Category: Bible Study Articles

Inductive Bible Study

Posted by on 09/14/2016 in: ,

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As a teacher of the Inductive Bible Study Method I am often asked, “What is Inductive Bible Study?”. Unfortunately, there is really no short answer to that question.  Inductive Bible Study is more of an approach to the Bible than it is any particular technique. In fact the “Inductive Method” that we teach in the School of Biblical Studies is really a collection of Bible study techniques combined in such a way as to help the student maintain an “inductive posture” toward the text. The shortest description I can give of this approach is this, “Inductive study is an approach to the Bible that helps the student build their conclusions from observations of the text.” In other words – observation first, conclusions second.  Sounds simple, but there are complications. To illustrate let me tell a very old folk tale.

The Two Travelers and the Farmer

A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment. “What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.

“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.

“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”

“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.

Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.

Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.

“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.

“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”

“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.”
-North American Folk Tail (Source uncertain)

This story illustrates many points but the one I think is the most relevant to Biblical study is that people tend to see what they expect to see. Or to put it another way, what people bring to the Bible greatly influences what they take away from the Bible. How do we prevent this? By doing all we can to set aside our preconceived ideas about the text and focus on two things – reading and observation -forgoing judgment until we have thoroughly analyzed the text. We need to learn to let the text speak.  We need to let our observations drive our conclusions. Rather than simply taking our conclusions to the text for testing, or worse yet, merely looking for validation of what we already believe or have been told. The text is always right and proper interpretation is defined as what the author meant and what the original readers would have understood.  To understand the author and original readers of the text we must first identify them and their issues. This is historical context and it is critical to our understanding of what the text is really saying. Our situation should not even be considered until we understand what was meant when it was written. To sum up, understand what the text says, who wrote it, and as much about the original readers as you can. Careful reading of the text in its proper historical context is the key to proper interpretation.

After we have discovered the meaning in the original historical context we are finally ready to take that giant leap forward in time and culture to our present time and circumstances. By identifying the timeless truths at work under the specifics of the text, we can then begin to ask questions about why these truths are significant today. The timeless truths driving the ancient solutions then become the truths directing our modern applications. By building these disciplines in students it is possible to train them to truly listen to the text each time they read it, rather than simply seeing what they expect to see.

The three main steps of inductive study to remember are these:

Observation – What the text actually says.

Interpretation – What the text meant to those to whom it was originally written.

Application – How do we respond to the timeless truths of the text today?

Text first, original audience second, our perspective last.  The Bible was written for us – not to us. Use the clear passages to understand the obscure passages, and most of all pray. And may God enlighten you as you continue to explore his word.

Tom Possin is the director of the School of Biblical Studies in Lakeside, Montana

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Four Steps To Your Ultimate
Study Bible!

Posted by on 09/06/2016 in: ,

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If you’re ready to take the next step in your study of the Bible than this blog is for you. Read on to find out how to build your own custom study Bible!

Step 0: Use the Olive Tree Bible App

We don’t want to assume anything here but the foundation is important and the building blocks of your ultimate study Bible start with our Bible App.  You can search resources in a matter of seconds, quickly look up cross references, and study anywhere. You don’t have to worry about flipping pages or having a large desk so that you can open all your books at once. Instead, carry your entire library on your phone, tablet, or laptop. There is no steep learning curve required to use the app and all the features are intuitive. So, download the app & let’s move to Step 1.

Step 1: Add a Bible Translation

A lot of people don’t think about Bible translations and how they can help their Bible study. For many, they use whatever Bible translation they were given when they became a Christian and never give it a second thought. Yes, the thee’s and thou’s of the KJV may be quite poetic, but what good is it if you cannot understand what you’re reading? In many respects, the Bible is already a difficult book to study, so why make it harder with a difficult to read translation? There is nothing wrong with owning a Bible written in a modern translation.

