BibleWorks 8.0, Introduction, Part 2


Installation was a breeze. I’ve seen no compatibility issues with Windows 7. It runs fast (but this is a brand new computer).


When I opened BibleWorks and got past the registration process, I saw a “search” box. Now, the opening screen was filled with windows and icons I couldn’t immediately interpret, and the interface is a bit intimidating. But in the upper lefthand corner there’s a box that says “[Enter search words or verse here]” That I could interpret.

So I’d just written this post interpreting Eph 5:19 in some detail. I thought I’d see what happens when I type in “Eph 5:19.” Here’s what happens —

a. 5 translations of the verse popped up at once: NIV, NAS, KJV, and two Greek texts, in Greek — the Critical Text and the Byzantine or Majority Text. (There are dozens of translations included. These are the default set for immediate, parallel viewing.)

A reader had asked me about the presence of en (Greek for “in”) in the verse. I’d mentioned it several times in my post. There was no en in the reader’s Greek testament. Oops. And lo and behold! I instantly found that the Majority Text has the en even though the Cricial Text does not. Cool. I mean, amazing! I didn’t understand 70% of the stuff on the screen, and yet I’d answered a tough question just by typing in the book, chapter, and verse.

You see, using the internet resources, I didn’t realize that some use the Majority Text whereas others use the Critical Text. (Go here and here for an explanation of the difference.) Mystery solved!

b. When I moved the mouse cursor over the Greek text, a small window with the Greek root popped up, also giving the English transliteration, the Strong’s number, a brief definition, and the verb tense, voice, and mood — without abbreviation! I can’t understate how thrilled I was to no longer have to interpret “pap” and “fip” abbreviations to know what kind of verb I was looking at. It seems like a small thing, but I really didn’t want to have to memorize all those abbreviations to use the internet resources.

c. A right click on the Greek word offered the tantalyzing choice: Resource Summary Window. One click and up popped a long list of resources — dictionaries, Greek grammars, etc. It was a bit overwhelming. And they link to chapters in each book where Eph 5:19 is discussed.

The software immediately takes you to the text you need in the dictionary, grammar, or other resource — which is much more valuable than simply having the text available online to search and read.

The first entry is Thayer’s Greek Lexicon‘s definition of psallo in full text —

(from psao, to rub, wipe; to handle, touch (but cf. Curtius, p. 730)); a. to pluck off, pull out: evqeiran, the hair, Aeschylus Pers. 1062. b. to cause to vibrate by touching, to twang:  to,xwn neura,j ceiri,, Euripides, Bacch. 784; specifically, cordh,n, to touch or strike the chord, to twang the strings of a musical instrument so that they gently vibrate (Aristotle, probl. 19, 23 (p. 919b, 2)); and absolutely, to play on a stringed instrument, to play the harp, etc.:  Aristotle, Plutarch, Aratus (in Plato, Lysias, p. 209 b. with kai, krou,ein tw/| plh,ktrw added (but not as explanatory of it; the Schol. at the passage says yh/lai, to, a;neu plhktrou tw/| daktu,lw| ta,j cordaj evpa,fasqai); it is distinguished from kiqari,zein in Herodotus 1, 155); the Septuagint for !nEnI and much more often for rMezI; to sing to the music of the harp; in the N. T. to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song, James 5:13 (R.  V. sing praise); tw/| kuri,w|, tw/| ovno,mati auvtou/ (often so in the Septuagint), in honor of God, Eph. 5:19 (here A. V. making melody); Rom. 15:9; yalw/ tw/| pneu,mati, yalw/ de, kai, tw/| noi<, `I will sing God’s praises indeed with my whole soul stirred and borne away by the Holy Spirit, but I will also follow reason as my guide, so that what I sing may be understood alike by myself and by the listeners’, 1 Cor. 14:15.*

(Emphasis added. Sorry that the Greek fonts came through garbled.)

I then found that Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics has a couple of discussions of the participles in Eph 5:19 —

On a syntactical and stylistic level, this view [that the participles are imperative] does not take into account the semantic situation in which an imperatival participle is found (which, among other things, indicates that this is a very rare usage), nor the usage of dependent participles in this letter in particular (cf. <, for example, where several dependent participles are strung along). To view any of these participles as imperatival is to view the passage from the English point of view only, ignoring the Greek.

The author is speaking of the fourth participle “submitting yourselves … ,” but the analysis applies even more strongly to “singing and making melody …” It’s not a command!

He later writes,

In this text the five participles are debatable. Some have suggested means, manner, attendant circumstance, and even imperatival! … As we shall see later, attendant circumstance and imperatival par­ticiples are rarely, if ever, found in a construction such as the one in this text. … Result participles are invariably present partici­ples that follow the main verb; as well, the idea of result here would suggest that the way in which one measures his/her success in fulfilling the command of 5:18 is by the participles that follow (notice the progressive difficulty: from speaking God’s word to being thankful for all, to being submissive to one another; such progression would, of course, immediately suggest that this fill­ing is not instantaneous and absolute but progressive and relative). There are other arguments for the idea of result in these participles that we will have to forego. Suffice it to say here that the issue is an important one in light of the popularity and abuse of the command in Eph 5:18 (especially in evangelical circles).

He’s likely not even aware of the Church of Christ controversy, and yet he shows plainly that the participles are not commands but evidences of our growth in being filled with the Spirit.

