen, and a Bible text or other resource open in the bottom half–even to unrelated topics if you want.
The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible is about as good a Bible dictionary as you’ll find. If you can use it to complement the Anchor Bible Dictionary (also available in OT), you’d be very well set with Bible dictionaries.
Olive Tree has done a great job, especially with its iOS apps. As much as I loved my print copy of NIDB, I unloaded it not long ago since I can essentially carry it around with me now. And getting at its contents is even easier with the enhancements Olive Tree provides.
Abram Kielsmeier-Jones is the pastor of a great church in a seaside community near Boston, a youth ministry consultant, a husband and father, and a follower of Jesus. At his blog Words on the Word he records his thoughts on the Bible (particularly as written in Greek and Hebrew), books about the Bible, pastoring, leading worship, parenting, youth ministry, music, the Church, and more. Read more about Abram here.
Thanks to Olive Tree for the NIDB for the purposes of this review, offered without any expectations as to the content of the review. You can find the product here, where it is currently on sale for $99.99.