Bible Vocab: A Review

photoI have long searched for a great Biblical Hebrew and Greek vocabulary building app. Sure, many are adequate, some are good but the hunt for a truly great app has eluded me.   Robert Andrew Young’s Shinun app came close. Shinun is only $4.99 and includes Hebrew and Greek vocabulary sets tied to virtually all the major Greek and Hebrew textbooks. But there are a few drawbacks: flipping the card isn’t as intuitive as I would like (you have to swipe up or down instead of swiping or tapping); once a card has been flipped, it must be flipped back or, when you move to the next card, its backside will be revealed; you cannot go back to the previous card; and the overall GUI is decent but is not intuitive.

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[Edit: Please note that a newer version of Bible Vocab is available. The new version of the paid app can be found is Bible Pro+ and is $5.99. You can watch a Tutorial video that features all of its capabilities here.]

That being said, I think that I have found a truly great app: Rob Turnbull’s Bible Vocab. Bible Vocab comes equipped with every occurrence of every Hebrew and Greek word form the Old and New Testaments respectively. The free version will only let you create sets with ten words. For a cheap $5.99, you can get the full version. With the amount of work Rob Turnbull put into this product, you are virtually stealing it. Compare this price with Zondervan’s extortion of struggling seminary students ($20.99 for a vocab app).

The vocabulary is organized according to biblical passages. Say, for instance, you are studying the book of Philippians. You need to learn the vocabulary for the entire book because you know that your professor will chose a passage from anywhere in the book for your final exam. You don’t have time to make vocabulary cards for the entire book. You no longer have to. Pull up Bible Vocab, select the start verse (Phil 1:1), select the end verse (Phil 4:23), click add.

Extrapolating out from this principle, you can create lists that span the vocabulary for the entire New Testament (start verse is Matt. 1:1, end verse is Rev. 22:21). You might say, “Why would I want a vocabulary set that big? Well, you can limit the occurrences that will appear in your list. If you need to create sets for Metzger’s vocabulary list, then simply select 500+ occurrences.

The graphics are aesthetically pleasing. The GUI is intuitive. You can flag cards for further study. You can go back to words that you have skipped over. You can select multiple lists, which you have created, to study together.

Another major feature of the app is that it can be used alongside your translation as a parsing guide. Create the list for the passage you are currently studying. Select the list for study. Choose the “parsing” option instead of the “vocabulary” option. Each word will appear as it does in your Greek text for that passage with the definition. The backside of the card includes parsing information. [[Edit: Thank you Doug for pointing out that the Hebrew side of the application does not have the parsing feature.]]

If you are still with me, I must mention that there is a missing element. There are no pre-made lists according to the major grammars. This means that the app will primarily serve exegesis students instead of Greek Grammar I and II students. I plan on contacting the developer to resolve this. If he does decide to implement this feature, I will have to revise my review from great app to glorious app. You think I can also convince him to do this for the vocabulary of the Septuagint as well?

[[edit: Students who use either the UBS4 or NA27/8, which is pretty much everyone, should note that the vocabulary is based on Westcott-Hort’s Greek text. This means that the vocabulary will differ at points from your text]]

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5 Responses to Bible Vocab: A Review

  1. Doug Hilliard says:

    Wow! Thanks Jacob! I will be installing this very soon!

    • Doug Hilliard says:

      Done. This is a good app; the only disappointment is that it does not have parsing for the Old Testament (Hebrew) yet. Definitely worth $3.99 though!

      • jacobcerone says:

        Doug, I apologize for that oversight. I was specifically concerned about the Greek side and neglected to look at the Hebrew. Thank you for the heads up. If the developer gets back to me, I will ask him if that is in the works.

  2. Doug Hilliard says:

    No problem at all Jacob; still a good app!

  3. Hi Jacob, thanks very much for the review. I only saw this today. Have you used the app now with the new Spaced Repetition features? I find it much more useful for me personally. Here’s a video explaining the new features: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W63jhYWNNv0
    All the best,
    Rob Turnbull

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