Bible Manuscript Resources on the Internet

Center for the Study of New Testament DocumentsAs a follow-up to our post about the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Project, here are some additional places on the internet where you learn more about the Bible’s transmission, along with images and other resources.

As a parenthesis, let me urge all Bible teachers and preachers to become familiar with how our Bible came to us. Critics speak as if the origins of our Bible text are questionable or doubtful. An overwhelming amount of evidence shows just the opposite. Learn the facts and strengthen the faith of those who look to you for instruction!

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is dedicated to digitally photographing as many New Testament manuscripts as possible both to preserve their images for future generations as well as to make them accessible for study. Headed by Dr. Daniel Wallace, Greek scholar and Bible translator, their website is a growing project with much material now available and much more anticipated in the future. In addition they have a physical where visitors can come in a personally see some of their work. Also available are 25 videos on iTunesU, a free area of the Apple iTunes website devoted to education. Short videos on textual criticism, disputed passages, how early manuscripts were created, etc. are available.

The Codex Sinaiticus Project provides his resolution images of every page of one of the most important early Bibles. This is especially valuable because the original codex (book) is divided up among 4 different museums in four different countries and does not physically exist any longer as one book.

British Library Digitized Greek Manuscripts – 284 lesser known and otherwise inaccessible early Greek manuscripts, both biblical and classical.

NT Resources by Rodney J. Decker, Th.D. is an extensive list of links to internet resources for the study of Greek, manuscripts, translation, and more.

Bible Researcher provides information and resources for both Old and New Testament textual studies.

BibleWorks 9 Software now incorporates actual images of early manuscripts next the the Greek text and English translations – a real innovation I have not seen anywhere else.

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Project

Both the scholarly world and the internet are buzzing over the new website just launched by the Israel Museum and Google. http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/ is an amazing resource for Bible students (like me) who are seriously interested in the early Bible manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the connection of the Qumran Community to the history of New Testament times.

The website gives us its purpose: “The Israel Museum welcomes you to the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, allowing users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from Second Temple times at a level of detail never before possible. Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history.”

At present the five digitized documents include the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll. These alone are magnificent and impressive. But there’s more! From the quotation above we see that:

  • The images are high resolution, which means even when greatly enlarged on-screen they are very sharp.
  • The Isaiah scroll is searchable. Typing chapter and verse highlights the appropriate place in the scroll and shows the English translation. It is very impressive.
  • Short videos and explanatory text are available for helping the viewer to understand what they are seeing and why it is important.
Beyond the images of the scrolls, there are also pages on the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, their significance, the Qumran Community, and the Shrine of the Book museum where many scrolls are kept and displayed. More scrolls and more features for working with the images are planned.
If you have comments, feel free to e-mail us at rcravy at gmail.com.

Bulletin Articles Now Available

Church bulletins and newsletters with solid teaching content seem to be a dying breed. Most now are filled only with news, events, and calendars, or have a rather anemic “feel good” paragraph or two in place of substantial biblical teaching. Yet the bulletin is a great way to get good, solid, effective Bible teaching into the hands of members and visitors alike. Studies have shown over and over that we all remember a larger percentage of what we read than what we hear; and printed teaching can be read over and over as well as saved for later reference.

I really urge those who are responsible for their congregation’s newsletter to consider how best to meet the needs of your people. Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep.” We should do the same!

Today we are starting to make available to our readers both evangelistic and teaching articles for free download and use. The articles are at the bottom of the FREE RESOURCES page. We will continue to add more and more with time, so continue to come back.

If you have questions or comments, you are welcome to e-mail us at rcravy@gmail.com.

Charles Valentine Art Available

My very good friend and fellow believer Charles Valentine turned 70 this month. His unique talent as an artist and illustrator as well as his fervent desire to see others come to know Jesus has endeared him to many. For over 35 years he has provided artwork for various publications and teaching materials around the Sunset church and Sunset School. More recently he has poured himself into a wonderful website designed especially for children all around the world – www.childrensbiblestudy.com.

