Building your Reference Study Library is an article about some general suggestions for the Bible Student and what kind of books he should be accumulating.
Building your Reference Study Library
In this article I am just talking about some general considerations for your Christian Reference Library. In Building your Reference Study Library, you want to work on it constantly over your entire ministry, but also you need to be working towards some good goals also. The first and foremost goal is that it is useful to you in your Bible study.
To be truthful, I use Internet search engines as much as a Bible program. I have not reached that critical point where I can find modules that list verses such as to be really useful, and a search on the Internet is a lot faster. I would recommend DuckDuckGo.com in general instead of Google which is constantly tracking you to sell your information to people who want to sell you things based on what you are searching for. Although I am not searching for bad things, it irks me that if I look for a new car to recommend to somebody, I keep getting ads for new cars after that. I don’t want a car for me but somebody else. But Google makes its billions out of this.
First of all, I cannot give all universal advice because some preachers are self taught, while others have gone to seminary or have PhD’s in the Bible. There is a large blend of pastors between the two extremes. So some advice could be good for everybody, and some more specifically for one class of student versus another, and you will have to decide where you would be individually.
Some General Considerations
First of all, understand what has happened in the Bible Software community. Many people have made many modules that are basically worthless or worth very little if at all. These modules clog your resources. They get in the way of a student studying pertinent works on any subject. I find that more of how the Devil works in our day than any other method. So don’t be shy to remove a module from your library if you don’t see it as really useful.
For example, for a Baptist, there is little good in Catholic works by the pope or by Ellen White, or Christian Science, or other cults. Just remove them from your setup in theWord. Maybe you will do a study on Catholicism, and then you can include them at that time, but get rid of bad or worthless modules.
In a few cases, an author has a skimpy work that is good actually. Leave those in your library. Evaluating the worth of an individual work is a tiresome task that should be performed before adding new modules because it takes time to search through these modules in a universal search, and it takes a lot of time to skip them in actually analyzing the results of a search. Just because a work mentions a keyword doesn’t mean that it has anything good to add to your study. A case in point is Ellen White of the Seventh Day Adventists. I just do not get anything but red flags reading her works, so be careful. These are mines that can confuse and eventually lead you into false doctrine if you are not careful with what you believe (and study).
When building your library, note that it is extremely important that you search for works in key niches in order to find some good works if you are doing a study there. For example, look for modules that are very specific. For Christmas messages, there is a work in PDF by a Smyth on Isaiah 9:6 called “Holy Names”. These kinds of very specific books are extremely valuable. So his work is like 200 pages where he explores each of the words or phrases in Isaiah 9:6. While a more general work will give you an overview of the verse, a very specific work is extremely more helpful in doing a sermon of that verse for December.
Also consider the format of the works you add to your library. Even two works of the same author and name but from two different websites might be extremely different in quality. Go for the properly formatted works.
Try to get a balance of books that are most suitable for your work and studies. You will want a more broader library scope so that you will have reference works when you need them.
For the Self Taught Bible Student
Let me say that theWord is excellent for this type of student. Although it is a little more difficult at the beginning perhaps, but the extra effort is worth it. If you know nothing about Greek or Hebrew, then install theWord in its default setup, us the KJV with Strong’s numbers and then you can activate Strongs in the Bibleview window (click in it, and press S alone). After each English word or phrase will be the Strong’s numbers and hovering the mouse over it will let you see the English definition of the Greek or Hebrew word representing the English. This is excellent. After you get used to this, do a search ON THE GREEK OR HEBREW word. With the Strong’s numbers showing, search in the Bible Search window for that number (always G before the number for Greek and H before the number for Hebrew). With this setup, you can scratch around in the original languages without really knowing them.
Basically, I would recommend that you stay away from too technical works. Download them okay. But put them somewhere where they will not clog your daily work.
For the Intermediate Student
Here I am assuming that you know at least a little Greek and Hebrew. While this is good, most probably you are not going to be using those skills very often so put these works away also and pull them out when you need them.
I would also suggest that you gather a large library, but be very specific about your theological orientation and know the people/authors in your theological orientation. Understand that there are good things in people from other orientations, but you should probably choose first those works most closely aligned to your theological viewpoints.
Interlinear Bibles are perhaps a good type of reference for you.
For the Professional Seminary Graduate Student
I would assume here that you know your theological orientation and are experienced in Greek and Hebrew studies. You can refer to works that are written by people of a different theological persuasion than you, so include these works in your library. But again, always know your people. These are the people that are closest to your own theological position.
Building your Reference Study Library