Sunday, January 12, 2014
Yahweh's Book - Knowledge Will Increase
Accordance Bible Software Screen Shot
(Image shows Accordance Bible study software with Bible passage, commentary, Greek New Testament, Brown Driver Briggs Lexicon, map, geographic coordinates, and personal notes panes open.)
“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”
The introduction of the computer has revolutionized man’s pursuit of knowledge in all fields of study. This is as true of the study of the Scriptures, as it is of the fields of biology, physics, or mathematics. Computer based tools have been developed that would inspire awe in the passionate Bible student of past centuries. No longer do men and women need to travel the world to study in the great libraries of universities, or the museums of nations. Nor do they have to pore over faded manuscripts by the light of a candle, or lantern. Gone are the days when a Bible scholar such as Erasmus was fortunate to have access to only a handful of incomplete manuscripts to create a translation into another language. Computer based Bible study resources are readily available today that bring together vast volumes of literature, commentary, and reference material on the Scriptures. Such a collection, though common today, would have been the envy of many ancient ecclesiastical schools. Neither is this material so expensive as to be out of reach of the majority of people. There are excellent computer based resources that are freely distributed at no cost to the user.
My own study of the Scriptures took a leap forward when I acquired my first copy of the program PC Study Bible from Biblesoft back in the 1990s. I continue to use this program, having upgraded it when each new version has come out (the current version is PC Study Bible 5). Not only did this computer based Bible software make it much easier for me to locate passages of Scripture by searching on a word or two, to find passages on a specific topic, and to access Strong’s Greek and Hebrew definitions more easily, but it brought to me study resources I did not previously possess.
One of the tools that has most transformed my personal study of the Scriptures is the Interlinear Bible on computer. Now, when I am studying a passage of Scripture, I can quickly switch to the Interlinear view and see what Hebrew and Greek words correspond to the English text.
PC Study Bible 5 with Interlinear Bible Pane Opened
(Click on any image to view larger)
In the screen shot above I have opened the Interlinear Bible to display the Scripture from Daniel 12:4 that is cited at the beginning of this post. You will note that the English text is displayed. Underneath each English word is the Strong’s Concordance number. Below the Strong’s number is a transliteration of the Hebrew or Greek word into English. With this view opened, I can click on any of the Strong’s numbers and the entry for that word will be opened in another pane.
Also, by right clicking any of the Strong’s numbers, a pop-up menu appears that provides me with a number of other tools. Among the most useful of these tools, and the one I use most often in my studies, is the Englishman’s Concordance Search. By choosing this option I can see a list of every place in the Bible where a specific Hebrew or Greek word occurs. This is a valuable tool, for it permits me to see whether the word in question has other shades of meaning, and whether the Bible translators rendered it consistently into English.
Interlinear View Showing Pop-Up Menu Options
There are times when the Strong’s dictionary definition of a word contains some error, or is deficient in not showing the full range of meaning of a specific Hebrew or Greek word. This makes it necessary for the student of the Scriptures to look at all of the occurrences of a Hebrew or Greek word in order to establish its meaning from the context in which it appears. For example, yesterday a brother in Christ e-mailed me regarding the Strong’s definition for the Greek word “aionios” found in Jude 1:7.
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
In the original Greek, the word translated as “eternal” in the KJV Bible is “aionios.” Following is Strong’s definition.
aionios (ahee-o'-nee-os); from NT:165; perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well):
KJV - eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).
Readers who are familiar with my book God’s Plan of the Ages will realize that I teach that this is an errant translation of this Greek word. If I relied solely upon the Strong’s definition of this word, I would be hindered from arriving at the truth. There are other resources available, however. I mentioned in the previous chapter that, prior to James Strong producing his concordance, Robert Young published Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible. Young provides a very different definition for this Greek word. Following is his concise entry.
aionios, Age lasting
The discerning student will recognize at once that not only are Strong’s and Young’s definitions different, they are contradictory. Something cannot be “perpetual,” which is to say “never ending,” and also be “age lasting.” An age has a definite beginning and an end. Robert Young also produced a Literal Bible translation. Following is the verse as it appears in his Bible version.
as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, having given themselves to whoredom, and gone after other flesh, have been set before — an example, of fire age-during, justice suffering.
