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Review: BibleWorks 6

Dr. W. J. Wessels

Old Testament Essays
Vol.18, No. 3, 2005

What an experience to work with such a powerful program! This is a tool which every serious exegete or reader of the Bible should have. It is a joy to have all this program has to offer.

This review will not focus on the technical side of the program, but on what it can offer an ordinary user. It is also not a comprehensive review, but only highlight some aspects of the program has to offer. This program should be used to experience the real power and ability of the tool.

BibleWorks 6.1offers access to many different translations, old and new, in many different languages. One can open as many translations as you wish on one screen, and compare different verses. This can be done in as many translations required. Even passages from both testaments of the Bible can be viewed simultaneously. For those who have the ability or need to access the Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament, the option is readily available by simply opening up these sources. More that just the availability of the Greek and Hebrew texts, the program provides the tools to analyse these texts. Furthermore, by the simple move of the cursor over an individual word, lexical, grammatical and morphological information is supplied on screen.

The program also offers three modes in which one can operate. Elementary, beginners and standard, as well as an advanced power mode.

Besides this, the program also allows for highlighting of text. It is a very handy feature and further underlines the user-friendliness of the program. Several screens can also simultaneously be opened with easy cursor movement from one to the other.

Extensive toolbars are also provided. A simple move of the cursor on each element of the toolbars provides an explanation of what the use of the individual element is.

A few initial observations

  • First time exposure to the program can be an overwhelming experience – intimidating to first time users.
  • Some of the resources seem to lean more towards a conservative theological approach and could perhaps be balanced by adding more critical sources. The program is in a sense a ‘library’ which should present a broader spectrum of views.
  • The program can be strengthened by adding more biblical commentary material.
  • Addition of archaeological and rabbinical material can perhaps also be a great benefit as a source of knowledge.

A brief summary of the main impressions experienced in using the program/tool

  • User friendly
  • Easy to install
  • Availability of many Bible translation and supporting texts
  • Easy accessibility of sources such as
    1. morphological and syntactical equipment
    2. lexicons (grammatical, topical and the theological information
    3. access to world-renown and standard lexicons of the Greek and Hebrew texts.
    4. add-on abilities (grammars, lexicons etcetera).
  • Self-explanatory button bars
  • Easy movement between windows
  • Copy, paste and clipboard facilities
  • Highlighting facilities

A brief mention of some of the uses or benefits of the program

  • Tools for comparative Bible reading
  • Tools for serious bible Study
  • Tools for research and serious textual work for Bible scientists
  • A must for Bible translators
  • A handy tool for students of the Bible
  • A tool for the enrichment of so-called lay people to advance their knowledge

What I have realised in working with the program, is that as research needs differ, this program allows access to the required assistance. My own need at this stage is assistance in Bible translation. In this regard the program was of immense value, since it offered me an onscreen work page, assimilating many sources available with one glance to the screen. Besides the easy accessibility of information, the quick speed at which it appears on screen is quite astonishing. A sheer joy for impatient people.

Pricing: In terms of our local currency, the almost US $300 for the program is rather expensive. But if it is valued and appreciated in terms of the volumes of information and operational tools, then it is reasonably priced.

A final word. I have still to discover many aspects of the program. This will come with use over time and as needs develop. Up to now I have experienced it as a powerful exegetical tool and an indispensable source and tool for Bible translation, as mentioned my current need. Lay people interested in the Bible, students, Ministers and Pastors, but certainly also scholars will only benefit by getting hold of this tool. I strongly recommend it!

Dr. W. J. Wessels is the chairman of the Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa.


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