He has now started making available prints of some of his beautiful art as a way of helping fund his children’s website and other works. Prints are available in both 8 x 10 (on sale for $37.50) and 10 x 16 ($50 sale price) on his www.charlesvalentine.com website.

I want to urge all who read this website to go visit Charles’ sites, and if you appreciate his “Majestic God” series of art prints, bless yourself and his ministry as well by purchasing one or more!

Pictured is his “Church Bird” print. Happy Birthday, Charles!

Books That Changed My Thinking (3)

Like many others, I was affected and convicted deeply in early adulthood by a little novel written by Charles Sheldon entitled, In His Steps. In it he imagined how Christians might act differently if, in any given situation, they would ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” Even today we encounter the “WWJD” thinking. But that novel left a big question in my mind at the time — how can I really know what Jesus would do? This led me to the following title which has had an even greater impact on my understanding, life and teaching than In His Steps. It is a book which actually answers, at least in large part, the central question raised by In His Steps.

I originally found Me Be Like Jesus?, by Leslie B. Flynn sometime in the late 1970s in a local Christian bookstore. It apparently has a storied history, but it continues to address a need among those of us who want to be like the Lord Jesus. It was first published in 1962 in hardcover by Zondervan under the title, The Power of Christlike Living. The paperback was later printed and reprinted numerous times by Victor Books under the title I knew: Me Be Like Jesus? Around 1995 I was able to contact Mr. Flynn, a Baptist minister in upstate New York, because I could no longer find copies to give away to other. It has now been printed again (1997 to present) by Magnus Press (San Jose, CA) under the title, Jesus in the Image of God. It is available through Christian Book Distributors for $10. Personally I liked the Me Be Like Jesus? title as best describing its content, but the current version has only minor changes in conent from the earlier printings. Enough of its provenance; what is it about?

To quote from author Flynn’s Preface:

But what is Christlikeness? It is not physical resemblance, not cultural similarity, nor following Him in every outward circumstance, nor conjecturing what Jesus would do in certain cases. Rather, Christlikeness is to have the mind of Christ, to catch His spirit, to cultivate His qualities, to apply His attitudes to every condition.

The imitation of Jesus is a New Testament imperative. The Gospels and Epistles spotlight qualities in Jesus’ life which we are commanded to imitate in our own Christian walk. This book singles out several such traits, and helps us see more clearly these specific ways to demonstrate Christlikeness.

In 11 chapters Mr. Flynn shows that we are called to be like Jesus (“conformed to His likeness” – Romans 8:29) in 10 very specific ways. Here is perhaps the best known example: love one another. He commanded that we love each other as He loved us (John 13:34) Paul urged the Ephesian Christians to imitate Jesus in this quality in Ephesians 5:1. Space does not permit me to show how the author amplifies this quality, and each of the other nine a very biblical and practical way.

My encouragement to you is to purchase this book! And if you are a preacher or small group leader, plan on teaching it to others! It is one of the most practical studies you can do on Christian living!

Addendum: Leslie Flynn passed away in 2006. He was the author of 43 books, and a minister for the Grace Baptist Church in Nanuet, NY for 40 years. Click here to read his obituary.

Books That Changed My Thinking (2)

My parents were baptized and became New Testament Christians when I was five years old. From that time on I was (and have been) in Sunday School and worship assemblies without fail. Being constantly exposed to Bible teaching is one thing. Knowing how to study on my own was quite another.

At Florida College I was required to take a course called Hermeneutics, taught by Roy Cogdill. I do not believe I had ever heard the word “hermeneutics” before that time. But that course and its textbook completely changed my understanding of the Bible and how to study it.

The text was Principles of Hermeneutics, by Clinton Lockhart. Written in 1901 by a scholar and college president, the style is stilted and dense by comparison with most modern books. But, my what a revelation to my mind! For the first time I learned that there are actually well accepted and reasonable “laws” to describe how we understand human speech; and these laws therefore apply to our interpreting of the Bible.

