BibleWorks8: Software Review

by on February 8, 2009

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BibleWorks8 (BW8) is the latest in the Bible Works computer software series. Building upon the huge successes and renovations made to BW7, this new edition has much to offer while at the same time remaining constant in most of its functionality.

Much of what I have written in regards to functionality can be found in my review for BW7 found here. In this review, I would like to focus on what is new and believe me, there is a lot that is new.

What is New

First, there are over 190 different translations now available on the Bible compared to 115 in BW7. This makes BW8 more useful in the missionary setting especially overseas.

Second, there are new analysis tabs giving more information about the current verse. You can now find the most common word in current section (or pericope), chapter, and book. In addition, you can quickly find the full context of the verse you are studying by clicking on the Browse Tab.

Third, there is a cross-reference window that will shows the related verses. It is as simple as passing your mouse over the text. Here you can compare cross-references for any Bible version as well as build your own file of cross-references.

Fourth, the phrase matching tool enables you to see all verses that contain similar phrases. The related verses tool allows you to find all the verses containing some of the same words found in the current verse.

Fifth, BW8 offers an extra set of Greek sentence diagrams in addition to the Leedy Greek NT sentence diagrams. William MacDonald’s “Textual Transcriptions” helps to see a slightly different array of the sentence structures.

One final addition I would like to discuss is what they are calling ERMIE: External Resources Manager. What this cool little function does is to collect and organize your resources (PDF files, word .doc, websites, etc.) into one location that can be shared with other users. This will certainly be a feature that will come in most helpful in stream-lining one’s exegetical work and study.

There is so much more that has been added, but space does not allow me to go into detail here. If you would like an exhaustive list of what is new please go to the What’s New in BibleWorks8 page.

What has Been Lost

Unfortunately, some things are lost in making the move from BW7 to BW8. Their websites gives the reason why this is the case.

Many of the databases contained in BibleWorks are licensed from the copyright holders of those databases. On rare occasions we are unable to reach a mutually-satisfactory agreement with the licensor and items must be removed from BibleWorks or turned into extra-cost modules. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.

Completely lost is A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures, Mark Futato’s Basic Hebrew for Bible Study and the German Lutherbibel 1984. These three are no longer available from BibleWorks.

With all of the additions to BW8, some databases were in effect squeezed out. These are A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament by Barclay M. Newman, Jr., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament by Bruce M. Metzger, and a Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint by Lust-Eynikel-Hauspie. However, according to the BibleWorks website, if you were a registered user upgrading from BW7 to BW8, they will send you a set of activation codes for Metzger, Newman, Lust-Eynikel-Hauspie, and Lutherbibel 1984.

Recommendation

While some have been greatly upset with the loss of Robertson’s Word Pictures, I do not see this as such a problem that one would not want to upgrade to BW8. After all, you can still access Robertson’s Word Pictures on the Internet at Crosswalk.com.

BibleWorks8 will remain one of the two premier choices (see LOGOS) for any biblical scholar or exegete. Here is a list of upgrade costs for BW8 (DVD or CD):

  • From BW7–$149.00
  • From BW6–$175.00
  • From BW5 and older–$349.00

Comments

In my wanting to keep the review short, I forgot to include the following resource additions:

1) “Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament” by Wallace;
2) “Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax” by Waltke & O’Connor;
3 “A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew” by Jouon & Muraoka;
4) the Greek text and modern English translation of the Greek OT Pseudepigrapha, with the Greek text morphologically tagged and fully searchable;
5) the complete series of the Schaff Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers.

I apologize to BibleWorks for not including these in the original review.

Terry Delaney

I read your review on bibleworks.com and am doing some research. If you could only choose between Logos Original Languages and BW8, which would you choose and why?

Thanks.

I haven’t used BW, but for me the issue comes down to use. As far as I know, anything you can do in BW you can do in Logos. The opposite can not be said. Logos currently has almost 10,000 titles available for its format–all indexed and linked together. This means that searching your library is a snap. Here is a video that Logos just produced that shows the power of their keylinking. No other program does this.

Now, the funny thing is that I often hear people say, “i don’t need/want all those books. I just want to use the original text and that is all.” Well, sure, go ahead and write your next seminary paper using only the original text. Don’t cite any other books or journals on the matter… and let me know what grade you get. Same for pastors… there is this idea that all a pastor uses is the original language to prepare for a sermons… uh… right. Should we take time to use the original text in our sermon prep? YES! But let us not discount the wisdom of our brothers and sister come and gone. Imagine a John Piper sermon without Jonathan Edwards… or a Driscoll sermon without Spurgeon.

My point is this, Logos is a powerful original language tool AND a powerful digital library management tool. If you want to study the languages in depth AND save time on papers and sermon prep then Logos is the clear winner for me.

Also, check out the comparison chart. If you can swing it, I’d go for scholar’s library. It is about $200 more,but you get a lot more titles.

(disclaimer – I work for Logos. I also believe, honestly, that Logos is the best tool for any seminary student or pastor.)

@ eternalsoul,

I am speaking as one who hated digital print media a year ago. However, having been in seminary for 1 1/2 years and also having moved 7 times in 8 years (adding more and more books each year) I have changed my mind regarding digital print media.

First, I must say it really depends on what you are wanting to do. As Ryan said, everything you can do with BW8, you can do with Logos software as well. Comparing just the Original Languages (OL) to BibleWorks8 (BW8), if you are wanting just to wrestle with the original languages then I would go with BW8.

