In case you didn’t know, I’m a big fan of Google products. I use Gmail, Google Tasks, and Google Docs quite regularly. This blog comes to you courtesy of Blogger (owned by Google). And the list goes on.
But there’s one feature that really stands out that has helped me a great deal: Google Books. Through the Books project, Google has scanned more than 10 million books that can be found and accessed on line, mostly in partial snippet form. In some cases, though, whole books may be available.
I regularly use this to do research and sermon prep. Here’s how.
One of the best ways that I’ve found to use Google Books is for word studies. Suppose I’m doing a word study on John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word…” and I wanted to find out more info on the word “beginning.” Through my Bible program I know that the word used there is the Greek word arche. And supposing that I don’t have a really expensive theological dictionary (which I don’t), I can go to Google Books, and do a search for Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. The ten volume set of that bad boy can run you $700.
Doing a search on Google Books for that set will take you to this page. (for the purposes of this search I’m actually using the abridged set). On the left side you’ll notice that you can search within the book, so I’ll type in the word arche. Here’s what I get:
This search turns up six instances in that book in which the word is used. Great nuggets.
Another way to do searches is to search a word through all books. I had to use this feature a few months ago while reading Abraham Heschel’s classic called The Sabbath. He mentioned a word/concept that I had never heard of before, and that he didn’t explain in the greatest manner: menuha. So I searched through all books and found this list of books. Upon clicking on the book at the top, I found this great source of information.
There are a ton of other ways to use it. If you’re doing just about any kind of research Google Books should be able to aid you and help you to find some good info. And best of all, it’s free.
Have you tried it out for research? What have you found?
[image by lockhaven]