Look Inside: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture


The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture does what very few of today’s students of the Bible could do for themselves. With the aid of computer technology, the vast array of writings from the church fathers—including much that is available only in the ancient languages—have been combed for their comment on Scripture. From these results, scholars with a deep knowledge of the fathers and a heart for the church have hand-selected material for each volume, shaping, annotating and introducing it to today’s readers. Each portion of commentary has been chosen for its salient insight, its rhetorical power and its faithful representation of the consensual exegesis of the early church.

Several features have been incorporated into the design of this commentary and we wanted to show you just a few.  (Screenshots are from an iPad Mini 4.  Click on Images for a larger view)


Pericopes of Scripture

The scriptural text has been divided into pericopes, or passages, usually several verses in length. Each of these pericopes is given a heading, which appears at the beginning of the pericope. For example, the first pericope in the commentary on Genesis is “1:1 The Beginning of Creation.” To see the Scripture passage, click on the highlighted reference, in this case “1:1.” A pop-up window will open the Scripture passage to your default Bible Translation.


Following each pericope of text is an overview of the patristic comments on that pericope. The format of this overview varies within the volumes of this series, depending on the requirements of the specific book of Scripture.

Topical Headings

An abundance of varied patristic comment is available for each pericope of these letters. For this reason we have broken the pericopes into two levels. First is the verse with its topical heading. The patristic comments are then focused on aspects of each verse, with topical headings summarizing the essence of the patristic comment by evoking a key phrase, metaphor or idea. This feature provides a bridge by which modern readers can enter into the heart of the patristic comment.

Identifying the Patristic Texts

Following the topical heading of each section of comment, the name of the patristic commentator is given. An English translation of the patristic comment is then provided. This is immediately followed by the title of the patristic work and the textual reference—either by book, section and subsection or by book and verse references. Tap on the name to read a brief biographical sketch of the pastristic commentator.

The Footnotes

Readers who wish to pursue a deeper investigation of the patristic works cited in this commentary will find the footnotes especially valuable. Taping on a footnote number will cause a box to pop up on the screen, where in addition to other notations (clarifications or biblical cross references) one will find information on English translations (where available) and standard original language editions of the work cited.

The Bible Study App makes the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture even more powerful!

Here’s how.

Resource Guide

Open your preferred Bible Translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window.  You’ll see relevant commentary “hits” from the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture  in the split window.

The Bible Study App also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling.  This means that as you move along in the Bible text, the commentary syncs to exactly where you are in your study.  No more flipping pages back and forth.  No more holding the commentary text open on your desk in one spot, reading through your Bible text, and having to go back and find your place in the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

Linked Reference Pop ups

One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary. With a hard copy, I have to open a different Bible and find each and every reference to read how the verse relates to what I am currently studying.  This is time consuming, slows down my study momentum, and requires me to keep all of my study materials out and open, spread out over a large desk space. With The Bible Study App, the scripture references are hyperlinked within the commentary text.  All I have to do is tap the scripture reference to read it instantly.

Copy/Paste into Notes

Commentaries are full of great content.  I often find myself reading a passage, going deeper with the commentary and finding that “perfect quote” that sums up what I was thinking but didn’t know how to express it in written form.  However, in the world of hard copy commentaries, I have to re-type it into my personal study notes.  With The Bible Study App, all I have to do is highlight the text that i want, copy it and paste it into my notes.  This feature saves me a ton of time, not to mention the wear and tear on my typing fingers!

Integrated Dictionary (iOS Extra)

In iPhone/iPad app, you also have an additional option.  Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options to Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup and More.


If you tap “Define” you will get the integrated iOS dictionary pop-up.  This is extremely helpful when you run across a word in the commentaries or even the Bible text that you do not know.

Resource Guide on One Verse (iOS Extra)

An additional iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap on a verse number and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Save, Share, Guide, and More.

If you tap the “Guide” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific verse. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.  You can even choose to open the commentary in the main or split window.

This is helpful if you want to read through your Bible “full screen” and refer to the commentary when you want to see what it says about a particular verse.

As you can see, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture within The Bible Study App give you the best content, while saving you valuable study time and tremendous effort.

Click here to learn more about The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture.

Designing Bible+ 6 for iOS: Menus and Navigation


Our goal in designing Bible+ 6 for iOS was to provide you with an experience that delights you, makes studying easier, and stays out of the way so you can focus on God’s Word. Last time, we talked a bit about how we structured text layout so that you can read faster, understand easier, and remember better. In this post, we want to talk about how you move around in the app and access all of the various features.