Next, I’m given links to where each of the Early Church Fathers paraphrased or cited Eph 5:19 (by manuscript name without author’s name. Oh, well.). There are many other helpful resources.

Finally, there’s the Tischendorf “Critical Apparatus,” which tells me exactly which manuscripts use en before “your heart” and which do not. And that’s pretty amazing — especially given how little I understand about the software. It’s almost enough to get me to read the instructions.

Next project

I’m starting on a series regarding the Holy Spirit, and will begin in Old Testament. I know no Hebrew to speak of. I don’t recognize the letters. Can I use BibleWorks to find something worthwhile to say? We’ll see.

Improvements needed (so far)

1. Registration is overbearing. There’s no need to refuse to register without my phone number. After I registered, I thought I might elect the option for occasional email updates, but this required filling out the whole form again.

2. Artwork. The icons look like they were designed for CGA graphics — you know, for the IBM PC-XT. They need to be brought up to date. I mean, it’s a technical program that works very well technically, but the aesthetics do matter.

3. It should have automatically updated on installation. Most programs do nowadays. My first update included 80 GB of new stuff! It was a pleasant surprise to see that so many new features were being added at no additional charge.

4. To limit searches to a single book or set of books, I have to click the green bar below the search box (far from obvious). A window pops up giving me several choices — to select a translation or to limit the search. I then have to select “Choose Search Limits” and then check the box to limit the search (why would I even be in this box unless I wanted to limit the search?) I’m then given a vast array of choices. It’s a little cludgy but should be serviceable with practice. And although cludgy, the cludginess results from the power — because so many choices are given.

6. When I begin typing a search term (must be preceded with a period so the software doesn’t think it’s a verse citation search), a window pops up suggesting words within the translation beginning with the same letters. But I can’t select a suggested word with a click. I have to type “Melchizedek” myself. And if I try to click the suggested word — as most Windows software allows — BibleWorks crashes.

On the other hand, if I pick any word or phrase in a Greek, Hebrew, or English translation and doubleclick, the program searches the Bible for every occurence of that word or phrase. Very cool indeed. In Greek, it’ll search for exactly that word only, but a right click takes me to an option to search for all words with the same root. Way cool!

Conclusions (so far)

I love it. I’m in Greek geek heaven!

I’m having to learn it in bits and pieces, because there’s just so much there. It’s very powerful.

I mean, with just a few clicks I can find my verse in dozens of English translations, Philo, Josephus, the Septuagint, and the early church fathers. It floods me with Greek dictionaries and grammars.

The interface is not very intuitive, but not nearly as bad as some of the online resources. And it’s getting better with practice. I think part of the problem is that I’m not asking enough of it — like using a Mack truck to pull a lawnmower.

It’s going to make me insufferableeven more insufferable. I mean, will I be able to resist quoting rabbinic targums at every opportunity — just because I can?

[FTC Disclosure: I got this for free as a review copy. I was just searching for something to replace QuickVerse for Windows 95 and stumbled across a page on their site telling bloggers how to get free review copies. So I asked. I made no agreement to speak positively — only to actually publish a review. Seemed fair.]


6 Responses

  1. Jay, you’re quite a salesman (reviewer, that is!). Surely every reader will want this program. Unless they already know everything about the Bible, which some of us do and will reluctantly admit.

  2. Would be interested in what it pulls up for Colossians 3:16.

  3. Yes, Bible Works is my favorite. By the way Jay to limit a search to a book just type l mat then it will only search in Mat. Turn it off just type l by itself. Once you get used to it awsome tools, you can save hours of indept research with a few clicks.

  4. Jay,

    You may have already discovered this, but in the search box you can search for a “word” by using a period before the word or a “phrase” by using an apostrophe. For example, in with an English translation you can type – ‘love of God – and get hits for every time the phrase is used (goes far beyond most search programs).

    Also, say you need to search a word in all it’s forms like “baptism.” If you search for bapt* (with an asterisk as a “wild card” character) if will pull up all the results for baptism, baptizing, baptist, etc. This works the same with Greek and Hebrews fonts as well (helps to find root forms). I recently purchased the Syriac module and have been greatly blessed by it.

    Again, I apologize if this is old news, but these simple “tips” have saved me a lot of time.

  5. BF,

    Thanks. I’d figured out the period part. The apostrophe is a pleasant surprise. I used it last night. Maybe I’ll have to read the instructions …

  6. I have been a member of the Church Of Christ ,A Cappella singing for 47 years. I have read many commentary’s ,,translations, opinions, on many scriptures and I must say that I am very confused about what the Lord really said about the way we worship and live by reading all of the opinions and comments. We in the Church Of Christ cannot even agree with each other. We differ on musical instruments,kitchens, singing,Lords Supper and other opinions. No wonder we are not growing as we should, we can’t even agree within ourselves. I am not an educated college person, but I believe most of us have really missed the message of the Bible. God did not intend for us to be confused about the scriptures, no wonder We have a Hard time in saving the lost. If we could obey the 10 commandments, and the commands of Christ, to love each other and quit telling other they are wrong and we are right and have all the answers , maybe then we can teach others (only the Gospel Of Christ) and why he died for us and start by loving every one no matter if they disagree with us, then maybe we can unite as christians the way Christ wanted for us to do as what he prayed for. Thanks for reading these comments.

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