Bible study tools come in all different shapes and sizes, but the most common resources usually fit into one of a few basic categories. They each have a specific purpose to aid your studies.
For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of different kinds of Bible study tools and what they can do for you, along with some suggested resources to get you started.
Bible dictionaries are a lot like English dictionaries, but they are focused on biblical words. Rather than providing modern definitions, they describe what a given word means when used in the Bible. They often include details like the meanings of biblical names. Some more technical Bible dictionaries will include references to the Greek and Hebrew, while others stick to the English.
- Smith’s Bible Dictionary
- The Tyndale Bible Dictionary
- Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
Bible encyclopedias are similar to Bible dictionaries in concept, but they are greater in scope. While dictionaries typically have short entries for quick reference, encyclopedias tend to have longer articles covering people, places, events, objects, and more as found in the Bible. Bible encyclopedias often go into much greater historical and cultural detail than dictionaries.
- Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible
Both Bible dictionaries and Bible encyclopedias are organized alphabetically by topic. When you get one from Logos.com, you’ll see links to it in your study notes whenever the text you’re reading mentions a topic it addresses. In this way, your FSB app gets more detailed and powerful as you add resources from Logos.com.
Commentaries go verse by verse or passage by passage through the Bible, or through a particular section of the Bible. This system of organization is called “versification” because it follows the book, chapter, and verse structure of the biblical text. Commentaries are meant to be used in parallel with the Bible’s text, offering explanations, insights, textual notes, historical background, and more. Most commentaries also include introductions to the books of the Bible, providing details such the book’s author, as well as when, where, and why it was written.
Study Bibles combine multiple study tools (such as a Bible dictionary and commentary) into one relatively compact volume. Like commentaries, study Bibles are versified, but the notes in study Bibles are usually much more concise and to the point than full commentaries. When sold in print, the text of the Bible is placed right alongside or above the notes and articles. The world’s largest, most advanced study Bible is free! If you’re not already using it, get your free Faithlife Study Bible now. You can also add notes from other study Bibles to your FSB.
Versified resources like commentaries and study Bibles offer a great alternative to the study notes included in your FSB app. If you’d like to survey multiple opinions while you study, add a commentary set or another study Bible to your FSB, and you can quickly switch between them.
Concordances are designed to help you find things in the Bible. Basic concordances have fallen out of popularity, due to the ease of searching digital Bibles. However, the more advanced concordances are still useful, due to their ability to search by topics and themes or even people and places, rather than simple word searches.
Harmonies take books of the Bible that overlap one another in content, and they show how the books fit together. They reorganize the biblical content to flow chronologically, so you can find parallel passages more easily. The most common variety are Gospel harmonies, combining the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; however, harmonies also exist for other books, such as Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Many harmonies only include Scripture references, while others place the actual texts in parallel columns. A few harmonies actually combine the four Gospels into a single text that flows chronologically.
Lectionaries are reading plans for the Bible that group texts into weekly readings. They often span three-year cycles, designated year A, year B, and year C. The idea is to provide believers around the world with a shared reading schedule. While some lectionaries include only the readings themselves, others include reflections on the texts.
- Lectionary Reflections
- Revised Common Lectionary
- Twelve Months of Sundays: Reflections on Bible Readings, Year A, Year B, Year C
Devotionals are one of the most common Bible study tools, but they have wide variety among them. Some focus on a book or passage of the Bible, while others focus on a certain topic, while others still cover multiple topics. Some devotionals include a year’s worth of reading, while others only last for a month. Some are meant to be read in the morning, while others are meant to be read at evening, while others still have entries for both morning and evening.
- Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional (included free with the Faithlife Study Bible)
- Renewed Day by Day, Volume One, Volume Two
- Streams in the Desert
Bible atlases are collections of maps that show the world as it was in Bible times. They are helpful for seeing how different biblical locations fit together. Many Bible atlases show the paths followed by biblical people during their travels.
- Holman Bible Atlas: A Complete Guide to the Expansive Geography of Biblical History
- New Bible Atlas
- Zondervan Atlas of the Bible
All the study tools you see here can be enjoyed in your free Faithlife Study Bible app. Buy one from each category, and you’ll have a robust Bible study library that will serve you well for years to come.
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Serious Bible study is easier with serious Bible study software. The Faithlife Study Bible is a great place to start, but if you’d like to study in greater detail, Logos Bible Software is for you. Its powerful, intuitive tools and vast libraries are the perfect way to expand your understanding of the Scriptures.