Want to go a bit deeper in your Bible study? Or maybe you’ve only done Bible study in a group with published curriculum and you’re ready to try your hand at studying on your own! The list below will help you start your own study library. It includes trusted Bible study resources from 7 different categories. Even one or two from each category will be a great start to your resource library. Some resources, like Bible translations, can be accessed online. In fact, come by next Monday for my list of Online Bible Study Tools!

  1. Several recent translations of the Bible – Since the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek, the vast Bible study resourcesmajority of us must read a translated version. If you’ve ever studied a second language, you know there isn’t always one single way to translate a word from one language to another. That’s one reason so many solid English translations are available today. Another reason for such variety is the translation technique. There are three basic kinds of translations. First, some English versions adhere as close to the grammar and syntax of the original language as possible producing what is known as a “formal equivalent” or “word-for-word” translation. Others, producing a translation more readable for today’s English speakers, are considered a “thought-for-thought” or dynamic equivalent translation. Finally, “paraphrases,” like The Message, depart the furthest from the original language but provide a fresh reading experience. One word of caution: Paraphrases can be good for some devotional reading, but it wouldn’t be wise for a translation to be your primary Bible reading or the version you use for study. Best advice: Read your passage of study in more than one translation and compare them for greater understanding. Some good ones to try:
    • New International Version (combines word-for-word with thought-for-thought)
    • New American Standard Bible (word-for-word)
    • Amplified Bible (combines word-for-word with thought-for-thought)
    • English Standard Version (word-for-word)
    • New Living Translation (thought-for-thought)
    • List of well-known versions with their translation technique
  2. Exhaustive Concordance – If you don’t have any other tool, you need to have this index of every word in the Bible. Get one that corresponds to your primary translation. Recommended:
    • The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance
  3. Bible Dictionary – Explains many of the words, topics, customs and traditions in the Bible. It also includes historical, geographical, cultural, and archeological information. A few to try:
    • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
    • Illustrated Bible Dictionary
    • Tyndale Bible Dictionary
    • Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary
    • New International Bible Dictionary
  4. Topical Bible – Similar to a concordance but organizes by topic rather than words. A couple to try:
    • Nave’s Topical Bible
    • Zondervan NIV Nave’s Topical Bible
  5. Bible Handbook – Combination of an encyclopedia and commentary in a concise form. It is arranged by Bible book and includes background notes, brief commentary, maps, charts, and more. Look for one of these:
    • Halley’s Bible Handbook
    • Holman Bible Handbook
    • The New Unger’s Bible Handbook
  6. Word Studies – Look up the original words and their meanings without knowing Greek or Hebrew. Here are a few resources to try:
    • Mounce’s Compete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words
    • The Complete Word Study New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates, AMG Publishers
    • The Complete Word Study Old Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates, AMG Publishers
    • Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
    • Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words
  7. Commentaries – biblical scholars interpret and explain a particular text of the Bible based on their study of the background, language, etc. Keep in mind these are written by humans and are not infallible. But here are some good ones to try:
    • Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale. Provides biblical scholarship and commentary on every passage of the Bible in a user-friendly format (One volume)
    • The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Craig S. Keener, Intervarsity Press
    • The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Walton, Matthews & Chavalas, Intervarsity Press
    • The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan,Set of 12 volumes covers the whole Bible

Bible study is just one element of Christian discipleship. See my Free Resources page for other discipleship tools. And don’t forget to come back next Monday for my list of online study resources. Click here for a printable PDF version of this Study Resources list.

Let’s share! What’s your favorite Bible study resource?


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