BibleWorks, LLC., Norfolk, Va. bibleworks.com
REVIEWED BY JODI CRAIGLOW
I was introduced to BibleWorks during my first year of seminary. My Hebrew professor encouraged us to get some sort of Bible reference software. I figured BibleWorks was as good a choice as any. What I didn’t realize at the time was how it would save both my sanity and my grades over the ensuing years of biblical languages, exegesis and preaching seminars.
Post-seminary, my studies have taken a different direction. Unfortunately, biblical languages have taken a back seat to educational theory – so now I sometimes feel like I can’t tell an alpha from an aleph. What I’ve discovered, as I teach Sunday school and write Christian education curriculum, is that BibleWorks (now in its 10th version) serves a different – but no less valid – purpose. But I get ahead of myself.
If you’ve never heard of BibleWorks, it’s basically the electronic scriptural motherlode. As the company describes, within this one piece of software are packed “200+ Bible translations in 40 languages, 50+ original language texts and morphology [i.e., word form] databases, dozens of lexicalgrammatical references, plus a wealth of practical reference works.” While the abundance of data is undoubtedly helpful in and of itself, in my opinion, the real power of the program comes in its search capabilities. Reference lists that would have taken previous generations of biblical scholars months or even years to compile are now at your fingertips in a matter of seconds. Curious to see where the NRSV doesn’t use the word “Lord” when translating YHWH in the Pentateuch? Done. Want to create a custom lexicon of all the Greek words used in the book of Revelation? No sweat. And with version 10, the BibleWorks team has made almost every piece of the program customizable, from the tool and reference displays all the way down to the window colors.
If you haven’t used the interface before, I’ll give you a word of warning: Assuming that you can jump right in and get going is kind of like assuming you can operate a Maserati when you’ve never taken driver’s ed. Sure, you may be able to put the vehicle in motion, but good luck trying to get it out of first gear. Thankfully, the help section is well stocked with walkthroughs, and their YouTube page contains over 200 tutorial videos. If your organization or school has a number of BibleWorks users, you can even hire a member of the team to lead a 6-hour face-to-face workshop.
So, then, one big question remains: Who would be interested in BibleWorks? If you’re a seminarian facing biblical language and exegesis classes, this program is invaluable. (Did I mention that the software automatically parses every Hebrew and Greek word in Scripture?) If you’re a pastor who likes the foundation of the original texts in your sermons, this will save you countless hours of flipping through your copies of BHS and Nestle-Aland. And if you’re a Christian educator who’s looking for more power than websites like Bible Gateway have to offer, you’ll be pleased with the additional depth of detail and breadth of research capabilities (even if you haven’t studied Greek or Hebrew).
BibleWorks 10 is available for PC (Windows Vista or later) or Mac (OS X 10.7.4 or later).
JODI CRAIGLOW is an adjunct professor and Ph.D. student at Trinity International University, a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church in Libertyville, Illinois, and a curriculum developer for the Synod of Mid-America’s Theocademy.