BibleWorks released version 9 of their software for biblical exegesis and research in the fall of 2011. Jim Barr was kind enough to send along a review copy back in September, so my review is long overdue. Thank you Jim for your patience. 😉
I will be reviewing BibleWorks in four parts across four separate blog posts. The review will unfold as follows:
- Part 1: What’s New in BibleWorks 9?
- Part 2: BibleWorks Manuscript Project & CNTTS NT Critical Apparatus
- Part 3: Suggestions on how BibleWorks could be used in the classroom and as a biblical languages learning tool
- Part 4: Using BibleWorks on the Mac
For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with BibleWorks, let me take a minute to explain what BibleWorks is and give some background on the software. I like to read the fine print and according to the BibleWorks 9 brochure, BibleWorks is “one of the most powerful and economically-priced Bible software packages available…BibleWorks is packed with an impressive array of features and databases, all tightly integrated and designed to make your study of Scripture more efficient and effective.” In my opinion, that’s a pretty fair assessment. From a tools and resources per dollar perspective, it’s hard to beat! BibleWorks software came in to existence back in 1992 as a program to help search Greek and Hebrew Bibles. As BibleWorks has matured through nine versions, they’ve worked hard to understand and respond to the needs of their users, adding more valuable resources and tools with each new release. After twenty years, the BibleWorks team strives to stay true to their mission, which is to “serve the Church and to assist the study, the exegesis, and the preaching of the Scriptures so long as the Lord finds us useful for His Purposes.”
My first encounters with BibleWorks was with versions 7 and 8, during my undergraduate and graduate school days. Early on, I used it sporadically in the computer lab and eventually I was able to procure my own copy of BibleWorks 8. In those days I ran BibleWorks on a Windows XP workstation. The biggest change now is that I’m running BibleWorks 9 on a MacBook Pro with OS 10.7. BibleWorks is not natively supported on the Mac, so I’m running it on a Windows 7 Virtual Machine inside of VMWare Fusion 4. I will share more about my experiences with running BibleWorks on the Mac in part four of my review. BibleWorks is a tool that I use regularly, sometimes for devotional reading, but mostly for Greek and Hebrew exegesis.
So, what’s new in BibleWorks 9? The ninth release of BibleWorks is a significant update. Here is a list of the five updates I felt were most noteworthy:
New Menu / Button Layout
I have always been a big fan of BibleWorks, since the first time I used it. However, my biggest gripe was always with the look and feel of the main menu. I didn’t find it intuitive and couldn’t help but feel that it was something left over from the Windows 95 days. I was ecstatic that they were able to work an interface overhaul into version 9, including updates to the main menu. This new button scheme leaves Windows 95 in the dust and is something I would expect to see in a program designed to run on Windows 7 or Vista. Although, the functionality in the menu is similar to what we saw in previous versions, these changes go a long way in making the menu more intuitive and aesthetically appealing.
Many of us have fairly large screens on our laptops and desktops, so there’s a bit more “real estate” up for grabs. BibleWorks 9 will allow you to capitalize on that extra space, with the introduction of a fourth column to the main window. Two columns are devoted to Analysis content, allowing you to utilize the remaining columns to show up to two resources simultaneously.
An important new feature found in the main window is the Verse Tab. The Verse Tab will track with any Bible version. Using the mouse cursor as a point of focus, The Verse Tab displays the relevant sections in resources such as the CNTTS apparatus, the NET Bible textual notes, the Tischendorf apparatus, Metzger’s Textual Commentary (requires unlock), and the ESV Study Bible (requires unlock).
Note: I will be covering the BibleWorks Manuscript Project & CNTTS NT Critical Apparatus in more detail in part two of my review, but certainly need to mention both of them in my list of top five new features.
BW Manuscript project
One of the features that I am most excited about in BibleWorks 9 is the BibleWorks Manuscript Project. This new feature has great implications for personal study and research as well as use in the classroom. It is my hope that ready and easy access to high quality manuscript images will spawn a whole new generation of Bible scholars, who are interested in textual criticism and paleography. The initial release includes the following manuscripts:
For these manuscripts, the BibleWorks Manuscript Project includes the following:
- New full NT transcriptions
- Complete NT digital image sets (over 7.5 GB!!)
- Verse location tagging in images
- Extensive transcription notes
- MSS comparison tool
- Morphological tagging (not complete for all manuscripts but updates will be provided free of charge to BibleWorks 9 users as they become available)
- Manuscripts are fully searchable and integrated with the full array of BibleWorks analysis tools.
- Ability to tweak and enhance the manuscript images in the sophisticated image processing panel, now included in BibleWorks.
I don’t know that I could say this any better, so I’m going to defer to the description of the CNTTS NT Critical Apparatus from the BibleWorks 9 brochure.
“For the first time, the New Testament Critical Apparatus from the Center for New Testament Textual Studies is available for PCs. This exhaustive apparatus covers the entire New Testament. The BibleWorks version has been enhanced to show a matrix of Aland categories and time period for the mss for each reading. Users will especially appreciate having the apparatus track and update as the mouse moves over the text in the BibleWorks main window. In addition, the start of each verse entry summarizes the significant, insignificant, and singular variants. When examining a variant, the text of the verse is shown with the variant text highlighted. No unlock required!”
In addition to the five features mentioned above, there many additional updates and changes including The Moody Atlas of the Bible, updated Greek texts, and so much more. If you’d like to get a more complete understanding of what’s new in BibleWorks 9, you can find it at the BibleWorks website: LINK. The brief video below will also help you to better understand the sorts of things you can do with BibleWorks 9.
Look for part 2 of my review soon.
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