Product Reviews

These articles tell you about the many fine products available from Olive Tree.

NICOT Review for the Bible Study App

NICOT in Olive TreeGuest Review: Abram Kielsmeier-Jones

Ask a group of pastors, seminarians, professors, or serious Bible readers, “What one commentary series on the Old Testament would you most recommend?” and you’re likely to hear: “NICOT.” Eerdmans’ New International Commentary on the Old Testament blends scholarship with application in a readable and engaging manner. Few, if any, commentary series are consistently this good throughout the series. And I don’t know of any other series that has such broad ecumenical appeal.

NICOT in Olive Tree has 23 volumes, spanning 26 biblical books. The bundle includes the 2010 volume on Hosea. The only volume currently in print that is not here is The Book of Judges, by Barry G. Webb (2012). (Judges is not available in any other Bible software at the moment.)

General editor Robert L. Hubbard Jr. writes of the series:

NICOT delicately balances “criticism” (i. e., the use of standard critical methodologies) with humble respect, admiration, and even affection for the biblical text. As an evangelical commentary, it pays particular attention to the textʼs literary features, theological themes, and implications for the life of faith today.

As I preached through Isaiah this past Advent, John N. Oswalt’s two volumes on that book were the first commentary I turned to after spending time with the biblical text. While it was always clear that Oswalt knew Isaiah and his milieu well, the author would find himself swept up at times in praise of the God Isaiah preached. On Isaiah 2:2, for instance, he writes:

What Isaiah was asserting was that one day it would become clear that the religion of Israel was the religion; that her God was the God. To say that his mountain would become the highest of all was a way of making that assertion in a figure which would be intelligible to people of that time.

NICOT IsaiahOn that passage’s promise of peace among nations, he concludes:

Until persons and nations have come to God to learn his ways and walk in them, peace is an illusion. This does not mean that the Church merely waits for the second coming to look for peace. But neither does it mean that the Church should promote peace talks before it seeks to bring the parties to a point where they will submit their needs to God.

Oswalt is representative of the authors in NICOT, in that he loves the text (and its grammar, history, and background) and loves the God who inspired it.

NICOT in Olive Tree has hyperlinks to biblical references and commentary footnotes, which you can easily and quickly view in the Bible Study (computer) app through the Quick Details corner (by hovering over the hyperlink), or as a pop-up window (which can then also pop out and keep your place in a separate window). It’s just as easy to tap a hyperlink in the mobile app.

There are two ways I’ve used NICOT so far.

1. I use NICOT as my starting point in the main window.

After some time in the biblical text, I have made my way through parts of NICOT by starting from the commentary. I can use hyperlinks to read the verses being commented on, as well as any other references. I can keep a Bible open in the split window and have it follow me along as I read through NICOT.

Using NICOT this way, there are quite a few ways to get around, both by looking up a verse in the commentary, and by navigating its Table of Contents. You only need to use one of these options at a time, but here they all are:

(click to enlarge image)

(click to enlarge image)

Note that from the Go To drop-down menu, I can keep following the sub-menus till I get to a specific place in the commentary (Introduction to Malachi in the instance above). One could also do this from the Go To item in the toolbar, which allows for both verse searching and Table of Contents navigation.

2. I use the Bible in the main window and NICOT as a supplement in the split window.

This has the advantage of letting me use NICOT as one among multiple resources in the Resource Guide, as shown (in part) here:

Resource Guide shows relevant library results (click to enlarge)

Resource Guide shows relevant library results (click to enlarge)

In both of the above setups you can take notes in NICOT, highlight, and bookmark your place. You can also do a search on a word or phrase in the commentary, with the results appearing almost instantaneously. One may wish, for example, to find all the times Oswalt refers to the “Suffering Servant” in Isaiah, which is an easy and fast search to run.

In reviewing Olive Tree I have found it to have the most versatile, smooth, and customizable Bible app I’ve seen on iOS. I write more about the Bible Study iOS app here. The fact that Olive Tree is cross-platform makes it appealing to many. Though the desktop app is well-designed, I would like to see a future update where you can create a saved workspace with multiple resources open in various tabs and windows. That, I think, would take the app to the next level.

