iTunes for Bible Study

iTunesPerhaps you’ve never given it much thought, but a simple, everyday tool like iTunes can be used for Bible study.  After all, iTunes is a personal library.  It started as a database for music, but it has progressed to the point where it can now house all kinds of media:

Even if you don’t own any of the various flavors of Apple’s popular iPod series, you can still use iTunes, which is a free download, to store, manage, and track various Bible study resources.  This article will look at the various media formats listed above and examples related to Bible study.

Podcasts

Perhaps my favorite feature of iTunes is its ability to subscribe to audio and video podcasts.  iTunes can even download recurring audio and video podcasts for you automatically.  It will keep track of which episodes you have watched or heard (and how many times).  It remembers your place if you need to close iTunes in the middle of an episode.  You can even rate each episode (5-star scale) in case you want to revisit your favorite episodes again later.  Best of all, podcasts are usually free.

Think of the benefits of having your favorite teachers lead you through Biblical studies anytime, anywhere.  You can go at your own pace, and you can rewind, fast forward, and repeat as often as you like.  You can learn by yourself or with others.  You can often choose between audio-only format and videos (or both), depending on your circumstances and learning preferences.

There are many, many podcasts to which you can subscribe.  You can search for your favorite ministries and teachers in the iTunes Store.  Here’s how:

  1. Launch iTunes.
  2. Select iTunes Store from the left navigation panel.
  3. Use the Search field to locate specific authors or ministries.
  4. When you locate a podcast which interests you, click the Subscribe button.

You can also find Christian video podcasts at LightSource.com and audio podcasts at OnePlace.com.  Likewise, you can check the websites of your favorite ministries, authors, and teachers to see if they make podcast subscriptions available.

Here are a few podcast recommendations:

Precepts for Life

Kay ArthurDaily teaching ministry of Precept Ministries International.  Usually taught by Kay Arthur.  Verse-by-verse study through a book of the Bible.  Occasionally, topical studies.

Video Podcasts [Click the Video Podcasting button.  Login (or create a free account).  Follow Instructions for iTunes Users.]

Audio Podcasts [Click the Podcast button.  Login (or create a free account).  Follow Instructions for iTunes Users.]

Grace to You

John MacArthurWeekly video and daily audio teaching ministry of John MacArthur.

Video Podcasts [This link will launch iTunes.  Click the Subscribe button.]

Audio Podcasts [This link will launch iTunes.  Click the Subscribe button.]

Desiring God

John PiperWeekly teaching ministry of John Piper.

Video Podcasts [This link will launch iTunes.  Click the Subscribe button.]

Audio Podcasts [This link will launch iTunes.  Click the Subscribe button.]

Renewing Your Mind

RC SproulDaily teaching ministry of Ligonier Ministries by Dr. R.C. Sproul.

Audio Podcasts [This link will launch iTunes.  Click the Subscribe button.]

Although you cannot subscribe to Renewing Your Mind video podcasts via iTunes, you can view daily videos here.

Insight for Living

Chuck SwindollDaily teaching ministry of Charles (Chuck) Swindoll.

Audio Podcasts [This link will launch iTunes.  Click the Subscribe button.]

No video podcasts of Insight for Living are available at this time.

Note:  Subscribing to a podcast (video or audio) means that episodes will be downloaded and saved to your computer, so be sure you have available hard drive space for storing files.  Also be aware that video files are larger than audio files.

Audiobooks

Audiobooks have become quite popular in our fast-paced culture for their portability and for the freedom to multi-task which they afford.  iTunes can collect and manage your audiobooks, and, if you have an iPod, you can take them with you wherever you go.

Find some free audio Bibles here, or consider purchasing the outstanding Word of Promise Audio Bible.  You can also download audiobooks directly from the iTunes Store or other oline retailers, and you can import CD audiobooks that you already own into iTunes using the CD-ROM drive in your computer.

Although many audiobooks must be purchased, you can find some audiobooks online for free.  For example:  Free Bible Resources, Free Christian Audio Books, and LibriVox.  LibriVox has over 2600 free audiobooks at the time of this writing, though not all are related to the Bible or a Christian worldview.  Their goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio downloads, so you are sure to find many worthwhile options among their 2600+ audiobooks.

Some online retailers of audiobooks, such as ChristianAudio.com, offer a free audiobook for download on a periodic basis.  (You can join ChristianAudio.com’s newsletter to be notified of their Free Audiobook Download of the Month.)

UPDATE (August 2, 2010): iTunes and Apple devices now support ebooks.  Learn more about managing books with iTunes here.

Movies

Films, fiction or non-fiction, can supplement your Bible study and edify your Christian walk.  Of course, you must always exercise discernment in your choice of movies.  It is helpful to use services like MovieGuide.org, which reviews current movies from a Christian perspective and makes recommendations (or warnings) accordingly.

Movies can be purchased directly from the iTunes Store or other online retailers.  Modern Parables and 36 Parables have some interesting short films relating Jesus’ parables in a modern context.

