BibleWorks 10 - Deeper Program Use

The philosophy of BibleWorks creates essentially two tiers of texts in the program. The default arrangement of BibleWorks enables the user to easily read and study the Bible. Think of any text which has “verses,” so to speak; these texts are readily accessed through the normal program arrangement. This arrangement works for the biblical text, but also for the Apostolic Fathers, Philo, etc. There are a number of other texts contained within the program, however, which are accessed through a different interface. These texts are considered secondary and supplemental to these other texts. The program does not assume you will use these regularly but occasionally in your Bible study, thus they are tucked away in a different corner. They are found under the Resources file menu option.

Resources File menu option

Resources File menu option

When you click on this menu option, BibleWorks presents you with over 20 different categories of resources, ranging from language tools to theology to background. Many of these categories have numerous titles within them, some of them quite helpful. When activated, these resources open in a separate window which can be navigated independently of the main program interface. This is not the only place where these resources can live, though. These can be accessed also through the Resources tab of the Analysis Window. The different means of access for the end user pertains to the purpose. Opening one of these resources through the file menu option treats it as a stand-alone book. You can dive into the book wherever you would like. Opening one of these resources through the tab in the Analysis Window focuses on a particular location within the book. Because the main program interface is focused on reading texts with verses, when opened from the Resources tab these texts will open to the place where the particular verse which has focus in the Browse Window is discussed.

Resources Tab in Analysis Window

Resources Tab in Analysis Window

BibleWorks contains numerous, more technical tools to help the user study the Bible. These range from tools which duplicate regular functions accessed daily to those even the specialist would rarely access. Three are particularly useful for those who are going deeper in biblical studies: the Graphical Search Engine, the Word List Manager, and the Verse List Manager. 

The Graphical Search Engine both duplicates the search functionality of the command line and surpasses it, enabling much more complex searching within original language texts. As the name implied, the Graphical Search Engine allows the user to construct a search with a graphical interface. Most usually the user will search for particular words in a particular order in a particular text, perhaps with a special condition like grammatical agreement which is very common in original language searches, but this search engine can do so much more. Instead of searching for a single word, it can search for groups of words. For example, instead of searching for all the places where “son” is followed by “God,” it can search for all the places where words for family relationships are followed by words for deity by using the Louw and Nida semantic domains. It can search for lists of words created in other places in the program. So you could find the most common words in Paul and then find them wherever they occur in the Pastoral letters or other disputed books. The difficulty with the Graphical Search Engine is the even steeper learning curve than with the command line. The complexity it can accomplish makes learning it rather difficult. However, the help files on this material are quite good, and like anything time invested here will yield a good return.

Graphical Search Engine example

Graphical Search Engine example

One result of constantly working with words in the biblical text is the need to manage groups of words for one purpose or another, for example, rare but important words in Paul, Greek words which occur 50x or more in the NT, hapax legomena, etc. The Word List Manager in BibleWorks enables the user to easily manage lists of words and use them profitably in other places in the program. When Jeff Miller and I were working on *The New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament*, the Word List tool made the task exceptionally easy. At the start of our work we created a list of all words which occur 49x or less in the NT; we each could then readily search for those words in the particular books on which we worked. Word Lists can be readily exported; you can even make a lexicon of a word list for study purposes.

Word List Manager

Word List Manager

Similar in function to the Word List Manager is the Verse List Manager. Not only do students of the Bible work with words, we also work with lists of verse references, for example, places where Paul mentions “works of the Law,” verses common to Matthew and Luke but not found in Mark, etc. The Verse List Manager enables the user to create and modify word lists for all kinds of purposes. A common use of a verse list would be references which correspond to a search, for example, all the verses in the NT which mention the name Abraham. The Verse List Manager can easily import the verses found in the most recent search. This list can then be exported as needed to a word document or saved for use somewhere else in the program.

Verse List Manager

Verse List Manager

BibleWorks 10 - Common Program Use

When opening the program for the first time, BibleWorks organizes itself into a three-paned, left-to-right arrangement. This is a fundamental paradigm which reflects the philosophy and design of the program. The program is organized on the assumption that most of the time the user will input a command to display text or execute a search, read those results as a whole, and then dive into more exact analysis. The panes are designed with those functions in mind. The left-most pane allows for input which displays results. These results are then read within the middle pane. Detailed analysis of what is read then takes place in the right-most pane. It is a left to right movement from input to analysis. Of course this movement from input to analysis is not sacrosanct; the end user may have any number of things they wish to do in the software when they open it, and BibleWorks can be accessed and used profitably in any number of ways. But this arrangement explains the program’s central design philosophy and in some ways when understood enables better use of what BibleWorks has to offer.

Default program layout

Default program layout

The left-most pane is called the Search Window. It contains the command line, any search results in a list below the command line, and various ways to access program features and modify behavior. The command line acts as the brains of the outfit, so to speak. It is where the vast majority of interaction with the program will take place for the majority of users. It can feel off-putting at first because it has a little bit of a learning curve, but the program reacts quickly to it and when learned well using the command line makes working with BibleWorks easy and even fun. When I taught BibleWorks classes, a vast majority of my tips and tricks were about using the command line to the best effect. For example, from the Command Line the can pick a particular version to search, set a limit on the search, display additional texts to compare to the search version, and then execute the search. Taking time to learn its shortcuts will greatly benefit the user in the long run. 

