Computer Bible Study You Won't Believe!
by Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw
Reformed Episcopal Theological Journal, Fall 2002.
Wouldn't it be nice not to type verses into your sermon notes? Not only is it time consuming, but also you might make a mistake. Now you can push a button and read verses into your word processor from virtually any English version in existence. Moreover, with Bible Works 5.0, you can look up any English word, combination of words, part of words, phrases, with a few key strokes, have the list of passages in less than a second, click on each passage and look at the results in multiple English versions of your choice. With books, this would take hours-welcome to seconds instead! Part of my specialty in teaching biblical languages is looking at Bible programs for the computer; I've seen most of them (Logos, Quick Verse, Gramcord, etc). But this is the best, hands down. Virtually everything I do is crisp and instantaneous with help screens along the way for every function.
Have you forgotten your Greek and Hebrew that I taught you, but you don't want to admit it? Don't panic. You won't believe this, but in Bible Works 5.0 you can put your cursor on a Hebrew or Greek word in the Hebrew Old Testament, Greek New Testament and the Septuagint, and immediately it will parse it for you in the window below the text! Not only will it parse the word, but it will look it up in the reference work of your choice, instantaneously. What if you don't know enough about the Hebrew to put your cursor on the right word? Not to worry as you can use several English versions, put your cursor on the English word you want, and it will still parse and define the Hebrew (or Greek) word instantly! But is the parsing accurate? Having used the program since January of 2001, I can say absolutely so. The parsing has been done by some of the best Greek and Hebrew scholars living. This is not a sloppy program just out to make a few bucks, but very professional. You can look up a word in a Hebrew lexicon (BDB unabridged!), Greek lexicon (Thayer's unabridged), the two volume Theological Word Book of the Old Testament (unabridged) that reads like a Who's Who of theological conservative scholarship and is very easy to read, Louw-Nida lexicon, Friberg's analytical lexicon, and too many to mention-all with the click of a mouse! Then you can transfer this material to your word processor. A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament follows the verses you are studying for you to instantly look up (unabridged).
In addition, you can purchase separately the newest edition of the Bauer Greek lexicon that we now use in seminary (BDAG, 3rd edition) for about $100 (price will go up soon), unabridged! You can search it for verses (you can't do that with the book) or just have it pop up for the word you have your cursor on. Likewise, there is the latest Hebrew lexicon that has replaced BDB, Koehler-Baumgartner, that would cost you almost $500 in book form (5 volumes) that you can purchase separately for about another $100. It is the latest in scholarship that all Hebrew scholars are using, and it is much easier to use than BDB and even more complete!
Recently I was studying for my Pentateuch course, and I pulled up the lexicons window separately, entered the Hebrew word I wanted, asked for BDB unabridged, and bingo, the definition was in front of me. Then I changed to the Theological Wordbook of the OT, and without re-entering the word, the discussion was on screen. I changed again to the Koehler-Baumgartner lexicon, and the discussion was there instantaneously. At each point, I transferred to my word processor the definitions needed, including the actual Hebrew words and pointing! One could do the same with the various Greek lexicons included.
With Bible Works 5.0, lay people will also spend many hours studying words and looking up things in the reference books, Bible dictionaries, topical studies, time line, Nave's topical study, 700,000+ cross references. You can do searches in any of the English versions in any degree of complexity to your heart's content. The back of Strong's is not accurate, but the dictionaries with this program are world renown.
You can do very complex searches on English, Hebrew, or Greek in less than a second in most cases, and even complex Greek grammatical searches that I do will usually take less than 5 seconds. There was one study that took me almost a week to complete with my books, but with Bible Works it took less than 5 minutes. The more complex searches will require you to learn how to use the advanced search engine, which will take some effort, but if you will work at it for a few hours, you'll have it. The basic searches you can learn in about 5 minutes. It has three modes: beginner, intermediate, and advanced, and you can easily switch back and forth between them as you study.
In Bible Works 5.0, you have over 90 Bible translations in 28 languages, and virtually every English version in existence, including the new English Standard Version that has just come out. There are also 9 original language texts, including both the critical and majority texts for the New Testament Greek, 7 parsing databases that your cursor will access, 5 Greek lexicons, 3 Hebrew lexicons, and 8 practical reference works. You can customize your work so that you can have versions in parallel columns or interlinears with the English verse under the original language verse. There is also free technical support to all registered users, a 90 day return guarantee, and 4 hours of learning videos.
If you bought version 4.0 of Bible Works while in seminary, spend the modest $150 to upgrade to Bible Works 5.0 as the improvements and new lexicons are worth it. Having used both versions, I can say that 5.0 is not just a ho-hum upgrade, but virtually a new program. I've found it much easier to use, extremely fast, with so many new additions that you will think you have a new version. Yet if you know how to use the old version, there is almost no learning curve. New in 5.0 is unabridged BDB, unabridged Thayer's Greek lexicon, transliterated Hebrew, the new conservative English Standard Version, all lexicons are now fully searchable, the new Friberg's Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (complete 2000 edition), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Faussett Bible Dictionary, 4 hours of video instruction, even the technical accent marks of the Hebrew are now included, and other things. For the more technical minded, you can search every aspect of Hebrew (yes, vowel points, cohortative, all tenses, even the rare ones, combinations), and the same in Greek for the New Testament and the Septuagint. The moderate cost will save you enough time to pay for it, not to mention that if you bought all the contents separately, you would have to get a second mortgage.
It would be nice if Bible Works included other sets that are out of copyright and would not make the price increase, such as Calvin's commentaries, Matthew Henry, McClintock and Strong's encyclopedia, and other sets, but one can't have everything. Furthermore, at an extra price, it would be very helpful to include the ten volume Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the NT, VanGemeren's New International Dictionary of OT Theology and Exegesis, Colin Brown's New International Dictionary of NT Theology, and one day the Theological Dictionary of the OT, now having 12 volumes and growing. Also, some Greek and Hebrew grammars would be dynamite, such as Daniel Wallace's Greek Grammar beyond the Basics, and perhaps A. T. Robertson's massive grammar, and others, and Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, Waltke's Biblical Hebrew Syntax, and others. But these are all advanced and technical, and the Bible Works 5.0 is incredible as it is. An alternative would be for Bible Works 5.0 to integrate these works so that if one already had them, he could access them from Bible Works 5.0. This would increase the popularity of Bible Works 5.0, giving incentive to purchase it for those who already had something they could use with it. Furthermore, they would not have to purchase these additions if they already had them.
... Save yourself time and money, and be more accurate with Bible Works 5.0.
Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, Professor of Biblical Languages at Cranmer Theological House