Today I want to focus on tools for the iPad to for reading Greek and Hebrew. As with the previous two parts of this series, Bible apps offer a number of free resources and hope to get you to upgrade to better resources for a price. To me, the free resources are barely adequate for the layman and completely useless for the professional. The reason a book is free is that it is out of print. While there are a number of books which are old that I find very valuable, this is simply not the case for Greek and Hebrew tools. What is missing in free Greek and Hebrew apps is morphological tagging – parsing Greek and Hebrew words. While there are some publicly available texts, to get this capability in an iPad app will cost money.
I really believe that the person who is serious about studying the Bible in the original languages needs to be willing to purchase the right tools for the job. I cannot imagine a mechanic who stocks his garage with tools he has collected free from thrift stores, yet it seems to me that too many people collect free books for the computer and consider then adequate for serious study of the Bible. I am quite disturbed to think there are pastors out there who use nothing more than the Strong’s lexicon because it was included in their free Bible Software and they can click on the numbers. This is not “correctly handling the Word of Truth”!
If you want good tools, you have to pay for them. I recommend looking closely at the websites of each of the publishers below for collections , bundles or base packages which meet your needs. This is the best way to get a Greek or Hebrew Bible with tagging, a good lexicon or two, and the ability to search in these resources. What are you going to need in a Bible Software Collection?
A Greek Bible. There are free Greek Bibles, but the Nestle-Aland 27 (NA27) with morphological tagging is worth the money. Logos sells the UBS 4, which is the exact same text as the NA27, the main difference is the textual critical information included.
A Hebrew Bible. The BHS with Westminster 4.2 morphological tagging is really the best Hebrew text for study and is included in many base packages.
Greek Lexicons. The best possible Greek lexicon is the BDAG (A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition). It is unfortunately very expensive, so try to get the Second Edition (BAGD). Louw & Nida’s Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains is commonly included in bundles and is quite useful. Logos includes James Swanson’s Dictionary of Biblical Languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic volumes). This resource provides little more than a gloss for each word, but includes links to Lour and Nida, BAGD, and TDNT.
Hebrew Lexicons. The best lexicon for the Hebrew Bible is the Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT), but like BDAG, it is very expensive and rarely included in a bundle. In addition, the Logos App will not access HALOT even if you own a license. Hopefully this can be corrected. The
Greek Word Studies. There are several major resources for digging a bit deeper into the background of a word. Most publishers now offer the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT, often described simply as “Kittel”) or the Abridged TDNT (dubbed “little Kittel”). I also find the Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (TLNT) and Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (TLOT) helpful and a bit more up-to-date than Kittel. The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament is also good. For the
Hebrew Word Studies. There are fewer tools for Hebrew word studies available. The classic Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) is commonly found in collections. Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (TLOT) an excellent text as well.
What did I miss? Any other suggestions from readers for the basic “minimum” tools for the study of the Biblical languages? In part four, I will cover how the various apps function for reading Greek or Hebrew and how they work with these basic resources.