Search Window

Search Window

The middle pane is called the Browse Window. This pane displays whatever texts the user desires: English Bible translations, Greek or Hebrew texts, Apostolic Fathers, etc. Whatever text BibleWorks has in its arsenal, here is where that text will be displayed. The user can display any texts in any order and move easily from displaying a single verse (from a search, for example) to displaying longer sections of text. Because of this flexibility the Browse Window can accommodate reading of particular verses for analysis or longer sections of text for synthesis.

Browse Window

Browse Window

The right pane is the Analysis Window. This window is devoted to technical information which helps the reader analyze the text displayed in the Browse Window. This is where a lot of the magic happens. All kinds of information can be displayed here: text critical, lexical, grammatical, contextual, resources related notes, etc. The tabs at the top of the Analysis Window control which information is displayed. The Analysis tab is the one I use the most often. It contains morphological and lexical data, displaying the lexicons I have chosen as the default for Greek and Hebrew. A close second is the Stats tab. This displays statistical information related to the last search done, for example, how many times the particular word appears in each book of the Bible. The Notes tab is also very useful. BibleWorks has built into their system a very functional rich-text editor. The Notes tab makes use of that editor to allow the user to take notes on chapters or verses of the Bible. These notes are stored as rich-text files, they can be located wherever the user desires for backup purposes, and they will always be connected to the verse reference, so they will display no matter which version the user is reading.

Analysis Window

Analysis Window

As a whole, this arrangement is very helpful to the end user. Whenever BibleWorks opens, the program is automatically configured to help you do immediately what most of us do every time we study the Bible: find a particular Scripture, read it in the version(s) of our choosing, and find related information to help us understand what we are reading. In a sense the work table is always set for the most common tasks, which is a time saver. The pain points of this arrangement primarily relate to the command line and the Analysis Window. The command line does have a learning curve which can be off putting, but from experience I can say that just a little time invested here will bear good fruit. The Analysis Window is very busy—lots of options, each with lots of data—which means it can take a while before you decide which information is best for you to display most often. In prior iterations of the program you could only have one Analysis Window open at a time. In v. 10 you can display a secondary Analysis Window, which enables you to have two Analysis tabs open at the same time, for example, the Analysis tab and the Notes tab. This increases the options but can be limiting because of the restrictions imposed by screen real estate.

Analysis Window split into two panes

Analysis Window split into two panes

BibleWorks 10 - Purchase and Installation

Review - BW10

One thing I have always appreciated about BibleWorks is their desire to ship the program to users with as robust a library as possible while maintaining a reasonable cost for their program. Practically this means three things for the customer. First, the customer gets a robust program out of the box which is capable of very exact, technical work in the biblical text. This is a great benefit for those who are relatively new to biblical studies, like first or second year college or seminary students. Right out of the box BibleWorks can help the user dive into Greek and Hebrew like a pro. Second, this means that compared to other software programs, BibleWorks customers will usually pay more to acquire the program and less down the road. Whether this is good for the customer depends on the situation. The problem I have seen historically is that usually those who are considering BibleWorks, the aforementioned first and second year students, have to watch their money more closely than others. So this creates reticence to purchase BibleWorks over other programs but may prove to be a better strategy in the long run, akin to buying in bulk when prices are low. Third, as with all programs of this type but perhaps more so with BibleWorks, there are numerous resources in the library which the end user might never use. Easily 90% of the resources which ship with BibleWorks the average student of biblical studies will never use, for example, numerous Bible versions in different languages. This is not to say that these language resources do not have value for some; it’s simply to say from my vantage point as a teacher of biblical studies in North America for most students there is some impression of resource bloat. Many would prefer a version with fewer resources, targeted for what they need, at a lower cost.

In tandem with this situation out of the box, however, is the pesky situation of which additional modules to purchase. As with all vendors in this space, BibleWorks offers many modules for purchase which can be added to the software. Because of their business and ministry philosophy, for a number of years BibleWorks resisted this approach. I assume that market forces, though, made them relent. So they have developed a substantial offering of add-on modules. Through their partnership with WordSearch, a LifeWay division, they now offer even more, including many commentary sets and popular Bible reference tools. The problem the new user will face no matter which program they acquire is that certain tools considered mandatory in the biblical studies space, such as the Hebrew lexicon HALOT and the Greek lexicon BDAG, are not included in the base package and must be purchased additionally. This is a pain point for all users, as the publishers are able to mandate fairly high prices for these tools and no other vendor is able to include them in a base package, but it is a primary pain point for BibleWorks users because they are paying slightly more at the front end for their base package anyway. I do not think that this should scare anyone away from BibleWorks, but it does mean there is a slightly higher financial bar for entry with BibleWorks than with other vendors.

