BibleWorks 9 for Mac: Software for Biblical Exegesis and Research. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks LLC, 2011, $359.00
I am so amazed at the wealth of the resources with which God has blessed this era to study his Word. No era before now has enjoyed the blessings of tools such as Bibleworks for easy, fast, and enjoyable study of God Word. At this point in history, just with a mouse click, one can find every occurrence of a given word in the Bible, in any language of one’s choice. What a privilege to be living at this point in time. This privilege comes, according to scripture, with responsibility. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48 ESV). With this sobering thought I offer my review of Bibleworks 9 (BW9) on the Mac platform.
From its inception, Bibleworks, one of the premier Bible software of our time, was designed for Windows PCs. Now the most recent version, Bibleworks 9, runs on Mac using a $6 Mac adapter. From my perspective, a Bible software is as good as the searches it can conduct and the resources it provides. Thus, while this review will touch on other features of this software, the bulk of attention will be given to these two capabilities.
BW9 has three interface windows: Search window, Browse window, and Analysis window (the third can be subdivided). These windows are all inter-connected.
The first I will discuss is the search window with the command line. To do a search in the command line, one must enter a word preceded by a period or a phrase preceded by a single quotation mark. The results are displayed in the search window. You can then select which verse you want to study, click on it, and it will appear in the browser window.
On the browse window, one can toggle between the full text and a single verse in different Bible versions, just with a single click. When you pass your cursor over a word or verse reference, detail information about the word or reference appears in the analysis window.
The analysis window displays all of the resources in your library that have the highlighted word or reference. To expand any of them, simply hold down the shift key while the cursor remains on the word in the browse window. While holding the shift key down, you can move the mouse cursor over to the analysis window and click on any of the displayed resources to see the entire context of the word or reference. I find this feature very helpful because it spares you time. You do not have to search your entire library; BW9 does it for you immediately as your mouse runs over a word or after you click a verse reference.
The analysis window has additional features that are helpful for research. The analysis window can be partitioned to add a fourth column. With the option to divide the window, one can access two resources at the same time, which greatly increases efficiency. The analysis window also has several tabs, which function differently.
The Analysis tab is useful when you are studying the Bible in Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic. When you place your cursor on a word in one of these languages in the Browse window, BW9 will draw helpful resources into this tab, such as lexicons and grammars, to give you more detailed information on the word’s meaning. As you would expect, on the note tab, you can take notes. There you find options to save, copy, cut, paste, etc. The cross-reference tab (X-Refs) lists all cross-references for the selected verse in the browse window and categorizes them according to the frequency of use. The statistic tab gives a graphic display of the search result, which shows in which book the word or phrase on the search window occurs the most and the number of times in each pericope. Another tab, probably the most helpful for those who are interested in New Testament text criticism, is the manuscript tab. Under this tab one has access to several manuscripts, which include Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, and Sinaiticus, among others. All of these manuscripts are fully transcribed and morphologically tagged, and their digital images are also tagged with verses references. The Tischendorf apparatus and New Testament Critical Apparatus from the Center of New Testament Textual studies are also included. These manuscripts and apparatuses set Bibleworks miles apart as a leading electronic resource for detailed manuscript analysis and textual criticism, particularly in the New Testament. Astonishingly, all of these come in the base package; there are no additional prices for the manuscripts! Finally, the analysis window has an Editor tab, which offers all the functions of the Window WordPad editor, but with more features and neatly integrated with BW9 itself.
The Analysis window can be hidden with a simple mouse click. Click the Analysis Tab on the bottom bar if you need more space for the Search or Browse Windows.
Although BW9 runs on Mac, the interface is not what one would expect for a Mac software; it looks exactly the same as the Windows version. Although it is not the most user-friendly interface, the price of the software and its functionality silences the rushing complaints of a cluttered interface. The type of interface is not a major issue for me because the software still does what it was designed to do. It may take a few keystrokes to understand the different icons, but it does not take long to learn how to navigate the software.
PhD Candidate, SBTS