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BibleWorks, Version 6

Dr. Corrado Martone

VOL. XXVI, 2004 (published in January 2005)

In the age of computer, Biblical studies must keep abreast of times, and the software presented here is surely the ultimate tool to this end.

The base package gives the Biblical scholar many resources. Just to give an idea of the contents of BibleWorks 6, it comprises 18 original language texts and 92 Bibles in 28 languages, as well as a great number of Lexical-Grammatical References. All of these resources are indexed and fully searchable, with options for case, accent and vowel point sensitivity where appropriate.

BibleWorks 6 offers users the following new original texts: The Targumim, parsed, lemmatized, and tied to entries in the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon; the Aramaic New Testament (Peshitta, in both Syriac and Hebrew letters) with the James Murdock English translation; the complete works of Flavius Josephus, parsed and lemmatized, with the 1828 Whiston English translation; and the Apostolic Fathers (Greek). Other noteworthy reference works may be purchased separately, such as the Qumran sectarian manuscripts with morphological tags prepared by Martin Abegg, or the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Koheler, Baumgarten and Stamm. It should be noted that the basic program includes works like the BDB-Gesenius Hebrew-Aramaic and English lexicon of the Old Testament.

Although it has many features and capabilities, the program remains user-friendly. The software is very easy for beginners to use, since it has three interfaces -- beginner, intermediate, and power user. In the beginner mode BibleWorks can be used by anyone, whereas the power-user mode is intended for sophisticated study of grammatical forms in the original languages. In any case, the package comes with full documentation and online help: namely, four hours (!) of instructional on-screen videos, a 400-page user manual, on-screen help as well as a free email mailing list which allows users to interact, ask questions, and make suggestions. Furthermore, technical support is free for registered users by fax or email and, rara avis in the software field, they do answer the users' queries! Additionally, the "check for Web updates" option in the Help menu allows users to quickly get any available update.

The program's speed is impressive: complex searches in Hebrew or Greek are possible in a matter of seconds. For example, if you would like to build a list of the proper nouns occurring in Rahlfs' edition of the Septuagint, you can organize the search via the Morphology assistant and you will get the 33,555 result hits in about five seconds. Then these results can be easily saved as an RTF document. As reviewer Curtis Crenshaw said of this program: "[t]here was one study that took me almost a week to complete with my books, but with BibleWorks it took less than five minutes" (Reformed Episcopal Journal, Nov. 2002). I note this because in my opinion it reflects well the deep changes that are occurring in Biblical studies due to the capabilities offered by Bible software in general and by Bibleworks 6 in particular.

As noted above, Bibleworks 6 offers many resources, both linguistic and exegetical, and has relentlessly expanded these from version to version, and it is realistic to expect continued development in the future. What is the next challenge -- Unicode compatibility and, maybe later, the inclusion of the LXX variants of the Göttingen edition apparatus (as cautiously stated in the User Manual, p. 401).

All in all, I am very impressed with Bibleworks 6 and can wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend it to anyone, at any level and from any point of view, interested in a better understanding of the Bible.

Corrado Martone is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Turin, Italy.


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