03 May 2006

BibleWorks 7: a brief review

by Dan Phillips

Preface: in keeping with (what I think are) the distinctions between this blog and mine, I'll do a relatively brief review of this product here, supplemented with some more details over at my Biblical Christianity blog. If you want more details, nuts and bolts, go there.

Summary: with this version, BibleWorks really comes into its own. BibleWorks 7 (BW7) really is an astonishing product and an astonishing value. Preachers, scholars, students: save up the pennies, unsubscribe to Christianity Today, sell your old Watchman Nee collection, wash Dad's car and mow the lawn -- get BW7.

Review
What can BW7 do for you? It can help you learn, study, preach and teach the Bible, no matter what your level of education. If you're not a pastor, and thus may never learn Greek or Hebrew, it may be more than you need; but if you have studied or will study the God-breathed text, it is just an astonishing resource.

Bundled with the program, you get thirty-two English versions, plus various forms of the Hebrew and Greek texts. You can easily display in one version, or verse by verse in as many versions as you like. Point your mouse at a Hebrew or Greek term, and a parsing and simple definition pops up right in your display window. At the same time, whatever lexicon you've chosen instantly displays the full entry on that word in the right pane. There is another tab in that pane, which displays all the resources you have installed, whether on that word (in the lexica), or on the syntax or even textual condition of that verse (in the grammars and Metzger).

When you buy the basic package, you get an astonishing array of original-language resources. For the Greek NT, you get Thayer, Gingrich's Shorter Lexicon, and others; for the Hebrew, there's good ol' Brown-Driver-Briggs, but there's also Holladay's lexicon and the TWOT. Then, for a reasonable additional price, you can add the latest editions of BAGD and HALOT, as I did. (I figure that if you don't know the acronyms, you don't care; if I'm wrong, ask.)

But wait, there's more! You get the whole Greek NT diagramed; Conybeare's grammar of Septuagint Greek; MacDonald's Greek Enchiridion, the Archer/Chirichigno work laying out and discussing all the NT quotations of the OT, and the Septuagint lexicon by Lust (long "u"), and Metzger's textual commentary on the Greek NT, Burton's Moods and Tenses, Davis' grammar -- and a whole lot more.

Did I say "more"? Like the old ISBE, Robertson's Word Pictures, the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, satellite Bible maps, Bible outlines... okay, I'll stop. But those and more are all part of the package.

There are many additional resources you can get for an extra price. In addition to HALOT and BAGD, I have four additional modules. One is Waltke and O'Connor's Hebrew grammar, which is a massive and useful advanced work; remember, it's keyed in with the whole text of BW7. So if Waltke-O'Connor has a discussion of the syntax of the verse I'm reading or studying, it pops up instantly in the right pane. Also, I have Daniel Wallace's Greek Grammar beyond the Basics, another terrific reference work, full of useful studies and all keyed in to the text; Futato's Basic Hebrew for Bible Study, and N. Clayton Croy's Primer of Biblical Greek. Croy is a recent work, new to me. He focuses on being brief and to the point, uses examples from the Septuagint as well as made-up sentences to be sure the student doesn't just apply his memorized English version to his exercises. (But he's very proud of his inclusive language. Ugh.) Futato has good pedagogical focus, and works to get the reader actually into the Old Testament.

What really excites me about BW7. I've used BW for years. I thought BW6 was a pretty-good tool. BW7 is simply stellar.
  1. Tabs! Used to be that, if you had a study going, and a Bible-reading plan, you'd have to create two setups, and open BW twice. Now there are a dozen tabs, and you can have that many separate readings going at the same time, saved every time you close and re-open BW7. You can keep track of your daily reading on Tab 1, then have your sermon text study on Tab 2, your Bible study on Tab 3, your research paper outline on Tab 4.... Then, mid-stream, you can step aside from any of them to do searches or other bypaths on Tab 5. Tight, convenient, cool.
  2. Editors! This, in my mind, may be the single coolest thing about this upgrade. BW6 had a text editor, but it was very buggy, limited, unreliable. No longer. BW7 has two editors: one you can keep linked either to verses or chapters, and one that is whatever you want it to be. So, for instance, say you're reading Proverbs. I prefer my User Notes keyed to verses. So on that screen, I could be making notes on each verse that strikes me. The editor automatically saves and reloads as I move from verse to verse. But meanwhile on the Editor tab, I could be building a study on the different words for "fool" in Proverbs, not tied to any particular verse.
  3. Plus, the new editors are very stable. I don't believe the editor has crashed once since I installed BW7 on March 2 of this year -- and believe me, that's a big improvement.

