From Guest Blogger: Andy Deane, author of Learn to Study the Bible
Studying the Scriptures is supposed to be exciting! That’s why King David tells us in Psalm 119:103: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Like me, I hope that you have found this verse to be true. Maybe, like me, you have also discovered that having plain honey multiple times a day can get repetitive. I’m not saying that God’s word becomes boring over time. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I love that God’s word is so diverse and continues to excite and bless the reader taste after taste. The Scriptures are not to blame if we lose our taste for them. The Bible is designed to be a continual blessing to the believer. But believers may sometimes need to mix up how they study the Scriptures to make sure to avoid the ruts that their method of extracting the honey can bring about. Sometimes when we use the same approach to studying each and every day, the approach can become repetitive. It’s not God’s word that needs new spice, it’s the method of study that needs variety. That is why I wrote Learn to Study the Bible. With forty different ways to study the Scriptures, you always have a fresh way to prepare and digest your daily manna from heaven.
I’d like to share briefly the three ways that I personally enjoy studying the Bible.
FAVORITE VERSE BIBLE STUDY METHOD:
To start, please consider buying a new Bible to use with this method, or at least a new color highlighter. Begin by reading one to four chapters of the Bible a day. Remember that reading one chapter a day will get you through the entire New Testament in a year with one hundred make up days for when you miss a day of reading. Four chapters a day will get you through the entire Bible in a year in less than 25 minutes of reading time. The key is that each day you underline only one favorite verse from each chapter you read. That’s easy when you are in Leviticus but extremely difficult when you are in Matthew! After you are finished reading the entire book, go back and circle one favorite verse from the verses you underlined in the whole book. Write a few sentences in your Bible about why that is your favorite verse for that book. After you’ve read the whole Bible, you’ll have 1,189 favorite verses underlined (one from each chapter) and 66 all-time favorite verses (one from each book). Think about how valuable that Bible will be to you because of this investment. As you turn to any page in Scripture you will remember which verse spoke to your heart the most. You might even consider putting the date next to the verses you choose to connect them to your daily journal to enhance the experience even more. These will become the verses you choose to memorize since they have meaning to you. It’s a simple but fruitful and personal way to study the Bible.
TRANSLATION COMPARISON BIBLE STUDY METHOD
Not every student of God’s word is going to have the blessing of learning the original biblical languages. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t stand on the shoulders of scholars who spend their lives steeped in these languages, and this is the beauty of the Translation Comparison Bible Study Method. Every translation of the Bible represents the understanding and choice of dozens of skilled language scholars. When you see a unique word in a verse, you can be sure an important decision was made to choose that word over another word. This method helps you notice the different word selections that scholars made when creating English translations of the Bible. You’ll also learn how to prayerfully meditate on why these words were chosen over other words and how that can impact your understanding of the text. Learn how to compare Bible translations for spiritual growth and profit by reading a chapter from the book for free by visiting this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/167983176/Translation-Comparison-Method.
DAILY BREAD BIBLE STUDY METHOD
Sometimes our biggest problem is rushing our reading of a passage of Scripture. If we simply slow down and chew on God’s word then we would be blessed by it. Slowing down is exactly what the Daily Bread Bible Study Method will force you to do. With this method, you’ll learn techniques that invite you to take the time to make sure you’re squeezing all the meaning you can out of the Scriptures. If you’ve struggled with understanding what your pastor means when he tells you to “meditate on God’s word,” then this method is for you. Read another free chapter from the book by visiting http://www.scribd.com/doc/16565590/The-Daily-Bread-Bible-Study-Method.
I hope these three Bible study methods that I use personally will bless you as you experiment with them. Remember that however you mix it up, keep it exciting—don’t let your Bible study time become dull or a duty. I hope you’ll enjoy and use one of these methods, but don’t forget that you should never become devoted to the method—only to the Savior to whom the methods lead!
