Using Electronic Bible Software

Using Electronic Bible Software is a review of theWord free Bible software program for using with the study of the Bible and preparing classes and sermons. #theWord

Some Personal Background

In my ministry, I have used about a half dozen to a dozen different Bible software programs. That is in addition to all that I learned in Bible School and seminary. When I graduated from seminary in 1981, Bob Jones was not teaching anything that I was aware of as far as personal computing and Bible programs. I really do not think any of that was developed until the 1980s and beyond. They had programs like COBAL, but they were not attuned to Bible study yet. So everything I learned was from books, physical paper and ink books.

In my day, to find a topic like the atonement in a book, you would go to the card catalog in the library, look up atonement, or Bible doctrines, or Systematic Theology, or Soteriology or Salvation, and go through the books in the library. If something looked interesting, you would find that book in the stacks (shelves) and if nobody else had checked it out, you could put your hand physically on it. You would open it to the table of contents and browse, and then go to a chapter on the atonement if you could discern that it might have something on it. You could also use the index if there was one, and maybe hit a page reference (or 200 of them) that might be helpful. Finding 200 pages mentioning is another problem, because a lot of them are not what you want, and the author just used your search word a lot.

If you were extremely careful, lucky, or knowledgeable, you might make a link after pulling 15 or 20 books and finding little or nothing, but you might see a link with the word “propitiation” as the same thing or related thing. So that is how study was done in my day.

Bible Study today using theWord

Today, if you have enough good theWord (I will abbreviate it tw from here on) modules, you can simply pull up a layout with all modules, and search the titles of the books, then the chapter titles, and finally the text of every chapter of every book you have. This is much more extensive than the library’s card catalogue. Not necessarily better, but more extensive. While in searching a library card catalog, if you were unfamiliar with the precise terminology, you would come up with little or nothing. With theWord and a lot of modules, you can be presented with thousands of books and chapters mentioning. Usually, the word in a book title is a good prize, rarely given.

Nota Bene: See my websites for theWord modules, …

  1. twmodules.com General modules
  2. theword-modules.com Bible modules
  3. theword-dictionary-modules.com Dictionary Modules
  4. theword-commentary-modules.com Commentary Modules
  5. thewordtutorial.com Tutorial on using theWord

Requisites for Getting the Most out of theWord

You still have to know how to study the Bible

Without good Bible study habits, you will still not produce quality sermons. The Bible software available today will help you very much, and with most programs, any of them just about is better than not using any Bible software. What you can do on a computer is far greater and faster and better than by hand with a paper book.

Errors that people made in Bible study when I was in seminary still occur today even though people use Bible programs. The programs will not correct that.

You must understand and know how to use theWord Bible program

A hammer is pretty simple to use. But there are some other construction tools that most people are clueless on how to use, much less how to use correctly, and even impossible to use excellently. The same is true with Bible software (of any kind). While some have some easier interfaces (and less power) and others have more complicated interfaces and ways of doing things (and more power), you have to domain your tools or they will beat you to death until you do.

Mastering the Bible program is worth every minute you dedicate to it.

You must still have to understand your resource works

While you can master your Bible program and Bible study procedures, basically, if you do not understand your resource works, you will still be spinning your wheels without getting anywhere. Some basics here are in order.

Bibles

There are many different Bibles on the market. One variety of Bibles (here a particular Bible version is different what we are talking about here) is Study Bibles. These Bibles have notes at the end and/or on each page in the margins or bottom of the page. While you may be a dedicate Bible version user, it would be very much an advantage to get as many study Bibles as you can manage to use them in your studies.

Bible Concordances

This whole category is not null and void. First, with the proliferation of different Bible versions and many of these have a large following, a Bible Concordance to be of real use needs to be tuned into that version you use. Beyond that, a simple Bible program can search for any word in a Bible. So it is faster and more thorough doing it on the computer than in a physical concordance.

Bible Lexicons

While these are mostly all limited to those with some experience in Hebrew and Greek (Strongs is the except here), they are faster in their Bible program versions than a physical book.

Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

These are dictionaries that are limited to Bible terms and concepts. You need a good set of these, with probably ISBE is the best and most extensive. There are modern Bible Dictionaries which are more up to date, but really barring new archeological studies on words, the older dictionaries serve fine. An encyclopedia is a more extensive explanation and mini-study of words instead of a more abbreviated definition in Bible Dictionaries.

theWord has a function that will make a popup over a word in a Bible that it automatically looks up the word when you hover the mouse over the word. You can scroll the window to read even long definitions. This is probably as easy as this is going to get. It is extremely fast.

Commentaries

Every sermon worth its salt uses the Bible to explain something to the hearers. In this process, the preacher has to well understand the passage he is using, including the context, the historical setting, and any other elements of the passage. A good commentary serves this purpose.

Commentaries can be good or bad, depending on their theological perspective, but also on how long the comments are so that you have to read a whole lot before you get to what verse or phrase you are studying. The most common problem here is the commentary “glosses over” a word meaning or a verse even without commenting anything on it, or even saying a bunch of nothing of value about it. That is frustrating. Again, knowing your library is very important here. Even weeding out non-essential or not very good works is useful.

Nota Bene: Removing poor works from your library

With a physical library you quickly get a poor impression of bad works and you avoid touching that book again. The book just accumulates dust on your shelf. With an electronic library, that book will be picked up in library wide searches. Therefore it is better to just physically move the file out of your active library to some storage folder.

Nota Bene: Sharing good works from your library

In the links above, I have all public domain or works where their authors authorize non-profit use. Therefore, if you really see a good work, and you have a friend in the ministry, you can share that work with him. For public domain works and general permission works, this is not illegal. Best of all, it is not like loaning a physical book because you don’t have to chase that person down and ask them to return your book to you!

Individual Christian Books on Various Topics

Probably the largest category of books for Bible Software programs is this one. Books about anything Christian. Even secular history, Greek, Hebrew language, grammars, etc. While these books are not things that you will be accessing the very same book every week, when there is something good, it is usually very, very good and to the point.

While with a physical paper and ink library, you are usually greatly limited by your budget, but with free theWord modules, you are not. You can put everything you can find into your library, and eventually weed out stuff that is not that great. John Milton’s Paradise Lost is a classic work, but even though it mentions heaven and hell, it probably should be kept out of your Christian study reference library.

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