    Beyond that, the new, completely-rewritten Editor is a fully-featured word processor, so that it has keyboard shortcuts and a full array of editing features, all completely integrated into the program. The last edition's editor was a good idea, but a bit of a nightmare in practice. This one is a dream.

    And it's instantaneous. That is, as I mouse-over verses, my comments instantly display in the user notes. Plus, when I make a note and move on to the next verse, my note is instantly saved without further interaction.

  4. Resources! It is amazing how the BW geniuses have integrated the wide array of resources provided. Let me try to illustrate briefly. Say I'm on Genesis 4:24. Instantly the resource tab displays lexicon articles on the Hebrew words in that verse, plus the notes in Futato, Waltke, Gesenius etc. on the general grammar (noun, conjunctions, noun patters) -- plus specific notes on this verse in Gesenius (6 of them) and Waltke (2). Or similarly, on Ephesians 5:18, it immediately displays notes in Wallace and MacDonald on Imperative, Present, Passive -- plus eighteen citations of this verse in Wallace! This is truly a goldmine.
There are facets I think are improvable, changes I hope they'll make eventually. The interface, though learnable, isn't as intuitive as I think it should be in a few respects. The update system is great, but could be automated. If I write any more, however, "brief" won't pass the Truth in Blogging Post Titles standard. Check out the BibleWorks website, and their full presentation of BW7 (including a video). Plus BW runs a forum, where generally very helpful brainiac users compare notes, and prospective buyers are free to ask questions.

BibleWorks 7, in my opinion, is a true investment in one's ministry.

Dan Phillips's signature


40 comments:

Paul said...

I use E-Sword and have found that very helpful; how much more worth it is BibleWorks, anyone?

DJP said...

I love E-Sword, as a free tool. It's a very useful resource. But if you read both the reviews, almost everything I highlight about BW7 is not available in E-Sword, or not the same way.

Mike Y said...

Dan,

I completely agree with you. It's hard to convey to someone who has relied on other tools exactly how valuable BW is. I've been using it since BW5 and have been looking for an excuse to upgrade from BW6. I think your review has put me over the edge.

When you began, I was waiting for the punchline. But it sounds like you have already upgraded and recommend it from that perspective. I appreciate it. The previous version has been so powerful I wasn't sure how they could possibly improve upon it. And when I read their review, it wasn't all that clear either.

For those who claim they don't understand the original languages, this program removes your excuses for still relying on English-only versions. This will assist you with the grammar so you can avoid errors in your exegesis. However, you still need to know your parts of speech. Or you can use the other modules and actually learn as you go.

Thanks for the review.

-Mike

DJP said...

Thanks, Mike. Glad if it's helpful.

I've been a BW user for years. To be honest with you, I did a fair bit of teeth-grinding with version 6, especially with the buggy editor. This version turned the teeth-grinding into jaw-dropping.

One Dan's opinion; your mileage may vary.

(c;

Steve said...

First things first: Even if one isn't in the market for BW7 they should unsubscribe to Christianity Today.

Regarding Bible Programs: I've always been an old-fashioned student and researcher, reaching into my bookshelves whenever I need a reference tool. People have given me various Bible programs through the years, and I've never opened any of the boxes because I'm not a techie.

This is the first time I've been compelled to MAYBE give some thought to changing that. I guess the big question for me is this: Is this program so advanced that someone who's never used a Bible program before will end up being overwhelmed?

You should moonlight as an infomercial host, Dan. You used all the right lingo in your blogpost. :)

DJP said...

Steve, of course you're right about CT. (c:

Honestly, I was happy to be able honestly to recommend it. Honesty would have compelled me to say so if I hadn't.

