BibleWorks 8 Review
Randy A. Brown
StudiesInScripture, June 17, 2010 through August 8, 2010.
URL: http://studiesinscripture.com/bibleworks-8-part-1-first-impressions/ [Retrieved on 2010-08-13]
Part 1: First Impressions
The kind folks over at BibleWorks have graciously given me a review copy of BibleWorks 8. This review is my first impressions of the software. After I’ve used the software for a while I will write a follow-up review to give some more depth of this vast Bible study program.
BibleWorks 8 is software for exegetical Bible study. BibleWorks 8 is available for the PC. BibleWorks gives you the tools to do your own research; it’s just a lot faster and more efficient than looking it up the old fashioned way. It’s much easier to study with all of these resources just a mouse-click away. I don’t lose my train of thought because of taking so long to find a definition or comment. The amount of space that is saved when compared to physical books is amazing. That might not be an issue for some, but it is an issue for me. I’m out of space in my small home, so for me software is the better choice for Bible study. It also has the advantage of copy and paste, which is great for writing essays and sermon outlines, and for taking notes. This makes BibleWorks 8 an excellent research and writing tool.
BibleWorks 8 has the feel of high-end software, much like Photoshop, and is just about as complex. There are other Bible programs out there, just as there are other photo editing programs out there, but, just like Photoshop, there is no real substitute. Nothing does what BibleWorks does as good as BibleWorks does it. You can use books, pencil, and paper and develop your articles, essays, and sermons, but BibleWorks performs all of these tasks so fast and easily that you can spend your time in actual study rather than finding the books and searching through page after page and compiling it all yourself. And, dollar for dollar, BibleWorks is a better deal than buying the same resources in book form.
Taking a Look
When you start BibleWorks you get the startup screen.
On the startup screen you can watch several introductory videos.
After you move past the startup screen you get a daily devotional.
After you close the daily devotional you get the main screen.
The main screen is divided into three sections: search, Bible, and analysis.
Searching is complex, and it’s not that difficult if you watch the tutorials on the startup screen. The search feature is very powerful and easy to use once you learn how. There are 12 tabs across the top of the search box. Each tab is a separate search, each showing its own results.
Another way to search is to click on a word in the Bible. Every verse that has that word appears in the search window. This search takes just a couple of seconds.
The browse window is where you read the Bible and compare different versions. A great benefit of BibleWorks is the ability to quickly choose from 190 versions of the Bible. If I am using the King James Version and I want to show a verse in the NIV, NKJV, ESV, or many others, I just choose that version in a drop-down menu and there it is. Translation, book, chapter, and verse selection couldn’t be easier. I can also see the verse in multiple translations at once, depending on the browse mode I choose. Each word is keyed to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Strong’s numbers can be toggled on or off. When you place the mouse over a word you get a window that shows the definition in the original languages.
The analysis window has several features including dictionaries, lexicons, and commentaries. It comes with several that are in the public domain. The analysis commentaries and dictionaries are not searchable. Instead, you get the analysis features that apply to the text you are currently reading.
One feature is word analysis. In fact, I would say that BibleWorks’ greatest strength is in exegesis. BibleWorks really shines when studying the original languages.
The analysis window includes many study tools. Tools include lexicons, grammars, commentaries, and even external references from many study Bibles including the ESV, NIV, Naves, and many others. You can even use the analysis window to display another Bible.
Who it’s for
BibleWorks 8 is for those that are serious about Bible study. BibleWorks 8 is best suited for anyone that needs to perform exegesis of the original languages. This would be especially true of preachers, teachers, students, and writers. Laymen that want to go deeper into the original languages will find it useful, but I recommend that laymen have a good understanding of word analysis tools. Buying this software is much cheaper than buying the tools in book form. So laymen that want these tools would be wise to invest in BibleWorks 8. It’s not really designed for the casual Bible reader, although they would greatly benefit from what BibleWorks 8 has to offer.
For Teachers and Preachers
BibleWorks is an amazing tool for preachers, teachers and professors, because of its outlining tools. The help file contains a step-by-step format for exegetical papers and sermons. Everything needed could easily be copied, pasted, and printed, making it easy to develop sermons and study materials.
