Starting Your Library: For Those Who Are Interested!

Hey, Sweet Things! I pray this Holy Week finds you full of wonder and meditation over the days of Christ leading up to His death and glorious resurrection. Melissa prayed in staff prayer time yesterday that this week would not just be like every other week. I so deeply Amen that. I don’t say that only to you. I want it to be true of me. We’ll have some posts up later in the week that are oriented to this season of Passion. Until then, something else occurred to me. So much happened last weekend in Little Rock on a heart level that it will have to wait until I can devote substantial time to a post. Several people have contacted the ministry over one of the points I made so, in preparing a resource list for them, I thought it might be helpful to some of you here on the blog, too. I made a challenge to new students of Scripture to start building their personal Bible study library. No matter what our gifts and callings may be, we know from 2 Timothy 3:15-17 that we can’t be equipped for our designated works without a working knowledge of Scripture.

So, where do we even begin? That’s what this post is for. Here are a few staples to start your library and then, Sister, the sky is the limit.


1. A Complete Concordance (like Strong’s).  Find one that corresponds with your translation (Strong’s for KJV, The NIV Exhaustive Concordance, etc.)


2. A good Systematic Theology Book. Here are two great choices:

*Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

*Christian Theology by Millard J. Erickson


3.  A good Bible Dictionary – Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary is terrific. There are also many others.


4.   For beginners: Several two (or few) volume sets of Bible Commentaries (My mentor started me on The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament and New Testament Volumes, but there are plenty out there. Your pastor may be able to recommend a set that is most reflective of your church’s approach.)

*You can access many commentaries free of charge online:,, etc.


5.   The 1st multi-volume set of commentaries I’d recommend is The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (12 Volume Set). They are consistently well written, thought provoking and really practical for teachers. You also don’t have to know basics about the original languages to understand them (They give good insights into the original languages and frequent definitions but the authors are not assuming you have a working knowledge of Hebrew or Greek). If you really love that set and want to keep going, the next step I’d take would be the full volume sets of NIVAC (NIV Application Commentary) and NAC (New American Commentary). Want to keep going?? The next step after that (where you’ll more often need some basic knowledge of original languages) is the Word Biblical Commentary series and New International Commentary of the OT/NT series. And it goes on and on, Sweet Thing! And it’s a head spinner and a blast.


6.  A Comparative Study Bible with multiple translations listed side-by-side.

And, then, start saving your money for Bible Software.   Melissa and I have personally used the following programs and would happily recommend them to you:

  • Logos (Beth)
  • Wordsearch (Beth)
  • BibleWorks (Melissa)
  • Accordance (Melissa)


Last thing:

A few of my favorite foundational books about the Bible are:

Baxter’s Explore the Book

Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible For All It’s Worth

Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible Book by Book


Last Last thing (this is Melissa now):

In terms of selecting commentaries, I highly recommend purchasing and consulting John Glynn’s book Commentary & Reference Survey. Glynn’s book will help you make the most of your money when you purchase commentaries and reference works.   The book is basically one massive biblical studies bibliography and he updates it often.  I think it is already in its tenth edition or something.  When it comes to commentaries, not all volumes in a series are written equally.  In other words, some are better than others and so you may not want to purchase an entire series.  Sometimes you can grab an entire series for a great price but other times it isn’t economical or necessary. Instead, you may want to pick and choose individual volumes within a series and Glynn will help you do just that. Also check out for a similar idea online.  It is an amazing website.  My favorite feature is the “forthcoming commentaries” tab where you can browse through the commentaries that are due to be published over the next few years.  Also, it goes without saying that commentaries, just like every written work, should be read carefully and critically.  If they are read in such a manner, they can be invaluable to one’s study of the Bible.


A very basic beginner’s biblical/theological library might look a little bit like this:

Are we having fun yet??


We sure love you.





296 Responses to “Starting Your Library: For Those Who Are Interested!”

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  1. 101
    Faith says:

    Amazing. I was just wondering this morning what I can do to be better prepared to share scripture. Thank you for sharing and I thank God for continuing to hear me.
    Happy and blessed Easter to all!

  2. 102
    hokiegal23 says:

    This is an awesome list. Thank you so much. I have a few of these, but I really want to start a “library” for the ladies in my church. We don’t have a church building or a real library, but I want to find a way to combine resources and help us maximize our money. This will be a huge help to that!

    Bless you Mama Beth and Melissa for your thoughts and experience!

