Posts tagged Bible Study
Reading and studying the Bible are important disciplines for all Christians, but the concept of Bible study can be more elusive. In Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods, Warren starts out by saying, “I have discovered that most Christians sincerely want to study their Bibles on their own, but they just don’t know how.”
There are many classes, books and seminars full of theories and methods to teach you how to study the Bible. I took a class in seminary called Principles of Inductive Bible Study, and to this day I can hear the professor’s voice in my head. Every day the professor would ask, “What’s the first step in inductive Bible study?” and as a class we had to respond in unison, “Observation!” Then he would ask, “What question do we ask in the first step of Inductive Bible Study” and in unison we would again respond, “What does the text say?!” Often he would repeat these questions over and over until he felt we responded enthusiastically enough. He drilled into us what he believed to be the right steps for inductive Bible study, but his was just one out of a multitude of Bible study methods.
I’d recommend taking a look at How to Read the Bible Book by Book and How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart as good introductory Bible study resources. Learn To Study The Bible by Andy Deane, and Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul are also helpful for picking up good Bible study tools and habits. Study Bibles, like the NIV Study Bible Notes can provide notes, cross references and other insights into the text to help you in your Bible study. I have several study Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries and other resources that I consult when studying a particular passage of Scripture. However, don’t get too bogged down with study books and miss out on the truths you can glean from digging into the text on your own.
Here are some things I do when studying the Bible (don’t worry; I won’t make you memorize these!):
Context, Context, Context
I start by looking for the historical context: the author, style of writing, time period, audience and the historical background that surrounds the text. I then focus on the biblical context. I read the previous and subsequent chapters to get a full picture of the passage. Finally, I look for how the passage is applicable to my life.
I like to read the passage through three times. I write down repeated words or phrases, metaphors, similes, exclamations or anything that stands out. If anything reminds me of another passage I’ll look it up and compare. I like to pick out a couple of the repeated words and phrases for a quick word study, looking for other places those words are used in Scripture using my Strong’s Bible.
I like to re-write the passage of Scripture in my own words, taking into account all of the work I’ve done up to this point. I then summarize my study in three sentences or less. I’m terrible at memorizing Scripture, but I’ve found that re-writing the passage in my own words helps me to recall the verse, even if it isn’t exact.
Do you have steps for Bible study that you follow? Is there a resource that you find especially helpful for your study? Let us know by leaving us a comment.
What is the Resource Guide? The Resource Guide is your personal research assistant within The Bible Study App. When we say a resource is “enhanced” for the Resource Guide, it means it’s more than just a flat ebook that you read once and put away. An enhanced resource is a powerful feature in The Bible Study App that you can use to find what you’re looking for easily and quickly. Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias are two of the products that Olive Tree enhances for the Resource Guide.
Here are three ways The Bible Study App enhances Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias (screenshots are from an iPad 2 and a Nexus 7 – click on an image for a expanded view):
Open your favorite Bible in the main window. (I’ve got the ESV open in this example.) Tap the split window handle and drag it to a width or height you like. As I scroll through the Bible text, the resource guide keeps up with me and searches through all the books in my library for content related to the Scripture passage in the main window.
If you scroll down the Resource Guide results, you will see the section headings “People,” “Places,” and “Topics.”
Tap or click on the person/place/topic you want to learn more about. I chose “Altar” in this example. The Bible Study App then brings you results from within the resources you have on your device. I’m using the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible for our example.
You’ll see that the resource has the words “article to altar” underneath the book cover. Tap/Click on the book cover and The Bible Study App will take you directly to the article within the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible. After you’ve tapped on the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, you can scroll down and read the entire article without having to leave your Bible text.
When you encounter a map, chart, image or photo, you can tap to bring up a closer view.
If there are scripture references in the article, just tap the verse and it will appear in a pop-up window.
You can also tap the top right-hand corner of the pop-up window to bring up the option to open these hyperlinked references in the main window or the split window.
