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Thread: Looking for a Website to Check Bible Verses

  1. #1
    Registered User Clopin's Avatar
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    Looking for a Website to Check Bible Verses

    I'm trying to do a close reading of the Bible, mainly the New Testament and I pretty frequently come across verses that I would like immediate feedback on from people who are experts in such matters. Does anyone here know of such sites where Bible verses are commented on and discussed in such a way?

    For example, Matthew 15:22-28

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage...hew%2015:22-28

    If I google a Bible verse I get a whole bunch of sort of unwieldy looking websites so if anyone has any experience on which of these might be the best I'd appreciate it.
    So with the courage of a clown, or a cur, or a kite jerkin tight at it's tether

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    I agree that one needs commentaries to read these old sacred texts preferably one should have a commentary written by a believer if not someone considered to be a "saint" among those believers. For the Bhagavad Gita, I would recommend Eknath Easwaran's three volume commentary.

    For the Bible, in particular Genesis, there is Kent Hughes' "Genesis" which I found informative. Hughes book is a set of sermons that I suspect are online somewhere. He was a pastor of a nondenominational Christian church who focused on expounding biblical texts, verse by verse. I would also look for a Catholic and Jewish interpretation for comparison purposes and because no one commentator can give you everything you might be looking for. For Genesis, there is also "The Book of J" which is a translation from a secular perspective of the portion believed to be written by the Yahwist contributor.
    Last edited by YesNo; 06-21-2016 at 11:10 AM.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    All my commentaries are in hard copy. Bible Gateway is from a fundamentalist evangelical background and you should be able to know comments from earlier and other points of view (catholic, critical or both.)

    The one volume book I got recently is the Oxford Bible Commentary, edited by Barton and Muddiman. I see it is possible to download it as an ebook.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clopin View Post
    I'm trying to do a close reading of the Bible, mainly the New Testament and I pretty frequently come across verses that I would like immediate feedback on from people who are experts in such matters. Does anyone here know of such sites where Bible verses are commented on and discussed in such a way?
    Mmmm. Unfortunately it's not as simple as that. In fact, I would recommend against using such websites. And with genuine respect to my friend YesNo, I would strongly recommend against seeking help from anyone who offers spiritual guidance--for now. There are multitudes of "experts" who will be happy to lead you down one path or another because it was the path they were led down. And as I know you reasonably well, Clopin, I am all but certain you would come to reject what they are telling you as simplistic claptrap. And you'd be right.

    The Bible was not handed down from the sky by a giant Monty Python hand. The Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament alone was composed over 1000 years by hundreds of authors under extremely different historical circumstances. They frequently disagreed with one another, many never knew about the others, and almost none would have known the book that we have. Later (sometimes by centuries) editors redacted this material thematically, often without regard to differences of opinion and perspective. Christians and Jews derived their religions from taking this diverse material and harmonizing it into something they found meaningful.

    The Christian Testament/New Testament is no less a product of redaction. It consists of the cherry picked texts of anonymous first and second authors who were convinced that something unique and profound had happened in the coming and going of Jesus of Nazareth. They weren't the only ones writing about this, and again there was little agreement about who Jesus was or why he had been important. The texts were selected for the New Testament retroactively. They reflected the opinions of emergent Orthodoxy as Rome ended its Christian persecutions and came to adopt the new faith. Texts voted off the island did not last long.

    That does not mean that the texts that survived are not meaningful, but it does mean that their predispositions to see things a certain way needs to be understood. They need to be taken on their own terms, which are not the only terms possible. (Of course I would have been burned for these convictions if I had been born in the wrong time).

    The Hebrew Bible provides a good example. One of the ideas that was sanctioned when the time came was that Jesus had been predicted by the Prophets and Psalms. Never mind what those authors thought they were talking about--they were talking about Jesus. That is a standard orthodox belief today, but it was not universal until it was made so. Christian writers like Marcion (and a host of gnostic Christians) wanted nothing to do with the Hebrew Bible. But they lost.

    The implication of that loss for you, Clopin, is that it is impossible to understand the New Testament on the level you are talking about without also understanding the Old Testament--because the writings that made it into the New Testament were written with that idea in mind. And it is impossible to understand the Old Testament without having a handle on the process through which it was written.

    So rather than use a website, I recommend that you read enough to get the background you need to understand these texts on their own terms--and yours. You can actually get there with the Old Testament fairly quickly. I strongly suggest you pick up a book called Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman. This is not the most current scholarship, but it is a great synthesis of the relevant material taught at the University of Chicago and Harvard. It's not written in a technical style and there's less than 250 pages of actual text.
    This book will show you how to approach Biblical text in a way that will open your understanding rather than filling it up with someone else's systematics.

    Then, if I were you, I'd read the Old Testament. But suit yourself.

    Here's a link on the Friedman book:

    https://www.amazon.com/Wrote-Bible-R.../dp/0060630353

    Unfortunately, getting a similar background for the New Testament is a lot harder. I would trust very little of what offers itself. And I can't think of a quick fix like the Friedman book. The one I will recommend (also short and well written) is Who Killed Jesus? by the notorious John Dominic Crossan. It is far from comprehensive (it focuses on the so-called Passion Narrative from the Canonical Gospels) but it is short (about 200 pages) and will put you on the right path. In fact, if you're really set on reading the New Testament before the Old, try slipping in the Crossan book first. Then you can read the New Testament and do your own future research (just remember that Paul didn't write all those letters, okay?)

    Here's a link:

    https://www.amazon.com/Who-Killed-Je...o+killed+jesus

    Okay, I've probably called all sorts of religious and atheistic Internet loons down on my head by writing this, but it is my sincere advice to you. What you are asking is more complicated than either side of the Internet war religion wants to admit. But it is fascinating and fun--something few in their ranks ever manage to be.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 06-21-2016 at 02:59 PM.

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    Registered User Clopin's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies homies.

    @ PB - I have actually read most of the Old Testament (and the entire New Testament) quite a number of years ago, but a friend of mine recently gave me a book on Revelation and I wanted to brush up a bit before reading it. I added the books you suggested to my Amazon cart though and I'll pick them up. I do also plan to read/study the OT pretty heavily this year as well so if there's any one particular book of Judaeo-Christian scholarship you'd suggest I'd like to hear it as well.

    One of the ideas that was sanctioned when the time came was that Jesus had been predicted by the Prophets and Psalms. Never mind what those authors thought they were talking about--they were talking about Jesus.


    Unless I'm mistaken, the KJV (Well Matthew and Mark at least) seems to suggest that Jesus took steps to fulfill the prophets himself and on purpose.
    So with the courage of a clown, or a cur, or a kite jerkin tight at it's tether

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clopin View Post
    Thanks for the replies homies.

    @ PB - I have actually read most of the Old Testament (and the entire New Testament) quite a number of years ago, but a friend of mine recently gave me a book on Revelation and I wanted to brush up a bit before reading it. I added the books you suggested to my Amazon cart though and I'll pick them up. I do also plan to read/study the OT pretty heavily this year as well so if there's any one particular book of Judaeo-Christian scholarship you'd suggest I'd like to hear it as well.
    Well, there's just so much. The important thing is to educate yourself enough to make your own decisions; then you can approach the materially intellectually, spiritually, or both--however it takes you. I got thinking that a more comprehensive book on the New Testament might be The Five Gospels by Robert Funk and Roy Hoover (JR and Kev didn't stone me for recommending John Dominic Crossan so what the heck ). It's a highly controversial annotation/commentary on the Canonical Gospels and the extra-Canonical Gospel of Thomas with special attention to historical veracity. Obviously you don't have to take what they say uncritically (or at all), but I think you might like the standard of historical truth they try to hold themselves to. Maybe if you like the Crossan book you can try this one. If not, you can always try a more traditional approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clopin View Post
    Unless I'm mistaken, the KJV (Well Matthew and Mark at least) seems to suggest
    that Jesus took steps to fulfill the prophets himself and on purpose.
    Yup. The authors of those Gospels believed that and told the story--that's why they got into the Canon. But the Gospels are not biographies in any modern sense; they are theological tracts pushing their own views on who Jesus was and why he was important. So you can't proof-text your way to knowing what Jesus actually said. (There is even an argument based on the synoptic Gospels that Jesus rejected Messianic claims--note that he almost always refers to the Son of Man in the third person). Those things are fun and fascinating and I am not advocating a particular view here. But issues of what Jesus actually said are complicated and extremely controversial.

    By the way, I finally found a website I trust and can recommend (I used to know one of the people behind it). The approach is scholarly. Here's the link:

    http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 06-22-2016 at 07:35 PM.

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    You may find the NET Bible useful. It's usable online or downloadable from bible.org, and is a new translation with over 60,000 notes.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    I have found blueletterbible.com helpful.

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    Watcher by Night mtpspur's Avatar
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    A suggestion or two on commentaries I would recommend Matthew Henry for a book designed to read by the common man-devotional and practical his own writings ended with Acts I believe and the rest by others using his notes and yes there is a huge difference. Protestant background by the way. If you want more substance John Calvin is surprisingly readable but for sheer emotion and passion Martin Luther is the way to go. The viewpoint of all of these is that this is the revealed word of God to man and He will be believed or not-the attitude that one approaches the Bible is paramount to any understanding of it. If you think it is JUST another book -fine -leave it be. God never has and never will apologize for BEING God. Just saying.

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