That's a great question. I'll try to put myself into that mindset and answer you.

The installation pretty well conducts itself. There are a number of disks, but the onscreen popups tell you exactly what to do.

Then BW starts up, and it has a quick-tip window. You can proceed from tip to tip, or just digest a new one each startup. (Advanced users can turn it off.)

In addition, when you first start BW7 up, you're pointed to Getting Started (as I recall). This is a series of brief, VERY helpful videos that start you of at Square One. I really would recommend watching them, repeating as necessary -- I do think they'd give you everything you need to hit the ground running.

So yes, honestly, now that I've run through it in my mind, I do think BW is set up to get anyone going who can basically use a computer. (If yours is an older pc, check the BW page to make sure that it meets system requirements.)

Thanks for a great question.

centuri0n said...

So did you pay an arm, a leg, or both?

LeeC said...

Now don't go making me covet.... ;-)

I have finally scrimped enough to have a marginally decent library with Libronix.

I know people who use both, but Ihave never had anyone compare them to my satisfaction.

Are you familiar enough with Libronix t do this for me?


Either way, thanks Brother.

Jim Crigler said...

Does it run on computers or only on Window$? (And no, Macs are only semi-computers. We're talkin' Unix here.)

HeavyDluxe said...

Leec,

That's my question... I'm not invested in either camp right now. I'd love to hear more about where to hitch my wagon.

DJP said...

fujsreLee -- Is Libronix Logos? If so, there are discussions on that very point over at the forums in this two threads at least:

http://www.bibleworks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1467&highlight=logos

http://www.bibleworks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1503&highlight=logos

I use the Libronix system for journals. Don't know if it's the same, but BOY do I hate the search interface!

DJP said...

Jim -- I only use computers (i.e. Windows... not Crackintosh or Ucan't), so I don't know for sure. (c;

There's a long thread that discusses Linux, however; and the last posts deal specifically with BW7:

http://www.bibleworks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=69&page=8&highlight=logos

Sojourner said...

Look, I just saved up enough for BW6 and I am still figuring it out, okay? Can't we at least pretend that BW6 is still cool for another year or so?

David Gadbois said...

Over at aomin.org they have Bibleworks 7 on sale for about $350. I'm still debating, myself, between Bibleworks and Logos stuff.

Berny said...

Logos just released version 3, which looks incredible.

Their front page has links to many videos showing off their power searching capabilities.

Libbie said...

$350 = £190. Hmmm. Do I really need the broken cooker replaced?....

Calvinist Gadfly said...

I am committing apostasy by switching from Windows to Mac, so I will be using Accordance Bible Software. But I still love my BibleWorks! With Mac's new software (I forget the name of it) you will be able to run Windows' programs (e.g. BibleWorks) on Macs.

I thought BibleWorks 7 was a good upgrade, but BibleWorks needs to get the NA27 apparatus to be a complete Bible Language program IMHO (rumor has it that they are working on it).

Mike Y said...

Dan,

Went ahead and ordered it today. I've never really tried the diagramming feature in BW6, now I understand why. When I parse everything out, I find I can lay things out faster in my head than manually diagraming things using the tool. It's nice to see that v7 already has things diagramed. That will speed things up considerably to simply pull it up.

Steve, I understand the use of real books in studying. I do the same. However, I find I can parse things and look up meanings much faster with BW than I can look things up in the appropriate lexicon. This is certainly more true with the Hebrew than it is with Greek. I use my Greek daily and my Hebrew... well, it's Hebrew.

Jim Crigler, I don't know if BW7 will run under *nix or not. I have been using BW6 on Linux with both wine (no, not the beverage) and crossover office. When they released the new version of CO, it got a little flaky, but I suspect they've fixed their bugs by now.

BTW, I love my new Macbook Pro and I have BW6 running on it. When I receive BW7, I'll see if I can get it to run under wine on it. And I love the note about real computers. Just remember OS X is BSD based-- and now on an x86 CPU. Okay, don't want to get too techy.