Students can greatly benefit from BibleWorks for researching and writing essays. Many of the tools that a student needs are here, or can be added as a module.
I like BibleWorks as a writing tool. Some writers don’t include the complete verse. Instead, they only include the reference. I like to have the verse within the body of my text, so being able to copy a passage and have correct formatting is a big deal for me. I’ve tried many Bible programs and almost all of them have bad formatting for the text when you copy and paste a verse. For example, if I wanted to copy John 1:1-14, most Bible programs would add their own formatting when I paste the passage. Most of them place each verse on a separate line and add the book name, chapter, and verse number to each verse. Some even add the name of the program to each line. In order to use those programs for writing I would have to edit each verse. That is so time consuming that I could almost type the verses out myself. With BibleWorks, I simply highlight the passage I want, select copy (or hold Ctrl and press c), and then paste the text into Word. The formatting is perfect. It has the name of the book, chapter, and verse at the beginning of the passage, and then has a small number at the beginning of each verse that doesn’t get in the way of the verse- just like the Bible. The passage itself is in paragraph format that looks great. You can see examples of this throughout my website.
Since I can see multiple translations at once, I can copy more than one translation at a time. This makes parallel comparisons quick and easy.
Another benefit to writers is word analysis. In the right panel are definitions, commentary, etc. If I want to add a definition of a word to my writing I just hold down the shift key as I hold the mouse pointer over the word I want a definition for. The definition appears in the analysis window. I simply copy the text and paste it into my document.
Using BibleWorks for Personal Study and Reading
If you don’t want to use BibleWorks 8 for exegesis, there are plenty of tools for personal study and reading. For example, you can color-code (with unlimited number of colors), underline, and add your own notes. You can also use BibleWorks for daily devotionals. BibleWorks 8 is the perfect choice for making your own study Bible.
BibleWorks’ website has plenty of helps, forums, and workshops. BibleWorks is very technical and will take some time to learn, so these helps will be very helpful. The program itself includes a nice help file and some training videos to get you started. The help file has pull-down menus that link to study guides and more videos. It takes some time getting used to the program and all of the things it can do, but it’s well worth the effort.
BibleWorks 8 doesn’t come with any filler (tons of extra programs that are not that useful just so they can say they have tons of extra programs). It comes with 190 translations. Although I won’t use most of them, it’s nice that they are there. People that do need a translation in Korean or one of the many languages we hardly ever think about are accommodated.
Here is a complete list of contents for BibleWorks 8: FULL CONTENTS
Of course you can perform exegesis without BibleWorks, but BibleWorks makes the task much faster and you don’t have to hunt through your books to find what you need. If the commentary, lexicon, or dictionary is not included with BibleWorks you can most likely get it as an add-on module. There are many modules available from BibleWorks as well as modules that have been created by users. Having a user community insures plenty of content and help.
BibleWorks 8 is surprisingly fast and yet does not require a powerful system to run. BibleWorks 8 is available for Windows and comes in CD or DVD formats. It can be run on Windows 2000 with 128 MB of RAM and 700 MB hard-drive space and a 1024×768 display, though I recommend installing the full version which requires 7 GB of hard-drive space. It also runs on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
Thoughts and Recommendations
Promoting good software like BibleWorks 8 is promoting good Bible study, and I am always eager to promote good Bible study. I haven’t found any software that helps in the study of the original languages and Biblical exegesis like BibleWorks 8. I can recommend it without reservation.
I highly recommend BibleWorks 8 for pastors, preachers, teachers, students, and writers. Your congregation, students, professors, and readers will benefit greatly from what you glean from BibleWorks 8.
Part 2: Favorite Features
BibleWorks 8 is a vast program that heightens the quality of your Bible study through word analysis, parallel comparisons with other Bible versions, commentaries, and more. I’ve been using my free review copy for a few weeks now and I wanted to write a follow-up review and cover some of my favorite features that I’ve used so far. There are many excellent features in BibleWorks 8, so this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, but this will show how I’ve been using BibleWorks 8 and what I’ve found to be most useful so far.
