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Used with permission from the Southwestern Journal of Theology, Volume 45, Number 2, Spring 2003 (pages 82-84)

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary School of Theology

Software Review

Bible Works 5.0
Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, LLC, 2001. $299.95.

The premier Bible study software program has just improved dramatically. New features include numerous databases and too many improvements in flexibility and functions to be mentioned. This review will summarize the most important ones.

The program includes Bible translations in twenty-four modern languages, including most of the major translations in Western European languages. New English translations present are the Geneva bible of 1599, the English Standard Version of 2001, the Jewish Publication Society translation of the Hebrew Bible (1917), and the Tanakh (1985). The only major English versions missing are the New English Bible and the Revised English Bible. A new facility allows the user to create and add new translation databases that can be indexed and searched just as those already present. Bible translators will find this function very valuable.

The Hebrew text now includes full accenting with morphological codes for the accents. A new transliterated Hebrew text will help students learning the language. Users will rejoice at finally having the unabridged texts of the lexicons in the program. Thayer's Greek lexicon and the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew lexicon are part of the basic package. The new Koehler-Baumgartner Hebrew-Aramaic lexicon and the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker Greek lexicon (3rd ed.) are available for an added price. These tools are fully searchable for original language or English words or for Scripture references, and the entries can be read in context just as in the printed edition. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1st ed., is now completely integrated, as are the Fausset Bible Dictionary and a synopsis of the gospels.

The programmers have greatly increased the possibilities for searching and displaying the databases. One can now search multiple versions at once and choose how to display the results, even to selecting background and text colors of the words found. Several versions have Strong's numbers included, which means the auto-info window immediately displays the Hebrew or Greek word behind the modern translation along with the morphology (parsing) and the entry from the chosen lexicon. For translations that have notes included, such as the NRSV, the auto-info window displays these instead of the original language information. A graph generator can display the frequency of word usage in various book of the Bible. The gospels can be viewed in parallel, and users can create their own parallels of other parts of the Bible. Finally, the results of a search, including the lexical and morphological information, and personal notes can be compiled, saved, exported, or printed.

Previous versions of BibleWorks have excelled in the number of bells and whistles available to the user. Version 5.0 expands those and expands the ways already present functions can be used. Fortunately, users can now customize almost every part of the program and its appearance on the screen. Unwanted elements can be eliminated. Important ones can be expanded. Multiple different configurations can be saved along with the three that the programmers have built in for users with different levels of familiarity.

Local area networks can install BibleWorks for multiple users and allow them to keep their notes and files separate. The menus include an update function to find and download program updates over the web. Program files can be moved from one directory to another or to other storage devices to save space.

BibleWorks already had the ability to perform complex grammatical and syntactical searches. This version makes everything easier to do. It comes with a thick instruction manual, but the help windows make it less important. The four hours of instructional video on CD-ROM can be run continuously or accessed in parts from a list of contents.

Having used BibleWorks in personal study and classroom instruction for several years, I thought further improvements would mainly involve adding databases and tweaking existing facilities. The advances go far beyond what I expected. For simple Bible study or detailed language analysis, BibleWorks 5.0 is the easiest, fastest, and best.

Reviewed by:

Dr. Rick Johnson
Professor of Old Testament, 1992-2002
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

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