By Olive Tree Employee: Genny Gager
Bible commentaries and study notes are great tools for understanding what the Bible has to say to us today. Often overlooked, however, is the value that using scripture to understand scripture can bring. God’s inspired word is a complex tapestry of themes all woven together, and the development of those themes can provide us with insight into the relevant message of the Bible for today’s readers.
Finding our way around these themes can be a daunting task, especially given the variety of subjects covered in the Bible. A word search can be helpful, but it can give an incomplete picture due to the complexity of language and the context in which words are used. The great news is that Olive Tree offers the Thompson Chain Reference System, which links various themes together as they are touched upon and developed throughout Scripture. The very heart of this product is the thematic chains that number in the thousands, and people at all stages of learning about the Bible have used it in the 100 years since its initial release. The Thompson Chain resource is also a great study Bible, offering cross references, book outlines, book introductions, maps, and harmonies to aid us in our study.
We’ve put quite a bit of attention into converting the rich topical content so it can be used in the Bible Study app. Our goal was to make navigating the famous topical chains easy and intuitive and to allow quick access to the additional materials as well.
We’re going to walk through a quick example of how the Bible Study App can make navigating the Thompson Chain Reference System enjoyable and easy. The example uses and refers to the iPad version of our software. We’ve designed this resource to work seamlessly with the built-in resource guide, so if you don’t already know how to open it, read this article to open it in the split window, and have your Bible of choice open in the main window of your app. Although we’ll be relying on the iPad version in our example, other versions of our app will have similar functionality.
If you want to follow along with the example, bring 1 Samuel chapter 17 up in your Bible. With everything set up, the screen will look similar to this (your screen may look a little different depending on what resources you have and how you have your resource guide set up):
To activate the chains, tap the name of the Thompson Chain under the commentaries section of your resource guide. Your split-window view will change to a listing of verses directly related to your location: (more…)
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. We wanted to show you how to use this Bible study tool. (screeshots are taken from an iPad Mini 4. Click the image for a larger view)
When Jesus goes to Pilate in Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:28 – you can read the interactions between Jesus and Pilate in all four Gospels without having to navigate back and forth. Because of this unique layout, the screen will default to vertical “flick” scrolling for a better viewing experience. On a larger device like a tablet you can view all (4) columns side-by-side. The side-by-side view scales down two a two or single column view as the horizontal viewable area gets smaller, or when Resource Guide is opened.
All of the Scripture references are hyperlinked, so you can tap on the headers to see that one reference in a popup.
Here’s where the Harmony of the Gospels is also very helpful. You can see that John goes into much more detail about the conversation between Jesus and Pilate than the other three Gospels. You can also see you see that only Luke records that Jesus went before Herod, but all four Gospels record further interactions between Jesus and Pilate.
Olive Tree’s Harmony of the Gospels are divided into over 250 events in the life of Christ. The chronology is primarily ordered based on Mark and Luke’s gospels with Matthew and John’s accounts harmonizing with them, creating a seamless reading experience. A full index of the titles and passages is included. To access the full index, Tap Go To > End Matter > Go
In the index you can view all 250 events and quickly see how many Gospels address that event. You can even tap on the Event to go straight to the event. All of the verse references are hyperlinked so you can see each passage in a popup window.
The Olive Tree Harmony of the Gospels is currently available in the following translations: New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), KIng James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and Byzantine Greek New Testament.
All available Harmony of the Gospels and other Bible Study tools are on sale now. Go HERE to see them.
Here are three ways you can use dictionaries & lexicons in Bible+. To illustrate we will use the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.
The first way is through the Split Window and Resource Guide. Open your favorite Bible translation in the main window and the Resource Guide in the Split Window. As you read through your Bible text, the Resource Guide searches through all the downloaded resources in your library to find related Bible study content.
You’ll notice that the Resource Guide pulls related content from all of your downloaded resources. If you scroll down the Resource Guide results, you will see the section headings “People,” “Places,” and “Topics.” These headings give you the results of articles based on your downloaded resources.
Tap or click on the person/place/topic you want to learn more about. I chose “Nebo” in this example. Bible+ then brings you results from within the resources you have on your device. This is where you will find the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (NIBD) within the Resource Guide.
You’ll notice that the resource has the words “Article to Nebo” underneath the book cover. Tap/Click on the book cover and Bible+ will take you directly to the article within the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (NIBD). As you are reading the article, any Scripture references become hyperlinks that you can tap/click to view as a pop-out window:
The second way you can utilize a Bible dictionary is as a traditional dictionary in Bible+. Just Tap/Click the book title and scroll through this awesome resource as you would a hard-copy dictionary.
The third way is to use the Bible+’s Lookup Feature. Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.
If you’re on an iOS device, you can also tap the verse number and a menu bar will appear. Tap “Guide” and you will get hits from your resources on that specific verse. Then just follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option.
As you can see, Bible dictionaries are extremely helpful resources for studying the Bible. Check out our list of great Bible dictionaries here.
Bible Handbooks and Quick References are great resources that help you go deeper in your Bible study.
Here’s how we’ve enhanced these resources:
Bring up your preferred Bible translation in the main window. Then open the split window.
