If you’re like me, your introduction to Bible study tools was a bit rocky. I first began teaching and preaching in my local church at age 14. Before my first sermon, my Dad handed me my first Strong’s Concordance and a brand new Bible. Not really knowing where else to start, I would read through a passage of Scripture and look up every word in the Strong’s Concordance that I didn’t understand or that caught my attention.
I quickly learned that I needed a more formalized approach to studying God’s Word. Since that time I’ve learned that I needed some basic tools to keep my Bible study on track.
A Basic and Solid Library
To help you get started, Olive Tree has bundled resources together to help you dig deeper into God’s word. These bundles give you the basic tools to help you build a solid starter library. 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.
What’s in The Study Bible Bundles?
- Choose from the following Bible Translations: NIV, HCSB, NKJV or NRSV
- 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
Bible Study Bundles are available in the following Bible translations: NIV, HCSB, NKJV, or NRSV.
Using these and tools will deepen your Bible study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).
What are your favorite Bible Study resources?
The Bible Study App has over 50 Bibles available in multiple languages and as result is used by millions of people all around the world. Once a Bible is downloaded to your device you don’t need an internet connection to read or study.
In the videos below you can see how to setup your own parallel Bible in the Bible Study App for easy translation comparison.
For Mobile Devices:
I’ll be upfront with you. I’m not going to tell you what Bible translation I think is the best. I won’t even tell you which one I prefer or if it may or may not have colorful illustrations that make Jesus look like a surfer from Southern California. I tend to agree with Pastor Rick Warren when he said, “The best Bible translation is one that is translated into your life.” In saying that, there are a couple of things that are worth knowing that may help you decide what you use for study, what you recommend to new believers, and even what you read to your kids.
Centuries of scholarship have gone into the English translations we have today and there are even some great books written on how to choose a translation.
The two primary metrics for how translators have interpreted the English Bibles we have today are based on:
1. How close the translation is to the original literal word (word for word).
2. How close the translation is to the original idea being communicated (thought for thought).
The challenge for scholars is how do you translate the original manuscripts in a way that makes them accurate and literal, but also readable and understandable?
For an example of this challenge imagine that I’m speaking to an audience in China through a translator and say, “Hong Kong is the coolest city I’ve ever been too.” If my translator literally interpreted my statement to the audience and said, Hong Kong is the coldest city I’d ever been too, they’d probably think I grew up in the middle of the Gobi desert (Hong Kong never really gets cold). I would want my translator to understand my culture and west coast slang enough to take the liberty to translate my thought, as opposed to my literal words; “He really likes Hong Kong”.
And so for centuries the challenge has been to translate the Bible into thousands of languages worldwide, maintaining as literal an interpretation while still making it readable and understandable. So where does your favorite translation rank in terms of being word for word and thought for thought? Check out the *graphic below:
You’ll notice this chart doesn’t say one translation is better than another but it is a useful graphic to understand where the different translations lean in how they interpret the original manuscripts. If you want to dig deeper, check out the links below for more in depth thoughts on the differences between translations.
- A guide to popular Bible Translations
- How we got the Bible
- A History of Bible Translations
- The Origin of the Bible
*Image courtesy of Zondervan
** Please note that there is no specific difference (other than their place on the continuum) between the orange and green Bibles listed in the graphic
People often ask me “what sets Olive Tree’s Bible Study App apart?” Although it’s hard for me to narrow down, here are my favorite features of The Bible Study App (Screenshots are taken from an iPad 2. Click for a larger view)
1. Split Window
The split window has many functions. While reading in the main window, I can open the Resource Guide (see below), another translation, a study Bible, or even take notes as I read the text. I love being able to take sermon notes while in church on Sunday. I can have my main window open to the passage and take notes in the split window. Before, I had to do a balancing act with my Bible in one hand and my notepad in another, trying to keep everything in place while flipping back and forth in the Bible along with the sermon. Now my Bible and notes are all easily managed in one hand. As a bonus, any Scripture References become hyperlinks that I can tap to pop up that passage.
2. The Resource Guide
By far my favorite and most updated feature in the Bible Study App is the Resource Guide. While I’m reading the Bible, I can open the Resource Guide in the split window to see cross references, study Bible notes, maps, topics and more that are all related to my current reading. As I continue to read, the Resource Guide tracks with me and updates the material to match the Scripture I’m reading.
3. Search Feature
I’m not very good at remembering verse references and often find myself asking things like, “Where is that verse about the mustard seed?” Instead of flipping through the Bible or searching through an index, I can tap the search icon and type in “mustard seed” and find the verse I’m looking for. As an added bonus, I can view the verse in each of the gospel accounts and see other search results related to “mustard seed.”
