12 October 2010

Why I love BibleWorks 8

by Dan Phillips

M'man Phil Johnson's paean of praise to Logos 4 yesterday has moved me... to write about BibleWorks 8.

To clarify what is probably already clear, I'm neither arguing with nor disputing Phil. Particularly on the subject of e-Sword, which is an absolutely amazing program, considering that it's freeware. For many believers, that program is all they'll ever need.

My backstory is not as technical as Phil's. It's about how I've used hard-copy Bibles. Since I was a new believer, I always wanted Bibles with margins roomy enough to allow my notes. The first was a wide-margin KJV from Oxford. Later, I got a  wide-margin Greek New Testament which I had re-bound in leather.

However, the two I used most extensively were that Greek NT, and my NAS Ryrie Study Bible. I made marginal notes of varying kinds, but perhaps most were entering in some or all of the Hebrew or Greek text into the margin.

Or course, the troubles were several:
  1. There was only so much room
  2. I could only write (and read) so small; and
  3. Every time I got a new Bible, I had to start over

At the same time, I used various Bible programs. I tried GRAMCORD in DOS, decades ago. Then I went to  the GUI program Bible Windows (now called Bibloi; haven't used it for years).

I started BibleWorks something like version 4, and have stayed with it. Let me tell you why I love BibleWorks today:
  1. Economical. The amount of material you get for the one price is simple amazing. Check it out. Plus, there have been additional free updates. All of this is for the basic full-version price of $349. For most, that package would be sufficient, but there are a score of additional modules available.
  2. Fast. What BW does, it does well-nigh instantaneously. I just upgraded my pc significantly. Additional RAM, CPU power, and a dedicated video card all have made my Logos a good bit spiffier. But BibleWorks? It was already really fast. It starts up faster... and that's about it. To be much faster, it would have to do the searches before I knew I wanted them. My point is that BW8 runs great on top-line pc's, but also runs great on aged pc's. You don't need to get the latest and greatest hardware to make BW8 hop and pop. It pretty much floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. Seriously: enter a word, and bang! there's every occurrence. Click on one. Push a button. Bang! You see that verse in every version you want. Go to the Hebrew. Mouse-over a word, bam! Up pops a window with full parsing and basic definition. Right click a word. Select search on lemma. Bang! there's every use of that word in the Hebrew text. I could go on and on, but it's amazingly powerful and fast.
  3. Notes. This is probably the single aspect that most has my heart. You know how you'll hear something great in a sermon, or read it in a book (or on a blog), or hear it in a conversation — something that sheds significant light on a verse or passage? Then two days later, it's gone? Doesn't have to be. BibleWorks makes it possible to make extended notes, in any font, with any hyperlinking, on any verse. With graphics. Move to another verse, and your notes are instantly saved. Go back to that verse — even just point your mouse at it — and your notes instantly display. I now have countless, countless notes on hundreds of verses, from my own observations, sermons, books, hymns, web sites, conversations, studies — all permanently stored in conjunction with my BW8. Get a laptop? New pc? No problem: just copy your Notes folder to a flash drive, then copy from there to your new device, and you can take up where you left off.
  4. No, really, notes! I love that feature so much, it deserves a second entry. My notes contain excerpts from Bible journals, anecdotes, textbooks, grammars, pictures, maps, and personal reflections that would otherwise have been lost. Now they're just there, in a flash. I use this in conjunction with Logos, copying what I find (with a great expenditure of time) there into the BW8 notes, for lightning-fast access when I need it. This feature alone sells me.
  5. Editor. In addition to the verse-by-verse notes, there's a fully-functional editor. So if you're doing a word-study, or a book-study, you can drag the Hebrew or Greek (or English or Spanish or whatever) into the Editor to build your document.
  6. Dedicated, responsive support. The BibleWorks forum is constantly monitored by the geniuses who create and maintain BW. When a problem crops up, they're on it like an Emergent on a frappĂ©, and the next day's update will fix it. Bug fixes don't wait for months, they're sent out as they occur. Plus, email tech support is also always thoroughly and courteously responsive.
  7. This! Seriously! How could I not?
Nobody should think, "Yeah, sure, but you have to be a total brainiac to use it." Not at all. I'm pretty much a BW8 idiot, compared to the guys who post at the forum. I would really profit from a seminar; I'm only using it for maybe 5-10% of what it can do — but that 5-10% is what I care most about right now.

(click to embiggen)

Unlike Phil, I don't have an iPad. I do have an iPhone, and on it, I never use Logos. It's simply too slow and unwieldy. Instead, I use Olive Tree's iPhone software. It's fast, powerful, intuitive, very nicely done.