When choosing a Bible translation, you should find one that works for you. One helpful idea is to get a translation that is word-for-word in its translation of the original languages and also a second that is more thought-for-thought or a balance between the two.

Once you have your Bible translations, you’re ready to build the rest of your ultimate study Bible library.

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Step 2: Add Study Notes

Next to the Bible, if you had to spend money on one resource, hands down it would have to be a study Bible. These are great tools because they are an all-in-one resource. You get commentary, introductions, and a wealth of other useful features. With so many study Bibles on the market, wisdom is needed when making a purchase. You want to make sure you’re buying something that will help you understand what you’re reading and keep things in their proper context.

A good study Bible should contain: thorough study notes, book introductions, maps, charts & illustrations, and Bible chronologies. A few worth checking out include: the ESV Study Bible, NLT Study Bible, NKJV Study Bible, Life Application Study Bible, and the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

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Step 3: Add Key Reference Tools

As you expand your library beyond Bibles and study Bibles, you should start by adding key reference tools. This is a broad category that ranges from single volume commentaries to Bible dictionaries and atlases.

Bible commentaries come in many flavors and vary in their target audience, which is often reflected in the price. Because of their depth, commentaries can quickly become the most expensive tool in your library. A good place to start is with a single volume commentary since they cover the entire Bible. While single volume commentaries may not be as thorough as their single-book counterparts, they do take time to cover all passages in general and are sure to explain the more difficult ones, making them useful additions to your library.

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While study Bibles and commentaries are good at explaining the text of the Bible, they don’t always give enough detail about some of the Bible’s concepts and words. This is where a good Bible dictionary comes into play, which is, in effect, an encyclopedia for the Bible. To illustrate it’s usefulness, let’s say you’re reading the gospels and you encounter the Pharisees and Sadducees. Who are these guys and where did they get their authority? A Bible dictionary will explain who they are so you’re not left clueless about their role and purpose in the Bible.

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Atlases are a fantastic tool to have in your library. If we’re honest, most of us aren’t familiar with the geography of the lands from Bible times. Not to mention, it’s difficult to find many places mentioned in the Bible on a modern map. Atlases provide you with extensive maps that help you get a lay of the land so that you can make better sense of the Bible’s narrative. Many atlases also provide relevant commentary on the Bible that corresponds to the map or picture.

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Many of these tools you can add to your Olive Tree library at minimal cost and they will go a long way in helping you study the Bible.

Step 4: Add Advanced Reference Tools

Most people could stop at Step 3, but if you’re the person who wants to dive deeper into God’s Word you can buy more advanced reference tools. Resources that fall into this category would include: single book commentary sets, Greek & Hebrew lexicons, and more extensive versions of the tools found in Step 3. These are the tools often used by pastors, seminary students and others. This is an area where you can spend a lot of money, but each resource is well worth the cost.

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Build Your Ultimate Study Bible Today

By following the above steps, you will have built your own Ultimate Study Bible and have all the essential tools needed to study the Bible. Start building yours today with our Build Your Ultimate Study Bible sale!

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Parallel Bibles in the Olive Tree Bible App

Posted by on 07/27/2016 in: ,

Parallel Bibles are a useful way to compare two different Bible translations. In print, you can often find parallel Bibles that have English on one side and another language on the other side or a more literal translation next to a dynamic translation or paraphrase. With our Bible App, you can easily set up your own customized parallel Bible and in this blog we’ll show you how.

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The screenshots below are from an iPad Mini, but the process works almost identically on Android devices. The options described below require the split window to be open and assume a Bible is already open in the main window.

Option #1: Library View

The first way to create a parallel Bible is through the library view. If your split window is currently open to the Resource Guide or Notes, you can return to the library view by tapping the more button (circle with 3 dots) in the upper left corner of the split window. Tapping Open Library will open a list of your available resources.

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Select a different Bible translation to open in the split window. In the screenshot below I already had the NIV open in the main window; I’ve selected the ESV to have in the split window.