Holding the mouse cursor over a word and holding the shift key keeps the information about that word in the analysis window. The analysis includes the Strong’s number, an in-depth definition of the word in its original language, Matthew Henry’s commentary, and the Geneva Bible notes. I use the definitions the most, but it is nice having notes and commentary to refer to, especially for difficult passages.
Copy and Paste
Since I use BibleWorks 8 for writing it is important to me how copy and paste works. Many Bible software packages do not allow for clean copy and paste of the text because they add their own formatting when you paste. BibleWorks 8 allows you to have full control over the format and how you paste. You can choose how copy and paste works by selecting Tools, Options, and Selected Browse Text. You can also right click on selected text, select Copy Selected Text, and choose Configure Text Copy Favorites. I chose for my reference format to be bold and to show the book, chapter, verse, and version. My reference format looks like this:
<b><book> <chapter>:<verse> <version><b>
These are HTML tags, which means that it helps if you know a little bit about HTML. HTML is not hard to learn. There are some HTML tutorials in the Help file and there are plenty of good tutorials online that can teach you everything you need to know in a just few minutes. It would be a good idea to learn HTML anyway because many blogs give the ability to format your post responses with HTML.
Once I copy and paste a verse into Word, my format looks like this:
Act 2:38 KJV Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
I was really impressed with the level of adjustments that you can make. Options include placing the reference before or after the text, enclosing the text in quotes, and exporting your colors (if you’re like me and color-code). The HTML formatting allows you to format the references with bold, italics, underlining, encasing in parenthesis, etc. You can have the text to paste directly into Word as you copy. This saves me a lot of time because I’m going to paste into Word anyway. This way I just highlight the passage and copy (I use Ctrl + c) and the text is automatically pasted into my Word document. One thing to be careful with about copying directly to Word is that it pastes where your cursor is. So if your cursor is in the middle of a sentence, the verse will be pasted in the middle of your sentence. That’s easy enough to deal with; I just have to remember to place my cursor where I want my text to appear.
X-Refs are cross references to further your study. I was very pleased to find that one of the cross references included in BibleWorks 8 is the Thompson Chain Reference. I like the Thompson because most of my studies are topical. Add the fact that Nave’s Topical Bible, Torrey’s New Topical Text Book, and the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge are also included and I can do topical studies to my heart’s content. As if that wasn’t enough, the cross references from the ESV, NIV, and the TNIV are here too. There are plenty of cross references to help you work your way through any topic.
X-Refs are found under the Resources menu or in the Analysis window under the X-Refs tab. Selecting Acts 2:38 in the Browse window, then selecting Thompson Chain Reference brings up the topics: Church, Holy Spirit, Penitence-Impenitence, Divine Promises, and Salvation-Condemnation. There are many verses and topics within each heading. Clicking on any of the topics brings up a window with links to all of the verses that are connected to that topic. It’s a Thompson Chain Reference Bible with hyperlinks.
Selecting Nave’s Topical Bible gives you the topics: Baptism, The Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Regeneration, Repentance, Righteous, Salvation, Sin, and so many subtopics that I can’t name them all.
The cross references alone are a wealth of Bible study that will last you a lifetime.
The Vocabulary Flashcard Module, found under Language Tools in the Tools menu, is an excellent tool for those trying to learn Hebrew or Greek. The Flashcard module contains 5393 words. Each word is arranged according to the frequency that the word is used in the Bible. My favorite part of this feature is that it will play a voice file so you can hear how the word is pronounced. There is also a status of each word that shows if the word has been learned or not.
The Diagrammer allows you to diagram a verse. This is an excellent way of studying the Bible inductively. It gives you a clear understanding of the subject, nouns, pronouns, verbs, etc, and how they relate to each other. Diagramming provides a very deep study of the text and reveals deeper understandings of God’s word.
These are a few of the many features of BibleWorks 8. BibleWorks 8 is a wealth of Bible study tools that make your Bible study faster and more efficient. I can study the Bible without BibleWorks 8, but I don’t want to. I get much more out of my Bible study time than if I just gather up all of my study tools and place them on the table. I can write my Bible studies and articles without BibleWorks 8, but I refuse to. BibleWorks 8 makes it quick and easy to get a definition of a word, or a comment on a verse, or a cross reference, or a topic. BibleWorks 8 is such an amazing Bible study and writing tool that I can’t imagine being without it.