So what about Logos? Simply and briefly, I love BibleWorks, but I deeply respect and use Logos. Any time you discuss it, the elephant in the room is always how expensive their material is (as I experienced here, for instance). But they are always having sales, plus there is community pricing and pre-publication pricing.

The aim of the two programs is different. BibleWorks is all about the text of Scripture, while Logos is a broader research tool. BibleWorks is like having a roomy desk with Biblical texts and exegetical tools right at hand. Logos is like having a fully-stocked library. Ideally, one should have both.

I do use Logos continually, and will enjoy it all the more now with the faster computer. But BibleWorks will remain my mainstay.

I think every pastor should have BibleWorks. If yours doesn't, it would make a terrific Christmas gift. I used part of a bonus once to give BW to a pastor I thought very well of, who was struggling by with GRAMCORD. He was bowled over. Is $349 too much for your wallet? Talk to the deacons or someone, and start a whisper-campaign to get the dough together, and do your whole church a favor by giving the pastor BibleWorks.

In sum: I respect, recommend, am grateful for and use Logos, and don't have a word of argument with anyone who loves and praises it.

But I love BibleWorks.

Dan Phillips's signature


Thomas Louw said...

One question. Bible Works can you get in South Africa? Ok two questions.
Whats the price?
The note thing really sells it.
I'm busy downloading the newer version of e-sword by the way.

Robert said...

Now I'm heartily encouraged to go get BW to use with Logos...after I upgrade to 4.0 on Logos. I love what you said about being able to save notes and use them on other computers...that is awesome! Thank you for adding in your comments about BW8 alongside Phil's about Logos 4.0.

DJP said...

That's exactly the way to see it, Robert: alongside Phil's about Logos 4. Someone asked about BW in that meta. Here's my response.

Thomas Louw said...

It looks like I’ll get it here. They got the Bible in Afrikaans, that’s a good sign. Emailed them let’s see if they a fast as you say they are.

Zachary Bartels said...

Nice review.

But here's mine...

Why I stayed with BibleWorks 7: BW8 actually TAKES AWAY several volumes that were included free with BW7. I think it's cheaper for me to just buy piecemeal what I want that BW8 offers. What stinks, though, is that a lot of the free 3rd party stuff will not install on BW7.

Zachary Bartels said...

True about old PCs!
BTW, Dan, the training seminars are SPECTACULAR. The one I went to ran me all of thirty bucks and the instructor was the main tech support guy you talk to on the phone when you have a problem. I learned a TON in a couple hours.

I concur that you don't have to buy as many extras to make BW "ready to go." I just bought Daniel Wallace and BAGD. (plus downloaded some free stuff like Calvin's commentaries)

And re: the editor, it's such a simple feature, but so convenient. I write the majority of my sermons in the simple text editor because it allows me to keep the text in front of my face at all times.


Tom Chantry said...

One further thought - if you are a person who is highly annoyed by the tendency of every Microsoft product to have 857 features you don't want that are automatically on and that it takes hours of your time to figure out how to turn them off - in other words, if you are a non-techno-geek who uses technology but is often annoyed by it - go with Bible Works.

Honestly, everything about Logos - from the packaging to the interface - screams "MICROSOFT!" I keep expecting to hear that Logos is secretly a subsidiary of Microsoft. If you're the kind of person who loves technology for its own sake, and you just love to see what it's possible to do, by Logos. If you tend to look at most technology and say, "Why would I ever even want to do that?" then go with Bible Works. It's simple, everything it does makes sense, and you'll learn it and be glad you bought it within half an hour. (Which is roughly half the time it took me to decide that I was returning Logos for a refund.)

FX Turk said...

Oh. my. stars.

You people are going to hate my post tomorrow -- even though I'm totally changing it from what I intended to post.

Tom Chantry said...

You people are going to hate my post tomorrow

My prediction: "Why I love BibleExplorer 4.0"

DJP said...

"With The New Living Translation, Who Needs Exegetical Tools?"

Aaron said...

I've seen Logos capabilities and am impressed. But the sheer cost of the program plus all the add-on libraries make it a bit expensive, IMHO, for your non-professional theologian. Bibleworks on the other hand, seems within the price range. Although to be fair, I've spent quite a bit of money on E-Sword and love that product.

Olive Tree is also great for regular Bible readers. It supports multiple versions, commentaries, dictionaries, and books. The problem with Logos on the Iphone is that it has to access the internet, whereas, Olive Tree is stored locally.

Aaron said...

@Tom: As I laugh at your post, I'm reminded that you like using dusty old books anyways so why are you using Bible software in the first place?! ;)

Aaron said...