As a Bible teacher and technologist, people often ask me what they should buy to start building their Bible study library. I love answering this question and many are shocked by my response. The conversation begins by describing the massive library I’ve built over the years in several Bible software platforms. Then I tell them they don’t need all that & start listing the handful of resources that I find essential to Bible study. The end result is a concise but robust set of tools that anyone can use to study the Bible and grow in the things of God. Today, I will show you how you can build your ultimate Bible study library.
Step 0: Use the Bible Study App
If you’re at all technologically inclined, and I assume you are if you’re reading this, the initial step is downloading Bible software. For as much as I love print, it is easier and faster to study the Bible digitally. You can search resources in a matter of seconds, quickly look up cross references, and study anywhere. You don’t have to worry about flipping pages or having a large desk so that you can open all your books at once. Instead, carry your entire library on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
I always recommend the Bible Study App to people because it is feature rich and easy to use, and I say this not just as an Olive Tree employee. There is no steep learning curve required to use the app and all the features are intuitive. Plus, it’s free to download and try! So, download the app & let’s move to Step 1.
Step 1: Add a Bible Translation
A lot of people don’t think about Bible translations and how they can help their Bible study. For many, they use whatever Bible translation they were given when they became a Christian and never give it a second thought. Yes, the thee’s and thou’s of the KJV may be quite poetic, but what good is it if you cannot understand what you’re reading? In many respects, the Bible is already a difficult book to study, so why make it harder with a difficult to read translation? There is nothing wrong with owning a Bible written in a modern translation.
When choosing a Bible translation, you should find one that works for you. I also believe you should own at least two Bible translations. The first should be more word-for-word in its translation of the original languages, while the second should be more thought-for-thought or a balance between the two. I recommend checking out some of the translations listed below at Biblegateway.com and pick the one you find most readable in each category.
- Word-for-word: English Standard Version (ESV), King James Version (KJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), Modern English Version (MEV)
- Thought-for-thought/Balanced: New International Version (NIV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), New Living Translation (NLT)
Once you have your Bible translations, you’re ready to build the rest of your ultimate study Bible library.
Step 2: Add Study Notes
Next to the Bible, if you had to spend money on one resource, hands down it would have to be a study Bible. These are great tools because they are an all-in-one resource. You get commentary, introductions, and a wealth of other useful features. With so many study Bibles on the market, wisdom is needed when making a purchase. You want to make sure you’re buying something that will help you understand what you’re reading and keep things in their proper context.
A good study Bible should contain: thorough study notes, book introductions, maps, charts & illustrations, and Bible chronologies. A few worth checking out include: the ESV Study Bible, NLT Study Bible, NKJV Study Bible, Life Application Study Bible, and the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.
Step 3: Add Key Reference Tools
As you expand your library beyond Bibles and study Bibles, you should start by adding key reference tools. This is a broad category that ranges from single volume commentaries to Bible dictionaries and atlases.
Bible commentaries come in many flavors and vary in their target audience, which is often reflected in the price. Because of their depth, commentaries can quickly become the most expensive tool in your library. I recommend starting with single volume commentaries since they cover the entire Bible. While single volume commentaries may not be as thorough as their single-book counterparts, they do take time to cover all passages in general and are sure to explain the more difficult ones, making them useful additions to your library.
While study Bibles and commentaries are good at explaining the text of the Bible, they don’t always give enough detail about some of the Bible’s concepts and words. This is where a good Bible dictionary comes into play, which is, in effect, an encyclopedia for the Bible. To illustrate it’s usefulness, let’s say you’re reading the gospels and you encounter the Pharisees and Sadducees. Who are these guys and where did they get their authority? A Bible dictionary will explain who they are so you’re not left clueless about their role and purpose in the Bible.
Atlases are a fantastic tool to have in your library. If we’re honest, most of us aren’t familiar with the geography of the lands from Bible times. Not to mention, you’ll have no luck finding many places mentioned in the Bible on a modern map. Atlases provide you with extensive maps that help you get a lay of the land so that you can make better sense of the Bible’s narrative. Many atlases also provide relevant commentary on the Bible that corresponds to the map or picture.
Many of these tools you can add to your Olive Tree library at minimal cost and they will go a long way in helping you study the Bible.