Now I began to understand that fundamental biblical interpretation is not a mysterious process. Nor is the meaning of a passage of scripture based on what I want, think, hope, wish, imagine, or may have been taught it to mean. Instead it is rooted in the author’s purpose, and shaped by the circumstances, method and language he used to write his portion of holy writ. Look at just a few of the laws or rules discussed in Principles of Hermeneutics:

  • Axiom 1: “The true object to speech is the impartation of thought.”
  • Axiom 2: “The true object of interpretation is to apprehend the exact thought of the author.”
  • Axiom 7: “An author’s purpose determines the character of his production.”
  • Axiom 13: “Truth must accord with truth; and statements of truth apparently discrepant can be harmonized if the facts are known.”
  • Axiom 15: “Every communication of thought, human and divine, given in the language of men, is subject to the ordinary rules of interpretation.”
Rules having to do with harmonizing passages, context, vocabulary, figurative language, prophecy and more are included in this slim book of 250 pages. This is a science for genuine Bible students, but will not appeal to those who wish to teach and preach from emotion, sensationalism, or popular topics of the day. Nor is it a set of Bible class lessons or Sunday sermon topics.
There are hundreds of other books on hermeneutics, but I think few of them will serve and guide the student better than Principles of Interpretation, by Clinton Lockhart.
Where can you get this book? It is published by Gospel Light Publishing Company in Delight, Arkansas (www.gospellightbooks.com) or from Sunset’s Extension School website (www.extensionschool.com). Cost is about $10-12.

Lesson Series on “The Fundamentals of Worship” Available

This is an 8 message series on “The Fundamentals of Worship.” Its subtitle might well be, “Worship: It’s Not About Me!” The most fundamental aspect of worship is the object and reason for worship – an eternal, all-powerful and self-revealing God! At a time when so many want to talk about what they like or want in worship, isn’t it time we go back to find out what is fundamental to real worship? I believe this study puts the focus on the right questions and issues concerning worship. Click here to go to our page with the MP3 files.

Resources on the Feasts of Israel

Some time ago we released our 7 lesson series on Seeing Jesus in the Feasts of Israel. There were many resources I used while studying and presenting this series. Below are listed just a few of them:

My favorite resource is From Shadow to Reality, by John M. Oakes. It is available from IPI Books for $15.00 plus shipping. The book covers not only the feasts of Israel, but the sacrificial system, holy days, prophecy, types and anti-types, and more. It is a great addition to any Bible students library.

Feasts and Holidays of the Bible foldout chart produced by Rose Publishing. Also worthwhile to make copies available to serious students in your audience. A set of 80+ Powerpoint slides is also available: Feasts & Holidays of the Bible PowerPoint CD-ROM.

Two freely downloadable studies by the Radio Bible Class Ministries entitled The Holidays of God: The Spring Feasts and The Holidays of God: The Fall Feasts. While these studies take the symbolism of these feasts further than I feel comfortable with, they have a great deal of thought provoking information and application in them.

Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles, by David Brickner and Christ in the Passover, by Ceil & Moshe Rosen are two well written small books with great insight into Jewish history and culture.

I have very much enjoyed reading various books and articles available from the En-Gedi Resource Center website. Their emphasis on the Hebrew background and mindset of the Scriptures helped in this study on the Feasts.

Hopefully, these resources will help others in their study of these unique Biblical holy days of the Old Testament.

Listen to 2008 EBS Course Free

In the Winter 2008 term at Sunset International Bible Institute, I taught the “Effective Bible Study” course to 49 students. MP3 files of all 13 class sessions are now available to listen to or download without charge by clicking on the link below. All handouts and presentation materials used in the class are also available for download or viewing. If you would like to have a copy of all the MP3 files, handouts, and presentation materials shipped to you on CD for use on your computer, you may click HERE to purchase from our Store for $8.00.

Click HERE to go to 2008 Effective Bible Study Course page.