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BibleWorks is a powerful analytical concordance that is easy to useand hard to outgrow. The Windows-based software allows one to read, search, andcompare biblical texts in original languages and in modern translations, toanalyze grammatical forms, and to consult a helpful set of lexicons andreference works. Using BibleWorks, the biblical scholar can quickly find alinguistic needle in a textual haystack.

The program includes text-only and grammatically tagged versions of theHebrew Bible (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th corrected ed. withpointing and accenting), Septuagint (Rahlfs, 1935 ed. with Apocrypha andvariants), and Greek New Testament (Nestle-Aland, 27th ed./UBS 4th ed.). Acombined morphological database refines the analysis and facilitates comparativestudy of the Septuagint and Greek New Testament. One also finds editions of theGreek New Testament by Stephanus, Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, Scrivener, andRobinson and Pierpont. The program also includes translations of the Bible in 24modern languages, with English, French, German, and Spanish well represented.Among the many English translations in the program are the KJV (1611/1769), NRSV,NIV, NASB (1977/1995), NKJV, NAB, NJB, and JPSV (1917/1985).

In addition to these texts and translations, users have access to anassortment of fully indexed Hebrew and Greek lexicons: Brown, Driver, andBriggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (complete andunabridged); Harris, Archer, and Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the OldTestament; Louw and Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New TestamentBased on Semantic Domains; Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the NewTestament; Newman, A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the NewTestament; Friberg, Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament;and Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon (abridged). The program alsoprovides access to several other tools such as the International StandardBible Encyclopedia (1915), Metzger's Outline of the Bible, and aneditable timeline that displays chronological events.

All texts, translations, and reference works are indexed and can either bebrowsed or searched; search results can be printed, exported to a file, orcopied to either a standard word processor or the program's built-in texteditor, which conveniently supports not only English and Greek but right-to-lefttyping in Hebrew. Attractive TrueType and Postscript fonts for Hebrew and Greekare provided.

BibleWorks has a fast and powerful search engine. Results from simplesearches are returned instantaneously, and even the most complex searches arecompleted quickly. A complex search that would take hours when done manually isfinished in few moments with BibleWorks. The program allows one to searchon a single word ("logos"), a set of words ("logos"and "theos"), or a string of words ("ho logos tou theou").Standard Boolean operators are used to limit searches, which may be made veryspecific. It is possible to limit word searches to a range of texts, to requirea particular order or proximity, to give morphological parameters, and tospecify that certain words in the search string must agree in gender, number,case, etc. Grammatical tagging in the databases is extensive, and one may eveninclude vowel points and accent marks in the search.

Constructing a complex search can be challenging if it involves a long stringof Boolean operators and morphology codes on a command line.

BibleWorks solves this problem through the use of a Command LineAssistant that provides the user with a form where the user types in terms anddefines their relationship by use of a dropdown menu (e.g., "all of thesewords in any order" or "all of these words in this order").Another tool, the Advanced Search Engine, allows the user to develop a highlycomplex search by typing terms into word boxes and then drawing arrows toconnect the boxes and define their relationships.

The BibleWorks search engine is powerful, and its extraordinaryfeatures may seem daunting to new users. Beginners, however, should not beintimidated by the capabilities of the program or frustrated by itscomplexities. BibleWorks comes with well-designed interfaces for novice,intermediate, and advanced users. When the program first runs, the user is askedto select beginner, standard, or power mode, and the appropriate interfaceloads. Beginner mode presents an uncluttered screen that has windows for viewingtexts, listing verses, and taking notes. Three command buttons also appear:Search, Lookup, and Copy. Click on one of the buttons and a guide box appears onthe screen. To search for verses, look up a text, or copy something to a wordprocessor, one simply fills in the blanks and follows the instructions. Theresults appear immediately. In standard and power modes, menus and command linesreplace the three buttons of the beginner mode. The program allows the user toshift between modes at any time, and the software can be configured in otherways to suit the precise needs of the user. Users can even save and recallvarious configurations suited to different tasks and can add their owntranslation of the Bible to the database.

One of the most impressive features of BibleWorks is its auto-infowindow: whenever a user moves the mouse over a Hebrew or Greek word on thescreen, grammatical information and dictionary entry for the word are instantlydisplayed. Those learning the languages and reading difficult passages will findthis extremely helpful. Other noteworthy features are the parallel display andsynopsis windows, which allow easy comparison of versions and texts.

Novice users who are familiar with other Windows-based programs will be ableto use BibleWorks in the beginner mode without reading the manual, butintermediate and advanced users will want to read the manual and will consult itoften. The manual is one of the best software guides that I have seen. Themanual includes step-by-step instructions, useful models for complex searches,keyboard maps for foreign languages, and helpful explanations of advancedfeatures. The instructions found in the printed version are also available inthe program via the Help menu, and the program comes with four hours of videoinstruction. Program and database updates are regularly posted on the Internetand can be installed automatically by the program. Excellent support isavailable from the publisher via phone, e-mail, and the web, and the publishersponsors an active listserv. The publisher, one will discover, is remarkablyresponsive to suggestions and to the needs of users.

The program would be strengthened by the addition of key reference works,though this is not a major criticism. BibleWorks, unlike Logos, does notseek to deliver a large library of electronic books; the strength of BibleWorksis its powerful search engine. Nonetheless, the addition of a more recent Hebrewlexicon would serve users well. Similarly, New Testament scholars would benefitfrom the addition of BAGD. I would like to see Today's English Versionadded to the list of translations.

BibleWorks may not be the only software that a Bible scholar will wantto use, but many will find it useful, and many will consider it indispensable. Ido, and I recommend it.

BibleWorks runs on IBM-compatible systems running Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000,or XP, and requires a minimum of 32 MB RAM and 200 MB of hard drive space. Toload all databases onto the hard drive, 1.4 GB is needed. A CD drive is requiredto install the program, and a sound card and Internet connection arerecommended.

A single-user license costs $299.95; an upgrade from an earlier version is $150. The product may be returned for a refund within 90 days if the user is not satisfied.

Frank Ritchel Ames (Ph.D., Denver/Iliff) is Professor of Biblical Studiesat Colorado Christian University.

Citation: Frank Ritchel Ames, " BibleWorks 5: A Review," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited Aug 2004]. Online:http://sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleID=55

 
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