Bible Study Articles
Learn more about how to use Olive Tree’s Bible Study App and other products for Bible study.
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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…)
By Olive Tree Employee: Joe Carter
This one resource in print actually takes 4 volumes:
- The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament
- The Complete Word Study Old Testament
- The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament
- The Complete Word Study New Testament
This is a massive original language study in one resource!
I love that you can search by the English, Greek, Hebrew, or by Strong’s Numbers! Even though I personally have limited knowledge about the underlying original languages, the CWSB allows me to read through the text in English, and quickly get in-depth info on any word there just by tapping on it!
The CWSB will give you information on the parts of speech for a word (and give you links that explain what those parts of speech mean if you don’t know – with examples no less!) – the Strong’s Number for that word, a VERY robust dictionary / exegetical discussion about the word in question as well as a link to a concordance at the end of nearly every entry showing you every verse in the Bible where a word is used.
Compare this resource to a standard “Strong’s” Bible and the amount of information available with the CWSB is staggering.
For example – the entry on αγαπαω:
In a Strong’s Bible you get this:
g0025. αγαπαω agapao;
perhaps from αγαν agan (much) (or compare h5689); to love (in a social or moral sense):— (be-) love (- ed). Compare 5368.
AV (142)- love 135, beloved 7;
of persons to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly of things to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing
By comparison, in the CWSB, the entry on αγαπαω goes on for over 2 pages when pasted into my word processor – with various usages of the word compared and contrasted between different passages of scripture.
Here’s a very small taste of the article on αγαπαω from the CWSB (comparing the different words for love used in Peter’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus in John 21 – FYI: Greek words in the text are transliterated into English for ease of use):
The third question of Jesus to Peter was different, “Do you love me [phileo, Are you my friend]?” (a. t.). Are your interests, now that you have seen Me risen from the dead, different than before the resurrection? Peter became sorrowful because he understood the deeper meaning of Jesus ‘question (John 21:17). His answer utilized two similar, but distinct verbs, oida, to know intuitively, and ginosko (G1097), to know experientially:”Lord, thou knowest, [oidas, intuitively] all things. Thou knowest [ginoskeis, know experientially] that I love thee [philo, that I am now your friend].”
With this one resource you can get a backpack full of resources that you can carry around in your pocket – and instead of having to reference a number in one volume – then open another one and find that number, I can just tap on a word – then tap the links. Seamlessly moving between different ‘books’ in the collection.
As you can see, the Complete Word Study Bible (CWSB) is a great resource that helps you find original word meanings quickly and easily.
Watch the video below to see how the Complete Word Study Bible works on The Bible Study App.
Reading and studying the Bible are important disciplines for all Christians, but the concept of Bible study can be more elusive. In Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods, Warren starts out by saying, “I have discovered that most Christians sincerely want to study their Bibles on their own, but they just don’t know how.”
There are many classes, books and seminars full of theories and methods to teach you how to study the Bible. I took a class in seminary called Principles of Inductive Bible Study, and to this day I can hear the professor’s voice in my head. Every day the professor would ask, “What’s the first step in inductive Bible study?” and as a class we had to respond in unison, “Observation!” Then he would ask, “What question do we ask in the first step of Inductive Bible Study” and in unison we would again respond, “What does the text say?!” Often he would repeat these questions over and over until he felt we responded enthusiastically enough. He drilled into us what he believed to be the right steps for inductive Bible study, but his was just one out of a multitude of Bible study methods.
I’d recommend taking a look at How to Read the Bible Book by Book and How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart as good introductory Bible study resources. Learn To Study The Bible by Andy Deane, and Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul are also helpful for picking up good Bible study tools and habits. Study Bibles, like the NIV Study Bible Notes can provide notes, cross references and other insights into the text to help you in your Bible study. I have several study Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries and other resources that I consult when studying a particular passage of Scripture. However, don’t get too bogged down with study books and miss out on the truths you can glean from digging into the text on your own.
Here are some things I do when studying the Bible (don’t worry; I won’t make you memorize these!):
Context, Context, Context
I start by looking for the historical context: the author, style of writing, time period, audience and the historical background that surrounds the text. I then focus on the biblical context. I read the previous and subsequent chapters to get a full picture of the passage. Finally, I look for how the passage is applicable to my life.
