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BibleWorks Version 8: A Review
Written by Lou Veiga
Tuesday, 07 July 2009 00:00
BibleWorks 8 is the latest version of this unique software package developed by BibleWorks, LLC of Norfolk, Virginia. The new package was introduced in January of this year. As with most new software, foremost in the consumer's thinking is the question, "How much better is this version? Is it worth spending $149.99 for the upgrade?" Those not familiar with BibleWorks must wonder if paying $349.00 for any new software can be worth it.
Consistent with the claims of the company, this product keeps the focus on the text. And it places exegetical tools in the hands of the Bible student that enable him to focus on the text. The temptation to offer more commentaries, journal articles, biographies, sermons, histories and devotional material has been largely resisted – the one welcomed exception is to include Schaff's Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers among the new free resources.
BibleWorks is especially to be praised for expanding the tool set for exegesis while actually making the new version easier to use! The improved usability of this software as compared to version 7 is especially seen in the new tabs provided in the Analysis window. For example, cross-referencing the Bible text is now easier than ever, and you can build your own cross-referencing files and share them with others.
Three new grammars come standard in the new version: Wallace's Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Waltke & O'Connor's Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, and Joüon & Muraoka's A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. These grammars alone will justify the price of the upgrade. In addition to the grammars, BW8 provides a number of standard Hebrew and Greek lexicons.
An interesting new feature in the Analysis window is the Context Tab. This gives one the statistics on a particular word use in three contexts – the current pericope, the chapter, and the book in which one is reading. It can make a histogram of the stats in a single click. This feature is helpful since frequency of word use helps one identify key words, and this is vital in coming to understand the text more fully.
Two useful new tools offered are the Phrase Matching Tool, and the Related Verses Tool. These tools are accessed with one click under the Search Window. These tools help one find verses that contain similar phrases (using some of the same words)as your current verses.
Dr. Sydney Dyer at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is keen on his students diagramming sentences in the Greek. The habit of diagramming will directly determine the final translation preference, thus aiding our understanding of the text. Useful to this end is the previously featured Leedy Greek NT sentence diagrams, plus a new feature: William MacDonald's Textual Transcriptions provides a useful arrangement of the text in the Koine.
As mentioned above, Schaff's Early Church Fathers rightly belongs in the BibleWorks package, as the Analogy of Faith – the thought and consensus of the universal church on the interpretation of Scripture – is an often overlooked step in the exegetical process. Schaff's work is indexed to the footnoted Scripture verse, rather than to the text itself, an inconvenience one will hopefully overlook. Reformed Christians are often criticized as being ignorant of any writing prior to Luther. This resource should begin to help mend this charge. Of even greater interest to the Reformed community will be the inclusion of the Three Forms of Unity, and the Westminster Confession and its Catechisms, all cross referenced to their proof-texts – these texts come up in very readable format in the Analysis Window.
Overall, the installation process is easy provided you knock out all background programs from running in Windows – otherwise the installation process simply stops. It may be best to install the program using the "Custom" installation choice, as most of the 150+ languages will never see any use.
The Installation Guide has been much improved, with great tips on how to get started quickly using BibleWorks 8. The Guide is easy to follow and provides some "tricks" previously known only to the "uber-users."
Their Customer Support makes good on their promise to reach you with help within 24 hours. A personable voice greets you in an easily understandable dialect. There is a 30-day free return guarantee for cautious consumers.
My recommendation is that this product deserves your careful consideration for purchase. This is especially true if you have never bought a previous version of BibleWorks – the tools for Bible exegesis have never been easier to use. This holds true whether you are a seminary student, a teacher, a pastor, or a just a plain old serious student of Scripture.
Lou Veiga is Director of Development and Recruiting at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Taylors, SC.