While most movies must be purchased, you can find some movies (usually teaching videos) available online for free.  Be aware that movie files you download from the Internet may need to be converted to a format compatible with iTunes (.mp4, .m4v, .mov) before they can be imported into your iTunes library.  You can find a multitude of movie conversion tools online, many of which are free.

You can also bring DVD movies that you already own into your iTunes library, but this will require a DVD-ROM drive in your computer, third-party conversion software, and a bit of “know-how”.  The process of transferring DVDs into iTunes is beyond the scope of this article, but you can find several tools and instructional guides online.

You can watch movies in iTunes on your Windows PC or Macintosh computer, and you can also sync them with video-capable iPods to take with you on-the-go.

TV Shows

TV shows are essentially films (see Movies above) that occur in a serial (episode) format.  As we are all well aware, it is difficult these days to find much in the way of TV shows that can support a Christian worldview.  Nevertheless, you can purchase TV shows directly from the iTunes Store or other online retailers.  Like movies, you can pull TV shows from DVDs that you already own into your iTunes library using third-party software.

Music

Martin Luther, the great German theologian who sparked the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, is credited with saying:

“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us”

iTunes is ideally equipped to manage your music collection.  After all, that is where it all began with Apple’s first release of iTunes back in January 2001 as a digital music database.  You can purchase music (via individual songs or entire albums) directly from the iTunes Store or other oline retailers, such as Amazon (which often has better prices than the iTunes Store).

You can also import your own music CDs into iTunes using the CD-ROM drive in your computer.  It is very easy, and no special software is required.  Apple has provided an instructional video for importing CDs into iTunes here.

It is not uncommon to find free music downloads on many sites around the world wide web.  You can add audio files to your iTunes library simply by navigating to the File menu and then selecting “Add File to Library…” (for a single audio file) or “Add Folder to Library…” (for multiple audio files in the same folder).

Radio

The iTunes Radio service allows you to choose from hundreds of music and talk radio streams.  The radio streams are organized by genre, such as Adult Contemporary, Classical, Religious, etc.  The religious category includes music streams as well as sermon channels and Christian talk radio.

Games

Games combine learning and fun, which aids knowledge retention.  Search the iTunes Store for Bible games, and you’ll find many options, usually free or very inexpensive.  Here are some Bible Trivia games.

You will need an iPod Touch or iPhone to use games from the iTunes Store.

Applications

If you have an iPod Touch or iPhone, you can take advantage of another powerful feature of iTunes to ehance your Bible study:  Mobile Applications.

Compare Bible translations, perform word studies on the original languages, easily cross-reference passages, view related commentaries, record personal notes, track reading plans, and more with mobile Bible study applications.

Some Bible study applications are free; some require an investment.  Some work without an Internet connection; some require an active Internet connection (either Wi-Fi or cellular service plan).

I reviewed some excellent Bible study applications for iPod Touch / iPhone here and here.

iTunes U

According to Apple’s website:

“iTunes U is a part of the iTunes Store featuring free lectures, language lessons, audiobooks, and more, that you can enjoy on your iPod, iPhone, Mac or PC. Explore over 200,000 educational audio and video files from top universities, museums and public media organizations from around the world. With iTunes U, there’s no end to what or where you can learn.”

How might you use iTunes U to help you with Bible study?  Well, a quick search of iTunes U for Church History yields nearly 100 offerings at the time of this writing from organizations such as Liberty Univsersity, Dallas Theological Seminary, Wheaton College, Stanford, Yale, UCLA, and many others.  Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about Systematic Theology, the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible), the New Testament, or any of hundreds of other topics.  Check out iTunes U!

Summary

iTunes isn’t just for entertainment.  iTunes is a free personal library that can easily manage thousands of learning resources, such as podcasts, audiobooks, films, music, games, and applications.

If you own an iPod, you can extend the benefits of your iTunes library by carrying it with you wherever you go.  Listen to audiobooks in the car.  Watch video podcasts at the airport or during flights.  Listen to audio podcasts or music while doing housework.  Brush up on various topics from iTunes U while you workout in the gym.

If you are lucky enough to have an iPod Touch or iPhone, you have a wealth of mobile applications at your disposal to help you have a more efficient, effective, and enjoyable Bible study experience.

Take advantage of free resources, such as iTunes, to bolster your Bible study habits, … and have fun while you’re at it!

Do you use iTunes for Bible study?  What advice would you share?  Which resources would you recommend?

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2 Responses to “iTunes for Bible Study”

  1. […] iTunes to Manage Books August 2nd, 2010 by David No Comments When I originally wrote about using iTunes for Bible study back in January, the world had not yet been impacted by the new Apple iPad or the subsequent ebook […]

  2. […] resources that you can purchase, such as audiobooks and DVDs, which can then be imported into iTunes and synchronized with your iPad for BibleArticle source: http://psalm4.org/?p=1344 Related Reading: […]

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