BibleWorks 9: A Leadership Journal Review
Leadership Journal, Fall 2012.
Shoppers are funny. We want our tech purchases to come with all the bells and whistles, but once we bring the product home, we don’t do as much whistling and bell-ringing as we thought. One study showed that, when offered a hypothetical cell phone, consumers wanted every possible feature to be included; when queried about their actual cell phone use, they admitted they were not using most of the features they already had.
So it’s worth thinking about what you really want, in a comprehensive bible software program. I’d used a previous version of BibleWorks some years ago, then made a leap to a much more complicated program. Never did get the hang of it. I was glad to give BibleWorks 9 a try.
I started with a challenge: could I jump right in and start using it, without reading up online or looking at any instructions or videos? The program opened with three windows, and the first had a search box. After a tiny hitch—a popup box told me to add a period, as in “.fruit of the Spirit”— the center window opened four versions of Galatians 5:22, two in Greek. (You can, of course, select which bible versions you want to see; dozens and dozens of choices there.) It was fast and easy—two attributes I had really missed.
But it’s the third window that makes this program such a dynamo. I moved the cursor over the bible text, and a flourish of lexicographal information popped up there for every word. I selected specific words, and now could use the third window in a dozen ways—making notes, checking cross-references, see how and where this word is used throughout the Scriptures, look at Bible notes or a Greek apparatus for the verse. Then, to my great surprise, a tab labeled “MSS” opened an image of this verse in the Sinaiticus manuscript, with that clear, handsome uncial script that is in itself a work of art. What an electric moment, to gaze on the work of a fellow Christian who had thought about and transcribed these same words, almost 1700 years ago.
Of course, once I looked at the first instructions and videos I found many more capabilities and resources, particularly for helping someone with rusty original-language skills dig into the original text. And considering the strings of unexplored icons and buttons above and below the main windows, I will be expanding the usefulness of Bibleworks 9 for a long time. But finding this program so very intuitive and easy to use made me almost absurdly grateful; and the blisteringly-fast speed meant that newbie mistakes came and went in a flash. It’s stress-free.
All this swift accessibility is based on a single goal: to get the user in direct contact with the Scriptures themselves. If that’s your goal too, then this surprisingly affordable package can give you everything you’re looking for—minus the bells and whistles you don’t need.
Fredericka Mathewes-Green has written 9 booksand has been extensively published in the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, the Los Angeles Times, First Things, Books & Culture, Sojourners, Touchstone, and the Wall Street Journal.