Tools of the Trade

I get emails. I just received this one from a reader, wondering what resources I use in my writing.

First of all, let me say how much I appreciate your writing. I am impressed with your ability to look at things from different perspectives.

I wanted to ask a personal question about the mechanics of your writing — not your thought processes when putting an article together, but what resources do you have available when you write? Do you utilize a large personal library? Do you have a lot of tools available on your computer? Do you do most of your research online, etc.?

You seem to pull information from a lot of different directions and your writing volume is substantial. So I am curious as to how you do it (and envious!). Keep up the good work.

I’m sitting here in my study typing on a refurbished Dell, listening to my iPhone through a cheap set of Logitech speakers. The music (“Yes” at the moment) is very important. I don’t know why. It needs to be loud.

On my computer, I have a copy of QuickVerse™ copyright 1994. Yes, it predates Windows 95, even. And I love it. I use it constantly to cut and paste verses and to do research. I have the KJV, NIV, Hebrew and Greek texts in parallel. The Hebrew and Greek words are linked to Strong’s and the Strong’s numbering system.

I also have parallel windows for the Scofield Bible notes and All Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, which are like center-column cross references. And Nave’s is on there too, somewhere.

It’s a pretty basic program, but I bought a later version and liked the old one better. It’s simple and does what I need. And it doesn’t require an install. I can move it from computer to computer easily and so work on the road.

I’m surrounded on three sides by shelves of Bible books — most bought from I keep three complete commentary series — New International, Tyndale, and Barclay’s. Also I have an ancient set of Clarke’s Commentaries I inherited from my grandfather. I have odd volumes of several other commentaries on another shelf.

The book I most use is my NIV/KJV/Greek interlinear parallel New Testament (available on This lets me pretend to read the original Greek and cheat with the interlinear.

Next most popular are my two volumes by Spiros Zodhiates — the Word Study Dictionary and Complete Word Study New Testament. I bought these cheap at an overstock store in Pigeon Forge. The CWNT gives me the Greek tenses, voices, and moods for every verb in the New Testament and a guide as to what each means, among many other resources.

And I have Vine’s Expository Dictionary, which gives definitions of each Greek word in the New Testament. It was a wedding present.

I do most of my expository work straight from these resources. I’m no great Greek scholar, but I try my best to stay close to the original with these tools.

I’m a compulsive reader. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t let my mother put away the cereal boxes at breakfast, so I could read all 6 sides of the box!

Today, I’m usually working through multiple books at a time. Presently, I’m re-reading N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope and reading James D. G. Dunn’s commentary on Galatians, Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God (really slow going!), and the Handbook of Denominations. Law school taught me to read fast. Either you read fast or you flunked.

I have some partly read copies of the Christian Standard (thanks to Alan Rouse’s suggestion) and the Christian Chronicle on my desk. I also subscribe to the Restoration Quarterly and the Gospel Advocate (not sure why).

I have a bunch of books on my shelves on lots of topics. My most extensive collection is on Christian evidences — which I rarely write on as the subject seems to have been very deeply mined by others. I don’t have much to add but love the study.

I also have a pretty good collection on Restoration Movement history — which is an invaluable study to those commenting on Church of Christ doctrine. History is essential to the study of us.

I’ve got tons of books on the role women, divorce and remarriage, and baptism, because I’ve written extensively on these subjects and needed help to do so.

I have all the usual progressive Church of Christ books from Leafwood, ACU Press, and such.

And I’ve got a bunch on missionality and on church leadership.

Finally, I have a high speed internet connection via Comcast. And I do a lot of research online. I mean, you can type a question into Google and get the whole world’s opinion in a few clicks! Much of it’s garbage, but the patient reader can pan out some nuggets of gold pretty consistently. I try to link to my sources so I don’t take credit for someone else’s work.

The volume of writing comes from the fact that I’ve now taught Sunday school class every week (often twice a week) for 30 years — as of last Sunday (that’s over 1,500 classes!). I’ve got a lot of lessons rattling around in my skull.

In writing The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace I taught myself to type and compose simultaneously — using MS DOS and a monochrome screen.

Of course, it helps to have lots of opinions, which comes from being a lawyer. By the way, law school is great preparation for Bible study. The skill sets overlap in countless ways! Except lawyers aren’t nearly as legalistic as Church of Christ preachers (and, no, I’m not exaggerating. It’s true!)

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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0 Responses to Tools of the Trade

  1. Mike says:

    Jay, thanks for the tips on books and bible study tools…I am constantly amazed at what's available online now (and free!)

  2. Pingback: Resource Materials: Tools of the Trade, Part 2 « One In

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