Wednesday, December 23, 2015

BUILDING A BIBLE & APOLOGETICS REFERENCE LIBRARY: A Guide

A good reference system can be very helpful for quickly finding answers to basic questions that you have. Below are my recommendations:

BIBLE REFERENCE WORKS
*Tier 1: Bookmark....
and use the excellent reference works contained at Blue Letter Bible  (note video tutorial at bottom of right side of Blue Letter Bible's home page). And if you are interested in serious scholarly research of the New Testament, you will want to also bookmark The New Testament Gateway (the most amazing collection of links and bibliographies on the New Testament that I am aware of).
*Tier 2: Purchase a good study Bible....
I highly recommend the NIV Study Bible. Perhaps, even better is the new NIV Essentials Study Bible, that is (as I am posting this) only $3.99 on Kindle (which can be used on any computer, tablet or smartphone using the free Kindle app). And you may also wish to get The Apologetics Study Bible (Kindle Version here) or The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. Other excellent study Bibles to consider: the ESV Study Bible (the Global version is currently FREE on Kindle) and the Zondervan Study Bible (possibly the new standard and currently only $3.99 on Kindle).
*Tier 3: A Bible Dictionary or Encyclopedia....
This type of reference will provide you with short articles on everything from cities and people found in the Bible to customs to chronologies, etc. There are a lot of options here depending on how much money you want to spend and how much learning you are willing to do. I will start with the least expensive and least mentally taxing option and build from there. (a) Bookmark the FREE online version of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia and/or download the FREE PDF version. Or purchase the Kindle version (currently only $1.99). (b) Purchase the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary or the Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary (or both) or the Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible (5 volumes; but let me caution you that the Kindle version is sold per volume not the whole set). (c) Serious scholars should invest in the IVP Dictionary of the Bible series. You may want to purchase one volume at a time (as they are somewhat expensive), but it is the best Bible reference set available.
*Tier 4: Introductions to Biblical Books....
If you have a good study Bible (as recommended above), you already have solid introductions. But if you are wanting to build a more scholarly library or one focused on apologetics, I highly recommend you purchase the following: Encountering the Old Testament by Bill T. Arnold & Bryan E. Beyer and An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson & Douglas Moo.
*Tier 5: Bible Commentaries....
There are so many options here that I cannot go into detail on this one, but let me give a couple of basic recommendations. (a) Check out the FREE commentaries. (b) If you are looking to build a serious apologetics or Biblical library, then I recommend that you obtain Keil & Delitzsch's Commentary on the Old Testament. You can download it for FREE or purchase it at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors (typically the best price for a new set). And I also recommend that you use Best Commentaries to decide how to complete your New Testament commentaries.
*Tier 6: References Concerning Bible Difficulties....
Apparent contradictions are a concern for everyone but they tend to be especially troubling for those who are new to studying the Bible. Bookmark the page found here for ready access to the many online resources and consider purchasing one or more of the recommended books.

APOLOGETICS REFERENCES
*Tier 1: One or more of the following (this section repeated from "Which Apologetics Book Should I Read First?"....
(a) I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek (452 pages). Written for a popular audience. While I disagree with their probabilistic approach to the evidence for Christianity (which I hope to write on in the near future) and they misunderstand the issue of natural selection (which is inadequate but not for the reasons they give), this book is generally solid with many moments of pure brilliance. Overall it is a powerful cumulative argument for Christianity and I highly recommend it. Dr. Geisler's website is here and Dr. Turek's website is here. (b) Christian Apologetics by Douglas Groothuis (752 pages). This is a lengthy textbook on apologetics. But if you are willing to make the effort, Groothuis has used his decades of experience as an apologist to write a masterpiece that will ground you soundly. Plus, you can find guidance in reading it at Apologetics315. Dr. Groothuis' website is here. (c) Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig (418 pages). If you are interested in a more philosophical and analytical approach to apologetics, this is the book for you. Craig is among the world's greatest living apologists: a top expert on the cosmological argument and also the evidence for the resurrection, he is additionally very knowledgeable about many other areas of apologetics, plus his philosophical training and years of debating have trained him to think clearly and logically. Dr. Craig's website is here.
*Tier 2: Handbooks & Dictionaries....
Consider purchasing one or more. (a) The Big Book of Christian Apologetics: An A to Z Guide by Norman Geisler. (b) Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli. (c) Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norm Geisler. (d) New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics, edited by McGrath, Campbell-Jack & Evans. (e) Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of Religion by C. Stephen Evans. (f) Pocket Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft.
*Tier 3: Begin Building by Topic (especially in areas of interest)....
You will find lots of help for doing that at my Master List of Apologetics Resources.


STILL LOOKING?....
Check out this extensive bibliography of Biblical reference works by William Harmless....
OR....Understanding and Choosing Bible Translations: A FREE course covering how we got our English Bible, what the major translations are, two different approaches to Bible translation, why literal translations aren’t always more accurate, how we can be certain the Bible we possess is really God’s Word, four guidelines for choosing Bible translation.






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