Sojourner, I was there too. I finally gave in today for the editor reason Dan brought up. When you're parsing out lots of passages, it gets a little tedious. And I'm hoping to save more time by using their pre-diagramed tool.

-Mike

Mike Y said...

Calvinist Gadfly,

Are you referring to Parallels-- the new VM for Intel-based Macs? If so, it has really gotten quite stable as of beta5. In fact my SW prototyping has really sped up since I've gone that route. I simply launch my OS in it then shell into it using all of my native Mac tools. It's the first time in several years I've been off of doing everything under Linux.

I did have a little issue getting BW6 to completely install under this, but that may be that my disks were a little messed up. I doubt there'll be a problem with BW7.

-Mike

Calvinist Gadfly said...

Mike,

I just thought of the name of it: Boot Camp. Here is some info on it

http://www.apple.com/macosx/bootcamp/

Scott Hill said...

I am sure you saw the link, but somehow your little Bibleworks post has drawn criticism from reformedcatholicism.com

Terry Lange said...

Ok, that is nice about BW, but a good useful review would be to review the latest version of Logos and then do a comparison review for those of us who are "still on the bubble" between BW and Logos!?

DJP said...

Yes, I did, Scott -- isn't it classic? The same sorts are still worried about getting too much Bible into the hands of unwashed commoners!

Mike Y said...

Calvinist Gadfly, Thanks for that. I forgot about boot camp. I'm not much of a fan of dual booting. I love all the tools on my Mac and being able to quickly cut and paste from BW into a program is nice.

terry lange, I haven't used logos in a while. But that's what I was using when I originally switched to BW. I was so used to using the various versions in logos. But it wasn't until I got into studying and doing exegesis from the original languages that I found only BW was adequate. This may have changed by now.

-Mike

Daniel Calle said...

I am learning greek in the seminary and I want to buy a bible software. Which is best: Bibleworks or Logos?

Berny said...

I haven't used Bibleworks but with this new Logos upgrade, it's hard to imagine a better Original Languages study tool.

Spend some time on Logos.com and see for yourself.

It's been probably the most rewarding thing I've ever bought.

ps--There are ways to cut down the cost of buying Logos. I bought my package at half off because I was (and still am) a student. It was an "academic discount."

If anyone needs a reference, I'll be sure to send you an email of a sales rep who discounts their packages at half off for you.

Email me at dogfreid@gmail.com

bobby grow said...

Grammcord is also an excellent resource!

Joe Fleener said...

Dan,

Thanks for the comments. I will have to agree with everything said here, BW 7 is awesome.

E-Sword is a wonderful tool and I recommend it to everyone. However, it limited in that everything is driven from English. It has Greek and Hebrew, but that is not the focus.

Gramcord is not even on the radar anymore and has not been for years. It is still available, but has long been passed up - I would get E-Sword first.

As for Logos & BW: Libronix 3 (the engine that runs all your Logos resources) has some nice features compared to previous versions. However Libronix 3 offers nothing in the way of Greek/Hebrew tools unless you also purchase (or have already) the various Greek/Hebrew resources to run in this new Libronix engine. Even if you did it would be a few steps behind BW! 7.0 has put it out in the lead when it comes to original language exegetical tools.

Then you have to look at the company and service which backs the product. Spend some time on the BW forum and see how they measure up to any other software company of any kind!

Last of all they offer a full, no questions asked money back quarantee - go for it you cannot loose!

Mike Y said...

So, Logos has really come a long way since I last used it. I think BW is a better deal now, however. The original languages version is $100 more than BW, but then lacks the other features of BW, unless you buy yet another version of Logos to work in concert with it.

As far as Grammcord is concerned, I use their SW on my iPAQ PDA. I pretty much carry this wherever I go and rely on having their Hebrew and Greek tools handy. The costs add after a while. I've recently added Keil and Delitzsch, which probably brings me around $300 invested. I don't think this is necessarily a replacement for a desktop program due to the lack of an editor. But it's a lot like BW on the go. I know this may sound weired, but sometimes you just don't know when you'll have to defend the scriptures. Now, you can always download the NT in either NA27 or Stephanus texts for free. For $45, you get parsing, dictionary and other tools. Hebrew is a charge for even the basic BHS text. Same goes for LXX support. But there are various English versions you can download for free.

