Because the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek this means that when we read it in English we are reading a translation of the original text. Today, many different translations exist. We recommend the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). This is the Bible found in the pews and given to our 3rd graders. Other common Bible translations include the Common English Bible, New International Version, English Standard Version, and New King James Version.
A Study Bible is an excellent tool for individual and group study. In addition to the scripture, it provides some commentary, usually explaining words and verses and providing historical, geographical, and often, critical context. Study Bibles include notes, maps, and a concordance. Since it is so readily available on the same page as the verse being commented upon, the commentary in a Study Bible, even though limited in scope, is extremely useful to the reader.
We Recommend the Wesley Study Bible (NRSV), it offers easy-to-understand explanations of core terms that cover eternal life, forgiveness, grace, heaven, holiness, justice, and mission. The Bible has extended references to works by John Wesley. This is also the Bible that we give our confirmands each year.
A commentary is a collection of articles written by scholars commenting on the meaning and context of Books and Verses of the Bible, much the same as that provided in a Study Bible, but much broader and deeper in nature. The typical “one-volume” commentary is over 1000 pages and can provide invaluable insight to the serious Bible student which would otherwise simply not be available.
Commentaries are available in print and online. Most top Bible study software programs today come with a host of valuable Bible commentaries included in their resource bundles.
The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary is available in the church library.
A Bible concordance contains an alphabetical index of words used in the Bible and the main Bible references where the word occurs. A Bible concordance is useful in locating passages in the Bible. If you can remember just one word in a verse, you can often find what you are looking for. Concordances are translation specific; different concordances are based on different translations. Ideally your concordance will match with the Bible you are using. A “concise” concordance contains most important key words in a particular version, but not all of the articles, conjunctions, etc. An “exhaustive” concordance contains links to all the words. It allows students to locate even the most obscure verses quickly and easily and helps them conduct thorough, revealing word studies based on the original Bible languages. Thus it is crucial for scholars to select a concordance that works with the Bible translation they use. For example, a concordance written for the NIV will not locate words used exclusively in the KJV, such as “affrighted.”
Most Bible publishers place a short concordance in the back of the Bible. However, there are more in-depth concordances printed separately and online. Try the Bible concordance at www.biblegateway.com or in the church library.
Bible Dictionary or Atlas
A wide variety of dictionaries are available, many with graphics, charts, articles, summaries and maps for children as well as adults. Many Study Bibles and commentaries will cover word meanings and provide maps, but specific reference books can add depth not found elsewhere. Bible Atlases and Handbooks provide maps for locating Bible settings and cities and background of the culture and biblical world. The New Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary is available in the church library.