In this post you’ll find some handy internet resources (and more) to enhance your study of the Bible.
Good morning everyone, Zach here. As we’ve been adjusting to this new reality of quarantine and physical distancing I’ve noticed, as I’m sure many of you have, that there’s almost too much free time at home! Who would’ve thought? In this short period (which has felt pretty long) I’ve already lost interest in looking at screens. I tried to play a video game last night and it was about as exciting as scraping the bottom of a well-burnt pot!
I wonder if any of you are getting there as well.
So, I thought today I would post something inspired by my ongoing work with our high school students. We are currently digging into the Old Testament book of Esther. It is a short book, but don’t let that fool you. We’ve already spent over 7 hours together on Zoom plumbing the depths of what the story has to offer.
You might be thinking that sounds like quite a long time. Because it is. But! I want to give you some resources today that will enrich your own study of the Bible and help you dig into what may appear to be a short and straightforward story, gospel, epistle, or piece of wisdom. Even after 7+ hours of Esther we have two more sessions on the calendar. If you can believe it, there’s still more to explore.
So how are we doing it?
1- Bibles. Yes Bibles! Plural. With many different translations available, it can be interesting to compare how different translations render the same text. For example:
The differences aren’t stunning but take some time to ponder to yourself how you understand words like ‘testify’ or ‘witness’. Do they feel different to you? Does one resonate differently?
You may have different translations available in physical copies at home and it could be a neat exercise with children to compare different translations and see if they can spot the differences.
Try it with Psalm 23 or with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) or the whole Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) if you’re really keen 😉
If you don’t have lots of Bibles at home an easy and accessible way to compare translations is through Bible Gateway.
2- Commentaries. A commentary consists of notes about the biblical text explaining what’s going on. Sometimes focused on historical context, theological insight, languages, or contemporary issues in the text a commentary is an excellent way to become more familiar with a particular text.
You can get commentaries in book form that focus on specific books of the Bible like this one and you can find others that look at larger sections like these ones.
The internet also has lots of free commentaries. Check out here for a pile of options for commentaries. I will say that on the internet you might have a hard time finding recent stuff but there is still some treasures to be dug up from old commentaries.
3- Study Bibles. These are kind of a step up from your standard Bible because they have built in commentary notes that help to explain the text. The one I consistently use is the this one. It got me through seminary! A study Bible will often include maps or timelines that help to make sense of the stories we read.
4- Concordance. This is not a kind of grape. A concordance is a collection of every word in the Bible and its location. For example, if you want to find every use of the word ‘love’ in the Bible, a concordance will locate each one with a chapter and verse reference. An activity to try with kids might be to choose a word, like ‘love’ and find ten times where it is used. A concordance will also help you find words you maybe don’t expect to be in the Bible like ‘ostrich’ or ‘cheese’. Seriously. They’re in there. Click here for one of my favorite online concordance resources. But if you’re committed to physical books you can check out this one.
This should give you enough to get started on a deep dive into the Bible. I’d love to hear if you’ve found these resources helpful or if you have other things you use to enrich your study of the Bible.
If you’re having trouble with any of the links or just aren’t sure how to navigate the tools, feel free to give me a call at 519-326-2727 and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Know that in this trying time you are being prayed for and thought of.
Take care of yourselves and each other.
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