A new Bible study tool has arrived. Contexticon is Web-based software for in-depth research into the original texts of the New Testament — and one does not need to know a word of Greek in order to use it. Sponsored by the Endowment for Biblical Research, the painstaking work of digging for the original range of usage for key words employed by the New Testament writers is the ongoing achievement of a number of top scholars from universities and schools of theology. Their research is not only into Bible manuscripts, but into secular writings of the day, so one may see how the NT writers either made similar usage or established special definitions of common words. In the process, the student bypasses centuries of creed, dogma, and sometimes faulty interpretation (not to mention the evolution of language). As the name implies, Contexticon does not simply define words, as would a dictionary, but presents them in broad he context. Contexticon bills itself as an “interactive laboratory for exploring how the words of the New Testament authors were understood by audiences of their day.” The result is a fresh reading of much-loved texts.
A key feature is that Contexticon is strictly non-denominational. The author/researchers and editors represent a wide range of religious backgrounds but share a common love of the project and a high standard of scholarship.
The software is structured to present complex material in a step-by-step, user-friendly format. Each highlighted word can be studied on a basic level, or one may go deeper — and deeper. Being Web-based, the subscriber owns a package that is automatically updated every time a new term or other improvement is added. This is not free software, but an introductory, one-month subscription is available.
Contexticon has become my go-to tool for New Testament research. The only caveat I have is to state that Contexticon is a work in progress. The research team has posted many key words, but sometimes I have the disappointment of wishing to study the background of a term which they have not yet covered. So don’t give up your Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament or other resource, but do take Contexticon for a test drive! Just Google it and go.