Ordained Servant Online
A Review of BibleWorks 7
Arthur J. Fox
BibleWorks 7: $349 for the full version; upgrade discounts available (see the BibleWorks website: store.Bibleworks.com)
Let us begin with a few caveats. First and most importantly: a Bible software program is no substitute for a healthy devotional life. Even if you become an expert in the use of BibleWorks or any other program, if you do not have a living and growing relationship with Christ, any work you produce using that software will not please God.
Second, and closely related to this: a program does not make a scholar. You must do the hard work of understanding the text you are studying and use the software to that end or you may just end up with a technical display that edifies no one. I speak personally. I am a pastor who preaches two sermons a week and teaches a Bible study as well as a Sunday School class. I use BibleWorks to aid me in preparing my notes. But at a recent Session meeting I received the helpful criticism that my sermons were more Bible studies than sermons and that people were not hearing the gospel. I had my cross references in order, along with depth of material, but this was next to useless because I assumed that it was enough. Greek and Hebrew vocabulary are not what make a sermon or Bible study useful to God's people. A heart for people that drives you into the Word does.
With a heart that is set right and eyes fixed on Christ, and with prayer for the Spirit's help, BibleWorks 7 is a marvelously helpful tool in the preparation of sermons or to make personal Bible study more effective and efficient. It begins with the Command Center (http://www.Bibleworks.com/content/new.html).
There are three parts to the Command Center: 1) The Search window where you type in either the passage reference or the word/phrase you want to study, 2) the Browse window where each verse containing your text appears, one at a time, and 3) the Analysis window where the program will give you cross references and grammatical and lexical descriptions of each word and verse.
This third, Analysis window, is the major redesign for this version of BibleWorks. Not only can you analyze the verses and words, but you can also click on a tab and actually write your study, based on that data, right in the program. Unlike previous editions, BibleWorks 7's Editor window aligns the text and allows formatting of the text. Had I wished, I could actually have written this article in that window.
BibleWorks 7 also allows you to set up a different configuration for every use you might put the program toyou can have one version for general study, another for sermon preparation or Bible study preparation, still another to do your own personal translation of the Bible, set up your own concordance for a book of the Biblethe possibilities seem endless. The Command Center can be rearranged to suit your needs. The three windows, for example, can be set up to have the Analysis window, which contains the Editor window tab, appear below the Browser window, and thus be wider in appearance on the screen.
This program is loaded with 33 English versions of the Bible, plus two Latin, nine German, seven Dutch, seven Spanish, seven French, and three Italian versions, plus Danish, Hungarian, Vietnamese, and other Bible translations.
The scholar gets to work with 15 Hebrew and Aramaic texts, 19 Greek Texts (including variations on the Majority Text and the Septuagint), 34 lexical and grammatical reference works for Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as Matthew Henry's commentary, maps and dozens of other features which there is not enough room to list. There are also such reference works as Nave's Topical Bible, Robertson's Word Pictures, the Easton Bible Dictionary, Metzger's textual commentary and some basic grammars for Hebrew and Greek (beginning Greek by Davis and beginning Hebrew by Futato). The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with Bible references, are also included, and can be searched like any Bible version (for the version adopted by the OPC, with revised proof texts, see http://opc.org/confessions.html).
In addition, there are modules that can be unlocked at reasonable prices (the copyright fees must be paid!) and they include full versions of Bauer, Danker, Arndt and Gingrich's massive Lexicon of the Greek Testament and the more massive Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by Koehler, Baumgartner and Stamm (but Brown, Driver and Briggs are included for free).
Is all of this worth the money? Let me answer that question by citing a personal example of the use I put this new version to just moments after installing it.
I was studying Hebrews 2:11 and wanted to understand what the relationship was between verse 10's doctrine that the champion of our salvation was perfected through suffering and verse 11's statement that he is one with those he came to sanctify. It all hung on the simple two letter Greek particle te. I had studied the particle in all of the grammars and lexicons I had available on my shelves but was still unsure. However, when I studied it using the reference works tab in the Analysis window of BibleWorks 7, I found a clear explanation in one of the grammars I do not have on my shelf (Greek Enchiridion: A Concise Handbook of Grammar and Exegesis by MacDonald.) I also had the option of using the sentence diagram of the passage supplied with the program or making my own sentence diagram of the passage.
BibleWorks 7 is a tool that can be used by anyone who wishes to delve more deeply into the Bible. You do not have to use every feature for it to be valuable. But it will help you grow in your understanding of God's Word ... if you have the commitment and heart to grow!
Arthur J. Fox is pastor of Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Middletown, Pennsylvania.