Reasonable Christian [blog], January 26 - February 12, 2010.
URL: http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2010/01/bible-works-80.html [Retrieved on 2010-02-05]
I received BibleWorks 8.0 in the mail yesterday. I have installed it already and I am learning to get around in the search window, analysis window, and Bible window. The learning curve is slower than with Logos 4 because BibleWorks is more technical and there are more selections and menus to get you where you want to go.
However, I am impressed with the overall functionality of the program and the extensive resources provided. For a complete listing of bibles, lexicons, grammars and other books available with the base package see the resource list.
I found that sizing the fonts for readability is less convenient in BibleWorks than Logos because you have to go to the Tools/Options/Fonts menu and then reset all your fonts to a more readable size. This is important for me because I am in my fifties now and need bifocals. Larger print size makes for less eye strain. In Logos you would simply hold down the control key and then use the scroll wheel on your mouse to resize the text in any window. The other difficulty I found was in the modules library window there does not seem to be a way to reset the font to a larger size for easier reading. I will contact support and find out if there is something I have missed.
The links to grammars and lexicons appear in the analysis window, which operates like the information window in Logos 4. To keep the information stable in BibleWorks when you move the mouse pointer you simply hold down the shift key.
I am still learning how to use the search window in BibleWorks. It is a bit more tricky to learn because all of the features are not obvious. For example, the search results for the modules and grammars popup in the analysis window. But if you open a library module in another browser window, that is not searchable. All searches must be done from the command line in the search window.
Also, the links which open up in the analysis window for reading appropriate sections in the grammars or lexicons or other resources do not always go to precisely the right area. This means that you must read more of the material to find exactly the right definition and context. But this is a problem with the older databases in Logos as well. The guy at Logos swears that the newer databases are better in Logos 4 but who knows unless you try it?
For BibleWorks you really need to have a good working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew and at least some knowledge of Latin to fully appreciate what this software has to offer. But one feature that I really liked was the fact that in the Hebrew verb charts there is a sound button where you can hear each of the forms pronounced. That is a huge help for understanding and learning the correct accents, open and closed syllables, etc.
In addition I was please to find that the morphology of the Hebrew Old Testament, which is the Leningrad and not the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, got the parsing for niqra' correct in Genesis 24:57. The verb is supposed to be parsed as a qal imperfect first common plural. Niqra' is a homonym with no unique form but the context shows that it is cohortative and not the niphal perfect.
The three Bible dictionaries that come with BibleWorks are available for free in the E-Sword software which is freeware. However, Logos has similar books that are free elsewhere on the internet so that should not be held against BibleWorks. E-Sword is a good alternative for the non-professional who does not want to spend much money. However, even in E-Sword to fully use the Greek and Hebrew tools there is a need for at least a basic understanding of root words and how to use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and Lexicon numbers. E-Sword takes at least some computer savvy to be able to correctly download and install the free modules, so for the less computer literate person even E-Sword would be a technological hazard.
Honestly, BibleWorks is not as user friendly as Logos 4 and its look and feel is much more hands on and technical. You really have to know what you are doing to use it. To fully utilize Logos you likewise need to have some technical ability. However, Logos is a bit more visual and intuitive despite my earlier complaints about some of its menus being hard to find and not obvious.
Another point I noticed with BibleWorks 8.0 is the Tischendorf NT Critical Apparatus. This is not the most modern and up-to-date apparatus but it is extremely useful if you compare it with what you have in your United Bible Societies 4th Edition or Nestle Aland 26th/27th edition critical apparatus. I have the hard copies of both of those works along with a hard copy of Bruce Metzger's, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. I can easily compare that with the Tischendorf apparatus in BibleWorks 8.0. The only difficulty I had with the Tischendorf critical apparatus is that there are extensive notes and discussion in Latin. Unless you have at least a rudimentary reading ability for Latin you will not be able to fully apprehend and appreciate the Tischendorf discussion. I do not have a full understanding of Latin but I do know enough to follow the general discussion.
As I said, the greatest hindrance in BibleWorks 8.0 is the way the modules are incorporated into the program. There is no search capability of the lexicons and bible dictionaries except as they are related to Bible verse searches which come up in the analysis window. If you simply open a lexicon with the Resources menu you basically are opening the book in a help file format with little of the functionality you get in the main software windows, which are the search window, bible window and the analysis window.
The learning curve is longer with BibleWorks but from I can tell the program is a worthy alternative to Logos 4. BibleWorks is especially useful for doing exegesis, particularly because the help file contains a step by step format for doing exegesis papers and for exegesis for sermons. Seminary students and busy pastors will find that BibleWorks gives many more resources for less money than Logos 4. However, if you have a big budget and you are willing to spend Logos 4 has a much larger library and almost an endless supply of add ons and books. Logos 4, I must admit, is more user friendly than BibleWorks. I can use BibleWorks but it will take longer for me to figure out all the features. As I make more discoveries I will be writing more posts about the capabilities of BibleWorks. I have yet to try out the original language diagramming or the graphical search feature. The biggest selling point for BibleWorks, however, is you get more "bang for your buck," as another reviewer put it.
While BibleWorks is not for the fainthearted, it is a great resource when used in conjunction with hard copy commentaries, the internet, and other bible software you might have. I highly recommend BibleWorks for college and seminary students in particular.
Added February 12, 2010:
BibleWorks 8.0 and Searching the Bible
BibleWorks 8.0 takes longer to learn to use. However, the more I use the software the more I appreciate the capabilities. BibleWorks 8.0 can literally show relationships between words, phrases and even show how related words in context fit within the number of words from the search word.
BibleWorks can also create a study concordance for a particular word or topic in mere minutes. Using Logos 4 would take much longer to do the same task. The reference browser that existed in Logos 3 has disappeared in Logos 4, making BibleWorks look even better. I have found that BibleWorks is much faster because it is not bogged down with fancy appearance and esthetic windows. Those things take more resources to display.
BibleWorks is extremely intricate and complex but amazingly easy to use. Word study and exegesis is much easier than in Logos because of the study guide outlines provided.
The downside of Logos is that the operating system changes so often that you're never sure what the next platform will be or how it will perform. However, with BibleWorks 8.0 the same basic windows carry over from one version to another.
I was able to create a list of verse with the word "Scripture," "Scriptures," or "writings" in no time at all. The sheer number of lexicons and grammars provided with BibleWorks 8.0 makes doing word studies and grammatical and syntactical studies a breeze. There is also a textual criticism module and a study guide to aid in doing a study of the textual evidence for the reading chosen by English translations
Charles Ray lives in Florida and studied at Asbury Theological Seminary and Southeastern University.