When studying the Bible, the goal is to try and receive the original intent and meaning of the text rather than attempting to modernize it or make it conform to my own personal view of the world. This can be a difficult task because language and culture change over time, and we develop our own perspectives that we use as a filter for what we read. It also requires humility because in reading scripture, we are going to be faced with our own sin and our own limitations in understanding.
With that said, here is a list of resources that I have found helpful. I think it's important to use the ones that help us connect to the original language and help connect scripture with scripture. Once we understand as much as we can understand on our own, then we are prepared to intelligently engage with the commentaries of faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. There are times that even my favorite commentators miss the point of a passage, and there are times I have as well. If we humbly form our own opinions about a passage, it gives us a measure by which to weigh what we take in.
Once we have a good understanding of a passage in its literal, biblical, and historical context, we can hopefully draw a right personal application. Personal application though is last step, and there are no shortcuts.
- Interlinear Bible - I like to look at a passage in its original Greek or Hebrew. This shows the original language with the literal word-for-word translation right below it. You can even click on the individual words to get the more comprehensive definition of it. Obviously a word can have multiple meanings, but when we can get a good sense of what a word means in different contexts, it can help us connect it better with the passage we are studying.
- The Targums - The Targums were ancient rabbinical commentaries. They are woven into the passages so you need to compare them with the Biblical texts to note the differences. They are not inspired texts so you need to use discernment when reading them, but they at least give you a sense of some of the ancient traditions surrounding the texts. I make references to them in my studies of Ruth, Genesis, and Exodus.
- 1517.org - This site is filled with great articles and podcasts. Personally, I get a lot of insight from these two podcasts: 30 Minutes in the New Testament, and 40 Minutes in the Old Testament. You can subscribe to them through iTunes or iHeartRadio as well. I like to listen to podcasts when I'm in my car or doing yard work.
- Issues, Etc. - This is a Lutheran radio site which also publishes podcasts. They deal with everything from studying scripture to modern culture.
- Fighting for the Faith - This used to be a podcast but now is more of a YouTube production. This is a discernment ministry which takes popular Christian subculture and compares it with scripture. Some don't like this format because it seems critical, but honestly there is a lot of false teaching out there today which needs to be addressed. The host, Chris Rosebrough, is the pastor of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church in Oslo, Minnesota. If you struggle with FFF, you may get more out of his sermons.