[Young’s Literal Translation]
Everywhere throughout Young’s Literal Translation, Robert Young has consistently rendered the Greek word “aion” and its variant forms as indicating an age. The Bible student is therefore left with a quandary. Is James Strong’s definition correct, or is Robert Young’s definition correct, or are both wrong? Not being a Greek scholar, how would a Christian test the matter? One way to do so is to look at every place in the Bible where the word “aion” and its variants occur, and see what is revealed. It should become apparent from the context in which the word is found whether one, or both, of these definitions are inaccurate. I examined the Scriptures to see where this word occurred, listing the results of my study in the book God’s Plan of the Ages. Consider how nonsensical the following Scriptures would be if we use Strong’s definition of aion to mean “a period of time without end,” or “eternal.”
That in the eternities (aions) to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Even the mystery which hath been hid from eternities (aions) and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints...
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the eternity (aion) of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the eternities (aions)...
Since the eternity (aion) began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
If, however, we use Robert Young’s definition of aion as denoting an “age” then the verses above become intelligible.
This reveals an issue that Bible students need to bear in mind. Even as men have introduced errors into the Scriptures over the millennia, they have also introduced errors into their commentaries and Bible study resources. In my reply to the brother who wrote to me yesterday, I shared the following comment.
I would make mention of the fact that Mr. Strong was a Methodist minister. No doubt, had he embraced, and taught, the doctrine of the reconciliation of all men, he would not have remained a Methodist minister very long. I am not suggesting that Mr. Strong compromised truth to maintain his standing with the Methodists. What I would suggest, however, is that Mr. Strong was influenced by, and aligned with, Methodist doctrine, and this doctrine rejected the reconciliation of the creation back to God the Father. Denominationalism is a great snare. It leads to factions, and causes men to be fitted with blinders, unable to receive any teaching or doctrine outside of that which is endorsed by their particular sect of Christianity. Paul condemned such divisions in the church in his first letter to the Corinthians.
To be clear, James Strong did concede that some forms of the word “aion” do mean an age. In fact, the root word of aionios, and all similar variants is the Greek word “aion.” Mr. Strong has given us this definition of the word.
aion (ahee-ohn'); from the same as NT:104; properly, an age; by extension, perpetuity (also past); by implication, the world; specially (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future):
KJV - age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-] ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end).
James Strong declared that the proper meaning of the Greek word aion is “an age.” Nevertheless, he was not consistent in acknowledging this fact when providing definitions for the variant forms of this word.
One of the immense benefits of having Bible study tools readily available on the individual level is that the student of the Scriptures is set free from denominational and doctrinal bias. Rather than having to attend seminary, or Bible college, and have a professor tell them how the Bible should be rightly interpreted, the man or woman who yearns for spiritual truth is able to investigate matters themselves.
In addition to the tools already listed that are part of the PC Study Bible software program, I have a number of different Bible dictionaries to choose from. It can prove profitable to check the entries in these dictionaries to ascertain the meaning of a word. Following are some examples.
an indefinite period (Ephesians 2:7 Ephesians 3:5,21; Colossians 1:26)...
(Easton's Bible Dictionary)
A period of time characterized by a certain stage of development of God's grand scheme of redemption (aion) (Ephesians 2:7; 3:5).
(Fausset's Bible Dictionary)
we have the plural as the translation of aion, properly "duration," "the course or flow of time," "an age or period of the world..."
(International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia)
An era or specified period of time during which certain related events come to pass. As used in the New Testament, age generally refers to the present era, as opposed to the future age. According to the apostle Paul, Satan is "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4). But the age to come will belong to Jesus Christ and His rule of justice and righteousness (Hebrews 6:5).
(Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
Although one of the common features of Bible study software are the commentaries, and PC Study Bible comes with a number of them, I rarely refer to them in the course of my research. In general I have not found them helpful. They rarely contain deeper spiritual insights into the word, and are far more likely to contain personal opinion and denominational bias than some of the other Bible study tools.
Maps, and photographs of places and objects named in the Bible are a common feature of many Bible study programs. Additionally, one may find a large number of other features that vary from one software suite to another. A final tool I will make mention of that has been of great help to me is The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Whenever I have a verse from the Bible pulled up, I can click on the link for The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and I will be shown a list of phrases from the verse along with numerous references to other Bible passages that are related in topic. This provides a quick method to find other passages of Scripture on a specific subject.
