BibleWorks 5: : Version 5.0.031b
Like its predecessors, BW5 speeds through searches. I think my college friend back in the 1980s claimed that all occurrences of any given word could be discovered in less than 8 hours of disk swapping. With BW5, a typical multi-word search takes less than one second on my 800 MHz computer. Another popular Bible program takes more than seven seconds to do the same search on that computer. That’s still a nice improvement compared to 8 hours, but when you are doing serious research with numerous searches, the speed difference is greatly magnified.
The documentation in any powerful program is always important. BW5 has a fine manual, but you won’t need to consult it often. Help is just an F1 keystroke away, and a special video CD contains more than 4 hours of Help videos that show you exactly how features work. There’s no doubt that BW5 has the best documentation of the half dozen Bible programs I’ve owned.
Beginning users can be intimidated by a sophisticated user interface offering all of the powerful features a veteran user demands in this type of software. BW5 solves that problem nicely by offering three modes: Beginner, Standard, and Power-User (I have mine set to Power-User, but that may be wishful thinking). You can start simply and then change options as you desire greater power and flexibility.
My favorite new feature in BW5 is the synopsis tool. This powerful addition uses a text file to determine what verses will be displayed, and in what versions. The included synopsis file displays synoptic passages from the gospels. For example, when you click on the topic heading “Feeding the Five Thousand,” four columns are displayed, beginning with Matthew 14:13, Mark 6:33, Luke 9:11 and John 6:2. This would be a useful tool in itself, but the true power comes from the ability to create your own files. Choose a topic, do a little high-speed research to find the related passages, and tie them together in a custom synopsis file.
BW5 includes dozens of Bible versions (see http://www.bibleworks.com for a complete list), but most users will stick with a handful at most. I rarely, if ever, need all four Norwegian versions, and I’ve yet to check out the Vietnamese or Finnish versions, but if you need them, BW5 has them. English versions range from the 2001 English Standard Version to the 1599 Geneva Bible, which reminds us of how much spelling has changed in four centuries. Here’s 1 John 1:9 from 1599:
One last note: my enthusiastic recommendation doesn’t mean that BW5 is perfect. Several areas could be improved quite easily. My primary request for BW6 is for a “study notes” feature. This would be a text editor (in addition to the chapter/verse note editor) in which to create sermon outlines or research notes. BW6 would recognize any verse references in the notes and underline them; they could then be clicked on as links which would display the Bible verse in the BW6 Results Window. Once the verse reference parser was perfected, it could be used in the chapter notes window, as well as for resources like the Bible dictionary windows. Along with making existing resources such as Robertson’s Word Pictures more powerful, this feature would allow users to create powerful study files to share with other BW6 users (hopefully on the BW website). Possible useful study topics could include The Trinity, Witnessing to Mormons, The Granville Sharp Rule, etc. Users could load a desired file and as they read through it, a simple mouse click would display the referenced verse. Email the good folks at BibleWorks and request this feature today—we’ll all benefit!