The problem with study Bibles is that the notes often are laced with the doctrinal position or schedule of the editor and compiler. Useful Bible study requires several components, summed upon three main questions.
What is better, a study Bible or a reference Bible?
First, what does it say? Examine the text. I download from into the word processor and then arrange it by phrases. It allows me to see the essential elements and keywords. Next, I outline the passage and compare it with surrounding courses to get a feel for the overall context. My chosen path may relate to the one before or after, and I need to see that relationship. Then I look for related texts, such as parallel passages, quotations from other verses, or similar paths. Scriptures are often linked, and reference Bible can help you see those links. Let’s know the complete information on what is a reference bible in this article. I use the Thompson Chain Reference Bible for this.
What does it mean? Here, look for significant terms (words, phrases, people, places, etc.). With a Strong’s Concordance, you can look into the original Hebrew or Greek for original meanings. With a Bible dictionary, you can look up other topics related to your text. If John the Baptist is essential in my selected passage, I can look him up in the handy references in Thompson Bible as well as a trusted Bible dictionary. This work adds depth to your study. At this point, you can note your observations and ask further questions for additional research.
Here is where you begin to discover why it matters. You can start to discern the author’s intent (sometimes it is stated), and get an understanding of what the original hearer or reader experienced from the text. We are thousands of years removed from the original language and culture of the Scriptures. It would be best if you had a glimmer of what they understood. Then you can see the principle of enduring truth that arises from the text.
This process, developed over my ministry of 37 years, has helped me understand and teach the Bible to countless parishioners.
What are the differences between a study Bible and a regular Bible?
It’s good to remember that the original transcripts of the Bible had no punctuation and no chapter or verse numbers. Those were added later and should not consider being inspired by God as the original text is. A study Bible has many or all of the following which, while helpful, are also not inspired by God.
Cross-references to show where part of the Bible is quoted elsewhere in the Bible
Cross-references to similar or related passages
- Footnotes explaining factual historical or cultural context
- Historical maps
- Glossary (like a short dictionary for essential or difficult words)
- Concordance is (the most common references, where can found the essential words of that translation).
- Footnotes are explaining the meaning of a particular passage.
Many teachers and preachers told me that all of these are valuable to better understand the Bible except for the last one. Anything that enhances the factual contextual background of a passage is helpful. But footnotes explaining the meaning of a particular course go beyond this and introduce interpretation which is dangerous because it has the possibility of being wrong. Some of the most prevalent misunderstandings about Christianity have come from footnotes in study Bibles that cross the line from factual background to interpretation. So I suggest you find a study Bible with the first six options on this list but without interpretive notes if possible.
Which is the best study Bible?
I’m assuming that when you say the ‘best bible,’ you mean the ‘best translation of the bible’. So this is my answer (it may get technical!):
The best translation of the Bible to read is a collection of a bunch. Never, and I stress this, ever solely stick to one translation as a perfect translation doesn’t exist!
When you look at a translation where each word translated from Greek/Hebrew into English, the sentence broken, words are all over the place, etc. For English-speakers to comprehend what is said, words have to be re-arranged, and some words need to implanted & write for us here (e.g. adding ‘the’ to make the sentence structure proper in English).
Reference Bibles offer cross-reference sections throughout and provide the pure text of Scripture without book introductions, large amounts of articles or study notes.