This video tutorial is the first of a two part series on BlueLetterBible.org. You’ll learn to perform 5 of the 10 key tasks for studying the Bible with word studies.
Even you’ve already seen some tools from BlueLetterBible in the previous tutorials, I wanted to put the essentials into two video tutorials for easier reference. These videos will focus solely on how to operate the free tools on this site.
These are the first 5 key tasks you’ll learn how to perform:
Navigating the Homepage
This is the homepage for BlueLetterBible. It’s divided into three main areas, starting from the top:
There’s the navigation menu; then moving down, there’s the banner with the “Search the Bible” box; and then there’s a group of widgets below, which you can remove by clicking on the “X” button, depending on your preferences.
The three most common menu items you’ll use will be “Search”, “Study”, and “Help”. You only need to hover over each menu item to see its contents. For example, “Search” brings up the search fields where you can search the Bible for English words, Greek and Hebrew words, and you can even enter in topics like resurrection to the search field labeled “Theological FAQ” (or Frequently Asked Questions). And then you can see a list of questions and answers, really helpful.
But let’s go back up to the navigation menu (And notice, it’s still present even though we moved to a different page.) Let’s look at the “Study” menu item. You may recall, this menu is where we find the reference books—books that contain information about the Bible or topic related to the Bible. Theses are books like commentaries that provide comments on the Bible; and books like dictionaries, introductions (or summaries) of each book in the Bible, charts and outlines (for example, a list of all the miracles of Jesus, timelines (for example, a timeline of the events in the Book of Acts). And then there’s a number of theological resources available, too.
Finally, there’s the “Help” menu where you can find some video tutorials on how to use Blue Letter Blue. These are great if you want to learn how to use the site in general.
You’ll recognize that some of the fields and functions we saw in the “Search” menu are actually already on the homepage. Here’s the “Search” box where you can look up a verse reference or search for a word or phrase in the Bible.
And then below the banner, there’s the “Multiple Verse Retrieval” widget. This is useful if you ever want to copy and paste Bible verses from here into a document or slide show presentation. You can type in the references, pick the translation, and under “Advanced Options” you can choose the format of the verses. I’ll type in Gen 1:1 (semicolon) John 1:1, and click “Retrieve.” And there are the verses, and you can still adjust the formatting with these advanced options below.
I’ll click up on the Blue Letter Bible home button to show you one last widget, and that’s the “Help” widget with links to the most popular video tutorials for using the site.
That’s a quick overview of the homepage and the parts you’ll use the most for our study method. Next, let’s look at choosing your preferred Bible translation.
Choosing Your Preferred Bible Translation
To choose your preferred Bible translation, go up to the top, right-hand corner of the site, and click on the gear icon. This will open another page where you can change your personal preferences.
Under “Default Bible Translation” click on the drop down menu, and choose your preferred Bible. For this course, I’m just going to leave that on the English Standard Version, but you can choose whichever one you like. You can always change that later, too.
There’s also an option to change the way the biblical text appear—verse by verse, or paragraph style. Most of us read the Bible in print or on a mobile device where the Bible is paragraph formatted. You can read the Bible like that on BLB, too, but I’d suggest you select “verse by verse” because that’ll give you access to additional tools. (You’ll see what I mean later on in the video.)
Most of these preference are self-explanatory (for example, changing the font color). The last option I want to mention is the one on “Interlinear Preference.” An interlinear is a resource with same text in two different languages (one being a translation of the other). You can keep the selection on “Reverse Interlinear” unless you read Greek and Hebrew already. The difference is, the reverse interlinear will prioritize the word order of the English Bible translation. Basically, Greek and Hebrew use a different order of words from English, and if you read the words in that order, it’ll sound strange to us, as English speakers. If that’s a little confusing, you’ll see what I mean later when we come to the part on finding the Greek and Hebrew words behind your English translation.
If you ever need an explanation about these options, just click on the “question mark button” and you can read the help information.
And one last thing for the preferences, further down the page, you can select and deselect which widgets you want to appear on the homepage. Finally, don’t forget to save your preferences. And now that you’ve got your preferred Bible translation, let’s look at how to access and navigate it.
Accessing and Navigating Your English Bible Translation
To open your preferred Bible translation to a specific verse reference, you can either type the verse reference into the search field here. Or, you can click on the text “QuickNav” and choose from the reference selector. I’ll choose “Psa” and then chapter 1.
And the ESV translation open to Psalm chapter 1. And notice, it’s formatted in the paragraph style. But let’s change that up here at the “Format By” section and select “verse.” Now each verse is on its own line and we can see the “Tools” button appear, with all these options we’ll explore a little later.
You can also change the formatting by clicking on the double-A letters here. For example, if the font is too small, you can increase the size. You can change the color and the font itself to these other ones, too.
