Your E-mails- September 2021

I want to be able to find stuff in the Bible. Sometimes there’s a quote and I’m not sure it’s from the Bible and I want to check. Sometimes I just want to look what it says about things. Is there an index?

THE BIBLE IS probably the most thoroughly indexed book in the world. If you know how to look it’s quick and easy to find whatever you need.

The four centuries since the King James Version of the Bible first appeared in 1611 saw the publication of various concordances (alphabetical lists of important words, with references to the chapters and verses where those words occur). Perhaps the best known is the Exhaustive Concordance which was published by Professor James Strong in 1890. It  lists  every  English  word  in  the King James Bible, alongside the original Hebrew or Greek word from which it was translated, and every place where it occurs. It also contains a dictionary which gives a definition of each Hebrew and Greek word.

Generations of Bible readers have spent countless hours enthusiastically trawling through Strong’s Concordance, finding passages, finding other passages which are connected with them, looking up the meanings of words, and gleaning greater insights into the messages of the Bible. Concordances have also been produced for a number of modern Bible versions.

Then along came the digital age. Computers are ideally suited to the handling of data. If you have access to the internet you have at your fingertips a massively powerful search and analysis facility which the likes of James Strong would not have believed possible.

Tap something like ‘online Bible’ into your search engine, and before long you’ll find web sites which contain the entire Bible, either to download for free or to read online. You’ll find a choice of many different Bible versions, and you’ll find sites where the text is searchable. Also if you delve deeper you’ll find Bible study resources such as dictionaries and commentaries. Bear in mind that these are the work of fallible people and are not always reliable.

Digital technology has made Bible searches quick, easy and accurate. It is a brilliant aid to Bible study. However, be aware that (as with many other areas of the internet) the availability of instant information can encourage the unproductive habit of ‘grazing’—skimming through pages, picking over snippets of information without stopping to think about them.

The Psalmist said of his Bible, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Bible should be read reverently, prayerfully and with focus—it is a guide for life. The best way to become familiar with its contents is to read it!