Bible reference materials typically are released not only in the traditional form, as books, but also as software—the latter format becoming an increasingly popular alternative, given the capability the digital medium has of enabling multiple products to be condensed into a portable, easy-to-use package.
The cost savings can be significant, although perhaps the greater benefit of Bible software is the time saving it affords. A world of information is only a click away, reducing the lengthy effort of leafing through countless reference books during study.
Bible reference software is available for use not only on personal computers but also on portable computing devices, including the ubiquitous iPod that is compatible with Apple computers as well as PCs.
For the technologically challenged, there remains a wealth of traditional reference materials to choose from. And whether you are a layperson, Bible study leader, Sunday school teacher or pastor, there is a wide variety of biblical reference books and computer software available to satisfy even the most eclectic of needs, no matter the translation, budget or format needed.
It doesn't get more traditional than the Cambridge University Press, which offers its KJV Concord Reference Edition with a glossary, concordance, dictionary of names and phrases, 15 color maps and gazetteer. Bold-figured cross references link passages of the King James Version (KJV) text. A presentation page and family record, gilt edges, two ribbon markers, and a thumb index are other features of this reference-edition Bible.
Another classic text revised for today's readers is The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Thomas Nelson). The concordance is completely updated with extra Bible study helps—including a 200-page topical index.
The Message Three-Way Concordance (NavPress) offers readers the studying power of three concordances in one hardcover volume. It includes a unique parallel index of key words used in the New International Version (NIV) and the KJV and the corresponding words in The Message. For the first time, readers can search by word, phrase or synonym in all three popular translations.
For students of all ages there is The Student Bible Dictionary (Barbour Publishing). The dictionary defines and explains hundreds of Bible words, names, places and concepts. Scores of full-color charts, maps, photographs and illustrations help clarify the text.
The Holman Illustrated Study Bible (Holman Bible Publishers) features the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), one of the best-selling translations. More than 1,000 four-color maps, charts, photographs, reconstructions and supporting graphics are placed within the text.
Also from Holman is The Apologetics Study Bible in the HCSB translation. The extensive reference volume features contributions from Ravi Zacharias, Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel and other apologists.
The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Baker) is a helpful tool for greater comprehension of the original Greek language used to write the New Testament. It includes a Greek-English lexicon and New Testament synonym listing.
For archaeology fans, there is the Archaeological Study Bible (Zondervan), which is available exclusively in the best-selling NIV. The study Bible features nearly 500 photographs of places and artifacts that explain the people and stories of the Bible.
Also from Zondervan is the Africa Bible Commentary, edited by Nigerian theologian Tokunboh Adeyemo. Described by pastor Rick Warren as a "monumental work" that would benefit every Christian, the volume features commentaries by 70 African scholars analyzing such topics as poverty, war, worship, prayer, race and ethnicity.
Among the selection of electronic reference tools is the perennial best-seller, The Ultimate Bible Reference Library CD-ROM (Thomas Nelson). It offers a vast library of state-of-the-art Bible study tools, including $1,500 worth of unlocked resources. Also from Thomas Nelson is its eBible for PDA Essentials Edition, which is readable on both Palm OS and Pocket PC handheld devices. Included are Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Nave's Topical Bible and The Illustrated Bible Handbook.
For Apple users, Thomas Nelson offers the Word Biblical Commentary CD-ROM Mac Edition. It includes powerful search capabilities and views of multiple translations of the original Greek and Hebrew.
The Zondervan Scholarly Bible Study Suite for Macintosh provides an impressive array of study tools, including three lexicons, two concordances, four analytical tools, three dictionaries and 15 other texts. Zondervan also offers its TNIV Bible for iPod, an interactive DVD-ROM.
For PC users, Zondervan's The Expositor's Bible Commentary, on CD-ROM, features the NIV translation, the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, and the 12-volume set of the award-winning Expositor's Bible Commentary, complete with its verse-by-verse insights and scholarly notes.
iPocketBible (Avanquest) comes with unabridged text and audio and is designed for devotional reading as well as serious study. It works with Apple's iTunes on both Macintosh computers and PCs. Using iTunes, you can drag and drop books or chapters of interest from the Bible or import the entire Bible for listening.
The KJV Franklin Electronic Pocket Bible (Franklin Electronics) features daily devotional verses; indexing of book, chapter and verse; and a search-and-retrieve capability by book, chapter, verse or keyword.
Other electronic study choices range from the software version of printed study Bibles to entire libraries of Bible helps, such as Scholar's Library (Logos Research System), QuickVerse (Parsons Technology), PC Study Bible (Biblesoft), iLumina (Tyndale House) and eBible Bible Study Library (Thomas Nelson).
A traditional reference library can be costly, but a typical electronic library costs a fraction of that and includes more study materials. There has never been a better time to stock up on Bible study resources.