Study Bible vs Reference Bible what are the differences
The Merriam-Webster defines the Bible as, “the sacred scriptures of Christians consisting of the old and new testaments. To help readers come up with an in-depth understanding of these scriptures, authors have come up with different bible types. Study and Reference Bibles are the different types of Bible writings. These bibles are both for scriptural knowledge but differ in a number of ways. They also come in different versions common ones being King James Version or New International Version.
Study Bibles are editions prepared for students to help them delve deeper into scripture. They contain scholarly information designed to help readers gain better understanding of texts. Thus, study bibles offer more extensive notes, include commentaries, maps, charts, illustrations and photos that shade more light to a particular bible text. The study bible notes may include, annotations, bibliographies, word indexes, word definitions or practical application of said texts. Example of study bibles include: CBS Ancient Faith Study Bible, Quest Study Bible, Life Application Study Bible, Starting Place Study Bible or Hebrew/Greek Keyword Study Bible.
Reference Bibles are more topic oriented showing verse, passage or topical similarities. Footnotes in these bibles provide lists of other passages covering the same topics. Cross-references are used to display how different bible verses relate by word, quote or subject. Reference bibles like The Scuffled Bible are designed to help readers gain deep understanding of scriptural texts. Brief explanations for all the bible books and paragraph headings with references across the whole bible of similar passages are a key feature of this study bible. Other examples of reference bibles include: The Thompson Chain Reference Bible and Bible Lexicon.
The reference bibles therefore differ from study bibles by their extensive nature. For people or students seeking deeper understanding of the Christian scriptures, reference bibles can be a great tool for their quest. As students study certain verses or passages, they gain more insight of the culture, time and geographical location where the said passage took place. Therefore, the reader is able to identify with the original audience in the scriptures by relating to the time and conditions they lived in. These shaded light to the symbolic writings or explanations as seen, viewed, perceived or interpreted by characters in their time. Theme and purpose of texts or passages are also well elaborated in study bibles.
Caution is however advised for bible students to not over rely on the commentaries. The Bible being the authoritarian word of God represented across the books of the Bible as Christians believe, should never be replaced by any human inspired writing. Commentaries are mostly the author’s perception or understanding of said scriptures which may not necessarily be true or correct. Study bibles are still very great resources for bible scholars, nevertheless. Thorough research is important to assist a student pick the right study bible, some times using different authors is recommended. Reference bibles are shallow as compared to the study bible, they are only a good fit for a regular reader who seeks to find scripture verses that refer to certain topic or are similar in nature. This goes along way to help the reader understand more on a topic in the bible.
Whilst both the Study and Reference Bibles are great aids to bible students, they can benefit more from using the study bible than the reference type. Some features like cross-referencing which are the main use for referencing bible types can still be found in the study bibles making it possible for a person to choose to use the study bible without the need for the reference one. Study bibles like their name suggests are great study aids that offer all the relevant features.
With the world becoming more digital, both study or reference bibles can be found online. They come as searchable online bibles or better still as mobile applications. The online study or reference bibles come with greater advantages like real-time discussions among a community of people with same interests sharing views, personal interpretation or other relevant information. Verse references are a click a way while other features like archaeology, history and culture are displayed in visuals or audio formats. Online concordances are available to offer word meanings and pronunciations with audio or video tutorials for proper pronunciations.