Two Excellent Bible Study Tools

Actually, two tools in one. I’m preparing some talks for a conference for our missionaries in Africa, and I’ll be teaching through the whole book of Ruth. I wanted to find out how far it was from Bethlehem to Moab, so I did some online research. I didn’t find the answer to my question, but I found a most excellent Bible study tool.

Check out It’s what happens when Google Maps crashes into the Bible. Look up a verse, say Acts 1:4, and you’ll find locations highlighted. Click “Jerusalem” in the accompanying Bible, and the map will show you the location and even open some photos.

Like regular Google Maps, you can either view a map, a satellite picture, or a hybrid. No more getting lost during Paul’s missionary journeys! No excuse for 40 years wandering in the wilderness! No need to even stop for directions! is here! A most excellent resource… but it gets better…

The English Standard Version of the Bible

Because it incorporates a second tool… my new favorite translation of the Bible. The ESV has been wowing me lately for several reasons. That’s the English Standard Version of the Bible… which you can find online here.

First, its translational philosophy can’t be beat. From the forward: The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation that seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. As such, its emphasis is on “word-for-word” correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original. Home run, guys! A dynamic equivalence translation, like the New Living, is GREAT for reading large sections, but you need a word-for-word translation to do real, in-depth study.

Second, you’ll find the ESV highly readable. Sometimes literal translations aren’t easy reading: I love and recommend the NASB, but it just doesn’t flow sometimes. Ditto for New King James Version. They’re highly accurate, but a little less readable. So far, the ESV does really well at both, in my opinion.

Third, it has been coupled with Leland and Phillip Ryken’s most excellent Literary Study Bible. Let this be your next Bible. In fact, order through this link, and I’ll make some pennies (literally) and give it all to our church’s upcoming capital campaign. Leland Ryken was my wonderful literature professor at Wheaton College. Incomparably smart and witty, he made literature come alive. And he gave me tools to analyze the bible as literature. And now it all comes together in the Literary Study Bible. I think literary analysis makes or breaks preaching, especially in narrative sections of Scripture.

But, wait! There’s more!!!! When you buy the Literary Study Bible, you obtain a password to an online version of both the Bible and the study notes!

Click here to read the preface and to learn more.

Click here to buy it… you won’t be sorry. While you’re there, go ahead and sign up for the very rare, and therefore valuable, Wiseguys Theological Newsletter.

Happy BibleMapping and Bible Study!


9 thoughts on “Two Excellent Bible Study Tools

  1. It’s 43 miles from Rabba, Jordon (my best guess to the location of Moab) to the center of Bethlehem. This is a straight line measurement.

  2. Where was this info when I was inquiring about a new Bible?  Thankfully, I see you mentioned the one I wound up buying  – NASB.  I will eagerly purchse the ESV and the Literary Study Bible. Thanks for the tips! Oh, and I’ve signed up MANY times for the Wiseguys Theological Newsletter…..what’s up, doc?

    CU soon… 

  3. I’ve been using the ESV for a couple years and really like it. As a non-Greek user, I do miss the italicized feature in the NASB that allows me to see where English words have been added.

    Here’s another great resource: It’s FREE Bible study software for Windows (sorry Mac users, I’ve been trying to get them to go Mac, as I use that at home, but no luck so far). It incorporates Strongs Concordance, maps, search features, commentaries, etc. There are a bunch of free plug-ins available, including the ESV version of the Bible. You can add almost any English translation for a small price as well as Greek, Hebrew, etc. and many foreign languages. You can also get a bunch more maps, commentaries, and study tools for a small cost.


  4. Just wanted to let you know that I use ESV on Bible Study Tools at . Guess you could compare it to E-sword but I believe it has more references, commentaries, devotional books, AND you can highlight text, save your own notes in the “margins”, create a reading plan, etc. Plus it’s completely free – not just the basic software.

  5. Bill ~ I can’t wait to check out bible map… looks like a very cool tool. I also want to second your recommendation of the ESV! I got a new “journaling bible” (wide, lined margins) for School (Tozer Seminary… perhaps I’ll get to have you for class!) and I just love it, so far… as you wrote, “very readable”

    In Him,

  6. i have the “reformation study Bible” that is ESV. great, easy to read and the commentary was edited by r.c. sproul. good post btw…ound your blog through my old friend dan lance in redding. used to attend neighborhood church while going to simpson college…knew the edwardson clan well…and my father was also a c&ma minister here in san diego back in the day.
    God bless,

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