William W. Klein
Denver Journal Volume 15 - 2012.
I confess, frankly, that I have been an avid user of BibleWorks, possibly since version 2 or 3. I have regularly upgraded to a later version, though ignoring some of them in between. I possessed and used frequently version 8, so I figured I could wait for a few more iterations before paying for a new version. With software upgrades, I am always suspicious that when sales are lagging, software companies produce a new version that has what amounts to only minor improvements, and sometimes the “improvements” prove less functional than what they replaced.
Not so with BW9. It contains the important and time-tested features of prior versions, but more so! It is the premier languages Bible software program for biblical exegesis and research. This includes not only multiple Hebrew, Greek, and Septuagint versions, but English, German, Spanish, French, Latin, Korean, Chinese, and literally dozens more languages, often with a multitude of versions within a specific language—some from hundreds of years ago (e.g., the 1550 Stephanus Greek NT) right up to the latest (e.g, the CEB and the 2011 NIV). Did I mention Thai, or Turkish, or Vietnamese? Want to search Josephus (Latin, Greek, or English) or Philo? What about the the Targums of Genesis 4, the Old Syriac of Matthew, the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, or the Peshitta? Or the Apostolic Fathers or the Vulgate? All easily done. Want to conduct grammatical searches? No problem. What about finding the occurrences of words or phrases in specific versions? Also a snap to do. Many of the texts are tied to other sources; most are morphologically tagged for ease of identification in case you’re uncertain of the forms. There’s a complete set of diagramming for the Greek NT—also fully customizable.
While some of these are enhancements, what’s new? You will find Beitzel’s The Moody Atlas of the Bible at your disposal. The maps and photos are high-resolution and can be copied into other applications. [One can copy and insert anything from any text into other applications—with a choice of how to format the insertion. One can choose from a variety of fonts for the copy/paste, including Unicode fonts]. Also, there’s a toggle that will compare on the screen multiple Bible translations so you can easily identify the differences. BW9 adds (if you wish) a fourth, fully customizable column to display various analyses of the text you are studying. A “verse tab” tracks with any Bible version so that when the mouse is over a verse, the tab displays relevant sections in other resources—some that come with the base package and others that can be purchased separately (e.g., Metzger’s Textual Commentary or the ESV Study Bible). There are various other “unlocks” available in addition to what comes out of the box, including several systematic theologies, BDAG, and the Dead Sea Scrolls (in English translation) to name just a few, as well as modules from other companies (several major IVP dictionaries and their New Bible Commentary).
A bit rusty on your Greek or Hebrew grammar? Or want to check something out? BW9 comes with (fully searchable) copies of Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Wallace), Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Waltke & O’Connor), and A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Joüon & Muraoka) as well as older grammars. There’s also an introductory Aramaic grammar along with Aramaic verb paradigms (with sound files).
Here’s a coup available in BW9: the New Testament Critical Apparatus from the Center for New Testament Textual Studies is available for the first time for PCs. This provides a significant aid to studying textual variants with the NT manuscripts. In addition, astonishingly, BW9 allows the student to view, compare, and analyze complete NT digital image sets of major ancient biblical manuscripts including Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Bezae, Washingtonianus, and Boernerianus. As with all the other sources contained within BW9, these images are fully searchable and are morphologically tagged (not complete for all MSS yet, but they’re working on it; and updates come free, as is true for all your other resources). In other words, NT students have not only the latest Nestle-Aland 27 or UBS 4 versions to analyze, they can inspect these ancient versions using sophisticated imagine processing.
For those who wish some more systematic help in using the product, BW9 comes with “How-to Videos” to help users gain competence in its various features. Just click <Help> and one of the drop-down options leads your right there.
It’s difficult to be anything but effusive in rating this tool. After several months of using this new version, I can’t think of anything it lacks. I realize at this point, I am only scratching the surface of what it could do. If your work or your avocation includes study and teaching the Bible and ancillary background information, you cannot find a more useful and robust tool to assist your work. Go to the web-site and check it out. You’ll find your study immeasurably enhanced.
William W. Klein, Ph.D. is Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary.