BibleWorks 8: Review
June 24, 2009
With thanks to Jim Barr at BibleWorks for this review copy!
In this day of technology I’m woefully behind the times. I’m probably the only guy I know under the age of 35 who doesn’t own an iPod and I’m one of the few who doesn’t own a blackberry or some kind of cell phone with a touch screen. I suppose it can all be chalked up to my aversion to change. When I find something I like, I stick with it, that is until I’m forced to change. I stuck with audio cassettes long after compact discs came out, VHS well into the DVD period, and now DVDs when Blu-Rays are all the rage. My point is this: I’m not a technophile. I can type, Google stuff, and burn the occasional song to a CD, that’s about it. So I’ve said all this to say that for as much as BibleWorks can do, I’ll never know the half of it, but I’ll certainly enjoy trying to figure it all out.
For years I used the free Bible software e-Sword and it suited my purposes just fine. It functioned as an exhaustive concordance that I could search quickly and cut and paste Bible verses from. All of the extras were nice, but ultimately wasted on me. So why upgrade to BibleWorks you ask? Well, for starters I heard from everyone with a PC that BibleWorks is simply unparalleled in terms of power, speed, and functionality. Having tried out a couple of other programs I can confirm this. Searches are amazingly fast whether you’re searching a single version or across multiple versions of any given resource. For example, when simply double-clicking the word πρεσβύτεροι in Sib. Or. 2.264 (in toggle browse mode), in 0.05 seconds it returned 10 results in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha as well as hundreds of hits in the other Greek texts available on BW8. That’s unbelievably quick!
The features in this program are legion, some of which I’ve mentioned before, many of which I’ve not yet discovered. One of my favorite features is the ability to create your own parallel versions window. So for example, if I want to compare the Greek text of the Fragments of Aristobulus with the English translation then all I have to do is click the parrallel versions icon, choose my versions, and presto(!), I’ve got the diglot (or as many glots as you prefer) of my choosing. And it’s also easy to synchronize; all you have to do is click a single button, so as you scroll through the one text the other moves with it.
But as nice as quick searches and parallel versions are, are these features enough to justify the cost of such a program? Well, not for my purposes, but the variety of quality texts included are! BW8 comes equipped with Greek and English versions of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Josephus’ complete works, Philo’s complete works, and the Apostolic Fathers. There are a number of Greek New Testament texts, as well as a couple of Greek Old Testament texts (Rahlfs’ Septuaginta & BibleWorks Greek LXX). The Aramaic and Hebrew (and let’s not forget Syriac) texts are nothing to sneeze at either. There’s a variety of Targumim, the Peshitta, various Hebrew Old Testaments and more. And finally, there’s a few Latin texts as well (a couple of Vulgates and the relevant portions of the Apostolic Fathers and Josephus). But this is only where my personal use of languages ends. I chose to do a custom install and stick solely with English (of which there is over 30 Bible translations), Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Spanish resources. This says nothing of the multitude of modern language Bibles that could have been installed in every language from German to Italian to Korean if I had a use for them.
But the texts don’t stop at Biblical and related literature. BW8 also comes with some great grammar resources such as Dan Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics and Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Connor’s Biblical Hebrew Syntax (and much more). There’s a number of good lexical aids like Louw & Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, 2nd ed. and A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. BDAG & HALOT can be added for a relatively nominal cost considering what the print versions go for. The Ante-Nicene Fathers as well as the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (series I & II) are included as well as Rodkinson’s Babylonian Talmud and Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church. While all of these resources are extremely useful, there are a few that I have little use for like Nave’s Topical Bible or the Thompson New Chain-Reference Bible. Nonetheless, the useful far outweighs the useless.
As I said above, BW8 is full of features that I’ve yet to figure out or discover, but those that I have familiarized myself with are incredibly helpful for aiding in my studies. After using this program for the last six months I wonder how I ever managed without it. I use it on a daily basis and can’t see my use slowing down any time soon. I’d be hard-pressed to think of a reason not to recommend it. If you have an older version of BW then upgrade asap! If you’ve got no version then get BW8 asap, trust me, you won’t regret it.
Nick Norelli is a student and blogs from New Jersey .