Step 4: Add Advanced Reference Tools
Most people could stop at Step 3, but if you’re the person who wants to dive deeper into God’s Word you can buy more advanced reference tools. Resources that fall into this category would include: single book commentary sets, Greek & Hebrew lexicons, and more extensive versions of the tools found in Step 3. These are the tools used by pastors, seminary students, and those, like myself, who don’t mind treading through the original languages and academic level terminology. This is an area where you can spend a lot of money, but each resource is well worth the cost.
Build Your Ultimate Study Bible Today
By following the above steps, you will have built your own Ultimate Study Bible and have all the essential tools needed to study the Bible. Start building yours today with our Build Your Ultimate Study Bible sale!
Next week we’ll show you various ways of using these resources to study the Bible.
It’s been a long time since we updated the Bible Study App for Kindle Fire. Many thought we’d forgotten about this platform. Well, we haven’t forgotten about our Kindle users. No, we have been working hard and literally rewrote our app from the ground up to bring you a better Bible study experience for your Kindle Fire device.
As you’ll see below, the app has a new look. But we didn’t just give the Bible Study App a fresh coat of paint. This update brings with it many improvements that we’re sure you’ll love. The app is faster, offers new features, and enables new titles.
Do you remember the Gingerbread update (Android 2.3) that Google released in February 2010? For its time, the update looked alright, but it’s five years later and design has moved on considerably. In 2010, grays and gradients were in, but app design has moved on to a flatter and more sleek design scheme. Our app? Not so much. The Bible Study App got caught in a design time capsule. That all changes with our Bible+ 6.0 Update for Kindle Fire.
We didn’t just change everything under the hood; the app itself got a much-needed visual refresh. We brought over the beautiful look and feel that we created for Android and are making it available on Kindle Fire. Say goodbye to the gradient toolbars and say hello to the new vibrant green toolbar & flattened icons. Welcome crisper and more readable fonts. Get ready for better looking and more informative Strong’s pop-ups and faster text scrolling. Nearly everything about the Bible Study App has been updated, but still operates just the same. We went to great lengths to make sure you don’t have to learn how to use our app all over again with this update. It’ll just look and feel better.
One of the biggest advantages of the Bible+ 6.0 Update is all the new titles you can now add to your library. Our old app had significant limitations in its ability to display text, which kept us from creating resources with complex layouts. We now have the ability to display interlinear Bibles, text-wrapped images, and properly-formatted tables. The update also gives us the ability to make our resources more closely resemble what you would find in print.
With this update, you can now enjoy all the same resources that our iOS, Android, and Windows Desktop users have been enjoying, including interlinear Bibles, Gospel harmonies, the BHS with Critical Apparatus, the Reformation Study Bible, and Tyndale Commentaries to name a few.
You will also be able to purchase hundreds of new eBooks that were not available on our old platform. So not only do our books look nicer, but you can build a more robust Bible study library, too.
Highlighting has always been a pain point for our Kindle Fire users. Unlike our iOS app, the only thing you could highlight was a Bible verse. Did you want to highlight something in your study Bible or commentary? What about a single word in your Bible? Sorry, you were out of luck. With the Bible+ 6.0 Update, that is no longer a problem. We have enabled word-based highlighting across all resources in the Bible Study App. For example, you can highlight every noun that mentions Jesus in one color and those that refer to God the Father in another (see below). The possibilities are endless!
Along with word-based highlighting, this update brings with it a few other notable items. Highlights are now more visually appealing; instead of a block of colored text, it’s now textured to look like a real highlighter. We’ve also made it easier to organize your highlights by giving you the ability to tag and categorize them as they are created.
With 62 volumes and 26,000+ pages of content, the Word Biblical Commentary is a hefty commentary series. With this much content, how do you navigate it all?
With the Bible Study App, you can easily read and study the WBC anywhere. Here are 5 benefits of using the WBC in the Bible Study App (Screenshots are from the Windows Desktop version of The Bible Study App. Click on Images for a larger view)
1. Resource Guide & Split Window
Open your preferred Bible translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window. You’ll see relevant Word Biblical Commentary “hits” in the split window.
