The Study Center in the Olive Tree Bible App contains four tabs, each with a unique purpose for Bible study. In this post, we’re covering the second tab: parallel. It can be used specifically for parallel Bible study. Or, you can also use this tab to open other resources. We’ll explain the usefulness of both methods, and give you some tips of getting the most out of your set-up.

Parallel Bible Study in the Parallel Tab

Parallel Bibles are a useful way to compare two different translations. In print, you can often find parallel Bibles that contain both an English translation and another language. Others may contain a more literal translation next to a dynamic translation or paraphrase.

Not sure what these technical words mean? That’s okay. We’ll explain!

A Quick Explanation of Differences in Bible Translation

When Bible translators get to work, they have some decisions to make. This is because language translation isn’t like math — there isn’t a clear answer. Some languages use pronouns differently. Some languages lack words that we have in English, and vice versa. Then, to make matters more complicated, many language phrases are coated in cultural context.

For example, a popular Gen Z phrase is to say you left someone “on read.” While you may not understand the lingo, their friends will. This is because cultures (and subcultures) use language differently. When you don’t understand the context, you’ll miss the entire meaning. Which, by the way, that phrase is referring to opening a message on your phone but not responding. The person who sent the message can see the read receipt, knowing that you saw the message, but chose to not reply. This can cause drama.

Now, imagine you exist 3,000 years in the future, where no one texts anymore… and you speak a different language. First, you’d need to learn 21st century English. Then, you’d need to learn about the technology of the 21st century. And lastly, you’d need to learn about teenagers from a specific generation and their popular phrases. Otherwise, “on read” may mean something very different to you. And when you translate this phrase back into your own language, you have the option to say “on read” (which may confuse those who don’t have your knowledge on the phrase) or you can use a different phrase that communicates the same concept (like “ignored”).

Bible translation comparison for parallel Bible study

This is the challenge of Bible translation. Some Bible translators choose to translate word-for-word. This is called a literal translation. While you’re reading the closest equivalent to the Greek or Hebrew as possible, it may mean you miss out on the nuance of what the author was trying to say. Other translations choose to completely paraphrase the text, a more dynamic approach. Imbetween, you’ll find thought-for-thought approaches.

Why Compare Multiple Translations in Parallel Bible Study?

Now that you understand the differences in Bible translations, why would you choose to do so?

  • Read a more literal translation (KJVESVNASB) alongside a more dynamic one (NLTMessageTLB) to get a fuller idea of what the text says — word-for-word and thought-for-thought.
  • Have an English translation open alongside the different language text to practice your language skills and see the power of God’s Word across the world!
  • Try one of your more simple, familiar translations (NIV, NKJV) next to a more creative translation that shows you the text in new formats (The Voice Bible, Expanded Bible, Amplified Bible)
Parallel Bibles Olive Tree

How to Make Your Own Parallel Bible in the Parallel Tab

You can make your own in three easy steps:

  1. Open a Bible in the main window
  2. Then, open the Study Center and select the Parallel tab
  3. Lastly, open a second Bible

And bam! You’ll be reading side-by-side translations. It’s that easy!

Opening Other Books in the Parallel Tab

If you followed along with our instructions above, you might have noticed you can open other books in the Parallel tab — not just Bibles.

Why?

Well, we really thought it was important to provide a tab for parallel study. If you’re using the Resource Guide tab to look at commentaries and study Bibles, we didn’t want it to be impossible for you to have two Bible texts open.

Side note: If you’re using our Windows app, you can have as many tabs open as you want!

At the same time, we recognize that maybe two Bibles won’t always be the best fit. Maybe you’d prefer to have two commentaries open… or a commentary and an atlas! Either way, opening another book in the Parallel tab is ALWAYS an option for you. We hope you utilize it!

Window Linking in the Parallel Tab

linking windows for parallel bible study

When you use the Parallel Tab, the split window will automatically link to the main window.

For example, if you were to scroll through the NIV version above, the ESV would follow along.

But if you were to scroll in the ESV version, the link would break.

breaking link parallel tab

You can link the windows again by tapping the link icon. However, the windows will still unlink if you scroll in the Parallel Tab. To lock the link feature, tap a second time.

lock link again parallel tab

Now, the ESV version will always link back up with the NIV version, even after scrolling.

The best way to learn about this feature is to try it for yourself!

Start Using the Parallel Tab

Ready? First, make sure you have the Olive Tree Bible App downloaded. Then, take a look at all the available Bibles. Add some to your Olive Tree account. Then use the knowledge you gained from this post to start a parallel study of your own!

12 Comments

  1. Thanks for this tip.

    Is there any plan to support the ability to link together an OT-only resource with a NT-only resource to produce what is essentially a composite bible based on two different testament resources? I’ve been wanting to link a Hebrew resource (OT only) with a Greek resource (NT only) so that as I switch between OT and NT passages it automatically knows to open the corresponding resource. As it stands now, I have to laboriously close one and open the other each time I happen to cross the OT/NT address boundary which us quite inefficient.

    Thanks – Tony Garland

    • Monty Galloway Reply

      Hi Tony,

      No plans to do this right now, but it is a great suggestion. I’ll pass it along to our development team.

      Blessings!

  2. When I tapped on the screen no menu opened and I could never get to the “open study center” he referred to at the beginning and so was unable to open up a second window. What am I doing wrong?

    • Cierra Klatt Reply

      Hey, Terry! In this video, Kyle is using a Samsung tablet. If you’re using any kind of Apple device, things will look a little different. The best way for me to explain this is to point you to our YouTube account, where we have lots of helpful how-to videos. If you have any other questions, or need to be walked-through how to do something, feel free to email support@olivetree.com. They will be glad to assist you!

  3. William Morrison Reply

    works great on my android phone, but not on my Samsung Galaxy S tablet. Nothing on the bottom right to even get started. And is the split window function now gone on tablets? I realize tablets may be different phones. If so, just say so. Still the best app.

  4. I had been doing this with a couple of different translations. I updated my device and had to reinstall the app. When I did, my translations were gone. Some were there, but the ones I used the most were gone. After looking over the website, I guess they don’t support those translations anymore. Sadly, I paid for them. So I’m out of luck. It was the only reason I was using the app. I wish they would have at least mentioned why they are gone. Oh well.

  5. I don’t think I’m getting anything out of the olive tree
    Please help me to just get started. Even if I could find
    a bible verse to read I’d feel at least I could get somewhere.

  6. Alec Wilson Reply

    Hi!

    Really appreciate your app – it’s just what I need.

    One minor question – is there any progress or feedback from the development team on Tony Garland’s suggestion from three years ago?

    Rather than have a single version for both OT & NT, why not give users the option (if they wish) to set them to different versions, both in the main window and the parallel tab?

    • Monty Galloway Reply

      Hi Alec,
      Unfortunately, no, we do not have this feature in our app. You can email us at support@olivetree.com to “second” your suggestion with our support team if you would like.

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