A Review of BibleWorks 7
Dr. Samuel Lamerson
Because I am a seminary professor, I get asked many questions about the Bible. By far, the most often asked question has to do with computer software for Bible study. The question will usually take one of several forms. “What software is valuable? What software is best for the original languages? What software should be used by a serious Bible student who does not know the Greek and Hebrew?” In this article I will attempt to show why I believe that BibleWorks software is the answer to these questions.
One of the first things that anyone who is shopping for software should do is decide exactly what he wants the software to accomplish. Do you just want to use the computer as a quick and foolproof concordance to find that verse that you know, but cannot remember where it is found? Do you want to be able to search for key words or themes in the Bible? Do you want to check out reference material as well as the Scripture itself? Do you want to look at any languages in addition to English? The way that these questions are answered will help determine what software is right for you.
If all that you desire from a software program is a fast concordance, you should not purchase software. There are plenty of programs on the web for free that will search for a particular word or phrase. Simply search for “free Bible software” on any major search engine (Google, yahoo, etc.) and download the program. Let me say, however, that using the computer to do nothing but search for words or phrases is like using your oven for nothing but boiling water. Sure, it does a good job, but there are so many other things that it can do. What are these other things? I’m glad you asked.
First, it may be that you will want to compare Bible versions. Perhaps a difficult verse leads you to ask how the verse is translated in other reliable translations. How have other scholars and translators taken this particular word or phrase? A program that compares different translations can be exceptionally helpful. This comparison tool, with many of the most current translations, will only be found in purchased software.
A second valuable tool found in Bible software packages is the ability to look up Greek and Hebrew words using Strong’s numbers. While one should never mistake the ability to look words up in a dictionary with the ability to actually read and exegete a passage in the original languages, looking up the exact word used can often be very helpful. In BibleWorks, the user can not only look up Greek or Hebrew words in the dictionaries (both Greek and Hebrew dictionaries are included with the program), but can also search for other places where the Scripture uses that same Greek or Hebrew word.
Given that the purchase of Bible software brings with it valuable tools, not only for the scholar, but also for the curious student of the Bible, what program should you buy? This is a difficult decision. There are inexpensive programs for English versions (less than $50.00) but they are generally only one translation and capable of little more than just being a concordance. In order to get the most from a piece of software, you will need to spend more money. Don’t think of this money as wasted or poorly spent unless you will not use the software. If this software helps in your study of the Scripture, it is more valuable than many of the books that are already in your library.
If you really intend to use the software, I believe that BibleWorks is the finest Bible study software on the market. This software is fast, easy to use, includes lots of powerful tools and has more searching power than even a seminary professor needs.
BibleWorks includes helps for the person who wants to prepare a Bible study, a Sunday School lesson, or a book study. The program includes 112 Bible translations in 32 languages, reference works such as Bible dictionaries, commentaries, study guides, and satellite maps. All of these tools are linked and can be found with very little computer knowledge. If you are reading along and see the name of a Bible character whose career you do not remember, just a click of a mouse will bring up a dictionary article on that person. If you want to see a map of where that person was from, another click of the mouse brings up the map part of the program. Literally thousands of pages are at your disposal without even getting up out of the chair. Best of all, you can take your own notes which will automatically open each time you look at that particular Bible passage.
While BibleWorks is not inexpensive, the time that it saves, as well as the amount of material that comes with the program make the purchase price a bargain in the long run. These are tools that have taken thousands of hours to prepare, and today’s Bible student can have the blessing of having them with the click of his mouse. If you would like more information about studying the Bible, come on over to Knox for some classes which will train you to get the most use out of this great software. If you would like more information about the software itself, point your browser to www.bibleworks.com. Studying the Scripture is hard work, but the work gets a little easier with the proper tools, so use them carefully.
Dr. Samuel Lamerson is an Associate Professor of New Testament at Knox Seminary.