Monday, February 26, 2007

Bible Study Tools (part 5) - Handbooks

A Bible Handbook is designed to give concise background information on each book of the Bible. It is arranged according to the books of the Bible.

Halley’s Bible Handbook
Edited by Henry Hampton Halley; published by Zondervan. Twenty-third edition was published in 1962. Contains Photographic Illustrations, Maps, Archeological Notes, and various pieces of information. Most noted for featuring archeological discoveries.

Wilmington’s Bible Handbook
This handbook is huge. It is a compilation of the notes of Dr. H. Wilmington who taught at Liberty University. It is divided into two main sections, the first is a Chronological survey of the Bible, and the second part is a treatment akin to systematic theology. Just a wealth of information and highly useful outlines. Actually the more I think about it, I am referring to "Wilmington's Guide to the Bible." It should be noted that his handbook is different from what I am referring to. Also, Dr. Wilmington has a book called the complete Bible list. Very interesting.

Unger’s Bible Handbook

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bible Study Tools (part 4) - Dictionaries

Smith’s Bible Dictionary
Smith’s Bible Dictionary is one of the oldest Bible dictionaries extant today. Complete and covers people, place, and subject. Published by Thomas Nelson and edited and revised by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet. Highly treasured because of insights in archaeological discoveries.

Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary
The late Dr. Merrill C. Tenny, gen. ed. of this Bible dictionary. He was professor of theological studies, Graduate School of Theology, Wheaton College. Articles are written from a conservative viewpoint. The Zondervan Classic Reference Series of this dictionary is designed for the use of pastors, Sunday school teachers, Bible class leaders and students who desire concise and accurate information on questions raised by ordinary reading. This work was first published in 1963.

Unger’s Bible Dictionary
Merrill Unger taught at Dallas Theological Seminary, professor of Old Testament studies. He died in 1981. His work is full of colored photos, archaeological research, charts , maps, outlines, excellent background information on Bible characters and customs. Dr. Under is a pretribulationist and premillennialist.

Other helpful dictionaries are Noah Webster's "American Dictionary of the English Language" (1828) published by Foundation for American Christian Education. There are also theological dictionaries out there. The mama of dictionaries would have to be The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) which interestingly teaches the etymology of a word. (Etymology, hmmm...look it up!).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bible Study Tools (part 3) - Topical Index

The Bible has lots of verses that one may compare with other verses, or a chain of verses, in order to get a broad and comprehensive Biblical idea of a particular topic.

The New Topical Textbook
Edited by R.A. Torrey – itinerant evangelist. About 300 pages. Concise and I like this the most. Published by Sword of the Lord. Get this edition. Excellent binding and hardback.

Nave’s Topical Bible
Compiled by Orville J. Nave a chaplain in the Army of the United States. Published by Hendrickson Publishers. It features more than 20,000 topics and subtopics and 100,000 references to the Scriptures. Most of which is written out thus making it a little bit cumbersome to research, but highly rewarding. The index in the back of this book may also be cumbersome.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (cross-reference)
First published in 1836, originally containing roughly 4,000 cross-references; the newer editions have 570,000 references. The Best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself and this is the value of the Treasury. The original was compiled by Thomas Scott (1747-1821), an Anglican minister who converted from Unitarianism. Hendrickson Publishers has an updated edition of the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, which has 778 pages. Excellent cross reference. The New Treasury edited by Jerome Smith contains more than 670,000 references, plus extensive additional topical and word studies.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bible Study Tools (part 2) - Concordance

The word concordance itself means “of the same heart,” verses that containing the same word are arranged alphabetically for our convenience. It is said that the first concordance was made in Latin by Cardinal Hugo (died in 1262). Five hundred monks helped him with the work of arranging the 773,000 words making up the Bible. The first English concordance, which appeared in the reign of Edward the 6th, was compiled by John Merbecke, whose music is still used in the Church of England. For a time Merbecke was the organist of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. (Much of this information can be found in David Cloud's How To Study the Bible booklet, check out the link on "Way of Life.")

A concordance gives us all the references to all the passages of the Bible in which every word in the text is found. So a concordance is necessary in Bible study, since it enables us:
1. To find a place in which a word or a passage occurs – and what a time saver this is.
2. To obtain a list of all the occurrences of that word – excellent tool in a topical study.
3. To obtain a knowledge of the exact force and shade of meaning conveyed by the original Hebrew or Greek word which the English word in the passage translates.

