There are several important tools for the English speaking student which will help in getting the most accuracy from The Word. These tools are necessary for the serious student. The goal is what The Old and New Testament Manuscripts teach, not just only the many Bible translations based on The Manuscripts.
King James Authorized Version of 1611
Although there are many Bible versions for the English speaking student, a 1611 King James Authorized Version should be the ‘final word’, in English. It is somewhat difficult for the new student using the King James Version, however, with time and practice, and the use of study tools, it will be found that the King James is the most reliable translation in English. Since understanding our Father’s Message is the ideal, no other Bible version is recommended for English speaking students. Any other version than the King James Authorized Version of 1611 which is solely used, will take away from the importance of using a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. (If you’ve read my letter on the Massorah, you might be asking yourself about the Companion Bible. The Companion Bible is not a new translation. It contains the King James Authorized Version of 1611.)
This reference gives the English student the ability to take the King James Bible back to the original language manuscripts that the King James translators used. Dr. James Strong performed a great service in providing this work to English speaking students. If you know how to use a standard dictionary, then you can use a Strong’s Concordance. It’s not that difficult.
It is important, however, to get a Strong’s Version which contains the Hebrew and Greek dictionary Lexicons, for that is where the meat is. Don’t settle for any other version. Another note on getting a copy of a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. There are some new and improved Strong’s editions of late that edit out some of Dr. James Strong’s original work. Beware of that working also. Don’t settle for less than the ‘original’ Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance version that has not been edited.
You may be asking why a Strong’s is important. The original King James Version of 1611 contained a letter of introduction to King James and to the reader pointing out some of the imperfections dealing with that translation. I believe you can still obtain a copy of the original Old English first edition King James Version of 1611, with the italicized words and margin notes, from Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
The Companion Bible
This is the 1611 King James Version study Bible which I highly recommend. It is not a new translation. As a matter of fact, It contains more of the items in the original King James than any other later printed version. The Companion Bible has outlined ‘structures’ based on the topics of each Biblical Book and Chapter, along the side margins. The structure outlines follow the Biblical Chapters and verse sections so that the student can always follow the current object and subject within Scripture. These structures are from The Holy Spirit, because their ‘order of appearance’ happens in only one form of literature known to man, our Holy Bible.
Another important item contained in The Companion Bible is the Massorah notes. The Massorah are notes within the most reliable original Hebrew Old Testament manuscripts (the manuscripts handed down from the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, the prophets). These original manuscript notes in Hebrew are found along the sides, top and bottom, and in-between the columns of Hebrew manuscript text. The Massorah has two parts; one to tell the scribe of the Hebrew texts whether their hand written copy is in good order, and the other contained footnotes on the interpretation of Scripture. The Massorah, when consulted, insured the one true understanding of many Old Testament Scriptures.
Only one English speaking Christian scholar, C.D. Ginsburg, was allowed to compile the Massorah from all the most reliable Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts (they were dispersed in many countries) in a very rare work called, The Massoretico Critical Texts. Many of these Massorah notes are contained in only one study Bible today, and that is The Companion Bible. This version of the 1611 King James also has a wealth of information in the Appendixes that took years of study. This is truly a magnificent Work and only appeared in print again around 1990. I highly recommend It.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon
Remember all those genealogies in The Word? They have messages too, otherwise God wouldn’t have put them there. The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon will help in translating Biblical names and places. Some parts of God’s Word are almost impossible to grasp in the King James without translating the names back to the original languages. Once translated, the message becomes obvious.
For example: In the Book of Ezra, the House of Judah was returning to Jerusalem out of the captivity of Babylon for 70 years. When Ezra the prophet got to Jerusalem with the people, he noticed there were no Levite priests that returned, so he sent back word to get Levitical priests. It was a sad state, because even many Levites, who were commanded to remain pure in their bloodline, had taken wives of the nations and mixed with the Canaanites during the Babylonian captivity. One particular Levite priest that returned to Jerusalem was named ‘Mahli‘. The reference Brown Driver & Briggs translation of this Levite priest Mahli is ‘Machliy‘ in the Hebrew, meaning ‘sick‘. Do you think that’s a coincidence? Here’s the translation from the Hebrew of another of the Levite priests who returned. Sherebiah, a Levitical priest who returned with Mahli, is ‘Sherebyah‘ in the Hebrew, meaning “Jehovah (Yaweh) has scorched”. Each of these brought their brethren with them, and you’ll also find that two hundred and twenty Nethinims (given to Temple service), who were of the nations returned along with them. These Nethinims were non-Israelite slave Temple workers assigned to the Levites; according to God’s Law they weren’t supposed to even be allowed near the altar, and here they were doing the priest’s chores.
Computer Bible Software
I recommend Bible software written by Biblesoft. They sell Bible reference software in modules, so you can get what you need, then add on more modules later. They have all the references mentioned above, and more, except The Companion Bible. One particular module called The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is outstanding. With it you can do a context search from a Biblical verse that will bring up other parts of The Bible based on the subject of that verse, or chapter; not just on the key word you did the search from. You can have multiple windows open, compounding search on top of search, and the number of windows open at one time is only limited by computer memory.
The premier Bible Software program is Logos. While it is fairly expensive you get a very large number of resources with it.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary
This is another reference that will help in translating Biblical names, nouns, and places.
A monumental work by W.E. Vine, which helps the Bible student to learn the meanings of Biblical Hebrew and Greek words. Many of these are individual ‘word studies’ contained within this work by Vine. An excellent study tool to parallel with Dr. James Strong’s Concordance for The King James Authorized Version of 1611.
The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English
The Interlinear Bible by Jay P. Green, Sr, the editor and translator, is a copy of the Hebrew Massoretic text manucripts first set in 1866 by the British and Foreign Bible Society. The Greek text of The New Testament is the Received Text set by Stephen Austin and Sons for the Trinitarian Bible Society in 1976. It is based on The New Testament in the Original Greek According to the Text Followed in the Authorized Version, edited by F.H.A. Scrivener as published in 1894-1902.
To better explain just what The Interlinear Bible is, here’s a Preface note from Jay P. Green, Sr. The Interlinear Bible:
“An interlinear Bible is the next best thing to a formal course in the Hebrew and Greek languages. Until now, however, an interlinear Bible has not been available to students of Scripture who speak English. Through the use of The Interlinear Bible, one can utilize the lexicons, word books, and other aids published during recent decades. One need only learn the Hebrew and Greek alphabets (see page viii), the work of a few hours.” (From The Interlinear Bible by Jay P. Green, Sr., Preface notes.)
by Dave Ramey