The next step on Logos Bible Software Sermon Prep helps us actually learn what the passage we’ve selected means by reading it repeatedly using the Text Comparison Tool. We’re talking about Inductive Bible Study.
What is Inductive Bible Study?
The phrase Inductive Bible Study refers to studying the Bible hoping to discover the meaning of the text without any prejudices or preconceived notions brought to the task. Seminary students will remember studying the terms eisogesis and exegesis. We call Inductive Bible study exegesis in scholarly circles. It means studying the text and discovering the meaning based on the words, concepts, setting, writer’s intent, audience and context. Eisogesis is the opposite. If a student fails to let the word speak for itself, then they might read into the text what’s not really there.
A lot of heresy comes from eisogesis or reading into the text what’s not there. We take verses out of context or don’t study them based on the original author’s intent, context, setting or the meanings of terms used that we might misunderstand in our time.
Inductive Bible Study leads me to discover what God’s saying to me and my audience. That’s why it’s the best approach to Bible study for Logos Bible Software sermon prep.
Steps of Inductive Bible Study in Logos Sermon Prep
You can do Inductive Bible Study using physical books and a notepad or you can use any competent Bible software. Logos Bible Software helps us study the bible inductively thanks to a number of tools. This part focuses on the Text Comparison Tool. The full list of Inductive Bible Study steps include the following:
- Reading the text repeatedly
- Observing what’s in the text without any other tools at first
- Ask good interpretive questions
- Diagram the sentence in Greek, Hebrew or English to see the structure of the author’s thoughts
- Find answers to questions and check the accuracy of our observations using the tools in Logos Bible Software
- Discover the Big Idea of the text
Read the Text Repeatedly
We’re going to work with Ephesians 1:3-14 as our text. I’m teaching through the passage during my Wednesday night Bible study at church. We already talked about multiple tools and ways to choose the text, so for this step, we’ll assume that’s a good text to choose, especially since it’s one long sentence in Greek.
Start by opening your favorite translation and prayerfully read though it in your favorite translation. I say “prayerfully” because you should begin by asking the Holy Spirit to guide your study.
You should probably also read the text in context.
- Read the entire chapter.
- Read the whole book if it’s not too long – Paul’s letters, the Pastoral Epistles, shorter prophetic books.
- Read sections in longer books like the chapters before and after at least.
Use Multiple Translations
Read the passage itself in a few translations. I always use …
- Christian Standard Bible – This is my favorite translation. Below I’ll explain the value of various translations. I like the CSB because translators targeted a readable translations that’s as close to word-for-word without sounding too wooden.
- English Standard Version – A slightly more literal translation that is also very readable.
- King James Version – The standard that most people grew up with in my church and is often the most recognizable translation for popular passages. It’s more literal.
- New American Standard Bible – A very literal and highly accurate modern translation. I prefer the 1995 update.
- New International Version – Not a paraphrase, but the translators focused more on readability than literal translation. I prefer the 1984 version.
- New Living Translation – The old Living Bible was a paraphrase, but they updated it in the 1990s and went for more of a translation. However, it is the least literal of these translations with a thought-for-thought approach.
The Range of Translations from Literal to Readable
If you think of translations or paraphrases as sitting on a spectrum, then put the original Greek or Hebrew text to the left of the range. Translation that sit closer to the Greek or Hebrew text show up on the left. We call these “word-for-word” translation. Above, I mentioned that I use the KJV and the NASB in my reading to get this more literal look at the text in English.
On the opposite end of the spectrum you find the paraphrases, like the Living Bible, the Good News Bible, The Message or the Amplified Bible. We call these “thought for thought” translations. We use these translations almost like commentaries. They helps us get an idea of what the passage means, even though they don’t show us the word-for-word translation of the text.
Most modern translations sit closer to the middle of the spectrum between literal and non-literal. Translators like to use the word dynamic or dynamic equivalent. That’s a marketing term that makes the ESV, the NIV, and the CSB sound like they’re equivalent. They’re not as literal as the KJV or NASB, but not as interpretive as a paraphrase like the Living Bible or The Message. See this spectrum for many translations in the image below.