@Frank Turk: You're going to annouce that all this time you've really been a KJV onlyist? Which, btw, is totally less expensive because the KJV is pretty much free.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...

That's for MAC users.

Anonymous said...

I hope tomorrows post is "Why I Love Accordance 9 Bible Software."

Tom Chantry said...

Well, I don't write my sermon notes with quill and ink horn, you know.

I'm sure there is a connection, though. Whenever I hear of all the wonderful "sources" that logos would give me, it occurs to me that they all fall into one of two categories: those I already have in the format I like (dusty old books) and those I wouldn't use anyway.

FX Turk said...

Tom Chantry --

Oh, it's worse than that, bro.

FX Turk said...

Aaron --

Yeah, no. Not quite.

DJP said...

Complicated post, very full, took a lot of work.

Nineteen comments so far.

Around seven are about Frank's post tomorrow.

Hm... wonder what the rooms in Bedlam are going for?

David Kyle said...

Frank you can't say that we are going to totally hate your next post and then say you are going to change what you intended.

Well... I mean you can... but you shouldn't.

Now we will forever wonder what it could have been.

Sorry Dan.

DJP said...


Unknown said...

"When a problem crops up, they're on it like an Emergent on a frappé"

No that's *fast*. ;-)

Aaron said...

@Chantry: I was thinking stone tablets and a chisel. Probably adds the dramatic effect of the sermons.

Seriously, I'm just having a good jest at your expense. All in good fun, brother (mostly my fun).

David Kyle said...

Turning back to Dan's topic; Dan does BibleWorks 8 have all the commentary add-ons and references, and such (like the works of Edwards, Spurgeon, MacArthur)?

FX Turk said...

Sorry DJP. Honestly, I didn't mean to derail this seriously.

Robert said...


Do you have a list of "must have" modules to add to BW8? I'm strill trying to figure out what all I want to add onto Logos, but I figured I'd take any guidance I can get before jumping into BW. Thanks.

DJP said...

Easy. For me, it's BAGD and HALOT. Not cheap, but very much discounted if you buy them as a pair.

~Mark said...

My prediction: "Why I love BibleExplorer 4.0"

Lol! I actually use BE 8 in conjunction with BW 8 and love it!

DJP - I am just exploring the many capabilities of BW since we needed it this semester for exegesis class but day by day I am finding more reasons to love that program.

I second your compliments of their tech attentiveness. I think the only company I've ever dealt with that showed comparable response time is a fishing tackle supply group based on Lake Erie! :)

The note taking capability is available in B.E. also but I just started using it as a result of using it in BW and wow do I love that feature, especially the ability to hyperlink cross references within my notes.

I did balk a bit at the price of BW since I'm just keeping my head above water right now, but even aside from the fact that God provided a way for me to afford it, it really is worth the full investment price. I haven't scratched the surface of it's capabilities and yet my rate of discovery of deeper information has just dramatically grown.

After seeing what Phil mentioned and now you, I think I'm going to add Esword to the equation as well. I keep my study software on my laptop and right now it consists of BibleWorks 8, Bible Explorer 8 (which includes a TON of free books which they offered last year and more Bible versions than I'll ever use) and (don't laugh too hard) Ilumina, which is kinda fun to use once you get past some of the influences. :)

As I learn how to use it BibleWorks is rapidly taking the number one usage spot! Just this mornign I was able to engage with my Hebrew professor on Proverbs 27:17 after noticing aspects of it in the Hebrew last night in BW which I'd never really noticed before. (Countenance- I did a side-by-side and realized that the KJV includes it, but my trusty ol' NASV left it out!)

~Mark said...

Oops, that should read "e-Sword". (Don't wanna disrespect the generous mr. Meyers!)

John said...

Part of the problem with logos (in my experience which is only like 5 years with it) is the learning curve for a busy pastor. I paid the money and went to their training - the Morris Proctor thing and thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly, enjoyed it.

1 Benefit of knowing one's way around the program = Dan just recommended 2 reference works. With 3 clicks I moved those up on my preferred resource list (1 was already there) so when I do a word study (2 clicks and 2 breaths...if it wasn't covered in detail enough in the exegetical guide - 1 click - that comes up with any passage guide search so it's right there) - then up comes the results in those resources...instantly.

To me: way cool - and the veritable "tip of the iceberg" once you know your way around the program.

When I study I used to have all kinds of books open around my desk stacked on the floor, bookmarked, get up from desk go get another, look for what I want...and those books were often laying around for weeks at a time - and now so much of it is right there...on my desktop...at home when I want to study early in the morning on my laptop...it's all there...sigh.

I am falling more and more "in like" with Logos with each passing week - and month...and year.

