This site focuses on interpreting and apply God’s word correctly. Over on the Study Aids page, you will find resources to help you do just that. But the question that may come to mind is, “How do I know I’m doing it right?” This post seeks to answer that question. Here are some practical ways to start learning how to rightly divide!
This kinda goes along with my last post. If we’re gonna slow down and notice the conjunctions, prepositions, and participles, we need to know what they are. More importantly, we need to know how they function. I’m not suggesting going back to school and becoming a grammar teacher. I’m simply saying that it would take your reading to the next level to refresh your grammar skills. If you’re not sure where to start, just follow this link. It’s a great site and it’s well-organized to help you with each topic.
Notice I said ‘notes’ not your own thoughts. We often confuse the two. Why is this so important? Because we often inject the text with our interpretations instead of letting the text speak. Instead of writing down what we think the text means, simply use the 5WH method–who, what, when, where, why, and how. When we prematurely interpret a passage, we miss what the real reason the author was trying to convey to his audience. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the interpretation of any given text will be the same as it was to the biblical audience. All we need to note, are the things the author said. Anything beyond that, at that point, is simply conjecture.
This may sound a little high and holy, but with the amount of resources we have, there is really no excuse for not at least learning the basics of Greek. The internet abounds with free resources to learn the biblical languages. One such site is Biblical Training. They offer videos of Bill Mounce’s Basic Greek Grammar lectures. And the videos are absolutely free to watch. You won’t become a Greek scholar, but at least you’ll get a grasp on the basics of the language. Biblical Training also offers several other classes, all free. There are also paid options to take certificate training classes. So hop on over there an increase your biblical knowledge by enrolling in one of their many course.
I’m a huge advocate for bible software–especially for Logos Bible Software. Bible software really streamlines your study. But there is a catch: it can be pricy–very pricy! However, there are a number of benefits that it offers that you just can’t beat. First, most bible software pulls resources from your library that is relevant to the passage you are already studying. This means saving tons of time trying to flip through commentaries, dictionaries, and map books trying to find the relevant passage. Most resources will pop open to the passage that you type into the search box. “But what about the price?” you ask. Luckily, there are a number of free bible software packages and websites that allow you to gain significant insight into your chosen passage. Of course, paid software will always be better, but if you’re on a tight budget, check out the free stuff below:
The Word – this software is excellent for free software! There are several download options and there is even a repository to download user created modules. All-in-all, you download hundreds of resources for absolutely free.
E-Sword – E-Sword is much like The Word. I’ve used both, but in my opinion, The Word trumps this software. Much like its counterpart, there is a site where you can download additional modules. Be aware that only the PC version is free. If you’re on a Mac, there is a Mac version that costs $10 to download.
Bible Hub – this site is very helpful with several English bibles, commentaries, and original language helps. I used this site pretty extensively before committing to buy software. It was a real life-saver as I studied in preparation for my Sunday School classes.
Study Light – this site is comparable to Bible Hub. There are few slight differences such as the ability to listen to audio bibles. In my opinion, it doesn’t offer as much, but nonetheless, it is still helpful for studying.
Olive Tree – Olive Tree was originally designed for the mobile platform, but also has a free desktop version. There are several free modules you can download, but to get the most out of the software, you need to purchase their Bible Study Packs.
Paid Software – there are only three main software packages that one can purchase. Before downloading, I would strongly caution one to examine the specific needs. If you are simply wanting to enrich your personal study, one of the free options will do just fine. If you are a theology student or in a pastoral or regular teaching position, you may want to consider one of the paid options.
Logos Bible Software – in my opinion, this is the best software hands-down. It’s pricy, but if you’re into original languages, ancient texts, and Greek grammars, this software is for you! It has a variety of tools that are useful and saves tons of time by pulling from your entire library only the resources that are relevant for your passage. Be aware, there is a steep learning curve. But that it is to be expected with any purchased software.
Accordance – this was originally a Mac-only version, but the developers eventually came out with a native PC version several years ago. It is inferior to Logos, in my opinion. But you certainly do get a bang for your buck in the number of resources that come with each package. I’m not as familiar with the interface as I am with Logos, but it is clean and pretty simple to use.
Bible Arc – this is not a download as much as it is a web app, but the site is working on a downloadable version. The cost is relatively cheap, $5/monthly, and you get a number of modules along with tutorials on how to use each one. They also offer classes on certain courses for a fee. The site focuses on methods of analyzing entire paragraphs as opposed to the other software packages that focus solely on the text. Biblearc’s real strength is in its ability to do Discourse Analysis, which is very important in determining the overall context of a passage. It focuses mainly on the relationships between sentences and paragraphs. Still, it is a very helpful site that will help you study God’s word.
Everyone of the the things listed, is what this author has used at one time or another. I can attest to the validity of the usefulness of each tool. I hope you will be encouraged to dig deeper into God’s word as you examine these resources and decide which one is most beneficial to you.