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As you read and ponder the Bible over and over through the years, what kind of reference works do you need?

My study shelf neatly holds my LDS scriptures plus the following specialty translations: the Parallel Bible with the King James, Modern Language, Living Bible and Revised Standard Edition; the Jerusalem Bible; an Aramaic translation; Companion Bible by Bullinger; NIV Study Bible; Septuagint; Joseph Smith Translation; Jewish New Testament by David H. Stern; Catholic (Confraternity) New Testament and the Jewish Publication Society Bible.Crammed in with the Bible versions is a Young's Analytical Concordance, the works of Josephus and Philo, the Soncino edition of Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon and (since Greek is Greek to me) the Expanded Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

Imagine just how unwieldy studying can be, jumping from volume to volume.

Now, picture sliding a CD-ROM into your computer and with one stroke, initiating a word search or pulling up a Greek or Hebrew dictionary or the entire Matthew Henry Commentary!

Can you comprehend watching your computer software build a 3-D map of Jerusalem circa A.D. 30?

Surely Habukkuk was describing our day when he wrote: "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Habukkuk 2:14.)

The religious scholar can hardly conceal his glee as he straps on a "toolbar" like an evangelized Tim "the Toolman" Taylor and deftly negotiates through windows of knowledge, pulling down options and study paths at will.

I sometimes almost hear my 486-DX computer with its enticing CD-ROM bay snigger at the shelf of books above it. "Ha!" my Cobra laughs smugly, "With the Logos NIV Advanced Study Pack, I can word search in Greek adapting my keyboard to Greek letters even allowing you to misspell because of my advanced phonetic algorithm."

And, after years of collecting Dead Sea Scroll texts (I even ordered Yigael Yadin's 3-volume Temple Scroll set from Israel), now I have the Logos "Dead Sea Scrolls Revealed" CD-ROM. It comes with videos of leading scroll scholars, color photos of selected texts with English translation and a computer-generated view of what scholars believe Khirbet Qumran looked like. (Developed under license of the Israel Antiquities Authority.)

LDS students of the scriptures are blessing the names of Infobases and the Portals Project from Covenant Communications.

"One hundred eighty volumes," cries one. "Five hundred!" retorts the other. "A blessing to you both!" we answer.

Journal of Discourses? Portals has it for a bargain $49.95 and for a bonus gives you the LDS Quad, plus the works of Nibley, Bruce R. McConkie and on and on. Mormon Encyclopedia? Try Infobases' CD, the Rolls Royce of gospel information with enough early writings (Millenial Star, pioneer diaries) to make a historian drool, all for $299.

The computer age has made feasting on the Word a magnificent obsession. We have access to libraries! While nothing will ever replace the time you spend in your scriptures, when study light bulbs go off in your mind, head for your computer and cut to the chase.