BibleWorks 7—Software for Biblical Research
by Dr. Jamie Grant
European Journal of Theology XVI/1 (2007), pp. 59-60
So, what is new in version 7? Well the first thing that users of BW will notice as they open up the latest offering is an entirely new graphic user interface. Up until version 6 the initial screen was a combination of a main text window surrounded by smaller windows which included dictionary definitions, search functions, and a text editor for taking notes. The new starting set-up is much more intuitive and user-friendly. The user is faced with three columns spread across the screen. The central column contains the biblical text—either the continuous text of a single version or multiple versions of a single verse (you can toggle between these two options at the click of an icon). The left hand column contains the main search window. One of the nice additions to BW 7 is that searches become tabs at the top of the search window, so an English text search for a particular string of words, followed by a search for the underlying terms in, say, first Hebrew and then the Greek of the LXX results in three tabs at the top of the screen that can be compared with consummate ease by simply clicking on the relevant tab. This may sound like a relatively insignificant detail, but in terms of usage it is a nice addition that eases the task of comparing versions and also allows the user to run multiple searches at the same time.
The third window, to the right of the main text block, is for linguistic analysis and note taking. For example, while reading the text in Greek, it is possible to run the cursor over a word and its definition in BDAG (complete with parsing) appears automatically in this right-hand window. The lexical analysis window also allows for easy study of the definition of the word as it is found in a variety of lexicons (e.g. BDAG, Liddell and Scott, Thayer, Louw-Nida and others in Greek or HALOT, BDB, TWOT and Holladay in Hebrew—however, it should be noticed that both BDAG and HALOT are additional modules that have to be purchased separately). Alongside the definition functions, this window also contains a tab that allows the user to take ones own notes that can, if desired, appear alongside any given text whenever it is called up on screen.
In some ways these changes are purely cosmetic. Not all, but most of these tools where available in previous versions of BW. However, it must be said that BW7 makes the use of these functions much more straightforward and user-friendly. Whereas previously I would say that it took a fairly serious amount of effort to learn how to use BW well, the latest version is much more intuitive and is much simpler in its operation. These are the main changes at the heart of the programme and they are definitely worthwhile enhancements.
In addition, as always with each new version of BW, additional databases have been added either to the core programme or as modules that can be purchased alongside BW7. Some of these additions are, if you will excuse the colloquialism, ‘sweet’. The addition, for example, of searchable, editable, and printable satellite maps of the Middle East is a great help for anyone teaching the biblical subjects. Also the inclusion of Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, alongside tools for diagramming the Greek text and other helps for learning Greek and Hebrew makes this digitised package all the more complete. In terms of versions of the Bible, the addition of the NET Bible complete with translation and study notes is very beneficial, as is the inclusion of the Holman Christian Standard Bible and new versions in Bulgarian, Spanish, German, Polish and Portuguese. The one notable gap is that the TNIV is not included in BW7. I understand that this is due to fairly prohibitive costs being required by the publisher.
For the specialist biblical scholar a whole raft of specific tools are now available within BW7 or for additional purchase. For example, the Greek Apostolic Fathers, the Works of Philo and additional Targums are now available by default in BW7. In terms of additional modules that can be purchased the list is equally extensive: the Qumran sectarian manuscripts, Waltke and O’Connor, a variety of Greek and Hebrew Grammars, and so on. Full details of all of the additions to be found in BW7 can be found on the website www.bibleworks.com.
In conclusion, BW7 is a worthy successor to the previous versions of the software and remains, as far as I am concerned at least, the premier Bible software available on the market today.
Dr. Jamie Grant is Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Highland Theological College in Dingwall, Scotland.