by Dan Phillips
June 2, 2015
The best serious Bible Study software in the world keeps getting better and better.
The way to approach this is to begin with the oft-asked question, "Which is better: Logos or BibleWorks?" Rather than say that it's like comparing apples and oranges, I'd say it's like comparing apples and artichokes, or baked potatoes. They aren't two of the same thing, they're two different things. There is some overlap, obviously, but the two different softwares have two different foci.
Logos 6 (which I plan to review later) is like having an incredibly powerful, fast, extensive library crammed into your device. It is the best I know of, at what it does, and I need what it does. BibleWorks 10 is like having the world's best infinitely-expandable polyglot study Bible, with margins that indefinitely extend to allow endless note-taking and note-making. It's the best I know of at what it does, and I need what it does! I wouldn't want to do without either.
Most serious Bible students get a Bible with margin room enough to make notes, or (in my case) even insert Hebrew and Greek. But then when one wears out, you get another and start all over again. And there's never enough room; no one can write small enough to include everything.
BibleWorks solves that problem. Its fully-formatted Notes feature allows instant recording of thoughts, links, documentation, graphics, tables — anything. (See more, on an earlier version, here.) This has been a steady feature since its (as I recall) wobbly introduction in version 6. Now it is long-since robust and stable — and in version 10, expanded.
The first expansion is an additional frame, so that now the Search and Browse frames work with (not one, but) two analysis frames:
If you prefer, you can collapse the third analysis frame so as only to have one; but I always use the two, even on my 15" laptop. Depending on what modules you've gotten, you can use the two frames for notes and textual commentaries, cross-references, E-Pub books, other translations, editor, or a dozen other features. You can drag and drop the tabs to customize as needed.
On the subject of customization — though this is not a new feature — BibleWorks allows you to make and name your own configurations.
For instance, I have a Daily Bible Reading configuration that keeps track of where I am each day. It's like being able to leave as many ribbons as you need as place-keepers:
You can rename, add or delete the tabs. In my labeling, the OT tab has the Hebrew text for my OT read-through, the NT my Greek tab, and the EV my English Bible read-through tab. ("Bobby" is a random name for a tab I use for side-searches.)
Then I have a general configuration that I employ for all other uses.
Another new addition in version 10 is the User Lexicon. It is exactly what you might think it is from the name: a fully-formatted lexicon feature that the user can create. Note, for instance here, in Proverbs 4:8, when I mouse-over the word סַלְסְלֶ֥הָ, this appears in the user lexicon:
That is the note I created, obviously culled from different sources. Now note: that will display any time I mouse over that lemma in any verse. It is not tied to the verse, it is tied to the word. The value of this is obvious. It works on any language, whether Hebrew, Greek or English. So you can make use of it whatever your level is.
I always translate what I expound, and I try to come up with consistent renderings. It can be hard to remember how I've translated a word last year, or three years ago. But with this tool, I can keep a record that pops up on every occurrence of the word in every book. And as with all the user-created notes, you can fill it as full as you like, from lexicons, journal articles, commentaries, sermons or personal studies.
Now from the heavy to the to the light relief, you can also customize the colors. If you like, you can even do this:
But then, why would you? One of the other beta-testers made that little honey up and called it JapaneseKitten.
Yep. There's a back-story there, I'll bet... and I don't want to know it.
Here are some of the other new features:
BibleWorks itself has a fuller and illustrated listing of new features in BibleWorks 10. (A full list of features, old and new, can be found here.) Also, you can watch BW's own videos demonstrating the new features.
In addition, I guested on a Theotek podcast, battling some bad sound quality and enthusing about the features I like best (starting at about 6:50.
As I've said, I say now: every Bible-teaching, Bible-preaching pastor should have BibleWorks. The same applies to professors and teachers of all levels, seminary students, and serious Bible teachers or students of the Word would benefit greatly from it. Practicing what I preach, I have personally given (or gotten a church to give) copies to pastors. If you are a pastor, get it. If your pastor doesn't have it, get the church to budget it and give it to him. It will reward both him and your church.
Upgrades are discounted, of course. But even if you are purchasing it for the first time, the full price of $389 purchases a stunning array of resources for serious interaction with the text. It is tremendous "bang" for your buck. Plus support is great, and a community of brainiac users is always ready to help.
I enthusiastically recommend it.
[BibleWorks let me be a beta tester and has provided a review copy, with no pressure to produce a positive review. My enthusiasm is all genuine, and all mine. Regular readers already knew that!]
Dan Phillips is a pastor and author who blogs at teampyro.blogspot.com.