Friday, July 28, 2006

Bible Tools

I'm always on the lookout for good Bible tools, particularly reference material that will help aid in high quality interpretation of Scripture. Two particularly important types of tools are cross referencing and word study tools. Comparing Scripture with other passages of Scripture on the same topic/theme is essential in getting an overall picture of Bible teaching on a subject. And because the Bible was not written in English, a student of Scripture needs to be able to study the original words in their context. In addition, it is often helpful to study words in relation to others. But how do you know what other Bible words are related to the one you are studying? I've come across a web site that provides an interesting approach to both of these issues. In both cases the product of a search is a set of cross references. Both tools can be found at the Bible Exposition website. You either type in a Bible reference to or a word you want to study and click appropriate button to get your results. The author explains that:
the cross references are unique to this site. They are constructed mathematically by analyzing the rarest words in the verse and looking for other verses with the same rare words. This certainly does not replace the painstaking labor of something like the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. However it is theology neutral and it does allow you to quickly find verses with similar keywords. I have found it particularly useful for tracking down imagery in prophetic passages such as Revelation and Daniel.
In the case of the word cross reference tool, I will quote the author at length:
This is one of those tools you will love or hate. It finds relationships between words in the bible based purely upon mathematics... This tool is designed do show which words of the bible are textually associated with each other. By textually associated I mean that where one word turns up another tends to. If two words tend to turn up a lot together then probably there is some kind of a relationship between them. At its very simplest this tool simply shows those people that are related to others and the main events they are related too. When I do a deep bible study I will often look up interesting words in a verse and see where else they appear in the bible. This allows me to see what emphasis the bible places upon a particular word. This is particularly useful when picking apart imagery as in Revelation. The problem is simply that this is a ton of work. This tool does all of that work for you. Look up any word and it will tell you which other words turns up in a way that is statistically significant. The data on these pages is entirely automatically generated using mathematics and computer horsepower. Note that no theology is implied. Look at the results and judge for yourself. I consider this a feature. This tool is turning up RAW data it has not been bent to anyone's opinion.
This is a fascinating, unique tool. Have some serious fun!

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