Part 3: Deepening Your Bible Study
BibleWorks 8 contains a vast wealth of study tools that allows you to study the Scriptures more deeply in much less time than the old fashioned way. This goes for preparing sermons and classes too. I highly recommend BibleWorks 8 for Pastors, teachers, writers, etc, but even more than that BibleWorks 8 can help anyone dig deeper into God’s Word.
Deep Bible study requires quality study tools. When I study the Bible I like to have all of my books (lexicons, dictionaries, commentaries, other study Bibles, concordances, etc) on the table with me, I have one Bible in front of me, another Bible next to me (to give me the references so I don’t have to keep going back and forth for my next reference), all of my pens and pencils handy, and my notebook next to my Bible. BibleWorks 8 gives you all of these things on one screen. BibleWorks 8 also makes each tool easier and faster to use than the old fashioned way, and when I’m done I can print my work or publish to the web.
How does BibleWorks 8 deepen your Bible study? The short answer is the sheer number of tools and the speed of using them. BibleWorks 8 contains dictionaries, commentaries, topical lists, lexicons, and more, that are linked to the verse, passage, or word you select. When you select a word, you have instant access to what all of those resources have to say about that word without having to look the word up in each resource. In the time it takes me to look up a Strong’s number and then use that information to look up a definition in a Greek dictionary, then write that definition in my notebook, or teaching notes, or article, I could easily select ten Greek or Hebrew definitions and parallel passages from other translations, copy and paste them into my BibleWorks notebook, Word document, or WordPress article, and move on to something else. This helps me to retain my train of thought and do more in less time.
BibleWorks 8 isn’t just about saving time and shelf-space. It’s about deeper Bible study. This comes from exegetical tools, object-oriented word searches that include related verses and phrase matching, flashcards, diagramming, and on and on.
Looking at searching alone shows the complexity and quality of Bible study with BibleWorks 8. Searching can be simple or complex and the results you can get are amazing. Searching can show the relationships between words, and relationships between phrases. The search can be performed in the search window, which is actually a command line. You can use the command line to display a verse or a range of verses. To do this, type the first three letters of the book name and the reference. The reference can be a single verse or a range of verses. For example, to find Acts 2:38 in various versions you can type this:
In order to see Acts 2:38 and 39 you can type this:
This makes it easier to compare versions quickly. Simply toggle the browse mode and choose which versions you would like to see on screen. You can also select the version to search by selecting the version button under the command line.
The command line will also accept Boolean searches with And and Or. For an And search, use a period. For an Or search, use a For example, to find every verse that uses the words repent And baptized you would type this:
The Or search uses a forward slash. To find repent Or baptized, type this:
You can also search for exact phrases. To find an exact phrase you would use a colon. You should type something like this:
This will only find verses that use this exact phrase.
You can limit all of these searches so that you search only a specific book or books that you select. Clicking the tools button under the command line gives you a selection for more examples.
To get even more complex with searches you can use the graphical search engine (GSE). The GSE allows you to build queries graphically using Boolean operators. Queries can be very complex and they can be saved for use later.
BibleWorks 8 is also an exceptional exegetical tool for study of the original languages. With all of the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew study tools, including dictionaries and lexicons, you would have a great advantage in studying the original languages.
Another exegetical tool is diagramming that allows you to fully diagram a verse.
Add to that flash cards for studying and memorizing the original languages, BibleWorks 8 has what you need to dig deeper into God’s Word.
The vastness of exegetical and search tools of BibleWorks 8 makes it a must-have Bible study tool. With the ability to add even more tools through modules, BibleWorks 8 is THE Bible study program of choice for any serious student of God’s Word.
I’d like to thank the kind folks at BibleWorks for giving me a free review copy of BibleWorks 8. I was not required to give a positive review. I was only required to give an honest review. My opinions and recommendation are my own.
Randy A. Brown is a member of the Oneness Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in Sweetwater, Tennessee.