The Menu

iphone-menu-blogSmartphones and tablets are rapidly changing. Screens are getting bigger and nicer. While it used to make sense to separate “My Stuff” and “Advanced Settings” into two completely different menus to save space, we find now that the added space for longer menus (among other factors) has made it a better practice to have one longer menu with headers than to have multiple menus.

One effect this has is that of simplifying the reading interface. When you tap to see the menu bar, you now see fewer icons and buttons to tap on. This means that you don’t have to think as much about what it is you that want to access.

We’ve also discovered that this change—at the same time as making the app feel less complicated—also makes features like highlights and notes easier to find. The briefcase icon worked well when we implemented it, but it wasn’t as discoverable for new users as we wanted.

The new menu serves as a central hub for doing virtually anything in the app. If you tap the menu button, you can do anything from access your highlights to opening a new book. This means that even if you tap the menu button accidentally when meant to open the navigation menu, you can still get to what you’re looking for from the main menu.

All in all, we think that this layout helps users get to what they’re looking for more quickly and without having to think as much or as hard about what they want to do and how to do it.

The Navigation Menu

Another important part of the app is the Navigation Menu (formerly the Verse Chooser). If the app were a car, I suppose the navigation menu might be the steering wheel; you can’t get where you want to go without it. In this update, we’ve done a lot to simplify and clarify the Navigation Menu, but we’ve been careful to maintain the same functionality and basic experience.


The first thing you’ll notice is that there isn’t a dedicated button that says, “Go To” like there was before. To save space, we’ve taken the entire area in which we display your current location and we’ve turned it into a big button. This again simplifies the reading interface and makes the app work a bit more like most other reading apps you’re already used to using.

The second thing you’ll notice is that the layout feels like it has more room to breathe. Removing and reducing the heavy colors and borders makes the menu feel a lot feel a lot less cluttered. We also cleaned things up a bit; while you can still access all the verse chooser’s features, they’re now consolidated into a single menu.

We know that many of our users like the visual grouping of books into the Pentateuch, the wisdom literature, etc. You can still turn this on. Instead of shading the cells, we’ve designed a color scheme for the letters. We feel that this makes the distinction between books even clearer, while not sacrificing the open feel that keeps things from seeming cluttered.


It has been said that you can’t make something better without making it different. While Bible+ 6.0 might look a little different from what you’re used to, we’re convinced that it’s easier and more enjoyable to use. We hope you’ll think so too. Bible+ is always a work in progress; we’re always looking to make it better. Please continue to tell us what you like, as well as what you don’t like. We’re committed to crafting every detail of the app to give you the best experience possible.

Designing Bible+ 6 for iOS: Typography and Layout


Bible study can be a complex thing. There are a lot of things to keep track of: highlighting words and verses, writing notes, leaving bookmarks, saving passages, creating categories, tagging things, reading commentaries, studying maps and charts, looking up Greek and Hebrew words, and more things I can’t even think of right now. Honestly, I’ve tired myself out just listing all of those things.

When you do all these things with paper books, it can be hard to keep track of where you put your highlighters and on which page of which book that helpful definition of agape was written. Bible software is supposed to make all of this easier for you, but sometimes it falls short of that. Sometimes apps can be hard to use: it can be hard to figure out how to view a note you’ve written or it can be tricky to get your settings just right. A lot of this has to do with how the app is designed, which is why our app’s design is something we’re always thinking about.

We want Bible+ to be an app that provides easy access to all the tools and resources you need in studying the Bible. We want the app to give you these things and then keep out of your way. Really, you should be able to focus so closely on God’s Word that you start to forget the app even exists.

Our team here at Olive Tree has worked really hard to make sure that this release is our easiest to use yet. Change can sometimes take a little getting used to, but we really believe that each and every change we’ve made makes the app better at getting out of your way and helping you connect with God’s Word. We wanted to write a couple of posts to help you understand a little better the thinking behind our new design.


The Typography and Fonts

The text of your Bibles and books is by far what you’ll spend the most time looking at. Providing a good experience here is critical. We need to have sharp fonts, proper spacing, and work to ensure a natural flow. Believe it or not, optimizing how the text is displayed on the screen (this is called typography) can make a big difference in how fast you can read and how much you’ll understand and remember.

