Review: BibleWorks 8
BiblicalPreaching.net, February 7, 2009
[URL: http://biblicalpreaching.net/2009/02/07/review-bibleworks-8/ copied on 2009-02-12]
I’ve had Bibleworks for many years (since the Hermeneutika days!), but I’ve had Bibleworks 8 for just a couple of weeks. Is it worth upgrading from an older version? Is it worth buying Bibleworks for the first time? Yes and a qualified yes. The qualified yes is that it is worth buying Bibleworks for the first time if you are serious about biblical exegesis, especially original language work. If all you want is a Bible on the computer and the ability to do a simple search for a word in the English Bible, then you can get cheap or even free software to do that. Bibleworks is not a library of commentaries, although it does have an increasing set of quality reference tools built-in. Bibleworks is not a collection of public domain reference tools that are freely available elsewhere. Bibleworks is about serious biblical exegesis, especially in the original languages.
Some things don’t change. The basic feel of the program is the same as before, although the user interface is now more logical in its organization. You still get more Bible versions than you’ll know what to do with, including numerous foreign language versions (great for missionaries), a significant array of Greek and Hebrew grammars and access to such things as the Belgic and Westminster Confessions, and Schaff’s church fathers.
Most things keep improving. In reality there are now more of the above versions (TNIV, NIrV, plus Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Macedonian, Russian, Arabic, etc.), grammars and historical texts. I was interested to see that Waltke & O’Connor as well as Dan Wallace’s grammar are now included without needing to be unlocked (Jouon and Muruoka are included too, but I haven’t got into that yet!) There is now another set of NT Greek diagrams to compare with the previous set (which leads me to ask why this was not available when I was in seminary, and also to make some passing comment about how easy it must be now compared to “back in my day!”) Apparently, you can now listen to the English text read aloud (if you’re on Vista, which I’m not, so I can’t comment on how that sounds).
The real heart of Bibleworks is how easily it allows complex searches and access to text related information. Both are easier and better in version 8. The Analysis Window is clearer and more sensibly organized. Now there is more information close to hand when working in a text. I like the context tab, which gives lists of word frequency in the pericope, chapter and book. The stats tab gives visual representation of the current search results, and the X-refs tabs gives sets of cross-references associated with the current verse (which I suppose some preachers will enjoy too much!) Phrase matching and related verse tools are impressive new features, finding the same wording elsewhere in the canon. Grammatical searches are easy to use with auto-complete features. Not only does Bibleworks have lots of searching tools, it also has them very well integrated.
The text export function is now far more sophisticated, so once I figure out how to use it, I won’t have to reformat every verse I import to MS Word (and once I check the instructions I am sure it will become clearer how to get this feature to work the way I want it to!)
Overall impression so far? I didn’t know if I’d notice the difference, but I do. I’m glad I’m blessed with Bibleworks 8 and I would encourage others who do serious exegetical work with original languages to jump in and join me. I have Logos/Libronix, but honestly always go back to Bibleworks for working with the Bible (and to Libronix for the excellent commentaries). I cannot compare Bibleworks with Gramcord or Accordance as I don’t have or use either, but I can compare Bibleworks 8 with 7, 6, 5, 4, 3.1, etc. It’s better.
I would be interested to hear from other Bibleworks users what features you find helpful in your sermon preparation.
Peter Mead is a minister-at-large with Operation Mobilisation.