4. Lookup Feature
Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup, and More. If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word. Like before, just tap the book cover and you can read the article in the pop-up window, or choose to open in the Main or Split window.
5. Automatic Background Sync
I do my daily Bible Reading in the App and Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync takes care of it. This allows me to go into my other devices to access and keep up with my Reading Plan. The Bible is able to sink into my daily life and I can refer back to that morning’s reading from wherever I am – on the go with my phone, on laptop at work, at coffee shops on my iPad, or at home on my desktop. Because of the Bible Study App Sync function, all of my custom highlights, tags, and bookmarks are always readily available. With Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync, I don’t have worry about whether or not my notes, highlights, bookmarks, and book ribbons are up to date.
6. Cross Platform Access
Did you know that you can Download The Bible Study App all your devices? I personally have an iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, Windows Laptop, and Windows desktop. The advantage to having the App on your devices is that with an Olive Tree Account (have you created one yet?) you can access your entire library on up to 5 different devices from wherever you study the Bible.
That’s my favorite features, but The Bible Study App can do so much more! What’s yours?
If you’re new to The Bible Study App, you might be asking yourself “where do I start?” Here’s Nine Quick Tips & Refreshers to get you started in The Bible Study App. (Screenshots taken from an iPad. Please note that icon graphics vary somewhat across devices).
1. The “Library” Button: This is where you can find all of the Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, and other resources you’ve downloaded to your devices. You can choose from All, Recent, or Favorites.
2. “My Stuff” Suitcase Button is the central nervous system of The Bible Study App. Here you can find your notes, bookmarks, highlights, tags, reading plans, and the ever important Sync button at the bottom left. If you haven’t already done so, Click here to create an Olive Tree Account. I can’t go into great detail here, but there are enormous benefits to creating an Olive Tree Account. It’s Free and will only take a minute to set up.
3.“History” Button: Do you ever get three verses into a Bible study and want to refer back to a previous verse? The History Button is the fastest way to refer back to a previous reference. You can view by date or by title.
4. Settings Button is where you can quickly customize the type and size of your font. For a more customized Bible Study App experience, you can then click the “Advanced Settings” for an array of other custom settings (social network, posting, custom iOS gestures, etc) within The Bible Study App.
5. Search Button: Search anything within the resource you are currently studying. In your Bible, you can even limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, or create a custom filter or range that you define.
7. The Split Window Button: You don’t have to switch back and forth to view different resources. With the Split Window Button, you can view your Bible and your favorite commentary at the same time. Also, our built in Resource Guide in the split window follows along, looking in your library for any 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.
8. The Sync option: I have a terrible memory, but thanks to The Bible Study App, I’m able to overcome it…mostly. I do my daily Bible Reading in the App and Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync takes care of it. This allows me to go into my other devices to access and keep up with my Reading Plan. The Bible is able to sink into my daily life and I can refer back to that morning’s reading from wherever I am – on the go with my phone, on laptop at work, at coffee shops on my iPad, or at home on my desktop. Because of the Bible Study App Sync function, all of my custom highlights, tags, and bookmarks are always readily available. With Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync, I don’t have worry about whether or not my notes, highlights, bookmarks, and book ribbons are up to date.
9. Download The Bible Study App to every device you own. I personally have an iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, Windows Laptop, and Windows desktop. The advantage to having the App on your devices is that with an Olive Tree Account (have you created one yet?) you can access your entire library from wherever you study the Bible.
Obviously, I’m a big fan of the form and function of the Olive Tree Bible Study App. What are your top features of The Bible Study App? Where would you advise a new user to start? I would love your feedback.
It’s hard to believe we’re almost one full week into 2014! Many people have set new goals and are attempting to form new habits in the upcoming year. Maybe one of these goals for you is going deeper into your study of God’s word?
God’s word is truly alive and there is no doubt that as we saturate our lives with his truth, transformation happens! Here are two resources for The Bible Study App that will help you stay in his word and grow in your understanding.
M’Cheyne’s Daily Reading is a great FREE resource to add to your Bible Study App. Use this reading schedule to map your reading and study of God’s Word. This unique reading schedule created by Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a 19th century Scottish minister, guides readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. Find it under in the Reading Plans under ‘My Stuff or click here for download instructions for the App.
Another invaluable tool to aid you in your study is the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.
The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is the best known and most widely used collection of Bible cross-references. Compiled by several authors, the work includes 500,000 Scripture references and parallel passages. It has been incorporated with most electronic Bible collections as a highly useful means of Bible interpretation. Click here to purchase this affordable resource to add to your Bible Study App.