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BibleWorks 5.0: A Bible Study and Exegetical Tool for All

Dr. Kenneth M. (Skip) Dieter

PCA News, January 2002

There are important improvements in previously existing capabilities.

PCANews - For several years I have been convinced that BibleWorks is the most powerful yet straightforward program for exegetical studies. Now, after taking an in-depth look at the new version 5.0, I am amazed at the enhanced customizability and flexibility of the program. With the new customizing options, one can tailor the program's presentation features to suit his level of expertise and personal preferences. The program's flexibility enables the user to adapt the program to most effectively facilitate specific types of studies.

The customizing features are most important for bridging the gap between novice and experienced users of BibleWorks. While many people are still intimidated at the thought of using Bible programs, there is no reason why anyone should hesitate to use BibleWorks 5.0. New to this version is the choice of three different user interfaces. This allows a new user to start with the Beginner Mode, in which he is quickly guided through a series of choices in order to display a passage in one or a selection of Bible versions, to search for the occurrences of a word or a phrase, or to copy a passage to a word processor file.

As the new user gets more comfortable with the program, he can change to a more advanced interface, giving himself more options, but he can go back and forth between interfaces at any time, as his needs suit him. Of course, the experienced user can skip directly to the Power Mode with which he is already familiar.

This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg of customizing options. A feature of more advanced application, for example, is the capability to incorporate the command line in the Results Window, so that when more than one Results Window is displayed, the command line is always accessible. In fact, there are a number of ways to easily configure the Results Window and the Command Center to satisfy the user's preferences at any given moment. The customizability extends even to changing the highlighting of words or phrases displayed in the biblical text as the result of a search.

It is in the flexibility features that the power of BibleWorks is evident. BibleWorks has always been known for the large number of Bible versions, now numbering over 80, available to every user. In 5.0, however, a user can search several versions simultaneously, a tremendous help for those of us that remember specific wording but become confused at which of the ever increasing number of versions uses that wording.

A user can also design a report that includes the text in whatever versions he selects, the chapter and verse notes previously written by him, and a range of lexical, morphological and usage analyses. For those involved in translation work, the new database compiler enables the incorporation of user-created Bible versions in the identical format of versions shipped with the program. And for teachers, new copying functions make it even easier to insert passages into word processing or other files for instructional materials.

There are also important improvements in previously existing capabilities. One of the most useful is the Web Update function. Rather than accessing the BibleWorks web site through a browser, sorting through a long list of updates, some of which may already have been downloaded, and manually downloading them, the update process is now automated within the program. Through the new Options submenu in the expanded Main Menu, most of the configuration settings can be set in one place. Also, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is now fully incorporated in the program, instead of being available in an ancillary program.

We always have to deal with the question of whether it is cost effective to upgrade when a new version of a program becomes available. In my mind, there is no question in this case. Anyone already using BibleWorks will be working with one hand tied behind his back if he chooses not to go to version 5.0. And for those who have hesitated to invest in a Bible program in the past, now is the time.

For more information and a full summary of changes in BibleWorks 5.0, visit their web site. BibleWorks

Dr. Kenneth M. (Skip) Dieter is a professor at New Geneva Theological Seminary in Colorado Springs, Colo.


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