The last time we picked the font for our main window, digital screens looked a lot different. Apple released the first retina screen five years ago, and it become the standard for all of their iOS devices a few months ago. Retina screens are sharper and much better at rendering the subtle details in fonts that can guide your eye from one letter to the next. Our old font, Georgia, was designed specifically with older, less sharp and precise displays in mind. We decided to ditch Georgia, which was a great font for its purpose, and move to something that really takes advantage of new displays: Source Sans Pro.

Another big factor for reading is spacing between lines and around the edges of text blocks. When this is done well, it becomes easier to read; you can focus on what the words are saying and not on how you’re reading them. With the Bible Study App, we’re always trying to walk a balance between adding enough space to provide an optimum reading experience, but also fitting as much content as we reasonably can on the screen so that you can perform in-depth study without having to scroll or swipe too much. After some tweaking, research, testing, more tweaking, and more testing. We’re confident that the typography in the app is the best it has ever been.

As a note, we do recognize that casual reading and studying are two different things and we want to respect this in how we format the text. We’re working on even more updates for the app that will build on and improve the foundation we started in this release.

More to Come

The typography and fonts are important, but you’ve probably noticed there are a few other changes as well. Most of those are related to the verse chooser and the menu, which we’ll talk about in the next post.

Apologetics is for Everyone


Why are you a Christian? Christianity is outdated and needs to get with the times. What proof do you have to substantiate your beliefs? Isn’t it just blind faith in a fictional God? The creation story in Genesis can’t be true because we’ve proven that evolution is true. Don’t all religions eventually get you to the same place? Just do what works for you.

Does any of that sound familiar? It should because it’s a picture of the times we live in. Christianity and the Bible are under attack from all angles, and if you believe in the God of the Bible, you’re viewed as someone who is antiquated and needs to get with it or shut up. While it is sometimes easier to keep our faith to ourselves, Christianity is a perfectly rational and defensible worldview. We do not hold to a blind faith. There is plenty of evidence and logic to back up our claims. As Christians, we ought to be ready to defend our faith against its opponents. The Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 that we should always be prepared to give a defense to anyone who asks. This wasn’t a command he gave only to church leaders; it was for everyone, including you!

Many people think they cannot share their faith or have religious conversations because they don’t have all the answers. But no one has all the answers. Not having answers doesn’t mean we cannot work with what we do have. It also doesn’t mean we cannot continue to learn as we go along. One of the great things about living in the age we do is that we have a wealth of information at our disposal, ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice. Not only that, but many of the arguments we face today aren’t new. Great Christian thinkers have already tackled these tough issues, and we can glean from their writings instead of trying to figure it out on our own. For most people, it only takes having a few apologetic resources in their library to equip them to defend and share their faith.

While Olive Tree may be known as the “Bible Study App,” we can also help you defend your faith with the resources we offer. If you want an apologetic resource and Bible study notes all in a single resource you can look at resources like the Apologetics Study Bible or the Evidence Bible. We also have books dedicated to the subject, such as Alister McGrath’s Mere Apologetics, R.C. Sproul’s Defending Your Faith, and John Feinberg’s Can You Believe It’s True?, just to name a few. With the Bible Study App, you can keep both your Bible study and apologetic library with you at all times, giving you all you need to live up to Peter’s call. Both Jesus and Paul were apologists, and we should be too!

Want to know more about apologetics? Check out this video with Dr. Bill Mounce as he explains what apologetics can and cannot do.

Equip yourself today with the tools you need to be ready to defend your faith in our Apologetics Sale.

5 Ways Bible+ 6.0 Android Titles are Different

We are so excited about the newest Bible+ 6.0 Android update. We have completely rewritten our core software that displays the text you see on screen. This means you will need to re-download all your titles. Why? Besides having a cleaner text layout we want to bring you brand new tools for studying the Bible. Many of these were not possible with our older technology, but are now a reality!  Because of the new text display layout, we’ve re-designed the text layout of several favorite Bible study resources and added several NEW Bible study resources.

How are books different in the Bible+ 6.0 Android update? Here’s just 5 ways that we’ve improved and enhanced resources in the Bible+ 6.0 Android release.

1. Beautiful New Layouts

One of the great things about this upcoming release is how The Bible Study App will be better able to layout text in ways that we could not before.

