So I wanted to do something a little different today. I was looking around my office and noticed I have a few books. To be honest, I have more than a few books and I keep adding more. This is partly because of classes and partly because of sales. To be honest though the start of my collection was given to me from my father in law Gil. He started the habit so I guess he’s to blame. The reason I bring this up is because when I am reading my Bible a lot of times I turn to these commentaries or studies if I am stuck or want to see what others think about the same passage. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I disagree, and sometimes I learn. I realized though that a good portion of people does not have the same type of library so I thought I would offer some ideas and thoughts. I’ll break down some basic categories below, but please keep in mind this is just a high-level overview not an in-depth look at all possible options. This is just meant to get you going.
Commentaries are great but to be honest, most people are not ever going to pick one up or read one. I love them but even I don’t read them front to back. I skim through to find what I need. I might read chunks but not a front to back kind of book. There are two-three categories of commentaries but I doubt you care. The most popular in a non-academic setting is a devotional commentary. This is going to go through a book of the Bible and give you thoughts on it. Very good for going deep in a single book.
*It is important to note that there are commentaries that cover a single book like Luther’s Commentary on Romans, commentaries that cover a few books like Alter’s commentary on the Wisdom books, and whole Bible commentaries like MacDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary.
Bible Handbooks are like commentaries but smaller and for the books of the Bible. They usually have a few pages dedicated to a book and offer background and highlights. Some are bigger than others but they are great to have because it can fill in some needed information about the book, author, and other relevant background info. Halley’s a good one because it does some chapter breakdown, but the Holman Illustrated is good as well because it is smaller.
Software is in its own category because there are so many options and ways to customize. If you watch the video then you can see the one I use. There are some free/cheap options like Word Search or E-Sword and I have used both. Word Search is nice and is free and then you buy books to add to it (some are free). I have used Logos in the past because a friend of mine has it and it is great but you need some money to invest in that one. Accordance is another but I have never used it. It is supposed to be as good as Logos. For websites, you can use them to get some help but be weary there are a lot of fruitcakes out there.
I saved Study Bibles for last because this one of those things you should get. A study Bible is like having a commentary in the Bible. There are hundreds to choose from depending on what you are looking for. There are application study Bibles that tell you what to do with a Scripture, women’s Bibles, men’s Bibles, military Bible’s, children’s Bibles, apologetic Bibles, and just about anything else you can think of. They are great to have and I used one for years as my daily reader. They provide just a little info or help on almost every verse and are a great resource.
Why get any of these things, though? I mean can’t you just read the Bible and go from there? Sure you can. The Holy Spirit is more than capable of teaching you what the Word says if you are listening. But adding extra things into your Bible study is not about hearing or not hearing from the Holy Spirit. Instead, it is about going deeper. It is about digging deeper and adding to your faith knowledge. How do you know though if what you think the Holy Spirit is telling you is true? Maybe you are reading your own bias into the text. What if you pick up a study note that says there is no mention of three kings just three types of gifts would that change the way you read the section? What about reading and finding out that Isaac was not a little boy during the testing of Abraham. He was a young man somewhere between 18-30. That kind of changes things doesn’t it. We add in these things because we don’t know everything. We should never assume we do. That is arrogance. So grab your Bible, study notes, highlighter, or tablet and dig deep.
Just a thought,