Well hey there guys! We are continuing to talk about some ways we can engage with Scripture more in our day-to-day lives. We’ve talked about several resources over the past couple of weeks and I hope they’ve been really helpful to you!
Today, we are going to talk about a resource for those who are interested in really doing a deeper dive on Scripture. Perhaps you are really working hard to study a particular passage, or maybe there’s just a part of Scripture that’s really confusing to you and you’re looking for a way to help it make sense. Hopefully today’s resource will help to you in that endeavor.
It’s called the Blue Letter Bible. The Blue Letter Bible (I’m going to call it BLB for short) is an awesome, free, online resource that’s very helpful in several ways, but specifically aimed at linguistic studies. If you were unaware, the Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew (the vast majority of the Old Testament), Aramaic (a small portion of the book of Daniel), and Koine Greek (the New Testament). So, assuming that you do not typically read things in those languages (which I think is all of us), then you are reading a translation of the Scriptures. The most common one is the NIV (New International Version), but there are a ton of other good ones as well.
The problem with a translation, though, is that sometimes there are some linguistic constraints in our language that weren’t present in the ancient languages of the Bible. For example, the Greek language had several different words to describe love; one was for a familial type love, another word to describe unconditional love (the love of God), another word to describe the sexual part of love for those engaged in that type of relationship, and so forth. But in the English, we have just one word that conveys all those meanings and more: love. That’s just one example, but there are several points in Scripture where the smart guys who have worked hard to translate Scripture into English simply were limited by our language in finding a word or words that accurately convey the meaning of the Bible text without being too confusing or wordy. So, that’s where a foray into word studies can be great.
And that’s what’s so great about the Blue Letter Bible. Simply go to http://www.blueletterbible.org and in the window that says “Search the Bible,” type whatever verse or passage it is that you’re interested in looking up, along with the translation you want to use. Immediately, you’ll be taken to a screen that has the text of the verse with several boxes next to it, sort of like this:
Each box has a different resource available to you for a deeper dive of Scripture!
K: Clicking on the K button will show you correlating verses that use the same Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic words in the text you are reading, and it will also show other instances in the Bible that might inform our reading of the text. For instance, let’s say that I wanted to learn more about the “throne” of God. By clicking the K button, I can see other places in Scripture where the same word is used, and I can also see other passages related to the throne of God (where the word “throne” may or may not be explicitly used).
C: This, to me, is the most useful part of the BLB. The C stands for concordance. By clicking here, you can see every word used in the original text, and then click a number next to each word (for example, G5485 if we wanted to look at uses of the word “grace” in Hebrews 4:16 above). This will take you to a screen where you can see how many times this word is used in all of Scripture, and the meanings it has all throughout Scripture. This is a very useful tool if you want to do a deeper dive on a passage of Scripture.
L: This brings up all available commentaries for that particular verse. A commentary is a work written by a Bible scholar who’s really done the hard work of analyzing everything pertinent to a verse, and then they’ve recorded their findings to help us interpret Scripture properly.
V: This brings up all the versions of a particular verse. In the example above, we’re looking at Hebrews in the NIV. Want to see how it reads in the King James? Click this button and you’ll see all the versions available. Some are easier to read than others while some are more precise in terms of their word usage, so reading in other versions of the Bible can also be an extremely helpful practice.
D: The D button takes you to any Bible dictionary references available for a verse. They tend to be similar to commentaries, but they have more of a focus on the word usage than a commentary would.
There is also a button that is sometimes highlighted for certain verses but not for others that looks like a music note (in our example, you can see it for Hebrews 4:16, but not for the other verses). This is a hymn directory. If there’s a hymn based upon a particular verse, you can actually find it here!
The BLB has it all. It’s kind of a heady resource, and might not be of use to everyone. But if you’re looking to do a deeper dive on a passage, this is a great place to start. I used the BLB a lot through college to write and research as I was working on really understanding some pieces of Scripture. If you’re looking to really understand, I’d highly recommend this resource to you! Check out http://www.blueletterbible.org and and get started!