Adjust the split window to your desired size. Next, make sure the Resource Guide is open. Please note that the split window opens to the last place that you had viewed, so if you were last in the library, the screen will default back to the library.
The Resource Guide keeps up with me as I scroll through the Bible text and searches through the books in my library for content related to the Scripture passage in the main window.
Scroll down to view “Places,” “Maps,” “Outlines,” and “Introductions.” All quick reference content will be displayed in these sections. In our example, after clicking “Rome” under “Places,” the resource guide shows me that I have several images and maps available in my library. I can click these images to see a larger view or even view them within the resource from which the content is found.
I can also see that there are Outlines and Introductions available in MacArthur’s Quick Reference Guide to the Bible and other resources that have related content.
By clicking the book covers for these resources, I can see all of the results within that resource for the Bible passage. In this example, I can see that there are three entries under introductions in MacArthur’s Quick Reference Guide to the Bible. Click the article or reference and I can read the content in the resource. Again, any Scripture verse becomes a hyperlink that I can view within the resource guide.
Every new year thousands of Christians start a new Bible reading plan with the hope of reading through the entire Bible in a year. A few weeks into January or February and most have already abandoned those plans. I readily admit that I used to be one of those people. Let’s be honest, after getting through the familiar & event packed books of Genesis & Exodus things start to slow down and get boring. This is particularly true once you get to Leviticus and all the talk about being clean or unclean.
In 2016 I want to encourage you to start a new reading plan and provide some tips that will keep you reading throughout the year.
Bible Reading Tips
Here are a few tips that I have found helpful over the years, and I hope they encourage you as we enter the new year:
- Start Small. If you’ve never read through large portions of Scripture before, don’t try to start with a plan that looks insurmountable. That’s like someone new to the gym thinking they can lift the same weights as a power lifter. It’s not a good idea and can be a setup for failure. Instead of a year long reading plan, start with something that’s 2 weeks or 30 days. Once you finish that, try another 30 day plan, and gradually lengthen your plan.
- Pick a Time & Place. One of the easiest ways to maintain success in your Bible reading is by making it routine. Try to read at the same time everyday, and preferably in the same place. This will create a routine that you’ll get used to and put you in the right mindset. Also, I suggest doing it at a time of day when you’re most alert. There’s nothing worse than reading the Bible when you’re tired or sleepy.
- Don’t Give Up. This one is the most important. There will be times when you want to give up, but push through it and keep at it. You’ll hit difficult passages and sometimes you may not understand what you just read, and that’s okay. Just keep at it and ask God to help you understand what you’re reading. Over time God will make it clear to you. When you hit those difficult spots, remember to make use of the tools available to you. And, inevitably, you may fall off the wagon and stop reading altogether for a season. Don’t get discouraged, just start again.
Starting a Plan in Bible+
One of the great things about doing a reading plan in Bible+ is that it syncs across all your devices. You can read on your computer one day, and then read it on your phone or tablet the next day when you’re on the go. Here’s how to start a new reading plan in Bible+.
Open Reading Plans from the Menu
Select a Plan
Choose from one of the pre-installed plans or select “Get More Reading Plans” and download a new one
Label & Start the Plan
Give your reading plan a name and set it as the default plan (this is helpful if you have several), and then select “Start Reading Plan” to get it started.
Check out the reading plans in our app, and also be sure to check out other devotional titles that we have on sale that can enhance your daily Bible reading in the new year.
One of the key components to any digital Bible study library is a commentary. Study Bibles are great for getting quick information about a passage but when you want to investigate a passage further you’ll turn to a commentary. Today I want to show you how most commentaries work in Bible+.
Using a Commentary
Like many resources in Bible+, the best way to get the most out of your library is by using the Resource Guide; commentaries are no exception. To illustrate, let’s use the Moody Bible Commentary & assume we’re starting to read Mark’s gospel.
When beginning a study on a new book of the Bible, one of the first things you want to do is get some background information. Resource Guide makes this easy. Simply scroll down to the “Introductions” section, where we find a hit for our commentary.
Here we find information about the gospel, it’s author, date, audience, purpose, and other issues worth keeping in mind.
Next, you’ll want to get a feel for how the book is laid out, so let’s find an outline. Again, the Resource Guide shows us that Moody Bible Commentary has an outline for our book, and we see that it is quite extensive. One thing worth noting is a commentary’s outline often serves as its layout. This helps you see how a handful of verses relate to their larger context. Personally, I refer to the outline often throughout the course of studying a book of the Bible, as it keeps the big picture in view.
Finally, when it’s time to dive into the commentary text, the Resource Guide is again our friend. Instead of hunting down the commentary on your passage, let Resource Guide do the heavy lifting. Find the Moody Bible Commentary in the commentaries section, find your passage, and commence reading. This saves you both time and effort while studying, which is useful with our busy lives.
Alternatively, you can leave your commentary open in your split window and it’ll always be at the right location when you need it. This will save you even more time if you don’t plan on consulting other resources.
Finally, there are some people who like to read through commentaries like a book. This is possible in Bible+ as well. Just open the commentary in the main window and commence reading.
Upgrade Your Library Today
No matter who you are we have a commentary that will suit your needs. Check out the commentaries we currently have on sale and add some new titles to your library.