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BibleWorks  6

by H. Van Dyke Parunak

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS). JETS 48:2 [2005] pp 366-368.

Libronix Corporation. Libronix Digital Library System 2.1c, with the Scholar’s Library Upgrade. Bellingham, WA, 2005. $999.95.

BibleWorks, LLC. Bible Works for Windows 6.0.011w. Norfolk, VA, 2005. $299.95.

In 2003 (JETS 46:3, 485-495), I recommended BibleWorks (BWk) for searching biblical texts, and Logos (Lib) for a library of collateral works. Since then, Lib (Libronix Digital Library System 2.1c with the Scholar’s Library Upgrade, as delivered with the Scholars Library Silver Edition) has improved its searching, while BWk (BibleWorks 6.0.011w) has expanded its collateral resources. This update describes and compares the two packages under the five categories in the original review: the texts in the biblical languages that they allow the user to search, their search capabilities, the collateral resources they offer, their facilities for user-generated material, and their support for users when things go wrong.

Linguistic analysis becomes more reliable as one has a larger collection of texts in the language being studied, the better. Both packages add new documents in biblical languages. BWk includes morphologically analyzed versions of Josephus and the Targumim, and both offer for additional purchase the Qumran sectarian manuscripts. Both provide unparsed editions of the Peshitta and Tischendorf. BWk has the Apostolic Fathers in unparsed Greek and Latin, while Lib has the Old Syrian gospels unparsed. Lib also offers a wide and growing range of materials for separate purchase, including the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible with full apparatus, the parallel aligned Hebrew/Greek OT, and a study edition of the non-biblical Dead Sea Scrolls, and is preparing an edition of the Targumim based on the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon project at HUCA.

BWk’s has not extended its original excellent search capabilities, although the interface has been improved. Lib’s search language now covers the full morphological coding in its texts, although there is still no way to search for words with particular accents, or for constructions that span chapter boundaries.

Lib’s new graphical search interface is similar to BWk’s Advanced Search Engine. Lib searches (unlike BWk’s) can go through a collection of documents of the same language, but all elements of each construction must occur in the same document for a hit to register. BWk’s Advanced Search Engine can construct a query whose elements come from different documents. Thus one can ask for all verses with ywy in the Targumim but without hwhy in the MT. In Lib, the user must generate separate verse lists for each language, then merge and sort them.

BWk continues to offer very rapid searches, while Lib continues to be quite slow, requiring over two minutes on some searches (even over a single resource).

To help interpret search results, Logos has introduced a new visualization mechanism, the “river,” which shows graphically how a particular set of features varies throughout a passage. Currently this mechanism is limited to displaying verbal inflections.

Lib’s visual filter mechanism offers a novel alternative to simple morphological searches. Users can define multiple layers of color or font attributes that are applied to a text or texts based on a list of morphological patterns.

While Lib has improved its searching, BWk has added a range of collateral resources, including grammars and lexica. Some require payment of additional license fees. The number and range of resources offered in BWk are greatly restricted compared with those available through Lib as separate purchases.

BWk’s resources are inconsistent in both their interfaces (confusing the user) and their preparation. Lib enforces a single interface across all of its material. One benefit of an electronic text is the ability to link dynamically to biblical references that it references, to other sections of the same resource (for example, a reference from a word in one article in a lexicon to another article discussing that word), and to other references (for example, a citation of Gesenius’ grammar from a lexicon). Lib supports all three kinds of references uniformly, with a consistent interface. BWk does not offer any inter-reference links, and supports biblical links and internal links only sporadically in some works. These missing links and inconsistencies make the use of collateral resources much more difficult in BWk than in Lib.

Both packages now let users generate diagrams of selected passages and export them to other Windows documents. Lib includes an excellent text on diagrammatical analysis (Lee Kantenwein’s Diagrammatical Analysis).

In an analog to the use of underlining or a highlighter pen, BWk can attach multiple layers of color or font attributes to a text, either manually, or as the result of a search. Unlike the highlighting that both packages use to show the results of a current search, these notations are stored in separate files and persist after a search is closed. Lib supports a single layer of manual highlighting.

I have sometimes needed help with each of these packages. Lib has greatly improved its on-line help facility, providing indexing and search. It still provides help in a Libronix dialog window, which is clumsier to use than the Windows help browser.

Sometimes software malfunctions, and one has to call the company. In my experience, BWk is the more robust package, and their support system excels in promptness and effectiveness.

In summary, Lib has strengthened its search tools, while BWk has integrated the collateral resources of most interest to the exegete. Still, each tool remains dominant in its area. BWk’s search is slightly more comprehensive and much faster than Lib’s. BWk makes no attempt to match the huge collection of collateral resources that Lib offers now and is constantly releaseing, and the range, consistency, and completeness of links within and among those resources in Lib exceed what BWk has attempted. For someone wishing to read what other books say about the Bible, Lib remains the platform of choice. For linguistic study of the text itself, BWk is unsurpassed.

An expanded version of this review is available at here.

H. Van Dyke Parunak is Chief Scientist at Altarum Institute, Ann Arbor, Michigan.


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