BibleWorks 5 Software Review
by James T. Dennison, Jr.
Kerux: The Journal of Northwest Theological Seminary 17/1 (2002): 71-73., May 2002.
This is the current version of arguably the premier digital Bible on the market. For years, scholars have touted the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament packaged in BibleWorks by Hermeneutika. Not only is the famous morphologically tagged Westminster Hebrew text available, it stands beside the UBS 4th Edition/ Nestle-Aland 27th Edition of the Greek text (for the LXX, BibleWorks loads the Rahlf's version). Though computerized versions of the original languages of Scripture are the ultimate motivation for the scholar, pastor, student, the digitalized Hebrew and Greek are only the beginning of the treasures in this program. English versions abound (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV-23 in all), but French, Spanish, German, Latin-even a Vietnamese-editions are present.
More than the text of the Bible are works on the Bible. Our compilers have included the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia/ISBE (1915 ed. with articles by B. B. Warfield and Geerhardus Vos), Nave's Topical Index, A. T. Robertson's New Testament Word Pictures and much more. And there are lexicons! Hebrew-Brown-Driver-Briggs (unabridged); Koehler-Baumgartner (coming hopefully later this year); Greek-Thayer (unabridged); Liddell and Scott (abridged); Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker (3rd ed., add on price of $85); Louw and Nida (semantic domains) and Friberg (analytical). None of the versions, lexicons or reference tools is "locked", i.e., requires additional fees or passwords for use. The entire program (90 Bible versions in 28 languages; 9 versions of original Greek or Hebrew texts; 7 morphological databases; 5 Greek and 3 Hebrew lexicons; 8 reference tools) is priced at $299.95 (upgrades from previous versions are $150). Meanwhile, the publisher is seeking permission to include "little Kittel" (the abridged Theological Dictionary of the New Testament), Holladay (Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon), Balz (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament) as well as introductory Greek and Hebrew grammars.
There are "three levels of use" in this new edition: beginner, standard, power user. Use of the program in beginner mode is intuitive and straightforward. The advanced features will require some time (and study). The program comes with nearly four hours of videos (loaded on your computer during installation) which provide step-by-step details for building complex searches. In addition to the videos, the 387-page manual is thorough, superbly illustrated and well indexed.
BibleWorks 5.0 requires an IBM compatible PC running Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP. 32 MB of RAM and a minimum of 200 MB of hard drive space are necessary. A CD drive will be needed to load the program and a sound card is essential for the videos. (NB: Loading the two CDs on my computer took less than 10 minutes!) Users may register their copy via the Internet and receive information on future updates as well as pertinent tips and news releases.
There are other digital Bibles and scholars packages on the market. Bible Works 5.0 does not have as many peripheral texts (for which extra dollars must be ponied up to "unlock" restricted features), but it has all the texts the Old and New Testament scholar/user needs, plus the essential tools for penetrating those texts. This is a superb product at a reasonable price with prospects for continued expansion. That all translates to a bargain! Every church budget ought to include $299.95 for this powerful tool. Their pastors will rise up and call them "blessed"!
James T. Dennison, Jr. is Professor of Church History and Academic Dean at Northwest Theological Seminary and editor of Kerux, the Journal of Northwest Theological Seminary.