Rev. Terry Foland
Both the Bibleworks 5 and Scholar's Library software packages have more resources than most pastors or Bible scholars could ever use. They are clearly intended more for academic study than for practical use by a pastor or church-school teacher as a resource for preparing a sermon or a lesson for a church-school class. But they certainly could be used for such purposes by a discerning and disciplined pastor or teacher. In fact, one could easily get lost in the sea of data available at one's fingertips.
Both resources have introductory videos that are easy to understand and a variety of menu possibilities for the preacher or scholar. In BibleWorks 5, for example, there is the choice of working in one of three different modes: Beginner, Standard, or Power User. The Beginner mode allows one to perform simple searches of a given text, word, or comparison of the same passage in various translations or languages. The Standard mode provides everything the Beginner mode does, plus additional search criteria and the option of typing in other key words or phrases. The Power User mode offers even more functions, such as automatic font changes when entering Greek or Hebrew text.
BibleWorks 5 provides an easy-to-read user manual and an option during installation to customize the number of versions (translations) and languages the user will have available; there are 28 different languages and over 90 Bible translations to choose from. In addition to the basic text material there are lexicons in Greek and Hebrew (with English or other language interpretations) as well as eight different reference works that could help a preacher or teacher find useful material to enrich a given text or passages of Scripture.
Scholar's Library is intended more for serious research than for the weekly preparation of a sermon or lesson. It certainly does provide an integrated digital library of books and other resource articles from various magazines and small group resources. However, Scholar's Library is part of the Logos Bible Software Series and tends to favor conservative and pietistic understandings of the Jewish and Christian manifestations of religious beliefs. For instance, the Bible Study section is geared primarily toward a position of biblical literalism. The Theology section has strong emphasis on the Moody Handbook of Theology. Many of the resources are from Leadership Journal and Christianity Today International.
Scholar's Library is more expensive than the BibleWorks 5 package; at press time, their respective Web sites offered prices of $599.95 for Scholar's Library, versus $299.95 for the full version of BibleWorks 5 ($125.00 for the upgrade). But for the pastor who wants to engage in rigorous Bible research as a foundation for preaching and teaching ministries it may well be worth the additional cost, especially when one considers the wide variety of resources that it includes-such as materials for prayer, devotion, and small groups, as well as the Leadership Library Series and the Mastering Ministry Series.
Either software package more than adequately provides basic biblical research materials to enhance the preaching and ministry of a pastor or teacher.
Rev. Terry E. Foland is Field Consultant for The Alban Institute.