A Review of BibleWorks 7
by Gerhard J. Venter
The South African Baptist Journal of Theology
What a phenomenal tool for Bible study and research! These words sum up my encounter with the BibleWorks Version 7.0 software package (from now on BW7) for studying the Bible. Let me explain why I feel this way. I completed most of my studies in the 70s and early 80s using books that I bought with my limited budget or borrowed from the libraries where I studied, mainly because most of my studies predate the introduction of personal computers and proper Bible software packages! I have since used several software programmes for studying the Bible and teaching at Seminaries, but nothing comes near BW7 in completeness, speed, user-friendliness and access to research tools, especially in the area of the biblical languages. How I wish that I had a computer and BW available for my own studies, sermon preparation, research and teaching! As the title of BW7 suggests, it is the seventh edition of this software package, intended to assist the pastor, theological student or researcher in serious study of the Bible. BW has a track record of researchers and preachers using the previous versions with great success and enthusiasm, but this seventh edition is a major upgrade, making a good tool for exegesis and research even better! The emphasis is on serious study of the Word of God, since the package does not include the “easy” and popular “lightweight” commentaries to help the pastor or researcher to cut corners in exegesis. BW’s intention is rather to make access to research tools easily accessible, using the very technological advances that have become available to the modern researcher and preacher/teacher.
Space does not allow me to go into all the wonderful resources and abilities of BW7, but I do want to highlight just some of the “tools” available in this package to give an idea why anyone interested in a serious study of the Bible should consider spending the money to get a copy of BW. BW7 can be used to read the Bible in many different translations – 112 of them in 32 different languages! South Africans will be interested to know that the British version of the NIV is included (along with the USA version), plus many other well-known and lesser-known English versions. It even includes the Afrikaans 1953 version, although I wondered why the 1983 version was not included and why it was listed under the Dutch translations. Comparisons between different versions happen at the click of the mouse, while the search engine is phenomenal, allowing you to search words, word combinations and phrases in any or all of the different versions. With BW7 it won’t be necessary to buy another concordance to keep up with yet another new translation of the Bible. Some of the Bible versions shown on the screen are linked to sources such as Strongs, Matthew Henry and others, popping up in a window as the cursor slides over the individual words, and with a full explanation in an “Analysis Window,” while Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is a permanent small window on screen taking the researcher to other related passages.
The Greek and Hebrew sources and references available in BW7 alone make it worth having. Where was BW when I was still learning the languages?! I can choose to have the Greek text (in a number of versions, including the popular Nestle27 and UBS4) displayed with some English versions, and can have the parsing of words and explanations given in an instant with the sliding of the cursor or the click of the mouse. For students at seminary or pastors/teachers wanting to learn more Greek or Hebrew, there are tools such as vocabulary cards (limited to any one Bible book, if you wish), translations, word counts and statistics, grammars, lexical-grammatical reference tools, word pictures, Biblical timelines, dictionaries, and many others, too numerous to list or explain. My students will be as excited as I am about the addition to Version 7.0 of Leedy’s Greek New Testament Diagrams, only available on BW7, as a great tool to complete a structural analytical study of any NT passage. Anyone interested in studying the original Biblical languages or wanting to continue their Greek or Hebrew exegesis and research, should have BW7 on their computer! BW7 includes the option of unlocking more resources (at an additional cost) but my assessment is that the standard version should suffice for any person taking preaching seriously and even for those involved in teaching at seminary or theological college level. With all the resources and tools available in BW7 it will take a while for the first user to get used to the programme and to get to know all it can do. The standard software package comes with full online support, free downloads of revisions, and on-screen introductions and instructions on how to use the different functions. For a good overview of what is available in BW7 and what it can do for you, visit their website, listed above. The website also contains information about the publishers and their vision, which includes a non-profit approach to serving the church in extending the Kingdom of God.
At this stage of this review, I feel like the author of the Book of Hebrews in chapter 11:31. After discussing some of the heroes of the faith he feels like he is running out of time and space to do justice to the topic and other heroes of the faith, and comments: “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets…” (A “copy-and-paste” quote from BW7’s British NIV). I can tell you about the fact that BW7 provides a smooth and easy “drag-and-drop” facility with other programmes on my computer (e.g. MS Word and MS PowerPoint), provides help with Greek and Hebrew typing using the standard keyboard, supports Unicode (the universal code to type any language or font), includes beautiful and editable satellite maps, allows me to edit and add to some programmes, is super-fast in searching both the Bible and Bible dictionaries…. but space does not allow me to do so. Therefore, allow me one last direct cut-and-paste quote, “39 Kai. ou-toi pa,ntej marturhqe,ntej dia. th/j pi,stewj…” (Heb 11:39a, BGT in BW7, roughly translated as “And these were all commended for/through/by their faith…”). To twist the verse a little bit, I actually want to commend BibleWorks for this excellent resource for the computer generation, and for making a serious study of the Word of God quicker and more accessible. The cost of the programme to South Africans, given the exchange rate of our currency, makes it an expensive resource, but worth every cent and it is money well spent for eternity!
Gerhard J Venter is Pastor (Interim) at Glenwood Community Church, Durban, South Africa.