A related question to address at this point is the platform on which the user will run BibleWorks. It was not too long ago in the computing world that one had to make a choice between Mac or PC, and this was a very stark choice when Bible software was in the mix. I remember well when BibleWorks and Logos ran only on Windows and Accordance ran only on a Mac. Those days are long gone. All three of the big players in this space run on both Macs and PCs.[1] Logos and Accordance have native apps for both platforms. The situation with BibleWorks is a little more complex. The Mac user who wants to run BibleWorks has to decide between three methods: native, emulation, or dual boot. Each has its pros and cons. The native program is not really native; it is a Mac port running on WINE, which is specialized computer tool which enables Windows programs to run on Macs. The plus is there is nothing additional to install; the minus is the interface looks a little odd and the program doesn’t have 100% functionality. The emulation option requires using emulation software like Parallels or VMWare Fusion plus a Windows installation. The minus is that there is additional cost and overhead to acquire and set up this option. The plus is that the program runs perfectly and can integrate without issue into a Mac operating environment. The dual boot option as with emulation requires a Windows license, but the biggest problem is the dual boot environment means you essentially run your Mac as a Windows computer instead of as a Mac. With emulation both environments are active at the same time; with dual boot they are not. This drawback means you cannot copy and paste between BibleWorks and Mac applications when using dual boot. I have tried the native and emulation routes and far prefer the emulation. To me it is worth the extra cost and overhead to have a fully functional version of the program that integrates perfectly with my Mac software. Plus I have a working copy of Windows which helps me as I teach students with all different platforms. My only experience with emulation software is Parallels, but it has been entirely good. In my experience, Parallels functions well and provides a good solution out of the box. So despite the extra overhead, my choice to run BibleWorks in emulation has proven to be fine for me personally, and it allows me to help others who are not on the Mac platform, which is a plus as a professor.

Installation presents no problems or concerns, as the process is similar to any other program. With version 10 the program now ships on a thumb drive, which is a nice touch. I recommend that the user manually force a check for updates after install to ensure that the most recent updates and patches are applied. This can be done easily through Help | Check for Updates. Often the user is asked to pick which updates they would like to install; my recommendation is that you always select all updates, even for modules which you do not use regularly. This will ensure that all features of the program are updated.


  1. This ubiquity is growing in the mobile world as well, but it is not total. Logos is the best in this space, running on iOS and Android. Accordance runs on iOS, reflecting its strong commitment to the Apple platform, but I would assume other mobile versions are in the works. BibleWorks can run on any Windows tablet, distinguishing itself by bringing its full functionality to that platform while other players offer stripped down functionality.  ↩

Review of BibleWorks 10

Review - BW10

One plus of my job teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary is that I get to indulge in lots of technology. I’ve always had a personal interest in tech stuff, both hardware and software, but it has become a professional necessity teaching New Testament in our current environment. To that end, I’ve always tried to stay up on the latest Bible software for my own professional work but also for the staff and students at the seminary who need help and guidance in what’s best and how to use it. For that reason, even though DTS now supplies Logos Bible Software to all our students, I maintain installations of Accordance and BibleWorks to keep up with the latest developments in each program and advise people in what is best for them and how best to use each program. I have been a BibleWorks user since version 6 when I got a copy to help me on my editorial work on the NET Bible, and for a time I was a certified regional trainer for BibleWorks. I also used it exclusively in the production of The New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. So I have a long history with the BibleWorks company and with the software. A while back they asked me to review version 10 of their software, which was released in 2015.[1] With this series of posts, I want to accomplish a number of things. I want to introduce BibleWorks 10 to people who aren’t familiar with it, so this will involve an assessment of the software right out of the box. Many people in my circles are not familiar with BibleWorks, so I will assess it for a new user and suggest good use cases for its implementation. I also want to offer some comparisons to BibleWorks 9, primarily by focusing on some key new features. BibleWorks has done a good job of maintaining older versions of their software, and people often stick with those older versions. When I was a trainer I would regularly meet end users who were two versions behind! So some comments comparing version 10 to prior versions certainly would be in order. My third goal in writing this review series is to make a few comparisons with the other products on the market. Spoiler alert: I think the three major vendors each provide solid performance, so I am very comfortable recommending that users purchase more than one software package, especially if they are technical users, researchers, or teachers.


  1. For the purposes of this review, BibleWorks supplied me with a complementary copy of BibleWorks 10. Yes, I am a little late in getting this out. File this under “Better late than never!”  ↩

Logos Morph Query Builder

I recently stumbled upon a new feature in Logos called the Morph Query Builder. This was originally released September of last year (see forum post here ). In Logos 7.4 I can see this option under documents, but it is presently grayed out; presumably its development is still in process. Use this link to pull up information in the Logos help file about this feature. You can see a video about this feature here .

I had heard about this from various Logos folks for a while now, so I’m glad to see this in the works. This will bring Logos up to speed with other vendors in the Bible software space, making it so much easier for users to go grammatical work in the Hebrew and Greek texts with Logos.

Logos, if you are listening, as a favor to this Greek prof, please get this feature up and running asap! It will help us and our students abundantly to have this feature available to us.