Now, when you want to move to another verse references, you can type that in to the search field here, or you can use the “QuickNav” to bring up the reference selector. The double-arrows move you back to the previous book or forward to the next one; the single-arrows move you backward or forward one chapter, and the double-arrows pointing down will bring up the reference selector.
Now that you’ve got the basic navigation, let’s look at how to find the Greek or Hebrew words behind your English Bible translation.
Finding the Greek and Hebrew Words behind Your English Bible Translation
There are two ways to find the Greek and Hebrew words behind your English translation. The first way is probably the quickest; the second provides the most detail.
So, we’re in Psalm 1, with the verse by verse formatting. And you’ll notice up here on the toolbar, the Strong’s item is crossed out. That’s because only certain Bible translations on BlueLetterBible have Strong’s Number tied to them, and the ESV is not one of those. So, let’s change the translation up here at “click to change.” The only translations right now that have Strong’s Number linked are the King James Version (KJV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). I’ll chose the NASB.
And now you see the I can select the Strong’s checkbox, and Strong’s Numbers now appear after the English words in the translation. I can click on these and go right to the word study information from the Lexicon tab you saw in previous videos. This way is quick and easy, especially if you prefer reading the KJV, NASB, or HCSB translations.
But if you prefer another translation, and you want more information about then I’d recommend this second way. (And I’ll switch back to the ESV from the NASB.)
And now I’ll hover on the “Tools” button, and then click on the “Interlinear” button. This brings up the “Reverse Interlinear.” There’s a lot of stuff here, so let’s just take one part at a time.
Here’s the English translation up at the top. Then there’s the Hebrew text. Notice Hebrew goes from right to left, instead of left to right like English. Of course, if we were looking at a verse from the New Testament, you’d see Greek, not Hebrew here.
Then there’s the “Reverse Interlinear” section with a few columns: the English Bible translation, in this case the NASB, the Strong’s Number, and then the “Root Form” for the Hebrew word. Let’s take these one at a time.
The English Bible translation reads from top to bottom. So: How blessed; is the man; who; does not walk…and so on. This button labeled “Phr” for “phrase” will run a search for this phrase in an English Bible translation. Notice, when I click on that button there aren’t any results, even though we just saw an occurrence of “How blessed” in the NASB. That’s because the search used our preferred Bible of the ESV, so if I switch that to NASB, I’ll see the results. But let’s go back to the page with the “Reverse Interlinear.”
The Strong’s Number here links to the all the information about the Hebrew word that we’ve seen in other videos. If you remember that “Lexicon” tab—this Strong’s Number links to the information, but takes you to the specific Hebrew word used here in Psalm 1:1.
As for the “Root Form”—and this goes for Hebrew words and Greek words—this is the dictionary form, the form of the word that you would use to look up the word in a dictionary. Of course, you don’t need to memorize those forms because the link in the Strong’s Number connects you to the dictionary information.
Then there’s the transliteration, the Hebrew word written in English letter, and then the speaker icon will play an audio recording to given you an idea of how to pronounce the Hebrew word.
This section here was already a lot to cover, but the key to reinforcing what I’ve shown here is to use tool, even if that’s just to explore. But now let’s move on to comparing Bible translations.
Comparing English Bible Translations
To compare Bible translations, make sure you have the Bible formatted by “Verse” instead of “Paragraph.” Now you can see the “Tools” button appear beside each verse. Hover over that button and then select “Bibles” from the list of options. This opens the available translations for Galatians 2:17.
Now, why would you want to compare translations if you already have a preferred translation? It’s because the similarities and differences among translations can alert you to places where there are some interpretative issues. And as we look at this verse, it’s a good idea to reorder some of these translations. I’d recommend, you use about five of them that span the different approaches, from those that translate things in a word-for-word manner, to those that translate in a thought-for-thought manner. I’ll put the King James Version first, then the New American Standard Bible, then then English Standard Version under that, then the New International Version, and finally the New Living Translation. This will give you a good mix of perspectives.
Look at this phrase “minister of sin.” That’s from the KJV, NASB; but the ESV has “servant of sin”; then the NIV has “doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin” and the NLT has “would that mean Christ has led us into sin”. These kinds of differences even among word for word translations can give you a clue about where to start your word studies.
In this verse, I would want look at the Greek word that’s translated “minister” in the NASB and “servant” in the ESV.
That means, we’d go back to the “Interlinear” tab, find the English word “minister” and click on the Strong’s Number G1249 for the Greek word diakonos.
So, that’s how you can compare English translations. You’ve now got a basic grasp of how to access and navigate the Bible; you can find the Greek and Hebrew words as you read the Bible.
In the next video, you’ll learn how to do several types of searches based on English words, and how to find the Greek and Hebrew words from those searches, as well as collect information about where these words occur and how many times.