BibleWorks has put a great deal of effort into creating a program which students will find beneficial. The usual pushback about a program like this is that you have to know a great deal about biblical texts and languages in order to use it. In some sense that is true; the program is not designed with pedagogy as the first function, and you often do need to know things in general to understand the particular things the program tells you. That being said, though, the program does contain a number of tools and features which will help the student who is learning biblical texts and languages to learn better. These same tools will help the minister retain what they have learned as well.
The Vocabulary Flashcard Module is the first such tool. As the name conveys, this tool provides a means for study of vocabulary words for Greek and Hebrew. Included with the program are lists drawn from many common grammars, so the student can get started using it immediately in line with their current studies. The module also allows for creation of vocabulary lists so the end user can create whatever vocabulary list they would like and use it in the module. Features standard to programs like this (e.g., marking words as learned or unlearned) are included so the student can keep track of their progress. It is possible to share lists with others, but it isn’t all that easy to do. Newer platforms for learning information in flashcard format (e.g., Studies, Quizlet) have better sharing capabilities.
The Diagramming Module enables students to create line graphs which show word relationships within a sentence. We use this technique in our intermediate Greek courses as a way for students to understand how words and phrases relate within a sentence, as it shows connections, modifications, and dependency. The BibleWorks module enables students to create diagrams from scratch with a palette of pre-made lines and connectors, and they can add comments and callouts as well. In addition, as a help to the beginning student BibleWorks includes two resources from Randy Leedy, professor at Bob Jones University: an article on sentence diagramming in Greek, published originally in Biblical Viewpoint, and diagrams of the entire NT for reference and comparison.
I discussed the Resources panel of the Analysis Window under Deeper Program Use above as a good example of the program’s philosophy, but the programmers have also enabled customization of this tab in a way that is very helpful for the student. The Resources tab has five sub-tabs: Summary, Lexicons, Grammars, References, and Options. The Summary tab is the default which shows all of the resources pertinent to where the mouse is located in the Browse Window. It will change and show different resources and links as the mouse moves. The other tabs control customization of what is displayed in the Summary tab, and this is what proves helpful to the student. The drawback with the default settings for the Resources tab is that so much material is displayed there that it can be overwhelming. Customization allows the user to control which resources are displayed, which enables focus on particular areas of study. For example, my Lexicons sub-tab has 14 Greek lexicons listed, which means I could display all 14 in the Resources tab if I wanted. A better plan for students who are translating and getting a handle on Greek vocabulary would be to display only two: a shorter lexicon like the Barclay Newman lexicon which gives short glosses, enabling quick translation, and a longer one, like BDAG, enabling deeper study as needed. The same strategy can be employed for Grammars and References. A little thought here on what the student needs to see for the task at hand will go a long way.