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BibleWorks 5 Review

by Dr. Robert L. Plummer

The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Fall 2002, Vol 6, No 3.

About four years ago, a colleague and I conducted an informal survey of the various Bible software programs available (Gramcord, Logos, BibleWorks, etc.). I had decided to purchase a program and was looking for two things - (1) ease of use and (2) the ability to do complex searches in Greek and Hebrew. BibleWorks was the winner hands-down, and I have personally been using version 3.5 for the past several years. When the SBJT book review editor asked me to review BibleWorks 5, I welcomed the opportunity to see if BibleWorks was still the best.

To make a long story short, BibleWorks remains the best Bible research software available. The latest version has made significant improvements by making the program accessible to virtually any level of user and adding various additional texts and reference works. Just to list the contents of the program would exceed the word limit for this review, so I can only briefly highlight the program's most significant offerings: more than 90 Bible translations, nine original language texts, seven morphological databases, five Greek lexicons, three Hebrew lexicons (now including BDB), and eight practical reference works

Though the price for BibleWorks is a bit steep ($300), this is a program which the busy pastor, missionary, student or scholar will easily end up using on a daily basis. Below, I briefly sketch out how various persons might find the program useful:

For pastors and students - BibleWorks provides an efficient way to compare various translations of the Bible, add personal notes to any verse or chapter of the Bible in a savable database, and research the original Greek and Hebrew texts. The Greek/Hebrew texts and various English texts can be displayed side-by-side. As the mouse cursor moves over Greek and Hebrew words, full lexical and parsing information appears in a small window in the lower left-hand corner. The program functions like a library of Bible translations, a concordance, an interlinear text, a parsing guide, a Bible dictionary, and a verse-keyed journal of personal notations.

For missionaries - BibleWorks includes more than 90 Bible translations in 28 different languages. Bible translators can create a searchable database of their own working version of a new language text that they are producing.

For scholars - To my knowledge, Bibleworks 5 is the only Bible research program to offer the electronic versions of BDAG3 (the Greek lexicon for NT scholars) and HALOT (the Hebrew/Aramaic Lexicon for OT scholars-sometimes called "Koehler-Baumgartner-Stamm"). These two lexicons must be purchased as "add-on modules," and are the only items not included in the program's base price of $300.

BibleWorks' only drawback, as far as I can see, is that its more complex functions can only be learned through study and experimentation. A detailed manual and four-hour instructional video (computer CD) accompany the software. A person considering purchasing BibleWorks should own a relatively recent computer (minimum of 32 MB RAM) and be willing to sacrifice at least 200 MB of space on the hard drive (1.4 GB if the program is fully installed).

For a more detailed introduction to BibleWorks and a comparison with other software programs, the reader is referred to ... [the] website: http://www.bibleworks.com. The company offers a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Robert L. Plummer, Asst. Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

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