  3. 103
    Missy S says:

    Thanks for the input, Beth & Melissa! Quick question – my hubby gave me Logos for my recent graduation, and I love it! But, I have trouble with it running slowly. My computer is not that old, so I just thought I would ask if Beth, Melissa, or any of the siestas know if that is normal? Also, have you done the training classes, and are they worth it?

    • 103.1
      Melissa says:

      What kind of computer do you have, Missy? I would definitely do a training class no matter what kind of software you stick with because they will help you maximize its usefulness.

    • 103.2
      Michele says:

      Logos is a great program but is also very memory-intensive. Have you checked your computer against the performance requirements listed on the Logos site? They recommend at least 1GB RAM, 2GB if you are using Windows Vista or 7.

      My laptop is about 5 years old and had 2GB RAM. I added another 2GB when I upgraded to Logos 4. That made a HUGE difference. Now with 4GB it runs great.

      If I can help you further just let me know. Adding memory is pretty easy if your computer has the capacity to accept more.

      Or give the tech support folks at Logos a call. They are awesome – very knowledgeable and friendly, and they can remotely access your machine so they can fix the problem quickly without you relaying issues over the phone.

    • 103.3
      Jodi Alley says:

      Hey Missy! Check out the logos website at They have places to click for tips and such. I could have sworn I saw where they had training classes, might have to sign in for that type of info. It might also be that they don’t offer it all the time. I would love to take a training class, just not enough time for all you want to do. 🙂 Good luck!

    • 103.4
      Bev N says:

      Have you updated to the current software version? Do you know where to look to see which version you are running? They made an update not too long ago. Logos is a workhorse, but does not run slow.

      Morris Proctor does truing camp seminars or the training DVDs were recently made available to purchase. (last chance on Pre-pub—last-chance-to-pre-order/
      The average person only uses 5-10% of actual capability of Logos.
      He also has a laminated flip sheet with all the short cut keys on it. Flip Shortcut Quick Cards/1 @ $29.95

      Online free training videos

      Plus, the blog has good Tips and other info. I like the tip on finding OT passage in the NT
      Open the Library
      Type this in the Library’s Find box: type:harmony
      Open the resource: OT Quotations and Allusions in the NT
      Choose the panel menu on the resource
      Select Show table of contents
      Click a book of the Bible, like Habakkuk, in the table of contents

      Online support is very good; let them know what PC you are using, operating system, etc

  4. 104
    Redeemed says:

    For years, I have been so curious to take a peek at your library study shelves. THANKS!

    I feel a little bit like Yoda just passed on Jedi secrets…..heehee

  5. 105
    Michele says:

    You must have been reading my mind! I also was thinking it would be great to have a workshop on how to begin using these kind of helps as we dig deeper into God’s word. Hint! Hint!

    • 105.1
      Carolina Cheesehead says:

      Diddo! I would love that too. Thanks so much for this great list of resources.

      Happy Easter!

  6. 106
    Stefanie McClurg says:

    Mrs. Beth,

    Thank you so much for sharing these foundational texts!! Can not wait to begin to add them to my collection! Blessings to you and the LPM staff!

    In Him,

  7. 107
    Jo Ann says:

    Helpful and inspiring! I use free resources online but this is so helpful. Thanks.

  8. 108
    Mary Lou Menning says:

    Reminds me a what my bookshelf looked like in my dorm room at Bible college 20 years ago. I didn’t keep all of them, but I did keep my Bible encyclopedias, commentaries and a theology book or two. My favorite book, however, is my Dad’s Strong’s Exhaustive Commentary KJV. It was his when he was in Bible college (the same one I went to) and it became mine after he passed away at age 50 (I was in Bible college at the time). He was an ordained minister and was a director of a rescue mission. He would preach regularly at the mission chapel and in churches around the area. Tucked inside the commentary are sermon notes in his own handwriting. How I treasure that link with him! It has been so valuable in searching out the original meanings of words and in understanding what the writer was actually trying to say. Although it makes me miss my Dad when I use it, it also makes me grateful for the incredible spiritual legacy that he left me.

    • 108.1
      Yanna Westmoreland says:

      Mary Lou that was really sweet reading about your Dad, what a gift he left you and with a sweet story to share.

  9. 109
    Royana says:

    Thank you very much for this info!!

  10. 110
    Kierstan says:

    Good morning Beth and Melissa,

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this information.

    Quick question: I have Logos and a small {book} library. I am trying to decide if I should continue to purchase books or download into Logos.

    Yes. I’m double minded. I love the feel of the book in my hands, but I also enjoy the ability to travel with my library {laptop} and it’s simplicity and speed.

    Beth are you finding you use Logos more now?

