Bible Study Software
Many years ago I made a fundamental change in the way I study the Bible for lesson and sermon writing. My mind has always been good for remembering Bible concepts and phrases, distilling issues and putting together new ideas. On the other hand, my mind always seemed to let me down when it came to remembering where it was I had read that Bible phrase or concept. Remembering specific Bible text references was nearly impossible.
I had the same problem in my law practice. Remembering legal concepts and analyzing and breaking down issues was fun and easy. Remembering case names or citations, well, that was a much different matter.
In the old days of my Bible study, my inability to remember specific texts had me hand-tracking key words from a concordance to find the Bible texts I knew I needed for my study. I would then pull volumes of different versions of the Bible from my shelves to read the texts and then retrieve even more volumes of commentaries to see what others thought about those texts. Not only was this very time-consuming, but it detracted from my study because while I was spending my time looking, I would lose the focus of my idea.
All of this changed with the advent of computerized Bible programs. Using Bible software, it generally takes me only seconds to find the specific citation to the text I have in mind. Comparing different Bible versions is almost instantaneous. Viewing what other commentators have written about the text takes very little time.
I would say that my lesson and sermon preparation time is cut by at least one-third. And the one-third of the time I have saved, is the boring time spent just looking up stuff. Instead, I got to spend my time doing the fun stuff - trying to figure out what God was saying to me about a topic.
Not only did I save time, but using Bible software for my studies substantially improved the quality of my study. For example, assume I decided I wanted to look at what the Bible has to say about the ministry of angels. The NIV mentions angels 96 times. It would take me about ten minutes with my Bible software to buzz through all these texts and get a flavor for the different activities of angels reported in the Bible.
If my study focused on a word in a text, I could pull up the original word in the Greek or Hebrew and then quickly call up every place that word had been translated in the Bible. By looking at the different ways that same word had been translated, I had a better idea of the original meaning of the word.
Using the computer and Bible software has revolutionized the way I study the Bible. It has made me a much better informed teacher and saved me a great deal of unproductive time. The only downside is that when I am holding my Bible while teaching or preaching, I find that (thank you memory) I have more difficulty locating a specific book in the Bible because I never look texts up by hand anymore in my studies!
If you would like to improve your Bible study by using the same software tools that I use, there are two software programs to consider. For about ten years I have used Biblesoft’s PC Study Bible. I have owned every version of this program up to version 3. My own program is the "Reference Library Plus." Version 3 of my program is very powerful and easy to use. To this day it is the Bible software program I use most. Biblesoft has come out with a version 4, but I have not purchased it.
About a year ago I purchased the Logos Bible Software Series X "Scholar’s Library." I find the Logos software makes it easier to compare Bible commentaries on a specific text than my Biblesoft program. On the other hand, I generally use Biblesoft for most of my text searching because I find it easier.
The Logos Scholar’s Library is an extraordinary Bible research tool. Clearly some of its powerful tools are "above my head." I still find myself learning new things after a year of using it. It has special language tools that I doubt I will ever be able to fully utilize.
Every week I generally use both software programs for my Bible study. I took a break from writing a lesson to write this note. As I look at my program bar I notice that I have both of these Bible software programs open. Most weeks I use both the Biblesoft and the Logos programs for studying and writing the GoBible lesson.
UPDATE: After I published this review, one of our readers brought to my attention a free Bible study program called "E-Sword." I have briefly experimented with this software and am favorably impressed. Of course, the price is right! You can find out more about this software at the E-Sword website.