A Review of BibleWorks 8
Dr. Véroni Krüger
The Word for the World, August 12, 2010.
URL: http://twftw.org/en/articles/BibleWorks_8.cfm [Retrieved on 2010-08-13]
How suitable is the program for use by bible translators?
Having used an earlier version of BibleWorks for a number of years, and having examined the latest version, BibleWorks 8, I would like to strongly recommend it to all who are engaged in the work of Bible translation.
THE WORD FOR THE WORLD BIBLE TRANSLATORS (TWFTW)
TWFTW is a pioneer Bible translation ministry, that is, a ministry that works only in languages into which the Bible has not been translated. The organization focuses on empowering nationals to translate the Bible for their own people. Suitable candidates are recruited, largely through indigenous churches, trained in a program that entails the equivalent of two years of a three-year degree program (which has been recognized by an accredited South African university as such). The program includes introductions to the Biblical languages, Biblical Studies, Intercultural Communication, Applied Linguistics (Phonetics, Orthography, Phonology, Morphology, Semantics), and Theory and Practice of Bible translation. The training is not only aimed at producing Bible translators, but also to empower nationals to assume leadership positions in the ministry of Bible translation.
WHAT HELPS DO BIBLE TRANSLATORS NEED?
Bible translation is all about rendering the meaning of the original as accurately as possible in the language into which the translation is being made. This requires the ability to analyze accurately what the meaning intended by the original is. It also entails formulating the meaning in the idiom of the language in which the translation is being made. To this end, a number of resources are essential.
Responsible Bible translation is based on the original texts of the Bible. It is therefore imperative that Bible translators have easy access to those texts in Hebrew and Greek, the languages in which the Old and the New Testaments respectively were written. Translators need easy access to trustworthy dictionaries and lexicons. Referring to existing translations often enhances the insights of the translator, assisting towards accurate and meaningful formulation of the meaning intended by the original. For this aspect of Bible translation, easy access to a large number of translations of the Bible is extremely helpful. Bible commentaries from a wide range of commentators also help the translator to take into consideration various views on the meaning in the smaller and broader context of any particular passage.
As will be seen in the discussion of what BibleWorks 8 contains provided below, it will be apparent that it does indeed contain all of the above. This makes it an excellent tool for Bible translators.
In the case of pioneer Bible translators, one of the greatest challenges is providing accessible helps. This is because of the fact that many of the projects are in faraway rural areas, where there is no access to libraries. It has become possible to access much, though not all, of the available material on the internet. However, in the areas where pioneer Bible translators live and work, internet connections are often either non-existent, very sporadic, or prohibitively expensive. The conscientious translator must therefore invest large amounts of money in purchasing extensive libraries, or forgo the benefit of the large amount of useful material that has been produced.
With BibleWorks 8 it is possible to gain access to a great variety of the materials needed for responsible Bible translation in the form of a portable library, as it were. Updates may be obtained periodically, when the translator visits a centre where internet connections are more freely available.
WHAT DOES BIBLEWORKS 8 CONTAIN?
Full details of the contents are available at http://www.bibleworks.com/content/full.html
An overview provided by the publishers of BibleWorks summarizes the contents as follows:
190+ Bible translations in nearly 40 languages, 35 original language texts and morphology databases, 29 lexical-grammatical references, plus a wealth of practical reference works!
The following items are of particular interest to Bible translators, as enumerated on the publisher’s website:
Greek & Hebrew Texts
“BibleWorks comes with standard Greek New Testament texts, LXX texts, and the Hebrew Old Testament text. In addition to the texts, most of the Greek New Testaments, the LXX, and the Hebrew OT also have their own morphology versions, where every word is parsed and lemmatized.”
“BibleWorks comes with lexicons and dictionaries for Greek (Louw-Nida, Thayer, Friberg, Liddell-Scott, etc.), and Hebrew lexicons (Holladay, unabridged BDB-Gesenius 1905, condensed Pierce-Strong's BDB-Gesenius, Whitaker's abridged BDB, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, etc.).”
Greek and Hebrew Grammars
“It's important to keep your language skills sharp, so BibleWorks also includes several Greek and Hebrew grammars (Burton, Conybeare, Davis, Joüon-Muraoka, Wallace, Waltke & O'Connor, etc.). Other optional modules (Moulton & Milligan, Weingreen, Zerwick, etc.) can be added.”
The program includes a New Testament diagramming tool that provides users a way to see syntactical relationships.
In addition to the above, there is also a set of maps.
Bible translators realize increasingly that knowledge of the geography of the lands referred to in the Bible is essential in our understanding and, therefore, correct rendering, of the message of the original. The extensive sets of maps provide by Bible Works is in itself a great advantage to possessing the software.
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE PROGRAM?
Bible translators are already expected to use a great amount of software. It can be stated with confidence that BibleWorks will not add to this burden, but rather lessen it.
The user interface is designed in such a manner that it enables one to research passages or words with great ease. The three windows open at once make it possible to start with a search of particular words or phrases, browse selected versions of the Bible, and find detailed analyses from sources of your choice, all on one screen. Simply moving the cursor over a text in the browse window opens the analysis of those words in the analysis window, providing a wealth of information.
BibleWorks 8 comes with an extensive set of study guides containing detailed instructions in more than 100 videos (more than four hours altogether), to help new and experienced users to fully utilize the benefits of the program. A fully integrated online help supplements the context sensitive on-screen help menu. In addition, access to BibleWorks Forums enables users to interact, ask questions, and make suggestions. Free technical support is available for registered users of BibleWorks, by phone, fax or email. Contact information is available on the BibleWorks website.
At first the price may see to be prohibitive for people who are in a faith support type of ministry. However, I am convinced that if all factors are taken into account, it is an excellent buy. The breadth of available data eliminates the need for acquiring a large library, the available updates are more effective in keeping up to date with recent developments than having to purchase additional volumes or subscribe to a large number of publications. The speed at which the data may be researched saves a large amount of time.
The value of the program confirms the validity of the following statement from the company vision statement, as is appears on the BibleWorks website. The purpose of BibleWorks, LLC is to provide pastors, teachers, students, and missionaries with the tools they need to "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). There are other companies that exist to do this as well, but BibleWorks comes to this task with some unique differences in approach and philosophy: We exist to serve the church, not to make a profit, and all of our business decisions are made with that in mind. Our goal is to provide a complete package containing the tools most essential for the task of interpreting the Scriptures in the original Greek and Hebrew, and to do it at a price that poor pastors and students can afford.
Dr. Véroni Krüger is founder and President of The Word for the World Bible Translators. Since 1981 he has been involved with training national Bible translators and serving as Bible translation consultant in five African countries.