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BibleWorks for Windows Version 5.0

by Dr. Graham H. Twelftree

Trinity Journal (Fall 2003),  a theological journal published twice yearly by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Not long ago my ever-expanding library was brought across the Pacific. Now, after becoming acquainted with BibleWorks 5, perhaps I could have left some books behind in Australia. But, those familiar with BibleWorks will know that, to their credit, the publishers have intentionally focused their attention on providing a tool for biblical exegesis rather than a collection of reference books.

In this journal, Robert W. Robinson reviewed a number of exegetical software choices for MS Windows, including BibleWorks 4.5 (TJ 17/2 [1996]). Robinson concluded that the best overall programs were BibleWorks and Logos Level 4. However, dollar-for-dollar BibleWorks came out ahead, and if a person has little interest in secondary resources, then it is the best value.

In this new version there are now over 90 Bible translations in 28 languages and nine original language texts. These include the BHS Hebrew text (1990) 4th corrected ed. with full accents -- new to this version of BibleWorks -- and the Nestle-Aland 27th ed./UBS 4th ed. of the Greek NT, as well as Rahlf's LXX (with the Apocrypha and variants), which has been refined since Robinson's review. Included for the first time is the ability to search all versions with options for case, accent, and vowel point sensitivity. Among other things, this release also contains the complete 2000 edition of the Friberg Analytical Lexicon to the Greek NT, including the analytical parts, as well as the 2001 edition of the Groves-Wheeler Westminster Morphology and Lemma Database.

Every word of these texts is tagged, lemmatized, and hypertext-linked to the Liddell-Scott (an abridged version), Louw-Nida, Friberg, Thayer, or Barclay-Newman lexicons. The program also includes the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon of the OT (unabridged) and the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament which, along with all the lexicons and dictionaries, are also now fully searchable. My copy of the program did not include the Bauer-Danker A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT and other Early Christian Literature (BDAG, 3rd ed.) or the Koehler-Baumgartner-Stamm unabridged Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the OT (HALOT) lexicons. They can be purchased individually for an additional $125.00 and $159.00 respectively or as an extra package for $197.00.

This new version of BibleWorks also comes with a synopsis tool which is fully editable. However it is a simple paralleling of the text rather than giving the detailed information and text positioning familiar in one of the Aland synopses, and it is not possible to scroll down through the passage. Instead, each column for the particular passage has to be pulled down and lined up with the others.

New users, perhaps intimidated by the apparently limitless possibilities of the program, need have no fears. Installation is fast and easy, and, on opening the program, there is immediate direction to fifty-five clear videos of a few minutes each, totaling four hours--that can be paused or rewound at any time--that go through every aspect of the program following the comprehensive hard copy manual. Also, being able to choose between "Beginner Mode," "Standard Mode," and "Power User Mode" enables the new user a smoother transition to making full use of the capabilities of the program.

Nevertheless, the program is not without its problems. For example, what is called a "Synopsis Tool" in the manual (p. 298) is called a "Synopsis Dialog" on the screen. More importantly for a new user, it is not possible to toggle from the videos to the main program, nor to other programs running on the computer. I found it frustratingly slow to discover the meaning of the many abbreviations used; a complete list in one place in the manual would have considerably reduced my stress level. Also, a much fuller index in the manual would help a newcomer negotiate through the program. Further, I was also looking for some simple search and copying and pasting exercises to get me started.

Notwithstanding, BibleWorks justifiably has the reputation of being the best biblical exegesis software program available for its power, flexibility, and ease of use in concordancing and morphological analyses of the Bible in the original languages as well as in many translations. It is well suited for those who deal closely with the biblical text: pastors, teachers, seminary and Bible college students, missionaries, scholars, translators, and those learning languages.

With so much available in this program, almost everyone will find this tool of immense value, even if they do not use every aspect of the program. For me, this program is useful for word searches (from arbitrary verse ranges) and checking the morphology of a word. Pasting results into my preferred word processor (WordPerfect) is also a valuable prospect. Thankfully, Bible book names, verse and chapter numbers, for example, can be tailored to suit the user. I do not foresee using most of the modern translations and the older reference material. Instead I would prefer to have the complete Liddell-Scott, along with such favorites as Abbott-Smith's A Manual Greek Lexicon of the NT, Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, the Aland Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum, and even Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek NT. If I was being greedy, I would ask for Lampe's A Patristic Greek Lexicon and also the Blass, A Greek Grammar of the NT and other Early Christian Literature. Nevertheless, if you have Windows 95 or higher, a CD drive, a minimum of 32 MB of RAM, between 200 MB and 1.4 GB hard drive space, a sound card for the videos, and are, as the publicity says, "involved in detailed study of the Bible, look no further!"

Graham H. Twelftree is Professor of New Testament at Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia.


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