BibleWorks 10

Jim Barr at BibleWorks was kind enough to send me a copy of BW10 to review.  I’ve been a devoted user of this program since working on my Hebrews commentary in 1998.  I have always found BW to be elegant and straightforward for working with the Greek and Hebrew text.  Perhaps it’s because I’m nearing fifty, but the most important thing to me in a new version of a familiar and much-used program is what has not changed.  (Windows 8, anyone?)

The interface has remained pretty much the same as BW8 and 9, with added possibilities for customizing.  The basic functions have all remained the same.  It remains, for my purposes, perfect for lexical analysis, concordance work, grammatical searching, analysis of English translations, and increasingly for textual criticism.  It has special tools for Synoptic comparison/redaction criticism; its parallel windows tool allows for ready comparison of any Bible texts or parabiblical texts one might wish (I use it for Septuagint/Hebrew Bible comparison more than anything else, but I’ve been delighted to find that I could also have the Apostolic Fathers open in Greek and English with this tool).  The move some versions ago to allow one to have four columns was extremely helpful one (I personally need to have two “browse” windows open frequently when teaching or researching, for example), and that has been retained.

Several additional tabs have been added to the BW10 interface.  There is now a “Forms Tab” that allows the user to see quickly the statistics on lemma usage as well as a “User Lexicon” that allows the user to compile his or her notes on the meanings and usage of particular words.  BW10 has lost the Moody Bible Atlas, but has replaced this resource with the ESV Concise Bible Atlas.

There is now an “ePub” reader window available in columns 3 and 4, so that users can import book files into BW, as well as a new photographic resource containing over twelve hundred images of sites connected with biblical history.  (No, I didn’t count them – you can access a surprising amount of BW’s content in Windows Explorer J ).  The available resources have been expanded to include the New English Translation of the Septuagint (please stop buying copies of Brenton, people), the Gospel of Thomas, a shorter lexicon by Frederick Danker, and the usual slew of new or updated Bible translations.

While an upgrade to the NA28 Greek text was available after BW9 came out, NA28 is now the base text for BW10 and many Greek-text resources (like the surprisingly helpful diagramming resource) have been updated to reflect the new edition.  The manuscripts project proceeds apace as well, with completed morphological tagging for Sinaiticus and Vaticanus and completed transcriptions of Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus and Codex Claromontanus.  With the (admittedly sideline) interest in the NT as it was actually read in particular communities of faith alongside the recovery of the theoretically original readings, this growing feature is quite helpful.  The manuscript image database is also a wonderful resource for introducing textual criticism in the seminary classroom. The image database now includes Codex Lenigradensis for students of the Hebrew Bible.

For the purist who really just wants good software to work with the text in the original languages – and who has some original-language competency – BW is easy to navigate and foregrounds the tools and resources that I personally find to be most essential.