    Thank you for thoughts.

    Have a wonderful day!

    Portland, Oregon

    • 110.1
      Melissa says:

      I share your pain. I would much rather have a book in my hands but the upside to an electronic library is that with most programs you can actually search the entire library. Still, I am not going to read for long periods of time on a computer screen if I could have a book sitting right in front of me. So, yeah, this is definitely a predicament. 🙂

  11. 111
    LibbyJ says:

    Thanks you so much for sharing these resources with us! Beth, I’d love to know more about how you began teaching the Bible without a seminary degree and along with raising two sweet girls. We financially can’t afford for me to go to seminary right now and we are expecting our second but I have such a passion for the Word that I love sharing with others, college student in particular. Sometimes when I’m busy prepping for a lesson I just think, how did Beth do this?

  12. 112
    Telisa says:

    Thank You!!! I am thrilled to know about all these resources! God has grown such a hunger for His word in my life! I don’t own any of these books, but often find myself going to the computer and googling questions and scriptures all the time! Do you have a suggestion of what my first purchase should be? Many Blessings to you all!!

  13. 113
    Denise Untersee says:

    Beth, THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FOR THE INFO I LOVE IT! I am in the process of putting in a library on my front porch where I read and meet with our FATHER. I would LOVe to know what fiction authors you recommend or chistian living books. THANK YOU!!! GOD BLESS YOU!!!

  14. 114
    Carol from MA says:

    So fun! I have been emailing my Pastor about a recommended book list. I love books and book lists are just as fun as reading books! Thank you!

  15. 115
    Sylvia says:

    Thank you for this list! I already have a few and now have a wish list. HE IS RISEN!

  16. 116
    Kelly says:

    I am eating this up- so hungry! Thanks for giving me something to chew on. Love you lovely ladies!

  17. 117
    kathleen Partin says:

    Beth, Thank you so much. I to get over whelmed in the book store. I have wanted to buy some study books for bible studying but did not know where to start. Now I have a list that I can trust, and you can bet I will be working through this list.

    As always I love you and all who help do the work of Jesus!

  18. 118
    Ashley says:

    This is so helpful! Thanks for the post.

  19. 119
    Sandy says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have often felt overwhelmed by the choices out there. Knowing you have used these resources and having reaped the benefits of your research makes this list invaluable. God bless!

  20. 120
    Cindy Thomas says:

    Thank you ladies! It can be confusing to try and decide which commentaries are the right ones for me. Thanks for sharing your choices with us.

    Have a blessed Easter,


  21. 121
    theharbormom says:

    Thank you! I’ll enjoy starting my own library to add to my husband’s (or his can add to mine!). It is helpful to have recommendations and a place to build from. Love the reminder to use the public library.

  22. 122

    The craziest thing just happened in my tiny little library. Last week one volume– “David 90 Days with a Heart Like His” by Beth Moore kept being pulled off the bottom shelf about 5 or so inches. I pushed the book back a couple of times and it freaked me out a bit as I live alone and had not had company over to visit. Well there is a ribbon book mark made into the book which is almost the same color as the bookshelf and my hardwood floors and it blended in. One of my cats discovered it and was tugging on it like a dog and pulling the book off the shelf. He did it several times before I was able to catch him in the act. It made me chuckle.

  23. 123
    Kim says:

    Beth. Thank you so much for this posting.
    I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for about 8 years now and have three little ones. A part of me is yearning to go back to work though. I love office work. And whenever I day dream about it working at a place like Living Proof sounds so wonderful. I’d love to do paperwork, file, work on the computer, type, etc. with you and your group. Just sharing a little dream in my heart. But alas….I live in Alaska! Well – maybe someday God will bless me by letting me work in an office like yours!

  24. 124
    Madalyn says:

    Thank you so much for doing this!!! I am not a new Christian, but I sure needed/wanted this information!! I can’t wait to add these to my “library”!!! 🙂

  25. 125
    Evelyn says:

    My husband and I were not 2 weeks ago discussing how we didn’t know of any good Bible study resources – and then here comes your list! 🙂 Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! The list is in Evernote, and I now have a project to build our Bible study library.

  26. 126
    Kirsten from Houston says:

    Great list! I’ve been looking for some suggestions. is awesome. I keep it saved to my favorites and scripture is at my fingertips any time I’m having a rough day.

  27. 127
    Catherine says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this list! I was at Living Proof Live in Little Rock and it was such a sweet time. It was exactly what my heart needed! I wrote some of the books down when you mentioned them but this is great to have them all listed in one place. Thank you from one of your “Arkansas Pudens.”