You can also utilize the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible as a traditional encyclopedia in The Bible Study App. Just Tap/Click the “Go-To” button and scroll through this awesome resource as you would a hard-copy encyclopedia.
The Bible Study App Search feature takes the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible to another level. Tap/Click the “Search” icon (magnifying glass icon) and type the word you’re looking for to find all the references of that word in the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible.
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.
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.
I’ll be upfront with you. I’m not going to tell you what Bible translation I think is the best. I won’t even tell you which one I prefer or if it may or may not have colorful illustrations that make Jesus look like a surfer from Southern California. I tend to agree with Pastor Rick Warren when he said, “The best Bible translation is one that is translated into your life.” In saying that, there are a couple of things that are worth knowing that may help you decide what you use for study, what you recommend to new believers, and even what you read to your kids.
Centuries of scholarship have gone into the English translations we have today and there are even some great books written on how to choose a translation.
The two primary metrics for how translators have interpreted the English Bibles we have today are based on:
1. How close the translation is to the original literal word (word for word).
2. How close the translation is to the original idea being communicated (thought for thought).
The challenge for scholars is how do you translate the original manuscripts in a way that makes them accurate and literal, but also readable and understandable?
For an example of this challenge imagine that I’m speaking to an audience in China through a translator and say, “Hong Kong is the coolest city I’ve ever been too.” If my translator literally interpreted my statement to the audience and said, Hong Kong is the coldest city I’d ever been too, they’d probably think I grew up in the middle of the Gobi desert (Hong Kong never really gets cold). I would want my translator to understand my culture and west coast slang enough to take the liberty to translate my thought, as opposed to my literal words; “He really likes Hong Kong”.
And so for centuries the challenge has been to translate the Bible into thousands of languages worldwide, maintaining as literal an interpretation while still making it readable and understandable. So where does your favorite translation rank in terms of being word for word and thought for thought? Check out the *graphic below:
You’ll notice this chart doesn’t say one translation is better than another but it is a useful graphic to understand where the different translations lean in how they interpret the original manuscripts. If you want to dig deeper, check out the links below for more in depth thoughts on the differences between translations.
- A guide to popular Bible Translations
- How we got the Bible
- A History of Bible Translations
- The Origin of the Bible
*Image courtesy of Zondervan
** Please note that there is no specific difference (other than their place on the continuum) between the orange and green Bibles listed in the graphic
You have the NIV, but what’s the next step in your Bible Study Experience?
Here are three ways you can enhance your NIV Bible Study Experience (screenshots are taken from an iPad 2. Click for a larger view).
#1: NIV Study Bible Notes
A study Bible in The Bible Study App is an easy to use and very powerful tool in guiding you in your understanding of the text. Many study Bibles contain resources such as maps, timelines, profiles on Biblical characters, commentaries and articles.
Our most popular NIV Study Bible Notes are Archaeological Study Bible Notes and the NIV Study Bible Notes. However, there are also several other Study Bible Notes to choose from. From Quest Study Bible Notes, and Couples’ Devotional Bible Notes, to Men’s Devotional Bible Notes and NIV True Identity Notes: The Bible for Women, we are sure you can find one that will help deepen your spiritual walk. Because study Bibles are uniquely enhanced for the resource guide they will work with any version of the Bible that is open in the main window.
#2: NIV Application Commentaries
After you’ve studied the Bible for yourself, it is often helpful to read trusted Bible scholars to see how they explain the text you are reading. Bible Commentaries can be an extremely valuable study tool. The NIV Application Commentaries merge the original, ancient context with right now, showing us both how ancient readers would have read the Bible and how we can connect to this living word of God from a modern context. Most importantly, however, it helps us begin the life-changing process of true application, showing how God’s word can continue to have a powerful voice in our lives today. The resource guide of The Bible Study App makes using the NIV Application Commentaries a seamless part of your study.
