The Electric Bible

An appendix on a previous post regarding Bible versions.

Earlier this summer I was searching on-line for the Keil & Delitzsch commentaries of the Old Testament. I knew I had my books boxed up in the rafters over the garage since moving to Savannah in 1998, but a couple searches for them in that hot dusty quarter failed. Knowing that lots of good books were freely available on-line I Googled Kiel & Delitzsch (K&D) and found the commentaries on a link to something called “e-Sword.” I had not before heard of e-Sword which is an electronic format for many Bible translations and other Bible study helps. “The Sword of the LORD with an electronic edge, ®” its by-line reads. I saw that K&D was an available download for use within the program. But I was hesitant to install the software just for reading the commentaries, as I knew nothing about the program to assuage my mistrust. I didn’t want to blow up my PC or otherwise render it inoperable for something unknown and untested by me.

Over the course of weeks when my search in the attic for my copies of K&D proved fruitless, I decided to take the risk and install the program. I’m delighted to say it was one of the best decisions of the summer.

I’m too new at the comprehensive program to give a detailed review, but I did want to offer my comments after using it for a couple months. I find it the best utility for studying the Word as it brings all in one place a selection of the finest study aids around. The basic installation includes the KJV as well as the KJV with Strong’s Concordance embedded. Available for free download are a number of more updated translations like the American Standard Version, the Contemporary English Version, the Good News Translation, the Revised Version, among others (see the full listing here). Also available for free are some Greek and Hebrew versions!

Also available for a nominal fee are other translations, among them is my choice, the New American Standard Bible. For $20.00 I was again hesitant to commit to this purchase, but after a while I convinced myself to proceed, and that also was a wise decision. For your $20 you get the 1977 original NASB translation as well as the 1995 updated version. And as an added benefit you get the updated version with all the Strongs Concordance numbers embedded, which is an amazing word study tool.

There are many other free study tools available for the program, dictionaries, commentaries, study aids, graphics and maps, and some outstanding Christian works. See this list! My favorites are Philip Schaff’s “Creeds of Christendom,” the 3 volumes of which are on my night stand, and the indispensable “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” by John Calvin, which is also sitting close by my reading area, and the “Ante-Nicene Fathers,”subtitled “The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325”, a 9 volume collection of ancient Christian writers, extremely invaluable for an historic understanding of the growth of Christianity. Read a good summary of this work here.

There is so much more available for free, like Philip Schaff’s “History of the Christian Church,” “Fox’s Book of Martyrs,” Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews;” I can’t include them all here. The library available for free is astounding, as well as a vast selection for a nominal fee. And I haven’t even yet discussed the actual e-Sword application yet.

I highly recommend you avail yourself of this fabulous instrument for your edification. I readily admit that my primary choice for reading the Word is a physical copy of my Bible that I can take with me anywhere, a media that is not dependant on electricity nor expensive technology; merely my eyes and brain and a comfortable sitting area. But if you find the need to analyze a particular passage of Scripture using e-Sword it an incredible assist. The way all the parts of the program interact with ease, the Bible, commentary, dictionary, tool-tips, the search tool, is amazing! Just a few of the features found listed here are:

  • All available Bibles, commentaries and dictionaries are readily viewed without having to “tile windows”.
  • Create your own “parallel Bible” with up to any four translations. Studying the Word of God and comparing passages have never been easier!
  • Integrated editor for creating your own commentaries or study notes, complete with Spell Checking and a Thesaurus! Notes are “linked” to the Bible for easy viewing and can also be exported for portability.
  • Strong’s definitions are displayed as ToolTips! Just place the mouse pointer over a Strong’s number and the definition will then be displayed.
  • Scripture references in the Commentary and Dictionary views are displayed as ToolTips! Just place the mouse pointer over the reference and the passage will then be displayed. To go to the passage, just click it!
  • Easily compare the various translations to see how they rendered the Greek or Hebrew manuscripts.

Like a lot of massive programs such as Microsoft Word, or Adobe Photoshop, etc., you won’t use every available tool in the application, but the amazing part is quantity of features that are included to aid in fully embracing the Word of God.

I encourage all who are serious about studying the Bible to avail themselves of this fabulous tool. You will not be disappointed.

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