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Bible software for everyone
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Few seminary students in the States have made it a year before recognizing the incredible benefits of Bible programs like Logos, Bibleworks, and Accordance. These tools, in many cases, have radically changed the way we study texts, store books, and search for data. I have spoken with several missionaries serving overseas who, growing tired of lugging hundreds of books all over the world, have moved their entire library into a digital environment. As valuable as these electronic tools are, they have largely been cut off from the church in the developing world. In these countries internet cafes are a staple for internet access, and the idea of a personal computer with expensive software on it is simply out of the question. Thanks to Tyndale House in Cambridge, this situation is about to change.

The STEP program (Scripture Tools for Every Person) has been established to give anyone with internet access or smartphone a robust Bible program that is able to equip and aid church leaders around the world. STEP is designed to easily run in multiple languages (currently: German, English, Spanish, French, Latvian, Hungarian, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, Swahili, and Vietnamese. They are always looking for people who can work in new languages!). The basic window is a search window that opens 187 different versions of the biblical text and commentaries, from ancient to modern. Some ancient texts include a tagged version of the Hebrew Bible based on the Leningrad Codex, Rahlf’s Septuagint, several tagged editions of the Greek New Testament, the Vulgate, Syriac Pepoota (NT), and the Samaritan Pentateuch. The tagged texts are extremely helpful for those with a basic level of knowledge of the original languages, since you can simply click on the word and get the root and different definitions. The program can be operated with a double-panel view that allows for linking two texts (e.g. MT/GNT and English), or a passage and a selected commentary. Another nice feature, for those who are more textually savvy, STEP has a more “advanced” view where the researcher can select multiple texts and compare them in interlinear fashion (e.g., MT, LXX, and Vul). This is a very nice resource for free.

The project is still being developed with much more in store. But for those who will be teaching overseas in the next year or so, I would highly encourage you to direct students and pastors to this website. It might actually be beneficial to build an assignment into the course that requires them to get online and use the program to increase familiarity. Regardless, I am excited about the goal of STEP and hope professors, pastors, and missionaries utilize these helpful tools. You can learn more about the overall direction of the project here.

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