If you’ve ever been on OliveTree.com or browsed the in-app store, you’ve probably seen the light bulb icon on a number of titles.
In the app, it looks like this:
On the website, it looks like this:
So what’s different about a title that has been ‘enhanced’ compared to one that isn’t?
An enhanced title means that we’ve taken a plain eBook and given it extra functionality, so that it can be easily accessed in the Resource Guide.
For example, many study Bibles include not just commentary notes but also maps, charts, images, and outlines. When we enhance a study Bible, all the information from the study Bible that is relevant to the passage of Scripture you’re reading will appear in the Resource Guide. All you have to do is tap on an outline, a map, etc. in the Resource Guide to make use of the study Bible’s full capabilities.
Now, whenever you see that a title is marked as enhanced, you’ll know you’re getting a great resource designed specifically to help you go deeper in your study of God’s Word.
For more information about how the Resource Guide works, go HERE.
For more on specific types of enhanced resources, check out our blog series.
One of the key components to any digital Bible study library is a commentary. Study Bibles are great for getting quick information about a passage but when you want to investigate a passage further you’ll turn to a commentary. In this blog we’ll do a walk through on how to use a Bible commentary in the Olive Tree Bible App.
Using a Commentary
Like many resources in the Bible App, the best way to get the most out of your library is by using the Resource Guide; commentaries are no exception. To illustrate, let’s use the Moody Bible Commentary as if we’re starting to read Mark’s gospel.
When beginning a study on a new book of the Bible, one of the first things you want to do is get some background information. Resource Guide makes this easy. Simply scroll down to the “Introductions” section, where we find a hit for our commentary.
Here we find information about the gospel, it’s author, date, audience, purpose, and other issues worth keeping in mind.
Next, you’ll want to get a feel for how the book is laid out, so let’s find an outline. Again, the Resource Guide shows us that Moody Bible Commentary has an outline for our book, and we see that it is quite extensive. One thing worth noting is a commentary’s outline often serves as its layout. This helps you see how a handful of verses relate to their larger context.
Finally, when it’s time to dive into the commentary text, the Resource Guide is again our friend. Instead of hunting down the commentary on your passage, let Resource Guide do the heavy lifting. Find the Moody Bible Commentary in the commentaries section, find your passage, and commence reading. This saves you both time and effort while studying, which is useful with our busy lives.
Alternatively, you can leave your commentary open in your split window and it’ll always be at the right location when you need it. This will save you even more time if you don’t plan on consulting other resources.
Finally, there are some people who like to read through commentaries like a book. This is possible in the Olive Tree Bible App as well. Just open the commentary in the main window and commence reading.
The term Bible Dictionary probably makes you think of a fairly boring and dry reference book. However, a Bible Dictionary is truly invaluable in helping you unpack God’s word. Unlike a normal word dictionary a good Bible dictionary will not only give you the definition of a word, person or a place but you can often read a short article, access verse cross references, or see things like images and maps. The insight it gives can help you explore the world of the Bible like never before!
If you don’t yet have a Bible Dictionary the Essential Bible Dictionary would be a great place to start. In addition to defining words, places, people, and the many themes of the Bible, the Essential Bible Dictionary has full color images, maps and illustrations and is ideal for us in personal devotion and Bible study. It’s truly a storehouse of information that provides essential information regarding the original times of the Bible.
Application is the last step in the Read & Research study method. In this final video in the series we show you how to take everything you’ve done so you can apply it to your life. We even share some of the points of application we got from our study of Psalm 1.
Let’s be honest, it can be intimidating to ask what something is when it seems like we should already know. A theological term or Bible study method may sound familiar, but that doesn’t mean you know what it actually is. We are here to help! In this blog, we’ll talk about the difference between a study Bible and a Bible commentary and how each can help you in your own Bible study.
A study Bible is the Bible text along with additional notes and resources that are meant to help you understand what you’re reading. A non-digital study Bible is often formatted with the study Bible notes below the Bible text, which allows for quick reference without having to leave the passage you’re reading. Depending on the study Bible, the study helps can include historical and contextual background information, cross references to other verses, maps, charts, and more. Much of this will be underneath the text and some will be organized in sections in the back of the book.
Study Bibles in the Olive Tree Bible App work much the same way. While you’re reading the Bible text, the resource guide will pull in the content from any study Bible you have in your library to give you quick access to helpful information. The video below shows how this works.
For starters a Bible Commentary is not usually bundled with the text like a Study Bible is but they are typically based on a specific Bible translation such as the KJV, NIV, ESV, etc. Some Bible commentaries may have a separate volume for each book of the Bible. For example the print version of the 62 Vol. Word Biblical Commentary series would take up about 7 feet on your bookshelf. Other more concise Bible Commentaries may only be a single volume yet even these will usually offer more content than a typical Study Bible.
While most Study Bible’s take a similar approach to providing study helps, commentaries can be broadly put into three different types; devotional, homiletical, and exegetical. Before I lose you, let me define those three so you know the difference.
Devotional commentaries are primarily focused on the application of the text to daily life and are often written by one individual. They don’t typically cover the the Bible verse by verse or give as much information about specific background or context focus a lot on the individual application
Homiletical or preaching commentaries are written with the purpose of helping people to both interpret and apply the word. Many such commentary sets are written by preachers themselves and often even based on messages that have previously been preached.
Exegetical commentaries are based on a set of practices and procedures focused on discovering the author’s intended meaning. These types of commentaries will often explain passages from the original language the Bible was written in (Hebrew and Greek), the context of the culture, and other technical aspects having to do with specific text in the Bible.
With both Study Bibles and Bible Commentaries it’s important to realize that whether they have a single author or a team of contributors there are always theological and doctrinal influences on scriptural interpretation. Just as you would prayerfully evaluate a sermon you hear on Sunday it’s important to do the same thing as it relates to any sort of commentary. With that said though the scholarship and insight that you’ll find in a Study Bible or Bible Commentary can be an amazing wealth of knowledge that really helps you to unpack the Bible and see scripture in new and exciting ways.
What’s right for you?
If you are looking for quick reference material a Study Bible or a one volume commentary like the Zondervan Bible Commentary is a good place to start.
The great thing about using study Bible notes or a commentary is that either one is just as easy to use in the Olive Tree Bible App.
In the screenshot above (taken from Bible App on a Mac) all study Bible notes and commentary notes appear in the same section of the Resource Guide under ‘Commentaries’. A simply tap/click and you can access a wealth of knowledge to help you grow in your understanding of God’s word.
Want to see available Study Bibles and Bible Commentaries?
Now that you’ve taken a look at your cross reference resources, the next step of this method takes you to your commentaries and study Bible notes. In this video we show you how to quickly access these resources, as well as copying & pasting portions of the commentary into your notes. Let’s see what our commentaries have to say about Psalm 1.
In this fourth video of the series we’re doing more research as we begin to explore other resources in our library. To start, we’re showing you how cross reference tools can be a vital part of understanding the Bible. Dive in and see what other passages relate to Psalm 1.
In the third video of this series we are beginning the research part of the Read & Research Method. We begin by making simple observations of the passage we’re studying. What observations will you get from reading Psalm 1?