Longtime readers know that I’m a fan of the Bible research software BibleWorks. They just came out with a major upgrade, BibleWorks 10. And I was so excited about it, I bought the upgrade myself — rather than begging for a free copy in exchange for a review.
(I got BW 8 for free. I paid for the upgrades to 9 and 10.)
I’m still learning the ropes of BW 10, but already it’s clearly a major upgrade. For those buying new, BW 10 includes important new material not included in BW 9 but at the same price. In other words, BW 10 clearly provides more value for the investment dollar than BW 9. Less certain is whether the upgrade from version 9 to 10 is worth the cost (about half the cost of new). The goal of this review is to help you decide exactly that.
I chose to download the entire package, but I have a fairly fast connection. It took a couple of hours to install — much faster than Fed Ex overnight. But if you don’t have a high speed internet connection (50 Mbps or better), order the thumb drive and be sure to use your USB 3.0 port, not an old USB 2.0 port, if you have a choice. It’s a BIG program. 18 GB.
Installation was easy enough. Very standard Windows install. I chose to skip the photographs of the ancient biblical manuscripts — which are beautiful and very affecting to me, but the files are huge and greatly slow the install by download. And I really don’t need them for what I do.
The upgrade creates a new, more modern-looking interface. And you have more customization options to make the program look the way you like it. However, many of the popups and windows are not visibly changed from version 9.
The icons at the top of the screen have a new, more colorful look. The software is just less drab and looks more clean.
Go to Tools/Options/General/Program Colors to experiment with different looks. I like pale blue tonight. Maybe black for tomorrow night.
I love, love, love the new window Agnt. It allows you, with one click, to convert a window into a Greek interlinear. It doesn’t yet do Hebrew, nor does it do the Greek of the Septuagint. Nonetheless, it fills a gap that’s been needed for a long time.
The window gives the Greek, the verb declension or other grammatical details, the Greek lemma (root), English translation, the Friberg lexicon entry for the word (would be even better if I could pick any of the lexicons that I have), and numerical codes that pull up a grammatical analysis of the passage.
This is similar to the Accordance Instant Details feature but with more instant information. A great addition.
ePub1 and ePub2
BibleWorks has two tabs for reading ePub books. ePub is a universal standard for electronic publishing, and it’s possible to buy many books in that format. If you do, you can read them while in BibleWorks, search them, and otherwise let the software help you out.
I strongly believe that Logos, BibleWorks, Accordance, etc. ought to sell books under a universal format so that libraries could be shared among the programs. We’re not there yet, but this is a big step in that direction.
Crossway makes most of their books available in this format. Amazon does not.
Use is a new tab that produces a list of verses that use a word selected by hovering over a word. These may be limited to the book, the entire Bible, or a custom range. A double-click will pull up words in the Search window — that is, it performs a search. But a single click or hover pops up the word list in the Use window, allowing you to conduct two searches at once with just a few clicks. And unlike the X-Refs window described below, it doesn’t replace your most recent search.
Vs1 and Vs2 (used to be Verse)
This tab produces the critical apparatus for the selected verse or the NET Bible translator notes. I only occasionally need the critical apparatus (which shows variations among ancient manuscripts for the selected text), but I use the NET Bible notes all the time. I think they are an excellent resource. They are also available as part of the Summary window, but this tab makes them more quickly accessible (one click). Cool.
In BW10, I can open two tabs and have two critical apparatuses open — or one apparatus with the NET Bible translator notes, if I prefer.
If I click on a Greek or Hebrew word in the Browse window, the Forms tab counts the use of that word in each form throughout the Bible. Hence, if I click on kurios (Lord), I instantly learn how many times the word appears as a plural, singular, object, etc.
I can click on a particular form, and the Search window will automatically do a search on just that form.
It’s not a feature I’ll use much, because I’m normally searching the lemma (root) to discover the meaning of the word, rather than wondering how often it appears in the indicative mood. But there are times when such a search would be immensely helpful. And it avoids the need to search using the Greek variables, which is not very intuitive. It’s a nice addition.
Allows a user to create his own Greek or Hebrew lexicon. Not what I do, but obviously would be of great help to some specialists.
Gives a list of every word in the selected version and the frequency of the word’s use. Probably useful in sermon prep. Left column searches the entire Bible in the selected version. Right column searches the book of the Bible currently searched in Search window.
And there are times you’d like to know how many times “hate” appears in the NT. You’ve always been able to get the same information after a word search in the bottom of the Search window. But now it’s easier to get the word count in a given book of the Bible.
There’s a glitch in the Index feature. If you don’t find what you need, use the Search feature instead.
