Everyone with a smartphone or tablet has doubtlessly found the wide array of Bibles and similar resources available.
Just for example —
- Lumina provides a free NET Bible with translator notes.
- ESV provides a free ESV Bible.
- BibleGateway provides several free translations and powerful search tools, as well as some out-of-copyright Bible dictionaries and commentaries.
- The Holy Bible provides several translations, cross references, footnotes.
- The Blue Letter Bible comes with many translations.
- AndBible for Android users is similar to BibleGateway.
Most also provide reading plans, such as a schedule of daily Bible reading that will cover all the scriptures in a set number of years, daily devotional verses, and search features. And these are all free or very nearly so.
On your PC, e-Sword is a free program that provides several translations, search tools, and the ability to incorporate several commentaries and other out-of-copyright texts. It has Greek and Hebrew resources. And you can buy a limited range of current materials. And it now has versions for smartphones and tablets.
It really is remarkable watching these materials evolve over the years. What often began as primitive Bible readers have become more powerful than the very expensive software of years past.
For many Bible students, these and similar low-cost resources may be quite enough. It’s easy to find the Early Church Fathers on the Internet, for free, in multiple translations. There are excellent free Greek and Hebrew resources, including the Septuagint. The fact is that, with a little patience and tenacity, you can do quite well with a good Internet connection and free software.
On the other hand, there is a reason that many Bible students buy Bible software. The commercial software does some things better. For example, many of the free resources don’t provide the actual Greek or Hebrew text, just the Strong’s reference. “Strong’s” is a standard numbering system that gives each Bible Greek and Hebrew word a number, making it easy to look a word up without knowing any Greek or Hebrew at all. And it works well for many purposes.
But if you need to drill into the details of the Greek or Hebrew grammar, you really need more. And the major paid-software companies, such as BibleWorks, Accordance, and Logos, provide that — in great detail.
If you want to build a searchable electronic library of current commentaries or other materials, you need a paid service because most current materials can’t be bought in e-Sword, and Kindle doesn’t have much in the way of searching power. Logos or Accordance would be your best choice.
If you want to be able to search 20 Bible encyclopedias or lexicons at once, Logos or Accordance will be the ticket.
If you want to have a dozen lexicons, the Early Church Fathers, the Talmud, the Pseudepigrapha, the Septuagint, multiple critical apparatuses, and several Greek or Hebrew grammars constantly linked live to every Bible verse, you want BibleWorks.
If you want to be able to search for every passive aorist Greek usage in a given text, any of the three can do it — but BibleWorks seems easiest to me.
Then again, if you’re looking to prepare a sermon with built in PowerPoint support, Logos seems to be the choice. But only if you have a really fast computer.
In fact, all three have more resources than I’ve been able to find, much less use. It’s a bit overwhelming. I’m still finding and using new features for all three.
There are other Bible software programs you can buy, such as QuickVerse and PC Study Bible. I’ve never used either and the publishers won’t provide a review copy. But I know some of the readers have used and benefit from these programs.