Bible Research and Study Tools
Basic BIble Background Needs
Before attempting more in-depth study, we cannot overemphasize the importance of having a good working knowledge of the basic structure of the Word: people, places, events. This familiarity will make deeper research not only easier to do but also help guard against assuming too much, or "reading into" the text as newer research methods are being tried.
There are a number of good studies available to help in this matter. Although all the notes are not in full agreement with a Hebraic worldview, we still have found that the Life Application Bible, whichever version chosen, has a wealth of basic background information, timelines, maps, charts and profiles of people that is, in itself, equal to obtaining separate study materials for each Book.
Barb and Janell are both certified teachers with The Bethel Series and would strongly recommend this course, or a similar one, if a basic overview study of Scripture has never been done. Here, too, there is not a Hebraic worldview yet the use of themed pictures to help familiarize yourself and retain the basic facts and structure could not be improved! We both credit this 2 1/2 year teacher training with changing and deepening our perception of the Word as a whole entity, including the covenantal aspects we had never been aware of before. It was also a catalyst that YHWH used to encourage us to further study, ultimately coming into Torah pursuance as a lifestyle. Without this solid background, Barb has said that she believes she would have been more uneasy about evaluating the Hebraic understanding, fearful about being led astray. This course is available only in congregational settings and licensure of the program is costly, beyond our local communities means and perhaps other small groups means yet it is well worth seeking out the opportunity wherever it might be found. The teacher training is far more in-depth than the congregational classes but either venue will provide access to the learning materials.
Janell is also certified as a Precept's Ministries teacher and would heartily recommend tools developed by Kay Arthur's ministry to study the Word. Again, though there is a love for Israel and a respect for His people, these studies do not reflect what we would now view as a Hebraic understanding of both the Old and New Testaments. Still, in Precept's classes, and for Janell in the teacher training, we gained a better understanding of how to do a word study and how to analyze the text more thoroughly than we'd ever known before. It was here that we became more familiar with basic research tools such as Strong's Concordance and the Study series by Zodhiates which continue to be a starting point for our studies today. Since the early to mid '90's when we were studying with Precepts classes, they have shortened and simplified many of their courses, due to the difficulty many students had in staying a longer course, such as a 6 month to a year committment for one study.
We also strongly encourage people to study for themselves to verify whatever they might hear a teacher put forth. There has long been a wealth of Bible study material available, some of better or lesser quality, but since the advent of the internet and now the burgeoning number of those teaching Scripture from a Hebraic perspective the availability of teachings is becoming overwhelming. We see a danger in too much focus on obtaining knowledge or insight from others while minimizing the need for one's own ability to study and show one's self approved as a good Berean. We also affirm the importance of learning how to function in relationship with others, both "upstream" and "downstream" as well as under authority while gaining insight and knowledge of the Word.
People often ask for a recommendation as to which translation is "the best."
Our response has been that it depends on the purpose, but that we never depend on any one translation alone. Just lining up several translations and comparing a portion of Scripture verse by verse will show you how the same passage is so often translated a number of different ways. This is usually an effort by the translator to make "sense" of the passage, in light of what they understand. We have great respect and empathy for those who accept the challenge of providing accurate translations of the Word. Every translator and every believer will have their own cultural biases.
Since our God chose the language and culture of Hebrew to express His Word and send His Son to us, we have chosen to try to focus and make our bias as consistent with His as possible. Even those who argue that the entire New Testament was written in Greek must acknowledge that it is thoroughly Hebrew in it's context. There are entire books written on this question so let these comments be sufficient here.
The King James version will never be surpassed for beauty of language, and is often the favorite of those who memorize Scripture. The New King James version maintains much of this grace. Most concordances, such as Strong's are keyed out of King James version so this is the most helpful to locate the original words used.
New American Standard and English Standard Version have been considered very credible, taking advantage of some of the knowledge gained since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Hebrew Names Version and the Scripture Institute of South Africa and David Stern's Complete Jewish Bible have all provided English versions that more frequently use Hebrew names for people and places.
Many of us here at our local community have found online Scripture tools to be of great help:
Strong's Concordance World Publisher
ISBN # 0-529-06334-4
We still like the Zodhiates series that encorporates the Strong's numbering system into a more "user friendly" form.
The Complete Word Study series includes several helpful tools for both Old and New Testaments by Spiros Zodhiates and company. It can be found at most local Christian bookstores, or online at Amazon.
Sovereign Grace Publishing or Hendrickson Publishing (same edition by Green)
ISBN # 1-878442-81-1
ISBN # 978-1-56563-977-5 (new edition)
Englishman's Greek and Hebrew Concordances
(2 separate volumes) Hendrickson Publisher (Wigram)
Greek ISBN # 0-013573-23-X
Greek ISBN # 978-1-56563-207-3 (new edition)
Hebrew ISBN # 1-56563-208-7
Hebrew ISBN # 978-1-56563-208-0 (new edition)
A good Hebrew and Greek Lexicon
Recommended: Thayer's or Brown, Driver, Briggs-Gesenius
Greek Thayer's ISBN # 0-913573-22-1
Hebrew Gesenius ISBN # 0-913573-20-5
Concordance to the Septuagint
Publisher - Hatch and Redpath
ISBN # 0-8010-2141-3
Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew
by Matityahu Clark
ISBN # 1-58330-431-2
Kleins Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language
by Ernst Klein
ISBN # 965-220-093-X
We strongly recommend doing a word study through the concordances and dictionaries before moving forward into the analysis of the pictographic meanings from the ancient Hebrew symbols. This practice helps retain a more balanced picture of the fullness of meaning. The paleo Hebrew does then help draw out deeper understanding of the functional nature of the language and metaphors used throughout Scripture.
The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible
by Jeff A. Benner, VBW Publishing
ISBN # 1-58939-776-2
The web site at Ancient Hebrew has many online free instructional materials as well as a bookstore.
Brad Scott has some video teaching materials available to purchase that take you step by step through the use of these materials at http://www.wildbranch.org/ResearchTools.html
Tony Robinson has done a thorough commentary through the entire Torah cycle, teaching one how to use thematic, or chiastic study. https://www.restorationoftorah.org/torah-portions-english
Hollisa Alewine has done a thorough teaching on the importance of the number 7 as it relates to the Holy Spirit, the days of creation, the Feast Days and the Assemblies of Revelation. Though it is a foundational study, it will be better understood when the student has famliarity with thematic study and Hebraic concepts on a solid foundation of basic knowledge of Scripture. This can be accessed through her site, through God's Learning Channel and through our SAM teleconference discussions of the study in audio format.
There are many fine resources and teachers beyond this basic list. These are among the most helpful to us in our local community.