One of the best features of Bible software for Bible interpretation is the ability to search the Biblical text. Finding the occurrences of a word and seeing how it is used in context is a necessary task for Bible interpretation. Bible software has many advantages over print in this area. One major advantage, one that can affect interpretation, is the availability of ancient texts in Bible software.In seminary we learned how to perform a word study. We found all occurrences of a word by using a printed concordance. We had to use concordances in the library because students did not own Greek and Hebrew concordances.
One of the principles we learned for doing word studies was to see how the word’s meaning developed over time. This involved doing word studies in other texts, such as the Septuagint, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo, the Apostolic Fathers, and languages related to Biblical Hebrew. In some cases even the seminary did not have the texts needed to perform these word studies.
This lack of print resources is no problem for Bible software. All the major texts are available for word studies. These texts are available in their original languages and in translations. Printed texts that are not found even in some seminaries are available to every Bible software user. This is a major advantage over print.
There are a few ways in which the availability of these ancient texts affects the interpretive process and develops the interpreter’s abilities.
More texts means more words
When you have more texts to search, you have more words in more contexts to consult. This means that you have more opportunities to see how the word is used in context. This is especially important for words that do not appear very frequently in the Biblical text.
Seeing word development over time is possible
One principle of word study is to see how a word’s meanings develop through history. This process can help to see more possible meanings, and to eliminate unlikely or impossible meanings. Searching texts that are older, contemporaneous, and more recent than the passage you are studying can yield useful results.
Less reliance on lexicons is possible
Lexicons are useful tools, but they are no substitute for reading texts. The lexicographer consulted the texts, so why shouldn’t you?
More time spent in the texts increases your language skills
Using additional texts for word studies gives you a great opportunity to increase your ability to use the original languages. This is a great benefit, and one that should not be ignored!
More time spent in the texts increases your understanding of the ancient cultures
When reading the ancient texts during your word study, you will learn much the ancient cultures and other valuable information that will help you to better interpret the Biblical text.
Bible software offers ancient texts that are very difficult and expensive to obtain in print. The use of these ancient texts provides many advantages for Bible interpretation. You do a disservice to yourself and your interpretations if you do not take advantage of these rich resources!