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LESSON 3.0 Bible Footnotes and Maps
Not every Bible has maps in it, but those that do really help the Bible student understand a little more about what is written. Look at a map or a globe from 1960. You will find many errors in borders and countries. Mountains and rivers are generally the same, but one of the quickest things to notice is that there is no such country as U.S.S.R. any longer. Just as there have been a lot of changes in the past 60 years, there have been even more changes in the past 6000 years, so Bible maps are a great resource for understanding where things were situated in each section of the Bible.
If your Bible has maps, the best place to look for them is in the rear of the Bible. Often there are maps of the Promised Land and the Exodus route to it. Many times Bibles have a map of Paul’s Missionary journey. The maps in the end of Bibles are often in color and are read in the same manner that any map is read. There is a key and the top generally is North unless otherwise stated. Of course this lesson is not about map reading, but just an overview of what may be found in a basic Bible map.
Some Bibles are specified as a Study Bible. In the last lesson, we learned about versions of the Bible, but there are Study Bibles that give the reader a little more historical information to help him or her understand the time-frame and context of the scripture a little better. Most Study Bibles include other maps interwoven with the text in appropriate places. Other visual aids in Study Bibles are graphs and timelines and even drawings of items that are described in the text. These items fairly well explain themselves, but do take the time to explore them this next week in your personal study time.
Footnotes in Bibles.
Some Bibles have no footnotes or side notes of any kind. Other Bibles have notations at the end of certain passages, but no footnotes. Some Bibles have footnotes as other books and manuscripts that are notated by a number or a letter in superscript or subscript and then in an additional column or at the bottom of the page, one can find a corresponding notation. Other Bibles (Generally Study Bibles) have commentary for verses printed on a separate area of the page. These Bibles usually if not always have the footnotes as well.
If the Bible you read doesn’t have any kind of notations and is just the text of the Holy Word of God, it is not a bad thing. These Bibles are great to start with because they are not distracting. They can be read like a book. Some of them don’t even have the verses divided out, but will say something like 1-10, or 11-14 to mark the passage. The Bible wasn’t originally written with chapters and verses, but was written as a letter or a book or a chronicle. Men have divided out the Bible and we can more easily read find the particular area that we want to read the way it is currently divided. Sometimes a paragraph is divided in one way with one translation and another way with another translation making the verses appear to say something different, but if you look at the whole paragraph all of the information is in its place.
The Holy Bible: Referenced Giant Print, King James Version by Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, has notations at the end of certain verses or with a chapter heading. For instance, Leviticus 21 says, “c. 1490 B.C.” in a smaller font right after, “CHAPTER 21.” This tells the reader the approximate date that the text was written. In some Bibles, these dates are included in a little preface to each book of the Bible. One key to studying your Bible, is knowing your Bible. The previously named Bible has its own preface. In the preface, it tells the reader what each symbol refers to. It has a dove symbol in it to signify Holy Spirit. It also tells what superscript letters refer to. Different Bibles and different publishers have unique styles and those styles are explained somewhere in or on the Bible itself. Some explain with a preface, some on the back cover, and some in the “reference” section. This is why we started off by looking through our Bibles to know what they have to offer.
When a Bible has footnotes in the margins, center column or bottom of the page, the superscript letter is within the text and then in that other area. Most of the time rather than going through the alphabet and then going through it again as double letters then triple letters, the footnote area will also include a number like 4:3. This number tells us that a is in chapter 4, verse 3. While sometimes there is another a or two on the page. This clarifies that the footnote is not the one in chapter 5, verse 16, but indeed chapter 4, verse 3.
This type of footnote can indicate a clarification in translations and say something like, “other translations say priest.” Sometimes the scripture will contain a word in the original language and the footnote will have an English interpretation.
If your Bible is not a Study Bible, but still has these superscript or subscript notations, it will likely have another scripture reference at the margin or footnote. It is called a cross-reference. As one studies the Bible more and more, he or she will soon notice that scriptures are often repeated throughout the Word of God. Often Old Testament verses are quoted in the New Testament. When that happens, the Old Testament verse will tag the New Testament verse. This allows the reader to then go to the New Testament and see where it is spoken of in that new covenant. Vice versa is also true.
If a new Bible student knows nothing more than how to look into cross-references it will still allow for an incredible and enlightening study time in the Scripture. Some people get so overwhelmed with a Study Bible format or other type of commentary that they forget to cross reference scriptures. Scripture often interprets itself with other scripture. Try using nothing but cross-reference for a time of study and allow Holy Spirit to teach you something new.
Lastly we come to Study Bibles. There is quite a variety of Study Bibles available for purchase in the English language. There are Spirit-Filled, archeology, translation-based, Jewish and many more options for a Study Bible. They all have a different “flavor” of commentary. Because of the variety of Study Bibles available, it is not time-effective to try and cover them all, but we can address them as questions arise. As stated before, this type of Bible will have its own tutorial on how to use it.
One student chose a Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation to use with this class. She hasn't studied the Bible before on her own. I told her that she made a good choice. If you are an advanced Bible student, you may want to search out Truths on your own and this choice may hinder your search because you may stop at the commentary. Ask to look at friends' Bibles to see the options. There are so many!
When dealing with footnotes and commentary it is also important to know your particular Bible’s abbreviations for each Book. For instance, Jn could represent the Book of John and I Jn could represent First John. Another book in the Bible is Jonah, so it is important to know the difference in their abbreviations. A cross reference rarely includes the whole name of the book that is being referred to. An example of a cross reference could be Is 53:6. This means Isaiah 53 verse 6 in most Bibles.
Worksheet Lesson 3.0
If a superscript is in the middle of John chapter 3, verse 16; what notation might you expect to see in the footnote area of your Bible along with that superscript letter?
a. Another Bible verse reference.
Circle all that apply
True or False:
Every Bible has footnotes. T/F
Cross-references are areas in the Bible that tell of the Crucifixion. T/F
Two numbers separated by a colon usually signify verse, chapter when referring to something in the Bible. T/F
Bible maps enhance Bible Study by showing what places may have looked like at the time the Bible was written. T/F
Look in your Bible and determine whether it has any maps in it. If it does, pick a map and use it to do a study one day this week.