Frank Martens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Martens said...

Wulp I'm going to whole heartily agree with D-to-the-J-Phillips on this.

Just bought the software the other day for use with my classes. I was a little worried that I wasn't getting a good enough software because I was attracted to the number of volumes and books that came with Logos (but not attracted to the price).

Well a friend did some research and found that logos is good for books, but when it came to language studies it was lacking. So he got a group of people together and convinced me to join in and we got the software for $250 (I think the sale is still going if you have a group of 10 or more) and ohhhh my word....

I got it just in time to write a syntactical paper for Hebrew and also bought the BDAG and HALOT modules. My world became as smooooth as butter. I was no longer flipping pages, but... bam! There was all the material and resources I needed. No joke, the software came with the Hebrew sources I needed for reference for the paper. Where I was spending 5 hours flipping pages in the library I only spent 2 seconds pulling it up on the screen.

RealCuriousAboutTruth said...

I have to wholeheartedly agree. Get both. They do scratch different itches and the complement one another. As an exegetical tool Bibleworks is hard to beat. As a fully stocked library for research, logos 4 plantinum is hard to be. Together they are unstoppable and save me hours of sermon prep time because it's all right there on my pc... or laptop. Thanks for the great articles.

Coram Deo said...

I haven't heard that many "Bams" since Todd Bentley's affair made headlines and he (thankfully) slithered back under the rock from whence he came!

I guess I don't watch enough "Emeril Live" to maintain my daily allowance of vitamin B-AM, thanks for the memories.

In Him,

Sir Brass said...

I'm betting Frank's post is going to be on "Why I love Accordance" and why it justifies the cost of a Mac (Oh SNAP!).

Yes, I went there =D

Matt Gumm said...

There's a joke in here somewhere about Frank's Bible software being Twitter, but I'm just not feeling it.

On a more serious note, Dan, let me say thanks for this post. I read Phil's review yesterday and your previous reviews of both products, and I found them fair and balanced - very useful for someone trying to make an actual decision (if only Apple could force iPhone App feedback which was as useful).

But what I particularly appreciated today was your statement about notes. That's exactly what I've been wondering about (to the point where I almost e-mailed y'all to ask about it). That's the one feature I desperately need, because I just don't like writing in books, and I have a pretty old computer.

So thanks.

Thomas Louw said...

Bible Works
E-mailed them yesterday.
Poof! Answer recieved today.

Brother Frankie said...

i usually sit on the sidelines and pick up the scarps that fall..

i am curious if i am the only one who uses Wordsearch? i have been using it since the DOS days (1989-1990?).. i remember an old tandy computer and buying that program when i first came to know the Lord.

i have just recently expanded to libronix thus forcing me to use logo's due to the fact an illustration pack would not work with it..

be blessed
Brother Frankie

mikeb said...

Dan, I was just about to invest in Logos 4 and this post comes along :)

Everyone says Logos 4 and BW8 are different and used for different things. My question is does Logos have the same abilities you mention above, i.e. note taking, display notes, etc.? Is it that Logos4 can do them all, but just much slower and more expensively?

I get Logos4 has a search library, etc. But what about comparing just what BW8 does to the exact same features in Logos4.

toph said...

@ZSB: It's true that BW8 doesn't contain the licenses for 4? volumes that were included in BW7. But:
- You get a ton of new resources.
- When you upgrade from BW8, you retain your previous licenses. I.e. your BW8 comes with unlock codes for those modules.

Terry Rayburn said...

For what it's worth, and since "ye have the poor always with you" (Mt 26:11), I might put in a good word for the Blue Letter Bible (free online).

Not nearly as robust as Logos & BibleWorks, of course, but has these and other features:

1. Fairly comprehensive in various translations w/Greek and Hebrew helps

It has real Bible translations like the NASB, as well as paraphrases like the ESV :)

2. Lots of side study materials

3. Fairly fast and user-friendly, considering it's online-only

4. Accessible from anywhere there is Internet


1. Well, it is missing the Jimmy Swaggart Commentary, but hey, it's free.

2. It does require some discernment in it's auxiliary studies (commentaries, etc.), but hey, that's what Phil's Bookmarks are for.

Enjoy, po' folk, until you save your pennies for BibleWorks (okay, I'll save you the calculation headache -- that's 34,900 pennies).

(Hel-lo...Calculator humor...I'll be here all week)

Hantla said...

There isn't anything in your post, so far as I can tell, that BibleWorks does that Logos doesn't also do. Right?

DJP said...

Wrong. (Hint: please don't ask me to re-write the post.)

John Rood said...

Xiphos is my preference. It's free, and highly superior to all its free competitors.