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Digital Exegesis

By Eric Landry

Reviewed in Modern Reformation, Vol 12, No 1 Jan/Feb 2003.

Although I've used BibleWorks for several years, I never took the time to appreciate all its features until I began testing their newest release: version 5.0. The newest version of this popular exegetical tool is packed with additional features only dreamed of ten years ago when BibleWorks was first released. Perhaps the most helpful addition is the new interface option which allows a user to choose his or her own level of expertise: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Several new lexical aides, original language texts, reference works, and Bible translations have also been added, bringing the total number of standard, unlocked resources to over 120. I was delighted to see Crossway's new English Standard Version as a new feature. The two new lexicon modules, the third edition of Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature and The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament can be unlocked for an additional price. The hardcover editions of each lexicon are less expensive, but the ease of use and the correlation with the other search features more than make up for the extra cost.

As with any computer program, BibleWorks does have a few weaknesses. First, the usefulness of any program is in direct relation to the ease of learning it. BibleWorks does take some effort and the 400 page manual can be overwhelming. The new help videos will get a beginner up and running fairly quickly, but the experienced user, looking to enhance his or her skills, may get frustrated by the plodding nature of the videos. Frankly, I was expecting something a little more engaging, and was disappointed by the boring narration and visuals. Second, too much new software includes features that most people will never even discover, much less use, but for which they still must pay. BibleWorks does have a few too many bells and whistles for my taste. One is the BibleWorks "Timeline," which incorporates biblical, church, and secular history in one grand sweep of time. It has a definite predilection for modern Western history. In fact, after the biblical era, nothing of note apparently occurs in the non-Western world-but the otherwise unexplained Italian revolts of 1848 do merit a notation!

The value of any software is found in how many ways it makes the task at hand easier. BibleWorks 5 is a definite value. It is quick, relatively easy to use, and filled with helpful resources. It is a "must have" for pastors and students who have some original language exposure. Lay-persons, without Greek or Hebrew experience, may find BibleWorks is too much of a good thing. A cheaper, simpler Bible search program would probably meet their needs. If you're serious about exegesis, though, and have been waiting to purchase the right program, contact BibleWorks at or order version 5 online at Your wait is over.

Eric Landry is Managing Editor of Modern Reformation.


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