But everything is here to help you work through NICOT in a way that you couldn’t in print. There are a couple of options (one free and one paid) for Hebrew Bibles, too, if you want to use NICOT in tandem with the original language. (NICOT uses transliterated Hebrew.)

NICOT volumes consistently top the charts of the Best Commentaries site. Preachers and professors, parishioners and pupils will all find much to mine here, as they seek to better understanding the Old Testament and to more faithfully love the God whose goodness its pages proclaim.

Abram Kielsmeier-Jones is the pastor of a great church in a seaside community near Boston, a youth ministry consultant, a husband and father, and a follower of Jesus. At his blog Words on the Word he records his thoughts on the Bible (particularly as written in Greek and Hebrew), books about the Bible, pastoring, leading worship, parenting, youth ministry, music, the Church, and more. Read more about Abram here.

 

*Thanks to Olive Tree for the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), given to me for this blog review, offered without any expectations as to the content of the review.You can find the product here

How A Film Director Uses The Bible Study App

By Todd Shaffer, Creative Director of Glorious Films and The Promise: Birth of the Messiah, the Animated Musical

Olive Tree has long been my digital Bible of choice. It’s simple to use, beautiful to look at, and provides a depth of research that rivals any other digital resource available.  Being a writer and director I’m always on the go, squeezing in research wherever I can, using many different devices and platforms: PC, Android, iOS and Kindle.  Olive Tree has all my devices covered, and on each device all of my resources are available, including notes and highlights which sync across all devices.

While writing the lyrics to the songs of my next film, ‘The Prodigal’, I’m delving heavily into the Old Testament to find metaphors, images and spiritual concepts that follow the spiritual journey of the younger son as he illustrates the crisis and redemption themes of the Jewish nation.  Olive Tree allows me to search certain expressions and words, and from there the cross references and footnotes broaden the scope of my search to passages that were not on my radar.  I’ve not found any need to jump to another Bible study tool.  It’s all here in Olive Tree.thepromise_poster_1000x1481

One thing I love the most about Olive Tree is that it is beautiful.  The fonts, type-spacing and color schemes invite you to dwell on the text, and this is one of the most overlooked tests of any Bible Reader.  I study slowly, and I spend a lot of time reading and rereading the same passage, reflecting on the text and it’s context.  Most readers are utilitarian in style and design, but Olive Tree has put a premium on aesthetics, and as an artist and lover of God’s Word, this is something I value.  In the battle of the digital Bible study tools, Olive Tree delivers a 5 star performance.

 

Watch the trailer of The Promise HERE!

Find out more about Glorious Films.

 

Look Inside The New Moody Atlas of the Bible

We’re pleased to announce The New Moody Atlas of the Bible as a new title available to the Olive Tree library for The Bible Study App. Watch the video below for a brief look at how this title looks and works within the App.

 

 

To find out more about the New Moody Atlas of the Bible go here!

 

Video Review

Thanks to Ken for his review of The Bible Study App!

 

Have you done a written or video review of The Bible Study App?

If so we’d like to know. Email us at connect[at]olivetree.com

21st Century Berean

When Paul and Silas went to the town of Berea to teach, the book of Acts records their response to the teaching :  “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. “Acts 17:11 (ESV)

We live in an exciting time where access to God’s word is advancing faster than ever yet Biblical illiteracy in America is actually on the rise. We should look at the Bereans response and make it our own, being eager to receive God’s word and diligent to study it. The mission statement of Olive Tree is to “inspire people to connect with God and the Bible” and the Bible Study App is a result of that mission. So how can The Bible Study App help you as you study God’s word and grow in your faith?

Mini Screen Shot1

There are many unique tools in The Bible Study App that help me study God’s word but if I had to pick one that has the most potential it would be the Resource Guide. The Resource Guide is found in the split pane of the Bible Study App. The Resource Guide allows you to easily access commentaries, maps, topics, cross reference verses, and a whole lot more. There are also many great resources available on the Olive Tree bookstore that can be easily added to enhance your study. Whether you’re preparing a sermon, bible study, or just for your own personal growth, you can literally have a library’s worth of content at your fingertips to aid your study and understanding of God’s word.

