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BibleWorks 8 Review

Josh Mann

December 10-24, 2009

for the Sake of Truth [website]

URL: http://www.sakeoftruth.com/2009/12/bibleworks-8-review-part-1/ [Retrieved on 2010-01-05]
URL: http://www.sakeoftruth.com/2009/12/bibleworks-8-review-part-2/ [Retrieved on 2010-01-05]
URL: http://www.sakeoftruth.com/2009/12/bibleworks-8-review-part-3/ [Retrieved on 2010-01-05]

First Impressions

Installation

Installation is definitely easier than in previous versions. A nice improvement is the copy/past feature in the module unlock box. This is especially convenient since I received my unlock codes via email. (You will need to obtain new unlock codes if you are upgrading modules you owned prior to BW8. So long as you purchased the unlocks before, you’ll receive new codes compatible with BW8 for free.) I recommend the DVD installation rather than keeping track of multiple CDs!

Customer Service

For some reason, my purchase history was split up into two separate accounts on BibleWorks’ database, thus I didn’t receive all my unlock codes when I upgraded. I sent an email to customer service one evening and they responded the next day–problem fixed, codes sent. I’ve always received prompt responses from customer service.

New Resources

One of BibleWorks’ greatest strengths has improved: the number of resources that come with the stock package. BW8 now comes with grammars by Wallace, Waltke & O’Connor, and Joüon & Muraoka (I had previously purchased Wallace). A few other new freebies which interest me: Greek Pseudepigrapha, Charles’ Old Testament Pseudepigrapha translation, Moulton and Milligan vocabulary module, and Greek sentence diagrams (I have not thoroughly digested the diagrams yet).

Other Resources

For those who have not used BibleWorks, I’ll highlight a few of my favorite resources which are available in BW8: BDAG and HALOT (require the purchase of an unlock code), Apostolic Fathers (includes a tagged Greek edition, a latin edition, and an English translation), and BDF (requires a purchase of an unlock code). You can find a full list of resources here.

Downers

Only a couple of minor ones. The LXX lexicon by Lust, Eynikel, Hauspie, and Chamberlain is now a locked module (note: BW7 users who upgrade still get it free!). I love a good lexicon. The more the merrier.

The program load time has not improved much relative to BibleWorks 7. My system: I run the program on Windows XP on my mac (via virtualization software). Right now I have 712 MB of RAM devoted to XP, but BW8 is still a bit sluggish in loading.

Next…

I will look at a few improvements to the analysis window, and a feature that Accordance and Logos have yet to rival.

Analysis Window

New Tabs

This window is on the right third of the BW8 program (see below). It is divided up into preset tabs, a few of which are new in the upgrade from BW7. The new tabs include a cross-reference feature* (just a convenient link up with the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge see below), a “words” tab (a sort of quick-reference of a word you searched for in the context of its version and within its own search results), and a “context” tab (which divides the window into three parts, showing you a frequency list of words in your given pericope, book, and chapter, respectively).

I think the context tab is the most helpful addition to the analysis window because it can serve as a sort of quick-reference to see the most common words in a given passage, book, or chapter (though you have to scroll past insignificant high frequency words like articles, pronouns, and prepositions). I should also mention the “stats” tab which contains a customizable bar graph reflecting your latest search.

Same ‘Ole Speed!

Even though Accordance has added new instant details features to version 8, BibleWorks still has the edge in speed: When I hover over a Greek word, I have instant parsing information in the right pane with the BDAG (or your default lexicon) entry immediate following. If I desire, I hold ’shift’ and move to the BDAG entry to scroll (all in the same pane).  Further, I can set this right pane to list various resources with the result that hovering over a word will call up relevant grammatical topics (based on gram. tags), lexical entries, and/or relevant Scripture references in these resources. As I move the cursor to another word, the pane instantly displays the new information. This combination of power and speed is unrivaled in the other programs.

*Correction: The cross-reference tab is more than a link up to the TSK. In my default setting, my cross-references reflected TSK, but through the menu at the top of the tab, I can select other cross-reference resources such as the New Chain Reference Bible (Thompson, 1934), Nave’s, Torrey’s Topical Text Book, Stephan’s Biographical Bible, and cross-references from various Bible versions. BibleWorks has also created a master list which cites the most frequently cited references across the other resources and presents them according to more or less frequently cited. Better yet, just create your own list based on your study! You can share these lists with other BW users, too.

Prices & Resources

I suspect that most users cannot afford to purchase multiple Bible software programs–buying a program and mastering it takes time and money! How does BibleWorks compare with similar products offered by other companies?

The respective versions of Accordance and Logos below reflect the versions of each which offer similar capabilities as compared to BW8. Prices are retail rates, but be sure and check for discounts.

Accordance Scholar’s 8 Premier $349.00

If you’re on a mac and don’t wish to use Windows, Accordance is your program–look no further. I enjoy Accordance, and mac users will find it to have all the ‘mac-ish’ features mac lovers look for. Unfortunately, like a lot of things in the world of macintosh computing, your dollar won’t go quite as far. Compared to BW8, the Accordance version above is a bit skimpy in terms of modules (see contents here), though many add-ons are available at a price.

Logos Original Languages Library $415.95

I’ve just begun playing with Logos 4 (having upgraded from version 3 recently). This program is truly a library, and the latest version is notably faster than the previous. The original languages library does not include as many English Bible versions as BW8, though it does include various other resources not included in BW8 (see contents here). Unfortunately, I will have to save comments on these resources until I can test them further in Logos 4. My bottom line advice for PC users looking at Logos and BW8 is to choose a program based on your needs. If you want to dig into the original languages and build a library of commentaries and other resources, Logos may serve you best. BW8 is streamlined for the study of the biblical text.

BibleWorks 8 $349.00

BW8 includes the most English Bible versions out of the three programs, helpful for translational comparisons. Of course, other versions are obtainable in the other programs as add-ons. BW8 also contains Wallace and Joüon-Muraoka, two nice original language grammars (see full contents here). As mentioned previously in this review series, I love BibleWorks’ analysis window, tab set-up, and instant details capabilities. Be sure and read part 1 and part 2 of this review for more information!

Bottom Line

For the capabilities and number of resources that come stock, I believe BW8 will give you the most bang for your buck. It’s only real limitation seems to be the intention of the company (as far as I can tell): it is lightweight and not intended to serve as a major library. It is rich in primary sources, grammars, and lexicons, though add-on secondary resources are not many in number.

Josh Mann is a Ph.D. student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary focusing on New Testament studies.

 

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