It’s no big secret that I’m into technology. I got my first computer when I was 7 (Texas Instruments TI99-4A). That was around the time I got my first gaming system (Atari 2600). I was an early adopter of online technologies (Prodigy and AOL). And when the Internet hit…oh boy. So it’s safe to say that I’m what would be known as a “geek”. It’s a badge that I wear with honor.
When Christ saved me, He decided to use these inert desires and use them for His glory. Since my conversion, I’ve become somewhat of a collector of technologies that revolve around the Christ and His Church. From Bible study software to Internet filtering systems, I’ve read about or played with almost everything I could find. So it’s only natural to me that I should share what I’ve found.
This first post will center on Bible study software. These programs are not for the faint of heart. There are books upon books upon books that can cost you anywhere from free to thousands of dollars. That being what it is, Bible study software is an indispensable tool for those who study the Bible for sermon preparation or in-depth research.
These Bible study tools are available in several media: PC or Mac and Online. Let’s look at some: (There are also multiple mobile tools but we will look at those in a different post)
Desktop Software (PC or Mac)
Desktop Bible study software is some of the most powerful software available today. Bible verses can be cross-referenced to dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, and even other Bible versions. This type of software is a great value compared to buying the print resources separately but as I mentioned, this type of software can run anywhere from free to thousands of dollars. It’s all about how much information you need and how much you’re willing to spend.
Logos Bible Software is the holy grail of Bible study tools. There are multiple versions of this software differing in price and in size. Options include the Starter base package (191 titles with a print value of $3,500) for about $300 up to the Portfolio base package (2,585 titles with a print value of $78,000) for about $5,000. There are customizable packages that will allow you to include as much or as little as you need. Logos is an amazing software suite and is a favorite among seminary students and professors.
First released in 2000, e-Sword is a freely downloadable and distributable Bible study suite that comes at the low, low price of FREE. With e-Sword, the adage “you get what you pay for” definitely does not apply. Now in its 10th version, e-Sword is a powerhouse that offers both free and paid modules that will allow you to expand your library.
Similar to e-Sword in layout and concept, theWord is another desktop Bible study application that packs a substantial punch. Even with slightly less native modules, theWord seems a bit more intuitive to use than e-Sword. Also, there’s a handy eSword import utility that will allow you to use your e-Sword modules in theWord.
For the casual theologian, any of these software suites will enhance personal Bible study many times over. Personally, I’ve used theWord for many years and I’ve never been left wanting. Logos Bible Software is the real champion in this arena but the price tag is definitely an obstacle for most studiers. For most users, either e-Sword or theWord will be the better choice. And, hey, they’re free so you can try both and see which one you like.
For all of its bad press, the Internet is a powerful tool for the Bible student. There are quite a few sites that offer a multitude of resources ranging from simple to highly technical. The great news is that most of these sites provide their services for free and with the advent of internet-based (cloud) storage, it’s quite possible to study the Bible, make notes on what you read, and journal or track your progress while never saving a thing on your local hard drive.
Coming from the Logos family of products, Biblia is a straight forward site that will allow you to read multiple versions of the Bible. There is also an option to either create a parallel view (with a different version of the Bible) or one of the several commentary resources that are available. There are reading plans, community notes, and personal notes that will enhance your study. As with many of the online resources, Biblia allows you to purchase additional resources to add to your online library.
Formerly known as Bible.cc and Biblos.com, BibleHub.com is an immense site that has a plethora of tools. This is one of the most comprehensive Bible resource sites on the internet today. There are loads of commentaries, dictionaries, language tools, reading plans…you name it, BibleHub probably has it.
BlueLetterBible.org is another intensely resourced website that is a treasure trove for the Bible student. With inline links to concordances, dictionaries, and even related hymns and artwork, this site is extremely thorough allowing the reader to exhaust every avenue of research (along with countless hours) into God’s word.
(A full site redesign is scheduled to deploy on 09.02.13 which makes a great site even better.)
No list of online resources would be complete without mentioning YouVersion. This is the most popular Bible application in the world, with over 100,000,000 installations on mobile devices around the world. The website version will even sync with your mobile versions. YouVersion not only has multiple Bibles to read but also offers community and personal notes, over 500 Bible reading plans, and videos. While this site lacks some of the more intensive tools that the other sites have, it’s still an indispensable tool for Bible study.
As you can see, the modern Christian is at no loss for Bible study tools. God has provided His people with new and exciting ways to hide His word in our hearts. And these are just a few of the tools that are available. I encourage you to explore these and other resources in your pursuit to know God’s word. If you have any questions or any tips, leave a comment and I will get back to you as I can.