I have a single, 30-inch monitor, and I like to set up BW in four parallel windows. It defaults to three, but the Analysis window can be split into two (for a total of four windows) by clicking the red right arrow in the upper right corner. You can then move tabs between the two so that you can open the two tabs you want at once in the two windows.
But you have to manually set the widths. It should default to three or four equally wide windows that I can then adjust manually. And moving one window can affect another, making it necessary to make several approximating adjustments just to have equally sized windows. It’s a problem that should have been fixed by now. (It should be View/Equal Windows or something like that.)
Not new to BW10 improvements that are overdue
To save a set up of the main window, such as my favored four-column look, I have to turn on the Configuration Manager (very obscurely located under Tools/Options/Startup Options. The Help file fails to mention that you find Options under Tools) and then, when you reopen the program, telling the program you want to create a new configuration.
I guess my complaint is that this option is hidden three levels down, whereas the Checkpoint options, created for programmers, appears under the File drop down menu. But nearly everyone is going to want to use the Configuration Manager. Why hide it? In fact, why not have it on as a default.
Accordance offers on each reopen to restore the previous configuration. My answer is nearly always “yes.” Why not something that simple?
The flash card feature (accessed through the icons at the top of the screen) is very cool and pronounces Greek words for you. I’m sure Greek students love learning this way. But why can’t I — a Sunday school teacher — click on a Greek word in the Search window and hear it pronounced? That would be very helpful to us rank amateurs.
You may select a geographic location in the Bible and select Maps with a mouse click. The software is supposed to find a contextually appropriate map, but it rarely does. It’s a great idea, but it’s not finished. Not nearly.
On the other hand, there are other map modules from ESV, NET, and Moody. They aren’t cross-linked to the text, but they are easily accessed from the Resources drop down menu. And they are excellent maps. Many of BW’s competitors charge extra for maps.
BW offers several free resources through its user community, such as out-of-copyright commentaries. It’s a nice collection. You can also download free software from WORDsearch. But it’s not easy.
I should be able to download BW and WORDsearch materials from inside BW, and the software should handle getting the download in the right place and installed. One click should be enough.
According to the BibleWorks website, the key new features are —
• High-resolution tagged images of the Leningrad Codex
• Two new NT manuscript transcriptions
• Nestle-Aland GNT 28th Edition
• New English Translation of the Septuagint
• Danker’s Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the NT
• Instant lemma form usage info for Greek and Hebrew
• 1,200+ high resolution photos of the Holy Land
• EPUB reader & library manager
• Complete audio Greek NT
• Customizable window colors
• Dynamically adjustable program text size
• Mac and PC versions.
What It Already Had
I have not summarized what was available before the upgrade, and new buyers will want to know that. The publisher provides a list of standard contents. It’s really impressive, especially in terms of Greek and Hebrew resources. I’m no language expert, but it makes me seem like one.
Price and Who Should Buy
BibleWorks 10, brand new, costs $389, which is more than fair in my estimation. BW has limited room for expansion, especially as compared to Logos or Accordance. The store has far fewer commentaries and other resources available for purchase. But the standard package is very impressive and more than sufficient for even advanced preachers, Bible class teachers, elders, and old bloggers.
The biggest shortfall is with regard to commentaries. The best commentaries aren’t available in any version of BW, and if you are set on software that researches the commentaries, BW won’t be sufficient. But it far outclasses eSword and the other free programs, and you can now build a pretty good collection of commentaries and other resources if you can find them in ePub format. Crossway sells most of their books in downloadable ePub format! Just click on the Format button before you order.
Unfortunately, the Kindle PaperWhite readers don’t read ePub. Nearly all other book readers and tablets have applications that do. (Calibre can be used to convert ePub books to native Kindle format. I have no experience with this and have no idea how well it works.)
It’s the best of the Bible software packages I’ve used when it comes to Greek and Hebrew studies. I literally always have it open while writing blogs or preparing Bible class lessons. What it does, it does very well and very fast. BW10 is a dramatic improvement and a great Bible software program. Extremely fast and efficient. And for those interested in the original scriptural manuscripts, an extraordinarily powerful resource. It’s my favorite program for studying the Septuagint’s readings of Old Testament passages. I use this feature nearly daily.
The standard package includes the Early Church Fathers, which is an expensive add on many of their competitors’ products. And the collection of Greek and Hebrew dictionaries and grammars is excellent and very accessible — more easily searched in BW than in any other program.
I also own Accordance and Logos. (I’m blessed and spoiled.) I find both of them extremely beneficial for my studies, but neither has caused me to close BibleWorks, because it’s just so incredibly easy to do Greek and Hebrew studies in BW.