Studying the Bible Online

Bible study can be greatly aided by the use of technology. This has always been the case through history, from the use of the earliest book (codex) by the early church, the invention of the printing press during the reformation, T.V and radio broadcasting, bible studies and sermons. In more recent years, the internet and mobile apps have added a further level of engagement with the bible and serious bible study. Before listing a few helpful resources, it may be worth mentioning some of the drawbacks of bible study on the internet. I will name just three of them:-

  • Firstly, the web not only holds a great deal of wisdom and insight into the bible and reflection on the biblical text which can stand up to peer reviewed academic scrutiny, but it also contains a lot of material which reflects poor scholarship or which reflects an anti-Christian or fundamentalist ideology.
  • Secondly, using the web can be a distraction, as it is just too easy to move from studying the biblical text to checking Facebook, youtube, blogs or news sites. I personally use a free program called 'Self Control' (for mac only http://selfcontrolapp.com/) which means I can block, for a limited time, any distracting websites to allow more concentrated bible study.
  • Thirdly, our brains are being shaped by extensive web use, which means that we can approach the biblical text in a similar way to webpages by speed reading to ascertain information and jumping from one passage to another. See Shane Hipps 'Flickering Pixels' http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flickering-Pixels-Technology-Shapes-Faith/dp/0310293219 for an engaging short book on how technology has shaped our brains as well as our faith. We should seek to counteract this approach, immersing ourselves in a biblical text and seeking to understand what it is saying in its larger context.

Despite what has been said in the above paragraph, the web and various apps can provide a helpful way into serious bible study.

Study Bible Apps and Websites

There are a number of different websites which provide both the biblical text and a number of resources which can be used alongside it, including  commentaries and biblical dictionaries. www.biblegateway.com and http://net.bible.org/ are a good place for web based resources and http://www.olivetree.com/ and http://faithlifebible.com/ provide fantastic study bible material for both android and mac mobile products. Personally speaking, I think the faithlife study bible is the best on the market; it is not just a electronic copy of a print version, but is a study bible which has been developed specifically for handheld devices. See also: http://www.biblestudytools.com/ and the Biblical Studies Foundation which hosts a large number of bible studies http://bible.org..

Audio Bible/and Bible Lectures

There are a number of good sites online which provide first class audio content for those wanting to get to know the bible better. I joined audible.co.uk and used one of my monthly credits to buy and download a decent audio bible. http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B004FUFTF2&qid=1348050658&sr=1-1 I can then listen to this when I am out and about, or when I am reading scripture, so I can absorb it through both hearing and sight at the same time. iTunes U offers a number of theology and biblical audio courses from some of the world's top evangelical colleges/seminaries. Fuller: http://itunesu.fuller.edu Wheaton: http://itunes.apple.com/us/institution/wheaton-college/id430702922 Gordon-Conwell http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/iTunes-U.cfm

Another good place to look is www.biblicaltraining.org which offers first rate lectures and in depth discussion of many biblical books and themes. www.regentaudio.com also hosts a number of great courses which are available for a small charge.

Further Resources

N.T. Wright is an amazing biblical teacher and lots of his essays, articles and audio recordings are available through www.ntwrightpage.com. If you like a particular scholar, author or teacher, then it may be worth googling them to see what is available on the web or through search portals such as google books or google scholar. I regularly use bible software called https://www.logos.com which is a platform whereby you can add commentaries such as the excellent set called Tyndale. https://www.logos.com/product/8593/tyndale-commentaries.

Every Blessing as you dig deeper into God's word.

Jon Swales

If you know of any good websites which you would like to add to this list please email the church office.