If you prefer to just read one resource at a time, you can open the WBC 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 WBC 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 commentary. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with these first two features alone.
2. Easily Navigate to Commentary Sections
Each section of commentary in WBC (covering a range of verses) is further divided into a number of sub-sections which each approach the entire set of verses from different perspectives like “Bibliography”, “Translation” and more. Each of the sub-sections has been individually tagged based on content, meaning that if you have a particular Bible passage open in the main window, the Resource Guide will display the commentary notes for that passage in the WBC for each of the subsections.
Using it with the Resource Guide like this makes it easy to drill down to one sub-section, then jump back up quickly and then back down to another
3. Search & Look Up Features
Search the Word Biblical Commentary for words or passages. Take “elder” as an example. You can search the entire series for where “love” is mentioned in the commentary series. You can also limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, biblical genre, or a specific book.
When your search hits are displayed, you can tap on the result to go directly to that section in the WBC. You can also choose to open the search in a pop out window making this search accessible for further study.
4. 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. For example, when I’m reading in Genesis 12 about Abram, there are multiple Scripture references in the WBC that help me with this passage. 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.
5. Highlight, Add a Note, Bookmark or Copy & Paste
Make the Word Biblical Commentary your own with the Bible Study App. Without having to leave your current study, you can:
Add a Note, Copy & Paste
Or Bookmark and save under your own custom category
Bonus: Cross Platform
The Bible Study App is available for your iPhone, iPad, Android Phone or Tablet, PC or Mac. With our our background sync technology, you can access all of your notes, highlights, and bookmarks on all of your devices with a free Olive Tree Account.
The Word Biblical Commentary set serves as an exceptional resource for the professional theologian and instructor, the seminary or university student, the working minister, and everyone concerned with building theological understanding from a solid base of biblical scholarship.
WBC On Sale
The WBC is currently on sale. All volumes are currently priced at $9.99. The full set is also discounted, along with new OT & NT sets. Be sure to buy these before the price permanently goes up after this month.
Zondervan has just released the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, featuring Dr. D.A. Carson as the general editor. Built from the ground up to reflect the most current 21st century scholarship, Dr. Carson and a team of over 60 contributors have crafted all-new study notes, book and section introductions, theological articles, and other study tools that specifically focus on biblical theology, which is the progressive unfolding of theological concepts through the Bible.
As you read and study with the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, you’ll learn more about the biblical writers, the times in which they wrote, and the larger purpose of their writings in God’s story.
Let’s walk through the features of this terrific new study Bible so you can see just how comprehensive it is.
Book and Section Introductions
The NIV Zondervan Study Bible offers section introductions to the Bible’s literary genres, such as the Pentateuch and the Historical Books. In the book introductions, you will find everything from the author’s purpose in writing, the book’s theme, a full outline, and relevant photos. This study Bible leaves no stone unturned. These introductions cover everything you need to know before studying any book of the Bible.
After reading through the book and section introductions, you’re ready to dive into the study notes. The notes will help you zero in on the unique and essential voice of each biblical book and writer and the contribution each one makes to the overall plot of the Bible. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible has nearly 20,000 verse-by-verse notes offering insight on every passage of Scripture.
You can access the study notes in conjunction with your Bible by opening them in a split window or through the Commentaries section of the Resource Guide.
One particularly valuable feature of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible is its library of concise theological articles that unpack God’s story by tracking the development of biblical themes as they are progressively unfolded throughout the Scripture. Notable scholars and leaders such as Timothy Keller, Kevin DeYoung, and Douglas Moo address theological topics such as “sin,” “creation,” “shalom,” and many more. These short articles provide the perspective that the book-by-book notes cannot: an overarching view of the Bible’s message and teaching and how the gospel of Jesus Christ relates to each topic.
The simplest way to find the articles is by changing the Verse Chooser to list view and navigating to “Articles Table of Contents”. This will display a list of all the articles for quick access. Depending on the passage you’re in, these articles may also appear in the Resource Guide under their respective topics.