I wouldn't get rid Grammcord. Again, I've come to rely on it in the field.

-Mike

Joe Fleener said...

Oh yes, if you are talking about Gramcord Lite, then I have and use it often as well. It is the Gramcord for Windows - Desktop version which is no longer a player in the field.

Mike Y said...

Yep. You're right and I am talking about Lite. Thanks for the clarification.

Brian Humphreys said...

I had been plotting to buy BW 6 for over two years, but I waited so long that BW 7 has now gone out. It is time for me to pull the trigger!

DJP said...

Mike -- I hope you love it. Unless this thread is still hopping, email me when you know what you think about it.

Terry Lange -- youo're offering to buy me Logos so I can review it? Thanks! I'll watch my mailbox! (c:


Daniel Calle -- Check my response above, where I link to two threads comparing Logos and BW7, as well as the redoubtable Joe Fleener's response.

Sojourner said...

Which one of these programs will rid me of my participial confusion and explain to me why some verbs look like past tense but are really present tense verbs. Another neat feature would be if one of them could explain why everyone couldn't use the same, beautiful, simple Greek that John used. Especially Peter.

DJP said...

Peter's Greek is OK; it's Second Peter's Greek that's a bit challenging!

(c;

Gummby said...

In his post, Kevin said this: Then there are of course the comment threads that worm their way all through the Internet where biblical interpretation becomes a matter of short snippets of “prove this and establish that” and “if you don’t succumb to our {demands--striked out} requests in that regard you’re not even engaging in proper Christian dialogue about a subject”.

One of those comment threads is here, and I was a participant. I'm still stunned that by asking Tim Enloe if he had an Scriprural basis for his assertion that "lay persons ought not criticize the clergy," I was somhow engaging in a "demand" for anything.

Anyway, Dan, thanks for your review. Did you mention it supports Unicode now, so no need for those proprietary fonts?

DJP said...

Did you mention it supports Unicode now, so no need for those proprietary fonts?

Er, no... no, I didn't. And the reason is... ahem. Come a little closer. No, closer.

< whisper > I still don't exactly "get" what Unicode is!

Mike Y said...

Dan, et al,

I received it over the weekend and have had a good chance to get acquainted with it. I do love it and think it's worth the upgrade-- if only for the improved stability, quicker performance and additional resources.

The diagramming tool seems to do passages at a time rather than verse at a time. It may be a better way of doing it, but I still like a little more granularity. However, since v6 required me to do it all myself, I'll take this as a significant improvement.

BTW, still requiring the fonts support to work right.

-Mike

Scoobiesnack said...

Greetings,

This is my f irst time posting. I purchased BW6 in Dec 2004 and thought it was great for what it was and I still think it is, especially for the cost. Regarding Logos and BW comparison? I too am a Seminary student and find Logos better for me. The reason is, Logos in having the most resources available enable one to have key resources that are a must for a seminary student. I haven't found anything that BW can do that Libronix cannot especially with 3.0. Regarding cost, they offer a student discount which can be used for most all of their products. Many times it reduces the cost by 50% or more. Version 3.0 has added a wealth of resources for those studying Greek/Hebrew. I still would like to pick up BW7 and for any out there who are asking if they should, believe me, if it's as good or better than BW6 than it is amazing. If you want to check Logos prices for students, call their 800 number on their website and let them know you want to speak to student sales department.

Alan

Eric said...

I can certainly testify that Logos has offered the best customer service than any other company with whom I have dealt, bar none! They are an excellent company that puts the customer in their top priority. As a fellow "Scholar's Library" user, it was a plus to receive those PBB books after purchasing the library. Certainly, the "tagged" text is what sold me (not being schooled in most of the abbreviations and technical theological "jargon", e.g. "BDAG" and "BDF", etc...). If you want a program that will identify this rough jargon, Logos is the software for you. I was, however, considering Bibleworks, but with the great features with Libronix Logos won me over. The only complaint is the speed, at times it can be VERY slow when using the exegetical guide for a passage (more than a few verses).

Eric