Cruden’s Complete Concordance
Alexander Cruden compiled his work in 1749. The nature of the concordance is “complete” not that it contains every word, but every significant passage. The second edition of the Bible concordance was published in 1761, and presented to the king in person on Dec. 21. The third appeared in 1769. These both contained a pleasing portrait of the author. He returned to London from Aberdeen, and died suddenly while praying in his lodgings in Camden Passage, Islington, in Nov. 1, 1770.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
The author was James Strong (1822-1916). He was a conservative Methodist Bible scholar. He was proficient in Greek and Hebrew as well as some other ancient languages. As a professor at two Bible colleges he fought modernism. He spent 35 years working on his work until it was first published in 1890.
The nature of this concordance is exhaustive. That means it covers every word in the KJV Bible. Not only is it exhaustive, but every English word is conveniently label by a number which links it to its word in the original language. It provides a concise dictionary at the back, so that even if you do not know how to read the Hebrew or Greek, you may still learn its definition and see the accuracy of the KJV.

Young’s Analytical Concordance
Dr. Robert Young was a most gifted Hebrew and Greek Scholar who also gave the church numerous other works in Biblical and Oriental literature. The nature of this concordance is analytical because unlike Strong’s the corresponding original Hebrew or Greek word is found at the footer of the ‘word’ that is being looked at. So that you also find other words which are translated differently but using the same orig. word.

There are many other Concordances that are made available by other Christian Publishers. I like "The New Combined Bible Dictionary and Concordance" by Charles F. Pfeiffer, published by Baker Book House. It is certainly concise and handy.
Also I will be covering some Bible softwares that make 'looking up a verse' a snap.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Bible Study Tools (part 1)

Standard, Reference and Study Bibles

1. Standard Bible
A standard Bible is simply the Bible text without the bells and whistles of much or any help at all. This would be very useful because it is just the text alone without ‘headings’ or ‘outlines’ which could potentially shade your own conclusions.

2. Reference Bible
A reference Bible contains many types of helps in addition to the Bible text. To an extent, most basic reference Bibles contain these tools:
a. Cross references – these help link a verse (or verses) to another verse.
b. Chapter heading and dates.
c. Concordance – these help you find the exact verse by utilizing a word within the verse.
d. Dictionary – some reference Bibles have a short Bible dictionary which gives a short description of a word, and suggests other texts to look at.
e. Some reference Bibles have indexes, and glossaries. (Very helpful)

3. Study Bible
A Study Bible usually has many of the features that are already noted in a reference Bible, and perhaps many other materials:
a. Maps and charts
b. Introductions and Outlines of each book of the Bible
c. Notes and Commentaries on particular passages
d. Topical, Chronological, or Prophetic studies
e. A more elaborate Dictionary and Concordance

Some things to note about “Study Bibles”
1. Many “Study Bibles” advocate critical texts and promote a Bibliology that accomodates modernism.
2. Some “Study Bibles” contain false doctrine. Just remember we are here to study what God has said, not what man says God said.

Bible Study (part 2)

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12)

I am a MT/TR/KJV only advocate. There is a healthy discussion going on in the Jackhammer blog about this issue. When it comes to "Bible Study" it is important that we study to learn from God's Word, and not to criticize God's Word. In fact in Heb. 4:12 it teaches us that "the Word of a discerner..." The Greek word behind 'discerner' is 'kritikos' from where we get the word 'critical.' The point being: God's Word can and should criticize us, rather than us criticizing God' Word.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Bible Study

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

“If I could say something that would induce Christians to have a deeper love for the Word of God, I should feel this to be the most important service that could be rendered to them. Do you ask: How can I get in love with the Bible? Well, if you will only arouse yourself to the study of it, and ask God’s assistance, He will assuredly help you.”

“Word and work make healthy Christians. If it be all Word and no work, people will suffer from what I may call religious gout. On the other hand if it be all work and no Word, it will not be long before they will fall into all kinds of sin and error, so that they will do more harm than good. But if we first study the Word and then go to work, we shall be healthy, useful Christians.” (D.L. Moody, Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study, ©1895 by Fleming Revell Co. pp.5-6).

One of the most important of spiritual exercises a Christian can and should do is to study the Bible. The world is not short on materials which can aid an individual in this important matter. Fundamentally, a Christian must be careful to search the Scriptures. Not read about it but to actually read it. Read it, study it, understand it, memorize it, apply it, affirm it, meditate on it, and live by it. One can have all the tools to adequately study the Bible, but yet miss the point of actually studying the Bible itself. The Bereans were noble, not because of some social status but because of their receptive attitude towards the word, or the apostles teaching and they were diligent in examining it to see that the message lines up with God’s Word. May we emulate the Bereans in genuine Bible study.