#3: NIV Bible Study Bundles
Olive Tree has bundled collections of resources to help you dig deeper into God’s word. These bundles give you the basic tools that you need like the study tools mentioned above. All of these wonderful resources are designed to be integrated into the Resource Guide within The Bible Study App for a seamless and easy-to-use Bible study experience.
NIV Bible Study Bundles come in the following Collections:
- Bible Study Essentials (NIV Bible, Dictionary, Cross-Reference and Maps)
- Bible Study Standard (Essentials bundle, plus Strong’s Tagged Bible, Essential Bible Companion, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery and Expanded Maps)
- Bible Study Expanded (Standard bundle, plus Key Word Commentary, Expository Dictionary, Concordance, and even more Maps)
- Bible Study Premier (Expanded bundle, plus more Commentaries, Bible Encyclopedia, more Cross-references and a Bible Atlas)
Bible Study Bundles are also available in the following Bible translations: HCSB, NKJV, and NRSV.
As you can see, these titles will enhance your NIV Bible Study experience to help you go deeper in the Word of God. All of these NIV enhancements are on sale now through January 27.
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: (screenshots are from the Windows Desktop App. Click for a larger view):
Bring up your preferred Bible translation in the main window. (I have the New Living Translation open to Romans 12:1 in this example.) Click the split window button at the top right of the screen.
Click and hold to adjust the split window to your desired size. Next, click “Tools & Notes” to see the drop-down menu and choose “resource guide.” 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 two images 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, the
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.
Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (MED) is a word study dictionary covering the entire Bible.
Here are three tips for Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary in The Bible Study App to enrich your personal Bible Study. (screenshots are from an iPad 2, click for a larger view):
ONE: RESOURCE GUIDE
Open your favorite Bible translation in the main window. (I’ve got the NIV open in this example.) Then tap the split window handle and drag it to a width or height you like. As you scroll through the Bible text, the resource guide keeps up with you and searches through all the books in your library for content related to the Scripture passage in the Main Window. If you scroll down the resource guide results, you will see the section headings “People,” “Places,” and “Topics.”
Tap or click on the person/place/topic you want to learn more about. I chose the topic “Fellowship” in this example. The Bible Study App then brings you results from Mounce’s Expository Dictionary.
You’ll see that Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary has the words “Article to Fellowship” underneath the book cover. Tap/Click on the book cover and The Bible Study App will take you directly to the article. You can scroll down and read the entire article without having to leave your Bible text. If there are scripture references in the article, just tap the verse and it will appear in a pop-up window. You can also tap the top right hand corner of the pop-up window to bring up the option to open these hyperlinked references in the main window or the split window.
TWO: LOOKUP FEATURES
For iPhone/iPad open the Resource Guide in the split window of The Bible Study App, tap the double arrows, then tap the “lookup” option in iOS, type in “Fellowship” and then tap “search”. This will bring up Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary article on Fellowship as we’ve seen before.
If you like reading your Bible “full screen”, try the integrated look-up feature. Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup, and More..
If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word. Like before, just tap the book cover and you can read the article in the pop-up window, or choose to open in the Main or Split window.
THREE: INTEGRATES WITH STRONG’S TAGGED BIBLES
If you have a Bible Tagged with Strong’s, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary is a great addition to your Bible Study library. This is also a great Bible study method to see how other versions of the Bible translate different scriptures. Since I have the English Standard Version (ESV) with Strong’s, I pulled it up in my main window and tapped “fellowship”. This brings up the Strong’s article and definition for κοινωνία (koinōnia).
From there I tapped “look up κοινωνία (koinōnia). This brought up Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary that I can tap then read the article on κοινωνία (koinōnia) in the pop-up window, or open the Main Window or Split Window.
This is how Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary has been enhanced for The Bible Study App to enrich your personal Bible Study. How do you use the Mounce Expository Dictionary in your personal Bible Study? What are some insights you have learned by using Mounce’s Expository Dictionary?