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With both Bibles now open, you can read the Bible in your main window while the Bible in the split window stays in sync and follows along.

Option #2: Resource Guide

If you’re someone who frequently uses the Resource Guide, this second method is quick and easy. With the Resource Guide open, scroll to your Bibles section. Here you’ll see a list of all the Bibles in your library that contain the passage you currently have open in the main window. Select the Bible you want to read and it will open to the same location as the main window. Like in the first method, this Bible will stay in sync as you scroll through the Bible in the main window.

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Bonus Option: Even More Bibles on Desktop

Do you use our Windows Desktop or Mac app? If so, we have a bonus method that allows you to open multiple parallel Bibles simultaneously. First, access your first parallel Bible by using one of the methods outlined above. Once you have your Bible open in the split window, you can then click the Pop-out Window button. This will open a copy of the Bible (or any resource) in a pop-out window that you can resize and move anywhere on the screen.

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Now go back to the split window and choose a different Bible. At this point you will have three different Bibles open to the same location that sync with the main window. Repeat these steps to open up as many translations as you would like. Below is a screenshot with four different translations open.

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Why Multiple Translations?

Now that you know how to create a parallel Bible in Bible App, why would you want to use one? Here are some ideas:

  • Read a more literal translation (KJV, ESV, NASB) alongside a more dynamic one (NLT, Message, TLB) to get a better idea of what the text says
  • Have an English translation open alongside the different language text
  • Compare commentaries or dictionaries by having those resources open instead of a Bible

See available Bibles for the Olive Tree Bible App here!

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What’s the difference between a Concordance and a Cross Reference ?

Posted by on 07/18/2016 in: ,

Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s intimidating to ask what something is when it seems like we should already know. Maybe you’ve heard of the theological term or Bible study method before, but that doesn’t mean you know what it actually is and it can be embarrassing to ask.  Well, we’re here to help. In this blog we’ll talk about the difference between a Concordance and a Cross-Reference and how they can help you in your own Bible study.

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Cross References

A cross reference is a verse that has a similar theme or topic as the verse that you are reading. In the Olive Tree Bible App these are most easily found in the Resource Guide under Related Verses.

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In the above screenshot I’m reading Ephesians 4 in the NIV. Under related verses I see nine cross reference entries that are already a part of the NIV translation. I can tap the resource of my choice to bring up the specific cross references related to the text open in my main window.

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I chose the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and now see a list of topics and words sorted by verse. The great thing about the Bible App is that I can tap any of these verses for a quick look without having to leave my primary reading.

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Cross references are a great tool when you are trying to study themes or topics found in all of scripture. But if you are wanting to do a specific word study then you’ll want to use a concordance.

Concordance

A concordance offers more precise lookups on specific words than a cross reference and shows you where those words appear throughout scripture. Like cross references, many Bible translations include a brief concordance section with the text but in order to do comprehensive word study a dedicated resource is the way to go. In the Bible App the easiest way to use a concordance is via the Lookup feature.

In this screenshot I’ve tapped on the word patience in Ephesians 4:2. I then tap on Lookup.

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Then I’ll select the Olive Tree NIV Concordance.

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Now I get a list of where the word patient appears throughout the Bible and I can easily access those verses in the popup window for easy reading.

You’ll notice that Olive Tree Concordance’s actually have three options.

  1. The verse references are a list of where the English word patient shows up throughout the Bible.
  2. The Strong’s numbers are where the Hebrew and Greek words that are translated as patient appear throughout the text.
  3. And the dictionary takes me to an explanation of the Hebrew or Greek word.

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Recap

As you can see there are differences between a Cross Reference resource and a Concordance.

If you are looking for related themes and topics to the scripture passage you are reading, a Cross Reference is a great tool.

If you want to do specific word study across Greek, Hebrew, and English then a Concordance will be a tremendous help.

Go here to see what Concordance and Cross Reference resources are available for the Olive Tree Bible App.

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