During a recent segment on the Grace And Truth radio show, I talked about Bible translations1. The reaction I received was positive, so I thought I would go over a few study aids to compliment a good Bible.
First and foremost: Buy a good Bible with cross-references, a concordance, and maps (if available). Make sure to purchase a committee-translated, word-for-word, edition for all of your serious study. You can’t go wrong with the big four: English Standard Version, King James Version, New American Standard, and New King James Version. Only the Bible is the inspired word of God. Every recommendation listed below is man-made, contains errors, and should never be taken with the authority of the word of God. That being said, I believe any Bible student will benefit by adding these to their library of study aids.
A Bible Dictionary: For Christians who reject human creeds and stand on the Bible alone, knowing what the words in our Bibles mean is critical. Since we do not rely on others to interpret God’s word for us, we must be even more diligent to understand the Scriptures (Acts 17:11; II Timothy 3:16-17). Here are a few, good choices:
- Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by W.E. Vine. This is the classic in the field. Slightly dated but reliable.
- New Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger.
- Smith’s Bible Dictionary by William Smith
There are other good Bible dictionaries. Publishers like Nelson, Zondervan, and Holman produce nice versions to fit any price range.
A Concordance: These handy reference works list nearly every English word in the Bible and which verses contain them. In our modern age, a search function on a Bible program has all but eliminated the need for these. But I still find it easier to look at a page with columns. If I search for the word baptize, what happens if the verse I’m looking for uses the word baptized. In a physical concordance, it’s a little easier to sort that kind of thing out.
- Cruden’s Complete Concordance by Alexander Cruden. The original (1737) and still undefeated champion.
- Strongest NASB Exhaustive Concordance (Zondervan). This builds on the original Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance that covered the KJV (James Strong).
- Strong’s Concise Concordance & Vine’s Concise Dictionary (Thomas Nelson Publishing). One book to cover both these categories.
A Topical Index: These are similar to but different than a concordance. For instance: A concordance would not list John 3:5 if I looked for baptism, because the word “baptism” doesn’t appear. In a topical index, it does.
- Nelson’s Biblical Cyclopedic Index (Thomas Nelson Publishing)
- Nave’s Topical Bible by Orville James Nave
- NASB Topical Reference Bible (Lockman). Calvinistic on baptism as are most!
I pray this helps. You can find different ones to fit your chosen translation. This list is not exclusive and there may be better choices in each category. However, any of these will be a fine addition to your library.
1 Please see an article entitled A Word On Bible Translation in the bulletin dated September 23, 2018. It can also be accessed at north2ndcofc.org.