However, as Ryan also said, there is much more to working with the original texts and exegeting Scripture than just “wrestling with the original languages.” We still need guides and we still need to check what we are saying when compared to that of historical understandings. This is where Logos has the advantage.

What BW8 has going for them is their inclusion of all the different Bible translations in their base package. They have a Lithuanian Bible, a Turkish Bible, a Finnish Bible, and on and on I could go. However, you can add most of these from Logos at an extra cost (about 20 bucks per Bible). At first glance, that seems like an advantage to BW8 but I am not so sure. I highly doubt I will ever use their Cyrillic Bible translation, but if I do, it is there.

The great thing about OL is that you can continue to build your digital library through the years. If you are going to be a missionary, this is an excellent way to have a library with you wherever you go and not have to lug around 60+ boxes of books (as I have done the past couple years).

BW8 is designed specifically for the exegete and student of the Scriptures. They intentionally have a limited audience whereas Logos has a much wider intended audience. They can very easily compete with BW8 on their exegetical materials but also can add a ton more to your library and help you to continue growing through the sermons and writings of others.

If you are going to the missionary field, I would recommend Logos over BW for the reason of the digital print media. In no way does BW8 lack anything when it comes to exegetical research and Bible study. If you can get BW8 and have had experience with it, then by all means, go ahead with it.

But, if you are wanting to increase your library and wanting to wrestle with the Original Languages, then I would start with OL from Logos. Shoot, going to the Logos Gold ($1,400) almost pays for itself with the inclusion of just two sets of commentaries (New American Commentary and the New International Greek Commentary both print sets cost $660 a piece).

I hope that helps. It truly depends on what you are looking for and what you are wanting to do. If you will limit your digital print material then BW8 is most excellent. If, however, you are going to ultimately incorporate digital print material into your library, and you had to choose one over the other, then Logos would be best. In both cases, you really can’t go wrong with either one.

Dear Ryan and Terry,
Thank you very much for your helpful comments. I’m struck particularly with Ryan’s statement that “Everything that BW can do, Logos can do. ”

Terry sharpens up the comparison: “Everthing that _BW8_ can do, _Logos Original Languages_ can do.” Terry continues by saying that the reverse is not true: LOL can do things that BW8 cannot do.

If these statements are true, then the decision is clear: Buy LOL over BW8. But Ryan says he’s never used BW and I don’t know how much experience Terry has with BW.

What I’ve heard from other folks who have used BW and Logos is not that Logos can do everything that BW can do. Or that BW cannot do everything Logos can do. Rather, what others have said is that Logos and BW have different foci.

@ eternalsoul–

I have used both. I am more familiar with BW8 regarding exegetical work than I am with Logos. While each program has different resources in their base products, they each do basically the same thing (maybe I should have qualified it earlier). What LOL can do that BW8 can’t do is all of the digital books. Having all of those commentaries at your disposal is very nice to say the least.

You are absolutely correct in that both have different foci. That was what I was talking about regarding the different audiences (one more narrow than the other) of each program.

I know some people that swear by BW8 and I know some that swear by Logos. I think a lot of that has to do with familiarity and becoming creatures of habit. I don’t think you can go wrong with either (I have both and I use both) but if I had to choose one over the other it would come down to where I stood personally regarding digital print media. If you plan on going to the mission field, I would strongly recommend Logos.

If you can get BW8 for the discounted price of $250, I would do so. Keep in mind though that Logos does offer 25% off their base products and they have an ever increasing library of digital print media.

Terry,
Like you, I don’t see a need (at least at this point in my life) for the Bible in other languages.

In addition, if you are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to own a fairly good size library already (in print), you can sell your print library to buy your Libronix or BW library (or other).

I did this, selling off some books that I thought no one would want, I earned over $1,000 in just two months selling the stuff I didn’t really need any more (or would be duplicated in Logos Gold).

Don’t mistake me, I WOULD rather have a book in my hand than the text in Logos for my own personal preferences. However, there is ABSOLUTELY no comparison to 1) how much my resources are used 2) the time it takes to access those resources, and 3) the benefit to my teaching if I own items (especially commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, sermon helps, and theological reference works right within my Bible Study program. Of course, our greek and hebrew tools need to be there too. (I haven’t sold many of the greek or hebrew tools… but there is no real reason I shouldn’t.

Point is, if you feel like you shouldn’t replace things already in print with electronic resources, you should rethink.

I had, perhaps 12 different Hermeneia Commentaries from 20 years ago. I certainly couldn’t sell them for enough to purchase the 40 some commentaries now available in Logos for $500 (student discount). Nope, I couldn’t justify it. But I sold those as well as some theology and praxis books that I really didn’t have much need of, and I had $450 in 4 weeks. Now, that was added.

If you are younger and have no real book collection to do this, that is another challenge. But that challenge is no different than the one we faced 20-some years ago as students. We bought very carefully, often going without eating to save up for a precious book. The same can hold true as you build your electronic resources.

No, I wouldn’t try to own every book in electronic format under Libronix, just the ones that I want to use on a recurring basis. (the others you should be reading in a library anyway… advise I didn’t always follow myself.)

God bless!
JJ

For those interested, my friend Phil Gons wrote a really good comparison between BW & Logos in March 07 (BEFORE he started working at Logos).

Also, for clarification, I said “As far as I know, anything you can do in BW you can do in Logos.” That is, admittedly, a big qualifier.

Also, in regards to focus, I’d say that they aren’t different, rather Logos’ focus is simply wider. Both programs are designed to help people dig into the original language–Logos just take the extra step of managing a theological library as well. Phil’s post (mentioned above) should help clear that up.