A Full Toolbox for Exposition Part One: Text Comparison
Does your Bible study solution offer all the tools needed to do good Bible exposition so you can preach the Bible using an expository style? That’s an important question before you select a tool, invest more money for resources to grow your toolbox or as you consider a change in software or adding a secondary tool.
Expository Preaching Needs
I believe all expository preaching requires a preacher to do inductive Bible study first. That means I will study God’s word without the use of any extra-bibilcal sources first. Then, I will do things like language study, comparison of translations and cross-reference checking.
Doing this kind of Inductive study requires a couple of things.
- Multiple translations – it helps to read the text in more than translation before going to language study
- Translation comparisons – It’s helpful to see how the various translations differ from one another so a student can focus on the places they differ wildly since this clues us in to complex translation issues
- Language tools – Greek and Hebrew offer complex ideas that sometimes English doesn’t give an equivalent translation
- Quick topical search and good cross references – the ability to quickly find passages that relate to the topics in my text helps me know how my text fits into the context of the book, the testament and the Bible
Tools to Look For in Bible Software
First, ask if your Bible software or a solution you might buy offers at the least the following translations:
Why those five? They’re the most used and popular translations today. Most of your congregation will likely read from them as you preach. I’m not a huge fan of the NIV, but more people likely will read from the KJV and the NIV in the congregation than any other, unless you’ve actively promoted one translation over another.
You might also want your favorite. I use the HCSB to preach because I love the way it translates the text into easily understood language while also keeping true to the original text. If the KJV and NASB represent more literal translations and the NIV or NLT represent a dynamic translation that’s not as “word-for-word” exact, then the HCSB sits in the middle.
Other tools to look for include the ability to visually compare the text. Some will highlight the words that differ between two or more translations. Some will simple put them in columns next to each other offer them in a parallel way with one line for each. I prefer the ones that offer a visual difference. Look at an example from Logos Bible Software. Below see the Text Comparison tool.
That’s just one that Logos offers. Here’s another way to compare the text using what they call the Passage Analysis tool which includes five different ways to visually see how the text differs in the multiple translations.
Notice Accordance 10′s ability to mark up a text to show differences between two translations.
If you’re Bible software doesn’t offers some form of text comparison tool, then consider a change. If you’re looking at buying one without it, look somewhere else.
These aren’t the only two that offer this kind of comparison. They’re just two that I often use. I’d love for the makers of other software or apps to comment below to explain how they offer this capability in their toolboxes.
In a future post I’ll consider the language translation tools in various applications. Then we’ll look into tools for doing cross referencing. If you’ve got a recommendation, let me know in the comments below.