Online Tools

for Biblical Success

Online Tools for Biblical Success

Dr. David W. Baker, PHD

“Of the making of books there is no end” (Eccl 12:12), but the same cannot be said regarding book budgets or shelf space. Fortunately, there are resources available that can address one or both of these dilemmas: electronic resources that can be accessed on a range of devices, though I must confess a lingering preference for the feel of actual books. Here we will look at some paid resources and some available without cost. A word of warning: often the latter includes material that is in the public domain, meaning much older material that can at times be of some use but too often is too out of date to be of great value.

PAID RESOURCES

The most electronic extensive resource for biblical studies is Logos Bible Software (Logos.com) by Faithlife. It has thousands of resources that can be bought individually, or in various packages aimed at pastors, scholars, or interested laity ranging from one of over 70 works for about $300 to one of over 9,000 works for about $11,000. Apps allow access to one’s entire library on multiple electronic devices, and it can be used with Windows or Mac, iOS, and Android. The material is tagged so it is easily searched across the entire library holdings. Elements of the resource can be tried for free, some can be used for a monthly fee and packages can be purchased through a payment plan. One can augment holdings as requirements change over time. 

Accordance Bible Software (accordancebible.com) started with a special interest in biblical language tools but has expanded more broadly across the biblical studies spectrum. Usable with multiple platforms and able to sync between devices, it also comes in packages ranging from a basic collection of about 50 items for $19.75 (which can be tried free for 90 days) to an English Master collection for about $39,000, with master collections specializing in Hebrew and Greek for about $4,000 each.

Other, more limited collections of material are available from Olive Tree Bible Software (Olivetree.com) and Bible Gateway Plus (biblegateway.com). The former is also cross-platform and has apps allowing access to resources across devices. The latter is web-based and provides access to several commentaries, dictionaries, and other resources on a monthly or annual subscription basis ($3.99 and $39.99). Both include a number of free resources as noted below.

FREE RESOURCES

More and more free material is becoming available online, but it must be used judiciously. Several portals will be introduced here, and I would appreciate being informed of any sites that you might have found useful. Olive Tree has numerous Bibles in English and other languages as well as numerous other resources (with a mainly Reformed bent) which can be downloaded, while Bible Gateway provides numerous tools to be used on its website as well as on mobile devices. From its home page, one can look up passages in multiple languages, ranging from Arabic to Yoruba, with 60 in English, some in audio in addition to written format. Several (e.g., NASB) provide footnotes and cross-references. One can do quick word and topical searches showing, in addition to the occurrence of each word, that in the NASB ‘God’ occurs 4,192 times with the most occurrences (324) in Deuteronomy and the least (0) in Esther. Several commentaries are available (e.g., Asbury Bible Commentary, Reformation Study Bible, Theology of Work Bible Commentary).

While having fewer Bible versions, more robust as regards available online tools is the Blue Letter Bible (blueletterbible.org). For example, from the landing page, one can enter Genesis 1 under ‘Search the Bible’, opening each verse there and a button ‘Tools’, which itself opens 6 tabs. The first, ‘Interlinear’ is likely to be the most useful, providing the Masoretic Hebrew text, below which is a series of drop-down menus, the default being ‘Reverse’. It includes: (1) the English translation, each word of which can be clicked to do a concordance search of it in English; (2) the Strong’s number from the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance that, when clicked, provides much information (including the word’s pronunciation, its entry in the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew lexicon, and a concordance list of all references to the word, each of which has the same ‘Tools’ button); (3)  the Hebrew word and transliteration, (4) a button providing a recording sounding it out. This is followed by the Septuagint version of the verse in question. Going back to the drop-down menus, selecting ‘Septuagint’ provides the Greek words, their transliteration, clickable Strong’s number, sound link, and part of speech. 

The second, ‘Bibles’ tab gives the verse in 16 English versions, the Latin Vulgate, the Masoretic Hebrew text, and the Greek Septuagint. The ‘Cross-Refs’ tab provides material from The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, a collection of almost half a million cross-references, while the ‘Commentaries’ tab links to numerous written and audio expositions of the text, leaning toward dispensational and other more popular writers (e.g., J. Vernon McGee, Chuck Smith). ‘Dictionaries’ links to several older works which are out of copyright, while ‘Misc’ brings up maps and images of mixed usefulness.

In addition to the sites mentioned, readers should also keep in mind such resources as Google books (books.google.com), where sections of a surprising number of books are available for free. At Academia.edu authors make available pdf downloads of many articles and even books on a mind-boggling range of topics, including biblical studies and theology. Readers can also find resources, including electronic ones as well as inter-library loans of published material, through public libraries, and Ashland Theological Seminary alumni can access several useful online databases. For assistance, please contact Sarah Thomas (sthomas4@ashland.edu).

About the Author,
Dr. David W. Baker, PHD

PROFESSOR OF OLD TESTAMENT AND SEMITIC LANGUAGES

Dr. David W. Baker, PhD is a prolific scholar, editor, and brilliant professor, whose classes are stretching and informative. He is the author of a long list of works and is recognized as an international Old Testament scholar. One of his most fulfilling academic achievements is as an editor, helping others achieve publishing success.

In addition to serving as Professor of Old Testament and Semitics at Ashland, he has taught in a visiting capacity at institutions in Australia, South America, and Europe. Dr. Baker works extensively with Mobile Ed. His courses include “Introducing the Old Testament: It Poetry and Prophecy” (OT 102); “A Survey of Amos, Joel, Obadiah, and Malachi” (OT 232); and “Theology of Genesis” (OT 303), with further courses projected on “Introducing the Old Testament: The Pentateuch,” “The Literary World of the Old Testament,” and “The Social World of the Old Testament.”

In his 30+ years at Ashland Theological Seminary, Dr. Baker finds that he most appreciates the diversity of ATS. In one of his hermeneutics classes, he had the privilege of studying with Protestant, Catholic and Greek Orthodox students. Discussing a topic such as canon was enriched through having at least three different canons and perspectives within the same class.

Dr. Baker had an interesting journey leading up to his position at ATS. At the end of the apartheid era, Dr. Baker was teaching in South Africa. Unfortunately, the social and political situation was deteriorating and he feared for the safety of his family. That’s when God opened the door for them to migrate to Ashland, where, among cornfields and Amish buggies, there wasn’t much of a safety threat!

Beyond teaching and writing, Dr. Baker enjoys traveling, particularly to New Zealand, the Pacific Northwest and Salzburg, Austria. He also finds time to watch British dramas and police procedurals, read, listen to a bit of classical or soft rock music and spend time with his family, including four adorable grandchildren. Since now his teaching is mainly online, he is able to reside near the beach in Wilmington, NC.

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