    • 127.1
      Carolina Cheesehead says:

      Can someone explain what “Puden” is? I keep seeing this in ref. to the Arkansas LPL but am lost as to what it means ? 🙂

      • Beth says:

        Hey, sister! It’s a name Paul mentions in his final greetings in 2 Timothy 4. We adopted it for our big group of Arkansans at that LPL. It sounds very much like something my grandmother would have called all of us. It made us smile.

  28. 128
    Linda says:

    I have Olive Tree but also check out this FREE online resource that has everything in one “push a button” website.

    • 128.1
      Diane says:

      See also: 🙂 I accidentally discovered both websites last year and what treasure troves of Biblical resources!! -Diane

  29. 129
    Bobbi says:

    Remarkably similar list to my first year of Bible college textbooks. I smiled a little to see how Stong’s has not changed the navy blue cover with gold font in almost 20 years. I still love my Millard Erickson.

  30. 130
    Katie says:

    Yeah!!!!! I have all these (Bible degree, WELLLLLL worth the money, Mamas, if you little girl wants one — I use it EVERY DAY!), and trust me, even with preschool, home school, college adjuncting (English, not Bible), these books stay on the floor, on the bed, on the dining room table, never on the shelf. You WILL use them!! And the Bible is different, you study, then you need to study more, then you need more. More. More. More. Can’t every “master” it. Thanks, Beth and Melissa, for narrowing it down to basics for us. I might have to look into a kindle. great idea whoever posted that.

  31. 131
    Laurie Hampton says:

    I am so late!!! I am sorry.
    Ps. 112:7 ESV
    He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm trusting in the Lord.”
    Laurie, Newburgh, In.

  32. 132

    Girls, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “How can I know what this word means in the original Greek if Mama Beth doesn’t tell me?!” This is awesome… nothing like a little pick and shovel when it comes to the bible. Thanks so much for sharing, I’d like to try and get at least ONE of these.

  33. 133
    Siesta OC says:

    WOW! Im thrilled and exhausted @ the same time. Its not the time to purchase these for me, but I am thankful for the list. I was given a great study tool by a Pastor friend and I really feel like GOD wants me to start there. I honestly feel like I keep putting off the fact that Bible Study is where GOD wants me. WHY do I let distractions come in. WHY?

  34. 134
    Kelli says:

    Wowza Yawowza ladies! What a wonderful list of resources. I own a few but there are also some on the list that I haven’t gotten yet. Will have to get out my “what I want for…” list again for my dear hubby. He struggles buying bible presents for me – bless his heart!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you again and again for giving us some good directions on resources for digging deeper into the Word. Too exciting!!

    Kelli in Colorado

    PS – Hope Star is doing better!

  35. 135
    Stephanie W says:

    You women are gloriously beautiful to me! Oh how I am in awe of the omnipresent power of our God! Please, this is my new wish list for Mother’s Day, Birthday’s and the like. Thank you kindly! I feel a growth spurt coming on!

    Can we compile a couple’s study list too? There is a need, I know it. Praise God for the work He is doing right now!

  36. 136
    Bev says:

    Thank you Beth & Melissa. We have women in our study groups that ask about starting a personal library. As they dig deeper they begin to realize the amount of time & material that Beth prayerfully reads through.

    Both Logos & Laridian Bible software have been around from the beginning of personal computers-both are reliable. Logos started for PCs and Laridian PocketBible for handheld devices, but now either one can be used on your computer or iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, etc without having to buy your books all over again for each device. I think they compliment each other because each has books or features the other one may not have available. Allow youself time to learn how to use the features and it will save time in the long run Bible software makes studying enjoyable.

    Expositor’s Bible Comm abridged $55.99 or 12 Vol set $129.99 (saving $326.69) on sale @Logos Isaiah 25:6

    Holman Christian Standard Study Bible is available as an iPad App for $9.99 (limited offer) very easy to use. LifeWay Christian Resources.

    PocketBible offers a FREE iPad App with Bibles, Bible dictionary for free then you expand with books of your choosing. As does Logos.

    Beloved Disciple by Beth Moore available on Logos.

    Thank You Lord for how You have worked in many people’s lives to make this all available for us and for our children. Amen

    Expositor’s Bible Comm abridged $55.99 or 12 Vol set $129.99 (saving $326.69) on sale @Logos Isaiah 25:6

  37. 137
    Amanda says:

    Wow–I had no idea there was that much “back-up” material to help you learn more about the Bible. I have been praying about starting up women’s ministry at our church/somewhere locally, so if it comes to fruition, I’m sure I’ll need some of these resources to help study up! Thank you!

