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I started using BibleWorks (BW) version 5 when I was studying theology overseas 10 years ago. Since then, I have been regularly upgrading to a later version and using it in my ministry and study. As a PhD student, I use BW9 in class and for my daily biblical exegesis and research.
BW is usually viewed as "academic Bible software." There is certainly much truth in that since BW facilitates a great deal of biblical exegesis in the original languages through lexical and morphological studies, grammatical and syntactical tools, as well as searchable ancient biblical manuscripts. However, BW is also for church people who are not necessary trained in biblical languages but have a sincere desire to study God's Word in-depth and to grow in the knowledge and love of Christ. One of the great tools that BW9 has is the instant difference highlighting which allows one to recognize the word use differences in variant Bible translations by showing it marked with color highlighting in the Browse Window. If you have never heard of BW I encourage you to take a look at "What is BibleWorks?" which gives you a general, yet thorough, overview of the program with some highlighted tools that are available in it.
It is a challenge to summarize the many great features that BW9 contains but I will highlight just a few of them:
- BW9 is the easiest Bible program to use. It is user-friendly software that enhances biblical exegesis through an easy search of biblical languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Not only are the tools accessible, BW9's features run very fast. You would think that because of the high resolution of manuscripts' images it would take a couple of minutes to load and open them. However, this is not the case at all. It takes a mouse click to get digital high res images of 5 different manuscripts to open.
- BW9 contains many resources that are necessary for textual studies, discourse analysis, sentence flow and diagrams. In addition to many original Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek texts (22 Hebrew/Aramaic and 26 Greek texts), BW9 has numerous Bible translations in many different languages (160 versions in 36 different languages). BW9 also comes with as many as 26 lexicons, Bible dictionaries, and grammar references. To name just a few, BW9 includes Hebrew lexicons like BDB, Holladay, and Gesenius; Hebrew grammars like A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew by Jouon-Muraoka and An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Waltke & O'Connor. For Aramaic, BW9 has Introductory Lessons in Aramaic by Reymond. Some of the Greek lexicons that BW9 included are Friberg's Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament and Thayer Greek Lexicon. Some examples of the Greek grammars are Wallace's Greek Grammar beyond the Basics and Beginner's Grammar of the Greek New Testament by Davis. BW9 also has Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic paradigm charts with audio, as well as Leedy's Greek New Testament Diagrams. This is by no means an exhaustive list of recourses found in BW9. For a complete list of resources see the full contents of BW9 here.
- BW9's inclusion of transcriptions of some major Greek manuscripts (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Bezae, Washingtonianus, Boernerianus, and Gregory-Aland 1141) is a great addition to the program. I wish the list had included Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus which forms with Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus, the four great uncial codices. I also cannot wait to see some Hebrew manuscripts (i.e. Aleppo Codex and Leningrad Codex) in future BW editions.
- BW9 comes with 120 tutorial videos (six hours of training) that are embedded in the program. In other words, you do not need to be online in order to watch these videos. These videos explain in details how to make use of the many useful tools and features found in BW9.
- Some BW users may not be aware of the rich content of information and resources found on BW website that help us make the utmost use of BW9. The Classroom/Professors and Teachers Resources offers many helpful tips for using BW in the classroom. These tips are particularly valuable for professors but I also find them very helpful as a student. BW staff hopes to add to these tips and BW users can sign up to receive notifications via email when a new tip is added. Moreover, BW User Forums provides an opportunity for BW users to interact with one another, be updated with new posts, and ask questions. There are also Forums for users who speak languages other than English including but not limited to French, German, and Spanish.
- Finally, BW9 has recently announced that BW9 can now run on a Mac. This is another great addition that BW9 has offered for Mac users. In addition, BW9 runs on a Windows 8 tablet PC Touch. This demo video here shows how one can touch, swipe, and type on the tablet using BW9.
BW still has a long way to go in terms of improving the program and adding additional tools. An important tool that I wish will be available in BW10 is the textual critical apparatus for the BHS. It would also be great to integrate the two Masorahs found in the BHS: 1) Masorah Parva found on the outside margins of the page, and 2) Masorah Magna found immediately below the biblical text. Another ideal project for future editions of BW is the adding of transcriptions and digital images of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
These projects seem huge and require intense hours of working but I trust in the professionalism of the BW team that seem to work diligently behind the scenes to ensure high quality design, development, and implementation of new tools and features as well as improving the BW-interface. And above all, we trust in God who is able to accomplish through BW team far more abundantly than all we could ask or think, according to His mighty power at work within us.
In short, BW9 is a great tool for any Bible teacher/student in seminary education, church, or Bible study groups. I highly recommend it for everyone who is seeking to grow in the knowledge of the Scriptures and understand the whole counsel of God as revealed in His Word.
If you are using an old version of BW, I strongly recommend upgrading to BW9; it is worth the $159. And if you never used BW, I encourage you to purchase it for your own study and ministry. BW also offers extra modules for reasonable prices. Among many helpful modules BW offers are Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG) by Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich; Reformed Dogmatics (4 volumes) (BAVI) by Herman Bavinck; Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (GRUD) by Wayne Grudem; and Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Abridged) (TDNT) by Kittel, Friedrich, and Bromiley.
BW also has group discounts, and for unlikely situations BW has a 30-day warranty and return policy where you can return it for any reason within 30 days. The intent of this warranty is to give the users sufficient time to decide whether BW fulfills their Bible research and study needs.