Although I use PC Study Bible as my software of choice, it is not necessarily the best program available. Other programs may be more suitable to an individual depending on their specific needs and their budget. Two highly regarded programs are Accordance, which was originally developed for the Apple Macintosh, and Bibleworks which was developed for Microsoft operating systems. Accordance has recently come out with a native version of their software that runs on Windows, and BibleWorks can be run on Macintosh computers by using an emulator. Both are reportedly excellent products offering full-featured suites that are priced around $350 dollars. The price will be higher or lower depending upon which level of the product one chooses.
One of the recent additions to BibleWorks 9 is their BibleWorks Manuscript Project. Following is a press release on this offering.
BibleWorks 9 on Tablet Computer
BibleWorks 9 Exegetical Software Offers Breakthrough Resources
NORFOLK,Va June 28 - Bible students, teachers, pastors and scholars are in for a treat with the launch of BibleWorks 9. It introduced one of the most comprehensive resources for studying the original texts of the Greek New Testament -- the BibleWorks Manuscript Project.
The first installment of the BibleWorks Manuscript Project contains new e-transcriptions and complete image sets of seven of the most widely studied Greek New Testament manuscripts -- Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Bezae, Washingtonianus, Boernerianus and GA1141. The images of these ancient copies of the New Testament are also hot-linked -- allowing users to quickly find specific verses -- giving unprecedented access to the early text. The morphological tagging of manuscripts is an ongoing project and updates will be provided to users as they become available.
BibleWorks 9 also includes several important Greek e-texts and revisions – all enhanced for computer analysis. They include the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine text with Robinson 2010 morphology; Westcott-Hort with diacritics, variant readings and morphology; Scriveners with diacritics, variant readings and morphology, Trinitarian Bible Society Greek New Testament, and the Tregelles New Testament. With a click of the mouse button, BibleWorks users can quickly highlight differences between Greek texts in the main window.
“BibleWorks 9 takes a giant leap forward in terms of opening up the world of textual variants and text criticism,” said Dr. David deSilva, the Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary. “Even more exciting, the transcribed texts of the major uncial witnesses can be selected as display versions. I can read the critical text, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and others side-by-side, such that the historic witnesses come alive as real texts, and not just as symbols at the bottom of the page of the print edition of the critical text.”
BibleWorks has also added the exhaustive New Testament Critical Apparatus from the Center for New TestamentTextual Studies (CNTTS). In BibleWorks, when studying any New Testament Greek text in the main window, the information from the Critical Apparatus updates allows users to see minor and major differences between hundreds of manuscripts dating from the 2nd through 15th centuries. Plus, in the BibleWorks version, every manuscript is categorized in easy-to-read matrixes by Aland categories and time periods.
Not every student of the Bible would make use of this exceptional feature of BibleWorks 9, but for those doing exegetical studies, or developing new Bible translations, such a tool is a remarkable development. Of course, any student of the Scriptures may make use of this tool. If they wanted to compare variants in the ancient manuscripts of the Bible there is no better tool I am aware of to do so. Following is a video illustrating some of the features of this program.
You can also view features of Accordance Bible software in the following video.
The Bible study software that will work best for you will depend on your specific needs. You should clearly identify what you want to do with the software, and make your purchase choice accordingly. There are many Bible Study software programs available. The following is not an exhaustive list, but it does include the best known titles.
Computer Based Bible Study Software
e-Bible by Thomas Nelson
Logos Bible Software
PC Study Bible
Free Bible Study Software
The Sword Project for Windows
Free Internet Bible Study Resources
Blue Letter Bible
Most of the software programs listed above have additional resources (Bible versions, commentaries, etc.) that can be added to them at cost. This is true even of the free programs listed above. Although the core program and a substantial set of resources are included with the free programs, many Bible and reference work publishers will not allow their books to be distributed free of charge. Therefore, this additional material may be acquired for a fee determined by the publisher and the software distributor.
Additionally, it should be noted that many of the programs listed have versions of their software available to run on multiple platforms including Windows, iOS (Macintosh, iPad, iPhone), Android, and Linux. Not all software vendors support all of these platforms. To find if your device has a program available, check with the software developer.
We live in an hour when knowledge of all kinds is increasing, and is being made readily available to the individual. When it comes to having access to a wealth of Biblical translations and study tools, this generation is truly rich. How much value you place on the knowledge of God and His holy word will determine the amount of time you invest in the quest for truth.
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