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Using Bible Works 6 with a Macintosh Computer

Ordained Servant, publication of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
April 2004

by G. I. Williamson, editor

NOTE: This review is an "appendix" to the review of BW6 by Arthur Fox.

I've used the Macintosh computer for the past twenty years and still consider it the most user friendly. But I will admit that I have sometimes envied those who are part of the Microsoft Empire because of the far greater number of Bible programs available to them. However, I recently secured a copy of the Virtual PC program. Originated by the Connectix Corporation, this was recently bought out by Microsoft. This program puts a Microsoft operating system (mine came with Windows XP) on a Macintosh computer. This has made it possible for me to finally make use of the premiere Bible program called BibleWorks. And I was not disappointed. Within a few hours I was experiencing-and enjoying-the riches of this amazing software just as many of you non-Mac users do.

Now I don't claim any technical erudition in computer things. But it is my understanding that Virtual PC simply adds a software layer on top of the Mac operating system. This obviously results in a slight slowing down of non-Mac programs, as compared with those written for the Mac system. It took quite a bit of time to set all this up (perhaps I'm just impatient). And starting up the BibleWorks program the first time also seemed time consuming. But once it was set up I was amazed at how fast it performed. And that is not all: when I wanted to close down BibleWorks the Virtual PC 'layer' allowed me the choice of saving the page I was working on in such a way that I can start up much more quickly next time, opening to that very page. And while my computer may be faster than many Macs currently in use (mine is 1 GHZ) in using the program I felt hardly any loss of speed as compared with my other (native) Mac programs.

And-most important of all-what this amazing Bible program will do far surpasses anything else that I've used or seen. The best Mac program that I had seen is Accordance, but it simply does not compare with BibleWorks 6. This is even true when it comes to the cost. You can get a start with Accordance for less money. But to get anything like parity with BibleWorks 6 would, by my calculations, cost far more. This program comes with 92 Bible translations in 28 different languages! The English translations 'unlocked' and ready to use include the NIV, NAS, NKJ, ESV, and many others. There is also the full text of the Bible in Hebrew and Greek - (including the full Septuagint) - in various editions ranging from the Greek Textus Receptus tradition to the critical editions of Westcott and Hort and others.

I've only scratched the surface. But I can already say that I have been amazed. I've been teaching the book of Hebrews to an adult Bible class, so I brought up the text of Chapter 8 in both the ESV and one of the Greek bible texts. As I moved my cursor over a Greek word of interest a small text box instantly appeared informing me that the word I was looking at was an indicative, perfect passive verb, 3d person plural! I then clicked on the icon that calls up lexical and grammatical help and was instantly presented with a window giving me information from at least ten authorities as to the meaning and use of this term. Quite frankly, I've never seen anything quite like this array of resources-and I've only begun to get acquainted with this program.

It will take time to learn how to make use of the incredible riches of this program. And I've already come to the conclusion that there are things one can do with this program that are-and may remain-beyond me. Some of us will never reach the highest level of research that can be done with BibleWorks. But there is no reason to be afraid of it for this reason. Why? For two reasons. First: BibleWorks 6 provides several hours of video tutorials to make it easy even for beginners.. (I hasten to add that I did not use these at all. As a Mac user accustomed to intuitive software I just followed my usual practice. and for me, at least, there was no need). Second: BibleWorks provides three different levels of complexity for people of differing abilities and needs. I myself started by using the 'Beginner Mode.' It was very easy. So, it wasn't long before I went on to try the 'Standard Mode.' One can do much more with this level. Indeed, it could have been all that I would ever need. But then, as I got the feel of the program, I couldn't resist going on to the 'Power User Mode.' Now I'm feeling sufficiently comfortable with the program that I doubt that I'll ever go back, even though I already sense that I'm not of sufficient scholarly erudition to do some things that can be done with this program. The important thing for me is that I'm doing more than I ever could before. And at no point in the process of learning BibleWorks have I felt vexed or frustrated. Anyone who uses a computer should be able to appreciate that!

The bottom line is therefore this: Mac users no longer need to deny themselves the best computer Bible resource. BibleWorks 6 is the best, and while it will cost something extra to make use of it (Virtual PC with Widows XP costs about $230 new but I was able to buy mine on an eBay auction for half that) it will do more for the money than any of the Mac-only programs that I have seen.


G. I. Williamson is editor of Ordained Servant and has been a Presbyterian pastor for 50 years. He is the author of expositions of both the Westminster Confession and Shorter Catechism. Born at Des Moines, Iowa in 1925, G. I. Williamson graduated from Drake University, Des Moines, in 1949, and received the B.D. degree from Pittsburgh-Xenia theological Seminary in 1952. For eight years he served as a home missionary of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Fall river, Massachusetts and pastored the Auckland congregation of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand.


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