12/04/2015 in: Look Insideon
Let’s be honest, building a theological library can get expensive, especially if you’re a pastor or professor. There is no end to the number of resources one can add. But, if you’re just getting started, where should you turn? I usually start people off with a good study Bible and expand from there. After the study Bible, one of the resources I recommend is having another good all-in-one resource that provides an overview of the Bible and its themes, something with a broader view of the text. When I was growing up the first Bible overview book I purchased for myself was Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. It was a fantastic resource that served me well for many years, and now it’s finally available for Bible+!
What is Willmington’s Guide to the Bible? It is best described as a treasury of Bible knowledge that is easy to read and understand by all. This resource is essentially eight types of reference works condensed into a single 1200 page handbook. It is: a Bible handbook, commentary, topical resource, theological manual, history textbook, encyclopedia, cross reference guide, and archaeological resource. The book is both exhaustive and concise, which is a hard balance to achieve. No matter your level of Bible expertise, this handbook is meant for all, from pastor and Sunday school teacher to high school students and general church goers. Let me walk you through how to make use of this great tool in Bible+.
Willmington’s Guide to the Bible contains a wealth of information, so it’s important to know how to access it when you need it. If you’re using this book on its own, the easiest way to get around is using the Table of Contents.
From the table of contents you can quickly navigate to any section of the book. This is particularly useful if you know exactly what you’re looking for and want to get there quickly, or for those things that may not show up in the Resource Guide like all of the cool information found under “A Panoramic Overview of the Chronological Method,” such as a list of the 101 most important chapters in the Bible or a list of the Bible’s important events. It is also a useful way to browse the resource to see what nuggets of information are waiting for you.
The best way to make use of Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, like so many of our titles, is through the Resource Guide. Since the Resource Guide pulls in information from your entire library based on the passage you’re currently studying, all the information you need in Willmington’s is always right at your fingertips. As you can see in the example below, we’re studying Genesis 12 and in the commentaries section Willmington’s shows us the information for the Patriarchal Stage of the Bible and a summary of that portion of Scripture with outlines, maps and the like. Now you can get an overview of not only Abraham’s life but see how that relates to other near biblical characters, such as his descendants.
People, Charts, and More
The Resource Guide is also helpful if you’re interested in studying a specific Bible character. Say you’re reading Daniel 6 with the narrative of Daniel in the lions’ den and you wanted to read more about King Darius. Simply find Darius under the “People” section and find Willmington’s. Now, at a glance you can see both a chronological overview and basic statistics. With some people, like Daniel, you’ll also get a theological overview.
The same is true of maps and charts. Based on your current passage you will find relevant charts and maps from Willmington’s Guide to the Bible in those sections of the Resource Guide.
Questions and Answers
Another key benefit to this resource is its question and answer format in some sections. This is particularly true of both the Theological Method section. Here you will find key areas of study that are presented as a list of questions grouped by subject. For example, under Christian Living you have questions on prayer, spiritual gifts, the fruit of the Spirit, etc. Each question is answered with concisely and with relevant Bible passages for reference. These are great for young Christians as well as Sunday School teachers preparing a lesson for Sunday morning.