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BibleWorks 8

Michael Bird


URL: [Retrieved on 2009-11-03]

URL: [Retrieved on 2009-11-03]

URL: [Retrieved on 2009-11-03]

Before I start my review of BibleWorks 8, I need to recollect my first encounter with the program. I vividly remember when I first met my one-day-to-be-wife and thinking to myself, "She's kinda cute". And then I learned that she was only seventeen so I backed off for obvious legal reasons - well, until she turned eighteen. However, I did have a similar (but less intense) experience when I first met BibleWorks! I'd started doctoral studies and I was still, can you believe, using the Englishman's Greek Concordance for word searches. Then I got given a copy of BW 5 and it was like I had met the enchanted princess of the Shangrila of biblical software. "Where have you been all of my life baby?" I had instant access to Greek and Hebrew texts and various English translations at my finger tips. Since then I've been a fan of BibleWorks as it has saved me so much time and the features that it adds keep getting better. In later BibleWorks versions, having English and Greek texts of Philo and Josephus were smashing as I use them frequently. Also, being able to have BDAG and HALOT data appear as you put the cursor on certain words makes preparing exegetical notes a dream. Likewise, the complete text of Metzger's textual commentary on the Greek NT was also very handy. You can also get additional resources from the BibleWorks Blog. Well that's how it all began. In my next post on BW I'll talk a little about the new features of BW8.

As a follow up to my earlier post, I'll now describe some of the new features of BW8 that I like. (You only have to look at the sidebar to notice that myself and Joel Willitts have developed a friendly rivalry over which Bible Software programme we like!) New features of BW8 include:

Menu Tabs. Generally I don't like people messing with my software. Just when I get used to something the manufacturer upgrades the programme and then I have to learn how to "do" and "find" functions all over again. BW8 uses a new drop down menu when you want to change versions. The first option it gives you are languages (English, Greek, Hebrew) and then the assorted versions and documents available. Second, the BW8 makes it easier to move between biblical books, chapters, and verses. Whereas previously you had to scroll up and down to shift between say Acts and Revelation, the new drop down menu is much quicker. This is a change that I like.

New Analysis Tabs. A new "Context" Tab enables you to see the most common words in a pericope, chapter, and book. This is great for getting a feel of an authors preferred vocab.

Phrase Matching Tool. This is a cute little gadget that enables you to find similar phrases and words. I tried this with Rom. 1.17 looking for a phrases 5 words in length with 4 gap words at most and I instantly got Gal. 3.11 as I expected. This is far better than mere word searches as it allows you to identify common themes, threads, and phrases.

Text Exporting. There is now more flexibility as what the text looks like when you export it to a document. For instance, I prefer "In the beginning" (Gen 1:1). to "Gen 1:1 ESV In the beginning".

New Resources. Among the many new resources include:

a. New Greek and Hebrew references such as Wallace Exegetical Syntax of the NT, Waltke & O'Connor Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, and Jouon & Muraoka A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew.

b. Early Church Fathers from with complete series of Schaff Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers.

c. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in Greek and English. (Though I'm still trying to figure out where the Greek of 1 Enoch comes from!). It is based on versions from R.H. Charles and C.A. Evans.

Let me say that having the LXX, MT, Syriac, Targums, Josephus, Philo, Church Fathers, Pseudepigrapha in English and original languages makes this a great resource to have. The DSS are also available but you have to pay to unlock them.

Readers of Euangelion may have noted the Bible Software divisons between Joel and myself. With both of us changing slogans "I am of Bible Works", "I am of Accordance", and probably others somewhere in the blogosophere chanting "I am of Logos".

In my final BibleWorks 8 post I'll mention some of the benefits of the programme. (1) Value. BW8 (depending on exchange rate) costs around £180 (= $350 USD) and with all the goodies you get it is more than worth it. (2) Easy to Use and Flexible. Even a non-technical boffin like me can find my way around it, adjust settings, and find stuff that I need to find very quickly and simply. (3) Comprehensive. It contains all the stuff that I need when I do exegesis, sermon prep, and biblical research. Having the Greek NT, Hebrew Bible, Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, several Lexicons, Bible dictionaries, Vulgate, Targums, Church Fathers, Josephus, Philo, dozens of Bible versions just makes things so much darn easier. (4) Time Saver. This is close to the best reason for getting BW8. It saves me looking up stuff in the libary or searching the web. (5) Searchable. You can't search William Whiston's translation of Josephus or the LCL diglot in paper back, but you can search them with electronic access in BW8. You want to know what Philo thinks of pistis then you are two clicks from finding out. Searching Justin Martyr on "Scripture" is the same. (6) Help. I've emailed the guys at BW a number of times and they've always gotten back to me within 48 hrs with help/advice that was understandable (i.e., non-technical) and friendly. A great product, worth considering for anyone who is seriously into biblical studies.

Dr. Michael F. Bird is New Testament Lecturer at Highland Theological College in Scotland.


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