Software Review: Bibleworks 7
Said at Southern, August 29, 2008
[URL: http://saidatsouthern.com/software-review-bibleworks7/ copied on 2009-01-05]
BibleWorks7 (BW7) is a computer software program designed for in depth study of the Bible itself. The “getting started” page begins, “BibleWorks is one of the most powerful and easiest-to-use Bible concordance and morphological analysis programs available.” They are not attempting to sell the product; they are serious about this claim. This program comes complete with 15 different Hebrew and Aramaic texts, 19 Greek texts, 38 different translations of the Bible, and just about every other major language that the Bible has been translated into. It also includes numerous lexicons and reference works while additional modules may be purchased later on an as needed basis.
After learning from an install snafu on a previous Bible software installation, I allowed this one to run its course and prompt me when to do things. Instead of the optional DVD download, I had the 7 disc download where it would prompt me every so often to insert a new disc and press OK. The installation took about 35 minutes and I did have to restart my computer. Once the installation was complete and the computer was rebooted, I opened the program and was immediately greeted with a “Getting Started” page. This page proved to be extremely helpful.
I am not able to comment on the customer support because I didn’t mess this one up, but I can say that BibleWorks offers various elements of free technical support.
The “Getting Started” window is an essential tool for understanding how to let your software work for you instead of it working against you. There are five tutorials that you can “sit” through that introduce the major features of BibleWorks. These take approximately 30 minutes to sit through but are extremely helpful. There is also a .pdf file that can be read entitled, “First Things First” which helps to explain in a little more detail the features of BibleWorks.
Of much importance in the explanations is the way in which one does a search. You need to use various characters to “and,” “or,” or phrases. You can also do searches that include some words but not others. Obviously there is a learning curve here, but BibleWorks has put together the tutorials and .pdf files to help in the learning process of their software.
Another extremely helpful feature to learn the software is the Study Guides they offer on the “Getting Started” page. These enable the user to systematically work through the many features of BW7. This takes much more time but is worth the investment of your time for future bible study using this software. There are 37 different study guides that can be used which is perhaps the best way in which to train you to be better equipped to use this program.
Jim Barr, the seminary and pastors relations manager for BibleWorks, will be on the SBTS campus at the end of September offering a free training seminary. This would be a great opportunity to see how this software works by someone who has used it for quite some time.
At first, the usability on this software is almost not user-friendly. However, this is actually a positive quality of the software. There is so much that this program can do that one cannot help but feel overwhelmed with the possibilities. The tutorials quickly become your best friend.
However, with just a little bit of trial and error in addition to the tutorials, the software is an immediate improvement on your previous Bible study. For example, one can quickly use the diagramming tool to show verses and pericopes in their diagram to help the student or pastor or teacher better understand how a certain passage relates to the surrounding context.
It must be noted that BibleWorks is necessarily rooted in just the Bible. Unlike other computer software programs that specialize in literature about the Bible, BW7 specializes in studying the text of the Bible using lexicons and grammatical resources. Consequently, there are very few commentaries and other reference resources-the only true commentary I could find is the Matthew Henry Commentary. In other words, you are left to wrestle with the Bible alone which is a good thing for any serious student of the Bible. Ultimately, BW7 is user-friendly - once you grasp the basic functions of the program.
Counting the Cost
To be honest, I would expect to pay significantly more for this software than what it does cost. If you were to purchase this software alone, it would run you $349.00 + S&H. However, if you were able to purchase with a group of ten others through their Institutional Promotional Program, you would be able to purchase BW7 for $250.00 + S&H. I know the campus LifeWay on the campus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary offers this discount at the beginning of each semester. They also have various lexicons (think BDAG and HALOT) for fairly reduced prices that can be added into the software.
If you are in seminary or are a serious student of the Bible-either pastorally or in lay-leadership-then you need to get this software. This software truly can cut your exegetical work in half. Everything that you use to diagram and pick a part a passage or text is literally at your fingertips with the click of a mouse. If you installed this on a laptop, you would be able to prepare your messages or exegesis work anywhere. You would no longer need volumes of print books on your desk nor would you have to flip through all of them to find everything on a different page in a different book and then compare the two or three together. Simply by clicking on a word, you would be able to bring up all of that information in one window and look at it all side-by-side.
Things like diagramming and parsing words takes much less time. If you prepare your sermons or bible lessons using the original languages, then I would submit that this software would increase the time you spend on exegetical work by a noticeable margin. It cannot be understated how much help this software is for preacher and/or student of God’s Word.
If you are a Southern Seminary student, I would utilize the offer that LifeWay has that enables you to get the software for $250.00. Even if you are not able to take advantage of that price, the $349.00 is still an excellent price for this resource.
Terry Delaney is a student at Souithern Baptist Theological Seminary.