Three programs dominate the computer Bible study scene: Logos, the bulky resource library that provides many commentaries and books about the Bible; Accordance, the slick Mac-based analysis program that is designed to incorporate users into a community of Bible readers and scholars; and BibleWorks, the fastest tool for focused Bible investigation.
BibleWorks 8 is a pricey investment, especially in comparison to the entry versions of the other two. But BibleWorks has fewer add-on modules, because it is not intending to be a growing library of secondary study aids. Instead, it seeks to provide up front the best resources for textual analysis and study.
A three-paneled window opens when BibleWorks is activated: a “search” panel on the left, a “browse” panel in the center, and an “analysis” panel on the right. The idea is to use the left panel to find words or phrases or related themes throughout the biblical text (you set which version or versions to explore). Results pop up in the center panel, where you can compare passages and versions. Passing the cursor over any word in the center panel immediately tosses up whatever analysis information you have set BibleWorks to provide. Right-clicking on the information holds it there and allows for copying and other manipulation.
BibleWorks is lightning fast. It also contains very clear Greek and Hebrew fonts, along with a host of other alphabets from which to choose. Compared to Accordance’s polished graphics, BibleWorks’ home frame seems oddly dated yet eminently practical. Its buttons quickly enable all of the most logical and wanted textual study functions. And while Logos encourages users to build massive electronic libraries (by way of expensive add-on modules) that will not likely be used often or extensively, BibleWorks sticks to the text, with tools derived from generations of solid biblical research. Its resource library is more than adequate and contains the right basic volumes.
BibleWorks would make a great gift for any pastor, Bible teacher, or serious student of Scripture. It complements a seminary education, but neither college nor graduate school is needed to use and benefit from it. (www.bibleworks.com)
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