Software review: Bible Explorer 3, Logos Bible Software Series X, and BibleWorks 5
December 27 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Software review: Bible Explorer 3, Logos Bible Software Series X, and BibleWorks 5 | Friday, Dec. 27, 2002

Friday, Dec. 27, 2002

Software review: Bible Explorer 3, Logos Bible Software Series X, and BibleWorks 5

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Church groups in search of the perfect gift for a minister or other Bible study leader would do well to consider a quality Bible study software program.

Three of the leading companies who make such resources accepted our invitation to submit updated programs for review.

Bible Explorer 3

Bible Explorer 3, by Epiphany Software (www.epiphanysoftware.com), is the most user-friendly of the three, and the most limited in resources. Prices range from $149.95 for the Standard Edition to $379.95 for the Premium Edition, with the difference being how many Bible translations, commentaries, devotional guides and study aids are included. The number of English Bible translations varies from 13 to 17.

Bible Explorer 3 does Windows, and does them well. Clicking on books or Bibles from the "library" window opens them immediately in separate windows, which resize automatically to fit the available space. Related windows can be nested (BibleWorks calls it "docking") in a single window that utilizes file tabs to access each resource.

Searching by scripture reference is a snap, and word searches are only slightly more difficult. As with other programs, the user can define a range of resources for search operations, which include Boolean operators (like "and," "or" and "near").

The program offers little in the way of original language help. The King James Version and New American Standard Version (1995) have morphological tags, but provide only brief definitions. On my computer, some Greek and Hebrew characters did not display correctly.

Ironically, most of the reference works and other background materials provided in this high-tech program are very old, a common characteristic of Bible study software products. While some students may find commentaries by Matthew Henry or Jamieson, Faussett and Brown to be helpful, others will consider them outdated. The program also includes the full text of Christian classics like Pilgrim's Progress and The Confessions of St. Augustine.

A limited map set, art in the form of Dore's woodcuts and a nice set of photographs from the Holy Land add visual elements to the textual study.

Users who enjoy online communities can use Bible Explorer 3 to access Epiphany-monitored chat rooms and exchange study notes or sermon ideas.

Logos Bible Software Series X

As a long time user of Logos 2.0, I expected to be impressed by the new Logos Series X-Scholar's Library (www.logos.com), and was not disappointed. The Logos program is built on a digital library platform called "Libronix," enabling the integration of multiple resources. Logos Series X is available in five versions ranging from the "Christian Home Library" at $149.95 (stocked with theologically conservative home-schooling aids) to the "Scholar's Library" at $599.95. Versions targeted to pastors ($299.95) and students of original languages ($399.95) include extra resources for the designated audience, some of them quite valuable. Pastor's resources include up-to-date leadership resources from Christianity Today and authors like Leith Anderson.

Logos is king of the hill when it comes to available add-ins, now up to 3000 volumes from more than 100 publishers. Most of these, however, must be purchased separately or in packages and digitally unlocked.

Perhaps it is the sheer mass of Logos X's offerings and the variety of available approaches to study that make it a bit more unwieldy to set up and use, but the results are worth the effort. The search functions are straightforward. Users can type in a passage, click "go," and then choose to examine it in a variety of parallel translations (including critical Greek and Hebrew editions), or to access a wide variety of linguistic study aids and commentaries hot-linked to each word in the Hebrew or Greek text..

Pastors can even check to see if the text is linked to any of 7,700 sermon illustrations, or if it is discussed in either the full or the abridged version of Kittel's comprehensive Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.

The Scholar's Library contains 16 English translations of the Bible, 6 Greek versions of the New Testament, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia edition of the Hebrew Bible, and Rahlf's edition of the Septuagint.

Additional resources in the Libronix format can stretch as far as the user's budget allows.

Bible Works 5

While Logos has targeted versions for a variety of audiences, BibleWorks 5 ($299.95, www.bibleworks.com) is singly focused on providing maximum resources for the translation and study of the Bible with special attention to the original language texts.

The basic package includes no less than 90 Bible translations in 28 languages, including multiple translations in Spanish, French, German, Russian, even Indonesian! The ability to compare multiple translations from different linguistic families makes it a Bible translator's dream.

The 20 English translations include new translations like the English Standard Version, the British New International Version, and the Jewish Publication Society's Tanakh in addition to traditional standards and older translations such as the Geneva Bible of 1599 and the Douay-Rheims 1899 American edition.

Original language texts include the most recent critical editions in addition to historically significant editions of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament. Fans of the King James Version who also read Greek will be pleased to see a modern version of the "Majority text" and two versions of the "Textus Receptus" favored by the KJV translators in addition to the critical editions preferred by most scholars.

Serious students willing to pay an additional unlock fee can supplement the basic lexical support with new and unabridged versions of the Koehler-Baumgartner Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (4th edition) and Bauer and Danker's A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (3rd edition).

The package itself is tightly integrated, loaded with features and lightning fast. Users can choose between "beginner," "standard" and "power-user" platforms distinguished mainly by the increasing availability of shortcuts and search options. Instructional videos included with the package are helpful. With a few hours of practice (and maybe a cheat-sheet for the shortcut codes), most users will have little trouble ramping up from "beginner" to "power-user."

My favorite feature is an "instant lexicon" - as the cursor floats over words of the text in Hebrew, Greek or morphologically tagged English versions, the appropriate entry from the user's favorite lexicon pops immediately into a separate window, complete with a full parsing of the word.

Each of the three programs has strengths. For a basic comparison of Bible translations in a superior Windows format, Bible Explorer 3 is a good option. For one who is primarily interested in translation and a study of the original texts, BibleWorks 5 is the quickest, slickest program around. And, for those who want more commentaries, pastoral helps and other resources, Logos Series X is the choice.

Any of these programs - or a gift certificate enabling the recipient to choose for himself/herself - would be a welcome gift.

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12/27/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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