Recommendation for BibleWorks 10
by Donald Cobb
As a tester for the pre-release version of BibleWorks 10, it’s a pleasure for me to give a word of recommendation for this new version. While not a radical departure from previous iterations—seasoned users will find themselves in familiar territory—the new version has many features to offer, all integrated into a simplified, highly flexible and esthetically pleasing presentation that adapts well to desktop and portable computers, as well as PC tablets. The Mac version, is particular, is a great improvement over the BW9 version.
Previous BW users will find upgrading worth the price: the new version comes with high resolution photos of the Leningrad codex, containing the complete Old Testament, Hebrew transcriptions of the Samaritan Pentateuch, Ben Sira and others. In the area of New Testament texts, the Claromontanus and Ephraemi Rescriptus codices have also been added. Additionally, there is now a full Greek interlinear version of the New Testament, as well as recordings of all New Testament texts in two different versions. Two almost unbelievable additions to BibleWorks 10 are the NETS version of the Septuagint and Fredrick Danker’s Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, both included in the base package! In addition to these and other major new items, there are also dozens of smaller improvements over previous versions that simplify and speed up everyday use. Just a couple of examples: the “Use” pane, already one of the more appreciable additions to BibleWorks 9, is now more flexible and helps the user to hone in, with just a click, on the way vocabulary is used in a book, an entire version, a custom range or current pericope. A “Forms” pane has also been added, allowing one to see, just by hovering the mouse over a word, its different forms in the Old or New Testament or in other, non-Biblical texts. For students learning the Biblical languages, or professors teaching them, these are just two small features that prove themselves immediately helpful. As one of the testers, I was also gratified to see many of the requests made during the testing process added in during the testing time!
A complaint one often finds in older reviews of BibleWorks is that the interface is complex and very user-unfriendly. This is no doubt somewhat unfair since, in my experience, all complex computer programs—and this includes the major Bible programs currently on the market—demand a steep learning curve to get the most out of them. Having said that, BibleWorks has worked hard in this area over the last few years, and already BibleWorks 9 was engineered to make its full contents more easily accessible. BibleWorks 10 goes even further, with useful popups and other features to direct the new user to what he or she is looking for, with a minimum of searching. Unlike some other programs, BibleWorks also comes with a full users manual (included in the base price!) that is easy to consult and gives more than sufficient detail to most features. Videos also fill in the need for seeing how to get the most out of BibleWorks resources.
Of course, one of the major changes in BibleWorks 10 is the optional Stuttgart Original language modules, adding the BHS, NA28 and Rahlfs-Hanhart Septuagint critical apparatuses, as well as other important resources. Although one might regret that these are not included in the base package, it is BibleWorks’ way of offering features that have often been requested over the years, but would normally be prohibitive because of the royalties involved. I’ll just say this: for those who are intent on having the items contained in these add ons—and that would logically include most Bible scholars and many students, especially at the PhD. level—the price of the combined modules is, by industry standards, more than competitive.
Given the current market, with different programs that are all trying to increase their sales and are constantly adding more and more library resources to their products, is BibleWorks worth the price? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes! I recently compared BibleWorks 9 with another leading program and found that, in order to have the same features one can get in the BibleWorks base package, one would need to spend over $1,700! In fact, I’ve more than once found BibleWorks to give more trustworthy results than other programs far more expensive!
As a long-time BibleWorks user, first as a student, then pastor, then teacher and professor, I have seen BibleWorks grow over the years according to, and even anticipating my needs. The focus has consistently been on what genuinely helps users enter into a greater knowledge and understanding of the text itself. Although I also own and use the other major programs, BibleWorks has a place of pride in my research and meditation on the Scriptures. I would heartily encourage anyone who is considering buying a Bible research program to take BibleWorks as their starting point and primary hands-on tool. I’ve always said no other program combines the number of quality resources with such a low price and—I would even say—ease of use. BibleWorks 10 takes that no-nonsense quality and research power even further!
Donald Cobb is Professor of New Testament and Greek at Studies at Faculté Jean Calvin. Institut de théologie protestante et évangélique in Aix-en-Provence, France.