The Eccentric Fundamentalist offered this nice graphic, which illustrates where the various translations sit on the spectrum. I don’t endorse all that the author says about the translations, but I really like the graphic shown above.
The Text Comparison Tool
How do we read the passage repeatedly using Logos Bible Software tools? You could open the passage in about five or six translations and read them. However, we can do better than that using a tool called the Text Comparison Tool. Before we do, let me suggest setting up a Layout as follows.
First, start with a blank layout. Click on the Close all panels button (see above). It looks like a small X inside a circle between the Layouts button and the question mark help button on the right end of the Logos Bible Software toolbar.
Next, open the Text Comparison Tool from the Tools menu. You now see a screen that shows your top five Bible translations in vertical columns. To change what you see in the columns, click on the hyperlink in that window’s toolbar just right of the reference box. A drop down menu appears.
- Type in the text reference in the reference box.
- Click on the hyperlink next to the Text Comparison Tool window. A drop down menu like the one above appears.
- Type in your translation abbreviation.
- Click the box to put a check mark in it when it appears at the bottom of the drop down menu.
- Repeat this until you have all of your chosen translations in the Text Comparison Tool’s toolbar above the drop down.
You will see a window with all of your chosen translations in the order you added them. You can now read through each column. However, you might want to see the differences between the various translations. To do that quickly, Logos gives you three options in the Text Comparison Tool.
- Show differences – toggles whether to show or hide differences between the various text compared to the base text (left most translation).
- Show base text – toggles between showing the wording of the base text next to the text of each translation or just show a red circle next to the words that are different from the base text.
- Shows the comparison in either columns or as interlinear. You must certain translations as your base text for this to work. For example, the KJV works fine as seen below, but the Young’s Literal doesn’t.
The above shows the Interlinear style Text Comparison Tool. It has the Show differences turned on. Without the Show differences, you’d only see the text without the base text showing up next to the wording that’s changed in each row.
Notice how there’s a little red dot next some of the words in the NASB95 column above. This denotes a difference between this translations and the KJV1900 base text.
In the image above we see the texts in column style. I turned on the Show differences toggle and it puts the words of the base text (KJV1900) next to the words in the NASB95 with a line through them. As an example, in verse 3 we see the word “
hath” with the line through it next to “has” in the NASB95 column.
Save a Layout in Logos
Now that we have the Text Comparison Tool set up the way we want it, let’s add our favorite translations and a Notes document window. Arrange the Text comparison Tool the way you want it. I have it across the bottom half of the screen. Open your favorite Bible. Then open a Notes document. You will use the notes document to record any observations you make you as reread the text repeatedly in your various Bibles.
To open a Bible, click the library button and then search for your translation by typing in the abbreviation. Click the title of the translation when it shows up and it will open.
If you already have a preferred Notes document, open it from the Documents button on the toolbar. Type the name run the search box. Then click on the title to open it. Now arrange the Bible and the notes document the way you want. You can create a new one for each sermon or for all of your notes in a book of the Bible, the New Testament in general or for the whole Bible. I don’t recommend the last one. Your document will get too big.
We’ll save the layout. Click on the Layouts button on the top right of the Logos Bible Software toolbar. In the drop down window, click on Save as named layout. A box opens right there. Type your name and hit Enter.
From now on your can open this layout by clicking the Layout button on the toolbar. Then click the Saved Layouts in the column on the left. A list will pop up. Click on the name of the layout you saved in the step above.
Now read through the text in each column. If you want, record your thoughts about the differences between the translations by create a note on each verse, for a single word, or for the entire passage. I do this by right-clicking the verse in my favorite Bible. A menu pops up. Select the verse reference in the right column of the pop up menu. Then select Add a note to “your notes document”. A new note will show up in the notes document window. Start typing in it.
In our next few parts to this series, we’ll look at recording observations in a notes document. You already started this as you reread the text. Then we’ll look at questions that the text might present. You’ll record those too and start to look for answers in the phase after our inductive study. In the last part of the inductive study, we’ll create diagram or outline of the text.