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BibleWorks 8 Review

Christopher Hall

This Side of the Pulpit, September 17, 2009.

URL: [Retrieved on 2009-09-23]

I bought Bibleworks 3 when I was a seminary student. It was an incredible program back then, helping me extensively with exegetical work for sermons and seminary papers. It was so powerful I found I didn’t use half its features. Years later I upgraded to version 5. There were a few changes, mostly in additional resources that did not come standard with the previous version. If there were more changes, I’m not aware of them. One helpful addition back then: a massive user manual to help with searches.

Once established in pastoral ministry, I used Bibleworks in even a more limited way. I would still translate sermon texts, (mostly from Greek), but its heaviest use came from doing phrase and word searches across several English versions at once. For instance, writing a sermon I would remember that one verse that said something like “only after Thee.” Or maybe it was “only after You”? So I would search all English versions for that phrase and, nine times out of ten, find it immediately. During this time my exegetical work in the text faltered, but I found myself doing more work in the Church Fathers and liturgical connections to the text.

Readers here know about my experience with the Logos system a few weeks ago. The nail in its coffin was translation work. After a few weeks, some option somewhere got changed and the program no longer gave the word meaning and parsing in the pop-up box anymore. It was a minor issue, and I’m sure I could have gotten technical support for it, but it was more the idea that what I wanted to use it for wasn’t working well. That, and after nearly four weeks of usage it was no less opaque to me than before.

I returned it and bought Bibleworks 8 and it’s like breathing fresh air again. The interface is changed significantly from what I used before, making good use of the current trend in wide monitors. It has many incredible resources provided with the base package, including the entire set of Church Fathers. The different areas of the desktop are intuitive and well-explained in the packaged tutorial videos.

There are a few drawbacks. Bibleworks has abandoned the large manual for a quick-start guide and tutorial videos, which I do not like in general. The Church Fathers and other resources do not seem as integrated into the program as they are in Logos. If one wanted to add resources, there are few commerical add-ons, but nothing like Logos has. Another major drawback is the lack of apparata for the NA27 and Hebrew Bibles. For whatever reason the company has not been able to sercure rights to these. I do wish Bibleworks would include or make available a few resources: TDNT (unabridged) and something like the Anchor Bible Dictionary, both expensive resources in print, but incredibly helpful (Logos Original Languages includes TDNT).

However, Bibleworks has a different purpose than Logos. Logos is very much an electronic library system, and using Greek and Hebrew resources is a part of that. Exegetical work is the purpose of Bibleworks, and everything they have is oriented toward that, save the apparatus issue. It does not seek to replace the bookshelves in your study. It does provide everything you need to do serious translating, searching and notetaking for Scriptural study. One reviewer (forgive me for not citing him), put it this way: Logos is for reading commentaries. Bibleworks is for writing them, if you are so inclined. Bibleworks doesn’t provide the background and secondary matierals, commentaries and dictionaries like Logos does, and it is intentional. However, f there are critical exegetical works the user needs but are unavailable, Bibleworks provides the tools for creating your own add-ons, free of charge. It doesn’t look too easy to do, but they provide the technology to do it for free, unlike Logos.

Which one is best for you? If you’re comfortable with one program, it will be hard to learn the other. And that’s okay. They both can do similar things when it comes to Greek and Hebrew. But one needs to keep in mind their philosophies and purposes and choose the program that best suits your needs.

Christopher Hall is the pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Enid, Okla., and is currently the 3rd Vice President of the Oklahoma District of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.


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