Bible Study Tools

There are some reference books that any serious student of the Bible should have at hand.  Of course, there are many special-edition Bibles that include abbreviated versions of these tools, and they are handy when you are on the go.  My “study Bible” is the best of these that I’ve ever found.  While I don’t always agree with the commentator’s analysis, the tools he has included in the back, and the way they are incorporated into the scriptures throughout, are second to none.  It’s The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible in the New American Standard translation, compiled and edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Th. D., published by AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 37422 (ISBN 0-89957-690-7).  This edition is responsible for opening the original Greek language of the New Testament to me in simple, reliable ways, and I highly recommend it.  The tools included in the back are:

  • a key to the grammatical codes used  (for instance, “ao” beside a word means that it is in the “aorist tense”)
  • definitions of the grammatical types (for instance, what “aorist” means)
  • a “lexicon” (dictionary) of selected Hebrew Old Testament words, keyed to Strong’s Concordance numbers
  • a lexicon of selected Greek New Testament words, also keyed to Strong’s Concordance numbers
  • an abbreviated concordance
  • a pronunciation guide for the Greek alphabet
  • the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary from Strong’s Concordance
  • and the Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, also from Strong’s Concordance

The first half of Ephesians 2:8 looks like this in the Zodhiates Reference Bible:

For by grace5485 you have been saved4982 through faith4102;

The superscripted numbers are Strong’s Concordance reference numbers.  The fact that they’re in boldface type means that they’re explained in Zodhiates’ lexicon in the back, and the underlining means that the original Greek was a single word that was translated into a single English word.  (Sometimes the Greek language uses a single word that has to be translated into several English words, such as the Greek word that has been translated into “made us alive together” in Ephesians 2:5.)

This is a powerful set of resources all contained in a single volume, and the believer who wants to begin to learn more about what the Bible really says will benefit greatly from this particular study Bible.  The list of additional resources below is simply an expansion on these same and similar resources, in their original, full, separate volumes:

  • Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (in a version to match the version of your study Bible)
  • Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr.)
  • Once you have gotten your feet wet with a little Greek, and God is leading you to study Greek in more depth, you’ll want one of several available “Greek Testaments”.  I use the United Bible Societies’ The Greek New Testament (Aland, Black, Martini, Metzger and Wikgren).  You may prefer to get an “interlinear New Testament” that puts the English and the Greek side-by-side on the same page.  The Greek Testament I use is exactly that — the New Testament in Greek only.  It includes information on which ancient manuscripts are drawn upon, and what variations there are between the manuscripts — if you want to really get into Greek scholarship.

I’d caution you against textbooks designed for the college classroom because they really need a college professor to guide you through them.  Similarly, I’d steer clear of “New Testament Greek for Dummies” (if there is such a thing).  If you want to embark on more Greek than the tools in the back of the Zodhiates study Bible, your best bet is probably to find someone in your church who already knows some Greek, and woo them into sharing their expertise with you.

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