I like to read the passage through three times. I write down repeated words or phrases, metaphors, similes, exclamations or anything that stands out. If anything reminds me of another passage I’ll look it up and compare. I like to pick out a couple of the repeated words and phrases for a quick word study, looking for other places those words are used in Scripture using my Strong’s Bible.
I like to re-write the passage of Scripture in my own words, taking into account all of the work I’ve done up to this point. I then summarize my study in three sentences or less. I’m terrible at memorizing Scripture, but I’ve found that re-writing the passage in my own words helps me to recall the verse, even if it isn’t exact.
Do you have steps for Bible study that you follow? Is there a resource that you find especially helpful for your study? Let us know by leaving us a comment.
People sometimes ask me what I would suggest for their Bible study library. While this is a difficult question, many Bible teachers point to the same basic resources to make a well-rounded library.
Sorry to be Captain Obvious here, but you need a Bible. The most important component of a Bible Study library is a solid Bible text. I also suggest two or more translations to allow for a “Bible Translation Comparison” Bible Study method.
Here’s a short list of Bibles available for The Bible Study App:
- King James Version (KJV) FREE for The Bible Study App
- English Standard Version (ESV) FREE for The Bible Study App
- New International Version (NIV)
- New King James Version (NKJV)
- New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
- Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
- Other Bible Translations Available
2. Cross References
After you’ve thoroughly read the scriptures for yourself, read all of the related verses for that text. The Bible Study App has some great resources to help you find all of the cross references. These are helpful because they will save you tons of time and effort just looking up the references.
3. Bible Concordances
Concordances are great tools that give you a list of verses that contain that root word in the Bible. However, be careful that you do not JUST use a concordance in your preparation. Concordances are a great place to BEGIN, but are never the END of your Bible Study.
With that “don’t try this at home” disclaimer, I do suggest using a digital Bible with Strong’s numbers integrated into the text for your Bible study.
- King James Version – with Strong’s Numbers
- Other Bibles with Strong’s Numbers Available
- Olive Tree KJV Concordance
- Other Concordances Available
4. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words. They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.
- Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible
- Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
- Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE), 2nd ed.
- Other Bible Dictionaries Available
5. Bible Study Notes
There are multiple Bibles that have study notes written by scholars and trusted authors that will assist you in better understanding the Bible. I recommend choosing one that corresponds to your preferred translation (KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.)
- NIV Study Bible Notes
- NKJV Study Bible
- HarperCollins Study Bible Notes
- HCSB Study Bible Notes
- Other Study Bibles Available
6. Bible Maps & Atlases
We are far removed from Biblical times. Bible maps and atlases help us visualize locations, actions, and events in the Bible.
- Olive Tree Bible Maps
- Zondervan Atlas of the Bible
- Bible Maps – Then and Now
- Manna Bible Maps Study Set
- Other Maps & Atlases Available
7. Bible Handbooks & Bible Commentaries
After you’ve studied the Bible for yourself, it is often helpful to read trusted Bible scholars to see how they explain the text you are reading. These resources are also helpful to explain difficult passages or clarify the meaning behind Bible customs and events.
- The Essential Bible Companion
- Key Word Commentary
- IVP Bible Background Commentary
- Other Commentaries Available
Olive Tree’s Bible Study Collections
To make it easier, Olive Tree has bundled collections of resources to help you dig deeper into God’s word. These bundles give you the basic tools that you need like the study tools mentioned above. All of these wonderful resources are designed to be integrated into the Resource Guide within The Bible Study App for a seamless and easy-to-use Bible study experience.
- Choose from the following Bible Translations: NIV, NRSV, NKJV or HCSB
- A Study Bible that corresponds to your Preferred Bible Translation
- Bible Dictionary
- Everything in the Essentials bundle
- Strong’s Tagged Bible
- Essential Bible Companion
- Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
- Expanded Maps
- Everything in the Standard bundle
- Key Word Commentary
- Expository Dictionary
- Bible Concordance
- and even more Maps
- Everything in the Expanded bundle
- More Commentaries
- Bible Encyclopedia
- More Cross-references
- A Bible Atlas
Using these and tools will deepen your Bible study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).