Photos, Maps, & Charts
The NIV Zondervan Study Bible includes hundreds of full-color photos, maps, and charts to help you understand the biblical narrative. You’ll find incredible photos of biblical artifacts and locations placed within the study notes. The study Bible includes over 90 maps with explanatory notes located near their relevant Scripture passages so you know where key Bible events happened. There are also over 60 charts that summarize information and concepts encountered throughout the Bible. Many of these images will also appear in the Resource Guide under their respective sections.
Most Bibles include a concordance of some kind. The purpose of a concordance is to help you find passages that refer to a name, place, or word. You can already do this with the Search feature in the Bible Study App, but we took things further and included the NIV Zondervan Study Bible‘s concordance. Not only did we include it, but we tagged it in such a way that it works with the Lookup feature and also appears in the People, Places, and Topics sections of the Resource Guide.
Buy in Print, Get Digital for Free
We have partnered with Zondervan to do something special with the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. All print copies of the study Bible contain a redemption code that can be used to download a free copy of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible for the Bible Study App from Olive Tree. You can’t beat that 2-for-1 deal!
If you’re not interested in owning it in print, you can buy the NIV Zondervan Study Bible directly from us for use in the Bible Study App. Be sure to check out the other titles we have on sale this week.
The difficulties of maintaining a daily Bible study routine are many. Where do you start? How do you make adequate time for more than a cursory reading of the Text? How do you find the right balance of study and devotion? And the list goes on. The truth is there are no easy answers to any of these questions. But we shouldn’t throw in the towel and give up. Every Christian struggles with their Bible reading at some point in their life. Today I want to share a new Olive Tree resource whose aim is to help your daily Bible study. Let me introduce you to the Open Your Bible Commentary.
The Open Your Bible Commentary was written to encourage daily Bible study. The content of this two volume commentary began as a series of Bible Study books originally published by Scripture Union. The series’ intent was to create a resource that encouraged a greater depth of Bible study in a way that wasn’t possible with study notes alone. This format allowed the authors to give fuller discussions on introductory, textual, and background material that might otherwise be overlooked in something like a study Bible. The principal aim of the studies was to stimulate daily Bible reading as a means of personal devotion and life application.
These sensitively edited studies have been reworked into what we now have as the Open Your Bible Commentary. With this commentary you get short readings rich in content. Each passage is carefully explained, devotionally warm, and practically relevant. In its introduction, the commentary boasts four great strengths that set it apart from others:
- Accessible: The studies address the average, thoughtful Christian without assuming they have a prior background with the text.
- Digestible: No section is overly long. It is designed so that you can read one or two sections each day without feeling overwhelmed.
- Dependable: The commentary is authored by renowned theologians, scholars, and experienced pastors including: F.F. Bruce, Leon Morris, William L. Lane, and others
- Practical: The studies offer a diversity of everyday application. Sometimes you are given clear application, while other times you are left to ponder the truths for yourself.
All in all, the Open Your Bible Commentary is built for Christians who desire to engage with the Bible daily. After each section you are sure to walk away with a greater understanding of the Bible and application to apply.
Open Your Bible in the Bible Study App
There are a few ways you can use the Open Your Bible Commentary in the Bible Study App, but let me show you my favorite way to use it.
Since the commentary is conveniently broken into manageable sections for study, I prefer to use it as my daily reading plan. In the morning I read a section from the New Testament volume along with its accompanying Bible passage. For my evening reading I do the same, but with the Old Testament volume.
Unlike most times when I read the Bible, this time I have the commentary open in the main window. I then use the Book Ribbon to mark my current location so I can easily pick up where I left off next time.
Next, I tap the verse reference and open it in the split window. Now I can read the passage and the commentary text. I can also tap on any of the cross references and read them in a pop-up.
Even with the Bible open in the split window I can still take notes on what I’m studying. And, if by chance I want to do further study, I can quickly switch to the Resource Guide to explore my other resources.
What I love about this setup is it allows me to have a different kind of reading plan that still lets me easily study the Bible. I recommend giving it a try!