Bible Literacy Tools
No one should study the Bible alone. It’s important to read and discuss Scripture with friends, family, and churches or rabbis. Other people help broaden and deepen our understanding, and correct our misunderstanding. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the difficulty of some texts, get help!
Along with your Bible-reading community, there are a plethora of high-quality tools—many of them free—available to those who want to become more Bible-literate. The following resources, classes, and free seminary courses are a good place to start.
Feel free to jump to a tool that sounds interesting:
Seminaries with Free Courses
Resources aren’t a substitute for cracking open your Bible, but they can direct and enrich your reading. Check out these six free online resources to dive deeper into Scripture and Hebraic thought.
The popular BibleProject creates animated videos that illustrate lessons on how to read the Bible, and on biblical books, themes, characters, and genres. The beautiful and imaginative animations re-enchant the world of Scripture and invite readers to return to the text with fresh eyes. BibleProject also has Bible studies, a podcast, and beta-stage classes.
Bible Odyssey has a wealth of study tools and information about the people, places, and passages in Scripture. Use the Ask a Scholar tool to ask your own questions and see the questions others have asked and the answers they received. Bible Odyssey aims to close the bible literacy gap, as well as the gap between scholars and layfolk.
Note that the authors of Bible Odyssey content are mostly biblical scholars, which means they have varying commitments to Scripture’s authority.
Despite the unprecedented access to the Bible (particularly in the West), people are engaging with it less and less. This trend spurred the founders of the Institute for Bible Reading to research the major obstacles to the study and understanding of Scripture. They publish a podcast, a blog, and study tools to help the church tackle these obstacles.
Many women’s devotionals and Bible study guides are a bit shallow, and can emphasize emotional support more than serious learning and understanding. Jen Wilkin wants women to stop relying on these kinds of books. She’s an author and Bible teacher who works especially on guiding women into better study habits. Check out her books, Bible studies, and other resources for becoming better students of Scripture.
TheTorah.com is “the world’s leading platform for Torah study informed by academic scholarship,” according to the website. Like Bible Odyssey, the folks at TheTorah.com want to make biblical scholarship accessible to laypeople, with a particular emphasis on the first five books of the Bible. They write about scholarship and faith, archeology, biblical criticism, ethics, and interpretation for the everyday Bible reader.
Note that the authors at TheTorah.com are mostly biblical scholars, which means they have varying commitments to Scripture’s authority.
Christian publisher Tyndale House created STEPBible, an online study Bible with interpretive tools embedded in the virtual text. STEPBible highlights and defines important and/or repeated words and phrases (working from the original language). It provides verse cross-references and quick access to different translations. For the closest readers, it also performs grammar and passage analyses.
Study resources are great to use as needed for reference, but the structure, coherence, and navigation of a class format can complement regular Bible-reading. These are some of the best general course options for individuals and groups.
This organization offers both lay-level and academic/seminary Bible courses to foster spiritual growth in the church. They group classes into programs and award diplomas and certificates for completing certain courses of study.
This eight-session course is best suited to a group Bible study. The main aim of the course is to re-draw the storyline of Scripture to reveal how books, events, and characters hang together. The course materials include a guidebook (everyone taking the course needs one) and a video series, one video per session.
These courses focus on each of the main parts of the Bible: the Pentateuch, history and poetry, prophecy and restoration, the gospels, Acts and Paul’s epistles, and the general epistles and Revelation. Each course begins with geographical, historical, and cultural background for those texts. The rest of each course is organized around major themes, characters, and events.
This globally focused ministry produces biblical education curricula to train Christian leaders around the world. For smaller bites, it also publishes Biblical Perspectives magazine. Its other tools include a study Bible, audio sermons and lectures, and a podcast.
Seminaries with Free Courses
For church leaders, aspiring seminarians, and anyone looking to go further, many seminaries offer free online lectures and classes on Scripture and theology. Here are the offerings from some of the most well-known institutions.
Covenant has a large repository of free sermons, courses, and lectures. Choose from more than 45 full-length masters courses, over 100 lecture series, and hundreds of sermons.
DTS’s free course “How to Read the Bible Like a Seminary Professor,” taught by Dr. Howard Hendricks, is delivered weekly via email for four weeks. The lessons include videos, study questions, assignments, and further reading recommendations.
RTS has a wide-ranging catalogue of Bible and theology audio courses. Listen to courses on systematic theology, the prophets, the Pauline epistles, and more.
SEBTS provides 11 free classes that cover major areas of biblical interpretation, missions, and theology. Each class includes a series of lecture videos.
WTS’s free audio courses each contain a series of recorded lectures. The courses that are most geared toward Bible literacy include “A New Testament Biblical Theology,” “Biblical Hermeneutics,” “The Book of Revelation,” “The Parables and Miracles of Christ,” and “Covenant Theology.”