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BibleWorks 8

by Ben Black

1340magbooks, March 2009.

[URL: copied on 2009-03-18]

BibleWorks is a software that over the years has come a long way in its goal of increasing accessibility to God’s Word.  The latest release, BibleWorks 8, has gone even further than its predecessors in allowing its users to easily engage the text.  This incredible program places 190 different translations at the fingertips of the user.  Not only are there more translations than one could possibly ever hope to read, but it also provides a wealth of reference material.  Some of the things that have been generously included are language and translation aids, extra-canonical works (such as Josephus, Philo, the Psuedepigrapha, works of the apostolic fathers, etc.), commentaries, Greek and Hebrew grammars, Maps & Timelines; the list goes on and on.  The point, if you haven’t picked it up, is that BibleWorks 8 is more than a ‘bible software.’  It is a small, easily searchable library.  BibleWorks is an essential tool for ANYONE who is looking to broaden their understanding of the Bible and God’s word.  If you don’t own a copy and are serious about getting intimate with the Word of God then BibleWorks 8 is an ESSENTIAL tool.  It is a little pricy at $349 but if you start figuring out the cost of the books alone that are included in the program it quickly becomes apparent that even at several hundred dollars you are getting these numerous resources rather inexpensively.  Those already familiar with wealth of material available with this program are undoubtedly wondering what this newest version has to offer over the previous releases and the bottom line: Is it worth the $150 dollars or so to upgrade?

Well, lets look at the program itself and what it has to offer.  When I first opened BibleWorks 8 I noticed that the format was similar to BW7.  There is a search window to the left, a browse window in the middle for viewing verses, and an analysis window on the right that contains various tools.  Across the top are the dropdown menus and a toolbar.  So far, there isn’t too much different.  Then I started taking a closer look at what the different windows and toolbars had to offer in this latest release.  BW8 is much more user friendly than BW7.  First, the search window now has its own mini-toolbar which makes quickly changing versions, sorting through word lists, and copying searched text much easier.  The second thing I noticed was that on the right side of the screen, the analysis pane, had a new tab entitled ‘context.’ 

The context tab counts words and tells you exactly what words appear the most often in a given section, as well as in the entire book.  The other tools that are available in the analysis pane are: the Analysis window where parsing from the Greek and Hebrew is present, common uses of the word, and other verses where the word is used similarly.  There is a notes tab where you can add your own commentary on a given passage in textual form and save it for later use.  I have found this especially helpful as I took notes in my exegesis classes.  There is a X-Refs (Cross Reference) tab for quickly cross referencing material.  Another tool is the Browse tab where if you are looking in on specific verse in the middle browse pane but would like to quickly view it in context of the rest of passage, the browse tab in the Analysis pane has the rest of the passage for your convenience.  In BW7 you could click the ‘footprints’ that toggled between a single verse view (which could contain multiple translations) and the verse in context of a single translation, but you couldn’t do both at the same time.  Now you can!  It is now possible to have a verse in 4 different translations visible in the Browse Pane and the whole chapter visible in the Analysis pane simultaneously (BTW the footprints are still there).  Also, another change I REALLY liked is that they have cleaned up some of the menus from the dropdown toolbar.  The Version menu is now much more organized.  Instead of having one large list of versions it is now more clearly separated by language and expands horizontally as well as vertically.  The same can be said of the other menus, including the books of the bible.  The program as a whole has done away with long lists wherever possible in favor of organized, user friendly groupings.
On top of the enhanced use of tools and organization employed by BW8 it now includes modules that were not available for the basic BW7 package.  Numerous books that range in topic from historical background to diagramming are now available.  To my disappointment BibleWorks still does not have the rights to the NA27 and therefore it is not included in the upgrade, but they have made efforts to supplement us with means to do get at the variants.  Tischendorf's textual apparatus has been made available for text critical work.  The people at BibleWorks have made it apparent that they are genuinely concerned about meeting the needs of their users.  The newest version even offers flashcards for both Greek and Hebrew significantly aiding those wishing to either brush up or learn the original languages. 

These are just the discoveries I have made in the past few weeks.  I am continually learning about new options, tricks, and tools as I gain experience with this versatile program.  From what I have seen so far, it was more than worth the upgrade from my antiquated version.   I do not have much experience with other Textual programs such as Logos or Libronix but my interaction with BibleWorks has been nothing but positive.  It is easy to use and very dynamic.  If you are looking for a bible program, then invest in BibleWorks.  It will meet all of your needs and exceed your expectations.

Ben Black is a seminary student at Gordon Conwell.


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