As Christians, we're supposed to be diligent students of the Bible. But it's pretty seldom that we're actually taught how to study the Bible beyond reading it. Further, as Christians interested in defending the Bible, Amy Hall has pointed out that we need to be students of the Bible - we need to understand what we're defending and be able to explain the Bible to critics.
Back when I worked on my M.A. at Talbot School of Theology, the Bible study software that was consistently recommended was Logos. Several years ago, the software came to Mac, then to mobile platforms. Now Logos has improved again with Logos 5.
Logos 5 is a library of study tools that you can customize to your needs and interests. It has tools for Christians who want to study the Bible but don't have any specific expertise or training. But the vast library also makes it useful to pastors and scholars. It has a huge collection of tools and books - thousands - and they add to it all the time.
There are several new features in Logos 5, and three of them caught my attention because I think they are especially helpful to any Christian studying the Bible.
The "Clause Search" helps you find any reference in the Bible to a person, place, or thing - even if it's not named specifically in the passage. Here's a good description of this feature. The search is not literal so it can return complete results expanding your study. One of our mottos at STR is "never read a Bible verse" - always read a paragraph or more. Sometimes "more" isn't in the immediate passage, but in another reference that teaches more about the subject. "Clause search" gives more complete and expansive insight into what the Bible teaches.
Another tool that caught my attention is "Timeline." There are 8,000 events tagged in the Logos 5 resources - the Bible and other books. You can see a timeline of Bible history and church history. You can refine it according to the criteria you're interested in. You can read the Bible and follow the timeline as you go. You can open the timeline from other books in the Logos library to see how it all fits together in history. It's another useful tool to give us the big picture and more context to understand the Bible better.
Word studies are one of the most fascinating ways of going deeper into a passage. It's possible to study a word and find out what it means in the original Hebrew or Greek. It takes a lot of time, requires several books, and the results are usually very literal. It's helpful, but not always complete. Logos has had tools to do word studies for a long time, but a new feature in Logos 5 is the "Bible sense lexicon." It reveals related words that are used in the same way, and doesn't return results where the same word is used but means something else in the passage. That's really useful, especially for those of us who don't know Greek or Hebrew.
There are lots of other new features along with the great tools Logos has always had. You can find out more about Logos 5 here.