By JR on Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Bible study resources
Challenging around 17 centuries of Christian scholarship requires not only boldness but also a lot of resources. So I thought I might make a brief note of the resources I currently hold and have found useful. With the demise of the Bagster publishing house a lot of Bible-study aids are no longer available but I have been studying the Bible for nearly 60 years so what I have reflects the past as well as the present.
For a start, the Lexicons. I have a 1956 printing of Abbott-Smith for Biblical Greek and the 1888 version of Liddell & Scott for classical Greek. Both are good for extensive examples of the word discussed. Abbott Smith is in fact pretty close to a concordance of the NT in Greek.
And I have three recensions of the Greek New Testament text: The early Griesbach one, the still popular 19th century Westcott & Hort one and a Nestle version. The Nestle version I have is not by Eberhard Nestle but by Erwin Nestle of the Privilegierte Württembergische Bibelanstalt, son of Eberhard (with G.D. Kilpatrick) so has had the advantage of drawing on more early manuscripts than the original Nestle recension. It was published by the BFBS and is dated 1958. I see that I paid 12/6 for it -- if anybody still understands that notation..
Of the three recensions that I have, only the Nestle has been printed complete with the original marginal notes and footnotes, but I have had some advantage from marginal notes elsewhere: The redoubtable Companion Bible, where the notes are sometimes more voluminous than the text. And the notes are from the viewpoint of committed Christians so are probably a useful thing for all serious Bible-students. And another such set of notes come from my copy of the Geneva version of the Bible. I have a recent printing of it but the notes from 1599 have been preserved. They can be a bit combative but the underlying scholarship is surprisingly good for the times.
And, as far as cross-references are concerned, "The treasury of scripture knowledge" from Bagster is a huge resource. It gives related citations for almost every word of the NT. My copy is not dated but announces that it is the 27th edition -- so was obviously wildly popular among serious Bible students once.
And something I have which is now not available after the demise of Bagster is a twin-text (Greek and English) version of the Septuagint, which is handy for those of us who are familiar only with New Testament Greek. The Septuagint is of course the Bible version that Christ and the apostles usually quoted -- at least as far as the New Testament writers tell us. My copy was printed in 1879 so Bagster obviously held it in stock for a long time. I wonder were there any remaining when they closed down?
I have three concordances, a very old (1828) printing of Cruden, probably taken off the original plates, and a Strong's Exhaustive, both of which, of course index the KJV. To trace more modern text I use the "Comprehensive Concordance" put out by the Watchtower Bible & Tract society for their "New World" translation, which, being very literal, is a useful resource in its own right. I would like a Young's Analytical concordance too but I had to call a halt somewhere and I felt that three concordances should be enough.
And I also have a couple of Bible dictionaries, a big 1963 version of Hastings as revised by Grant & Rowley plus the very comprehensive Watchtower one, called "Insight on the Scriptures". Both of course are written from a particular viewpoint but that does not vitiate them
And I have of course a considerable range of Bible translations. I have just counted them: 8. I have had more but every time I move house I give half my books away so a few of the less-used translations have gone in that way. I rather regret giving away my copy of the Luther Bible in German, nicely printed in Gothic script.
Because it is very popular, I often consult the NIV but it is clearly the servant of Protestant theology so is not to be trusted. I say more about that here. For ease of reading I prefer the RSV or the "New English Bible". My copy of the latter is a BFBS printing of 1974.
Finally, I have many volumes of commentary, mostly written from an Anglican viewpoint, but despite their extensiveness, I have yet to find anything useful in them so will not enlarge on exactly which publications they are. I will probably give them away soon.
In my previous comments on Bible topics, I have rarely given much detail of the resources I was using so I hope this post will clear up any uncertainty about my exact sources. I also hope that the links and comments I have given above will point others to useful study aids