  38. 138
    Amy Botello says:

    Beth! I just heard this in a message from Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK – The Jews had a saying, “The Greeks (us, a Westerner, Gentile, non-Jew) tried to reach a man’s heart through his head, but a Jew tries to reach a man’s head through his heart. – Chiastic Structure!

  39. 139
    Marlo says:

    Can you just mine the gold from these for me? How overwhelming! 🙂

    Seriously, thanks for the list. When I get the courage up . . .

  40. 140
    Leah says:

    Thank you!

  41. 141
    J says:

    AWESOME post! I’ll never forget the first time I picked up a Systematic Theology text and learned that theology is meant to be lived, prayed and sung.

    I’d encourage you, sisters, to read the books critically, like the Moore’s suggested. Always test it against Scripture. These references can be immensely helpful, but never mistake it for the Word of God. The writers of these books are human, but Scripture is divinely inspired.

    I say this because it took me a long time to learn this, and I went through a lot of unnecessary anger and confusion regarding the role of women in the church… because if someone said something, I figured it must be true. I always assumed that everyone else had the upper edge on knowing God through His Word. You have the Spirit in you, and He is the one who guides you into all truth. If you lean on Him, he will be faithful to do it.

  42. 142
    Lisa says:

    I was looking for some study resources and had NO idea where to start because of all the choices. Thank you so much for this!

  43. 143
    Angela says:

    Thanks for “The list” I currently use Bible Explorer 4.0- have been looking to expand my library and wouldn’t ya know, God provided me a list 🙂 So appreciate you Mrs Beth, and only the other side of Heaven, will you know exactly HOW MUCH God has used you in each one of our lives. Amazing, Amazing, Amazing!!! Because of your transparency, willingness to get up in my grill and mix my kewlaid( ok lil slang wording for a min) God has and IS doing mighty great things in my life!! Praying for your ministry and family!

    God Bless

  44. 144
    Linda Wilson says:

    Our ladies at Bear Creek Baptist Church on Fry Road love you too! Our current study “Deeper Still” is almost over and we already are asking “What’s next!!!”

    Have a wonderful Easter. Praise to wonderful Holy Living God!
    Linda Wilson

  45. 145
    Jodi Alley says:

    I bought the LOGOS software after reading your recommendation in the FAQ’s on the Lproof website. I love it! I also found recently that they had a LOGOS app for my Iphone! It connects to the library I already have on my computer at home! Isn’t technology wonderful? Thank you for the suggestions. It really helps to have someone share, who has done the research and has already been through these books. You and your family are such an inspiration to me. It’s comforting to know that we don’t walk alone, but have others that share our hurts and show us how it “looks” to overcome and lean on Jesus.

  46. 146
    Val in KY says:

    Hey Pudens!!
    Thank you so much Siesta Mama for the list. You were rattling off those so fast I couldn’t take them down quick enough last weekend! Glad to see I already have a few of those, but will certainly look into investing into some of the others. My husband is quite the “researcher” as well, so we have a combo library.

    I had a great time last weekend. Walked away with a goal to be more of a student of the Word, not just to have it in my head, but to return to the joy of having it seep into my heart. Have felt myself falling away from that, but this past weekend has had me praying asking for that desire to return.

    Love you,
    Louisville, KY

  47. 147
    Dendy says:

    Thanks for this!! I’ve started building a little library of my own too but have wondered so many times what study materials and assignments your mentor gave you when you first started out. I find myself getting started and then get frustrated when I either can’t find what I am looking for or I get interrupted and have to stop in the middle of a search. Thank you for mentoring so many of us who love studying His Word too.

  48. 148
    Gay says:

    Hi Sweet Thangs (my twang is still in Arkansas)!! Can we get a copy of the commissioning that we said to each other at conference end in Little Rock? Thanks so much. I have to remind my partner! Wink.

  49. 149
    Jeanne AFwife with 3 says:

    Hello all, I just wanted to recommend the MOUNCE’s Dictionary. I have the Vines as well but have really enjoyed the MOUNCE better since it is not translation specific. I have learned that a resource library is wonderful!

  50. 150
    Michelle says:

    Wow, that’s a bit intimidating but awesome! My hubby is studying to enter into ministry and has found a really cool resource that you might like! (And it’s compatible with Mac’s as well as PC’s which is one of the best things about it to him! 😉 ) Great graphics, details, and info out the wahzoo! Check it out if you’re interested!
    Have a great day!
    Love you!

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