If you want to do Bible study or sermon preparation on your computer, you really are spoiled for choice. If you can afford them, there are some really impressive suites of software that include multiple Bible versions and more commentaries than anyone could read in a single lifetime. However, those on a limited budget are not left out. Bible Gateway is a wonderful online tool that gives you access to many different translations and some good study tools. However, in this post I want to highlight the STEP Bible (Scripture Tools For Every Person) which is produced by the wonderful people at Tyndale House. I have posted about STEP in the past, (here and here) but I thought it was worth giving an update.
STEP has a very rich set of tools for exploring the text in English or in the original languages. The search tools allow all sorts of variations; you can look at a passage in multiple versions, or search for a Greek word from a selection of New Testament books. There is a tool in there to do just about anything that you are likely to want to do. Thankfully, there is an excellent tutorial, complete with lots of examples of different types of search.
Clicking on a word in English or the Original languages brings up a box which gives you a dictionary definition of the underlying word. It is also possible to colour code the text by gramatical form, which is very useful at times.
While STEP doesn’t have as many different English versions available as some other packages, it has enough for most uses and it is also available in a number of other languages. However, the flexibility of the search tools and the interface makes up for any lack, it truly is stunning. What’s more, you can download STEP to your laptop and have access to all of the tools when you are offline. Even better, it is now available as a smartphone app for Android and IOS. I’ve not tried the Android one, but the IOS itteration, which is a very early version, shows a lot of promise and works like lightening. I can see it becoming my preferred phone app for the Bible in the not too distant future.
The whole premise of STEP is that it should be a tool that anyone can use and I would encourage anyone who is serious about Bible study to check out the desktop version and to give the mobile one a look too. It deserves to be well known and widely used. STEP is a work in progress and will only get better.
While on the subject of Tyndale House, I should mention ink which is a termly magazine, with articles about the languages, history and cultural context of the Bible. If you haven’t signed up to recieve it, you should.