All charts are now actual text, and as with other verse references in the App, verse references now become hyperlinks that you can tap and see the verse without having to leave your place in the Bible text.  Here’s an example of this from the NIV Study Bible Notes:

Text wraps around images, charts, and tables eliminating all the blank space around them.  Another example from the NIV Study Bible Notes:

You’ll notice that as you scroll through many sections Study Bibles and Illustrated titles you will find articles and sidebars, some of which are floating or using some nice formatting to make them stand out. These new layouts are FREE when you download your new titles with the Bible+ 6.0 Update for Android. There’s no additional cost or purchase necessary for you to get these new text layouts.

2. NEW! Interlinear Bibles

With this new technology, we can now offer Interlinear Bibles.  What’s an interlinear Bible you ask?  An interlinear Bible typically the Hebrew or Greek text of the Old or New Testament with a literal English translation between the lines of the original-language text.  This is an extremely helpful Bible Study tool, especially for those wanting to dig deeper into original Bible language studies.

Here’s what the ESV Greek-English Interlinear looks like:

Our Greek-English Interlinears are available in ESV, NKJV and KJV translations.

3. NEW! Harmony of the Gospels

A Gospel Harmony seeks to take the Four Gospels and put them in a Chronological order so that you can compare how the Gospel writers address events in Jesus’ life.  Without our new technology update, the layout needed to make this title was virtually impossible.

Here’s what our Harmony of the Gospel in the KJV translation looks like:


Our Harmony of the Gospel titles are available in KJV, ESV, NIV, NKJV, NASB, and Byzantine Greek translations.

4. NEW! Newly Released Bible Study Titles

Under the hood of the Bible+ 6.0 for Android and Bible+ 5.9 for iOS, we began the switch from Palm Database Files (PDBs) to utilize modern Electronic Publication File technology. Not only does this change in file format makes it possible to display text in unique and exciting ways, it also allows us to convert new Bible Study Titles very quickly. What would have taken us months now only takes us weeks. Here’s just a few of the new & best Bible Study Titles we’ve released in the past year:

And several more. Many of these are 50% off this week to celebrate the launch of Bible+ 6.0 Update for Android.

5. Over 1,200 New eBooks


Not only did the transition from PDB to EPUB take the conversion time down for your favorite Bible Study titles, it drastically reduced the conversion time for literally thousands of your favorite Christian eBooks. What would have taken us weeks can now be converted in a matter of minutes. In fact, since March of this year we’ve released hundreds of eBooks. Over 1,200 titles are now available and our catalog will only continue to grow in the coming months.

What about Windows Desktop & Mac?

Our developers are hard at work to bring the same update to our other platforms that we have done with our iOS, Android and Windows Store Apps. We hope to see this technology on Windows Desktop PC, and Mac very soon!

Important Notice Regarding Nook, Blackberry, Symbian, Palm and Windows Classic Mobile

pileofphonesTechnology has come a long way in the last 20 years. I can remember how excited I was when I got my first Palm Pilot that had a 32 MB SD card and two AA batteries that were not rechargeable. The anxiety of having to remember to sync before I lost power was immeasurable!

As technology changes, we have to make changes. We’re living in a world of rapid growth in personal computing and personal devices like we’ve never seen before. With those changes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to support the many devices and platforms from the past, present, and the future.

In order to best serve our customers on current and future devices, we had to make the tough decision to end service for certain devices. As of June 1, 2015, we will pull down the apps for the following devices and no longer support the download of PDB titles for the following platforms:

Nook (Original Nook Color) Click here for more specific information on this specific device.


Symbian 60-5


Windows Classic Mobile (Pocket PC)

What does this mean for me?

If you are on one of these platforms, please download your apps, titles and books files to your data cards and storage devices and keep them in a safe place. After June 1, 2015, you won’t be able to download those titles to your device again.

We will no longer fix text bugs found in these resources on these platforms or offer support or trouble-shooting problems for apps or resources on these devices.

In 2014, we introduced our 5.9 update to our Bible Study App software. Under the hood, we began the switch from Palm Database Files (PDBs) to utilize modern Electronic Publication File technology. This change in file format makes it possible to display text in unique and exciting ways that we were never able to before. It also allows us to offer more titles in the Olive Tree Store on OliveTree.com. In just the past year, we’ve introduced Greek Interlinears, Gospel Harmonies, in-line text display, in-line graphic display, and literally hundreds of new eBooks (have you checked our new release category lately?).

As difficult as this decision was to make, it will allow us to focus on currently supported platforms and to plan for the future. Got questions? Read here for more in depth information.

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