With all of these resources available, the Bible Study App then allows you to highlight and take note of those things that God is teaching you through his Word. By clicking on a verse or highlighting it with your cursor you can take notes and organize them into custom categories or color highlight for future reference. Because of the ability to sync devices you can not only sync notes between platforms but also have the confidence they won’t ever be lost.

As I continue to use the Bible Study App I’m finding that the tools it provides me with allow me to really dig deep into God’s word in a different way than I ever have – as scripture, note taking, and resources are all combined into one experience. Being a 21st century Berean is great!

 

Life Application from the LASB

By Olive Tree Staff: LaRosa Johnson

bigstock-Holy-Night-4064030

Christmas is right around the corner, so I decided to have us take a look at Matthew’s gospel to show how we can use the Life Application Study Bible  (see previous post for an introduction to the Life Application Study Bibleto help us dive into a familiar passage of Scripture and draw some personal application from it. The passage that we’re taking a look at is Matthew 1:18-25.

In this passage we encounter the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. We all know the story; we hear & read it every year, so let’s not waste time going over the account. With the help of the LASB, let’s take a look at some of the specific details we might have overlooked because of our familiarity with these verses. In verse 19 we find Joseph ready to break off his engagement with Mary, which is a fact that we typically gloss over. This is what the LASB has to say:

Joseph was faced with a difficult choice after discovering that Mary was pregnant. Perhaps Joseph thought he had only two options:divorce Mary quietly or have her stoned. But God gave a third option—marry her (1:20- 23). In view of the circumstances, this had not occurred to Joseph. But God often shows us that there are more options available than we think. Although Joseph seemed to be doing the right thing by breaking the engagement, only God’s guidance helped him make the best decision. But that did not make it an easy decision. Consenting to marry Mary surely cast doubt on his own innocence regarding the pregnancy, as well as leaving them both with a social stigma they would carry for the rest of their lives. Yet Joseph chose to obey the angel’s command (1:24). When our decisions affect the lives of others, we must always seek God’s wisdom and then be willing to follow through no matter how difficult it may be.

After receiving the dream, we find that Joseph awoke and did as the angel told him. Again, let’s see what the LASB has to say:

Joseph changed his plans quickly after learning that Mary had not been unfaithful to him (1:19). He obeyed God and proceeded with the marriage plans. Although others may have disapproved of his decision, Joseph went ahead with what he knew was right. Sometimes we avoid doing what is right because of what others might think. Like Joseph, we must choose to obey God rather than seek the approval of others.

In looking at the notes from the LASB we find some important details that we otherwise would have glossed over. First, given that we’re dealing with Jewish culture, Joseph could easily have chosen to have Mary stoned for adultery, but his initial reaction was to take the more righteous approach and simply divorce her. Yet, once the Lord spoke to him in the dream and revealed the truth behind her pregnancy, Joseph chose the third option of marrying her, the one that he had not even considered. As the notes point out, we don’t realize that marrying a pregnant woman came at personal cost & ridicule to Joseph, with people now believing that he had sinned & was the one who had truly gotten Mary pregnant. All of this helps to paint a more vivid picture of the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth, which was not as calm and stress free as we often times make it out to be.

Now that we better understand the passage, we can look to find personal application, and probably more application than we had originally bargained for in a nativity narrative. The two immediate ones that are mentioned from the LASB notes are: 1) When our decisions affect the lives of others, we must always seek God’s wisdom and then be willing to follow through no matter how difficult it may be, and 2) Sometimes we avoid doing what is right because of what others might think. Like Joseph, we must choose to obey God rather than seek the approval of others. Those are the two obvious ones and there are plenty more to be had, especially when you look at Joseph’s personality profile and look at the notes and points of application to be had there.

Ultimately, what we see here is the value of the Life Application Study Bible. It doesn’t matter what passage of Scripture you’re studying, this study Bible will help you to understand what you’re reading and then help you to apply the truth of Scripture to your life. What more can you really ask of your study Bible? If you want to be able to make this kind of application while studying the Bible then add the Life Application Study Bible to your Olive Tree digital library today.

Go to Top