All six parts of my BibleWorks 9 review

Here, collected in one place, are all six parts of my review of the excellent Bible software program, BibleWorks 9:

Prologue: BibleWorks in the pew? (Not quite, but the next best thing) (link)

Part 1: BibleWorks out of the box (setup and layout) (link)

Part 2: The Verse tab (link)

Part 3: Would Mark’s Jesus have us drink snakes and handle poison? 1 of 2: textual criticism in BibleWorks (link)

Part 4: These 4 Perks are Divine in BibleWorks 9 (link)

Part 5: Would Mark’s Jesus have us drink snakes and handle poison? 2 of 2: the BibleWorks Manuscript Project and CNNTS apparatus (link)

My thanks again to the staff at BibleWorks for the review copy. I highly recommend this program to PC users for in-depth Bible study: personal, academic, and/or for ministry purposes. Find the full program contents here.

UPDATE: Go here to see my comparative review of BibleWorks, Accordance, and Logos.

Would Mark’s Jesus have us handle snakes and drink poison? (part 2 of 2) (BibleWorks 9 review, concluded)

The Gospel of Mark has a couple of possible (disputed) endings. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the options for how to understand Mark’s closing chapter.

It is the so-called longer ending of Mark that has Jesus appearing to some of his followers and talking about their picking up snakes and drinking poison.

Of course, even if the longer ending is authentic and original to Mark, there is still the matter of interpretation. As a way to complete my review of BibleWorks 9, I set out to use BibleWorks to try to examine some of the manuscript evidence. A BibleWorks module of Daniel Wallace’s Greek grammar (included in BW9) offered some insight into interpretation, which you can read briefly here (screenshot).

BibleWorks 9 features the BibleWorks Manuscript Project, where you can “compare and analyze original manuscript text and images.” As a part of the Analysis Window, the manuscripts are integrated with the Browse Window, so that as you move around in the latter, the former tracks with you. The perfect complement to the Manuscripts Project is the Center for New Testament Textual Studies’ (CNTTS) NT Critical Apparatus. BibleWorks describes it:

For the first time, the New Testament Critical Apparatus from the Center for New Testament Textual Studies is available for PCs. This exhaustive apparatus covers the entire New Testament. The BibleWorks version has been enhanced to show a matrix of Aland categories and time period for the mss for each reading. Users will especially appreciate having the apparatus track and update as the mouse moves over the text in the BibleWorks main window. In addition, the start of each verse entry summarizes the significant, insignificant, and singular variants. When examining a variant, the text of the verse is shown with the variant text highlighted. No unlock required!

You can’t get NA27 and its textual apparatus in BibleWorks but with what CNTTS offers (it’s thorough), it doesn’t matter! Greek textual critics benefit immensely from the additions in BibleWorks from version 8 to 9.

BibleWorks has some great mini-training videos. Here they explain the CNTTS Apparatus. And here they discuss the Manuscripts Tab. If you’re serious about either (a) considering purchasing BibleWorks 9 or (b) have it and want to figure out how to use those two features, those two videos will get you there.

Now, on to the manuscript evidence regarding Mark’s ending in BibleWorks 9. This gives an idea of what the program can do in an applied Bible study.

If I’m wondering what Codex Vaticanus (“B”) has in Mark 16:9, I can simply select that Codex in the drop-down menu in the Mss Tab. (BibleWorks refers to it as m-3, too.) The screenshot below (click for larger) shows that there’s no image for Vaticanus at 16:9. This is because Vaticanus ends Mark at 16:8.

Note, too, something I find exceedingly helpful in the bottom right of the shot above–a key to not only BibleWorks’ manuscript numbering system but to abbreviations for manuscripts, their dates, and their contents. This is the stuff budding text critics always have to look up, flipping from page to page and resource to resource. (Or just using that little insert in the NA27. But this is easier!)

In fact, by right-clicking when you do see an image (e.g., Vaticanus at Mark 16:8), you can “load image in viewer” to pull it out and look at it more closely. There you can zoom and drag your way through the various parts of the text. It looks like this:

The top right section of the Mss Tab (in the full screenshot image above) lines up the various readings available in the manuscripts that BibleWorks contains. I can quickly see that “A” (Alexandrinus) and “W” (Washingtonianus) do have text for a longer ending of mark. Pulling up the image for Alexandrinus, I see this for Mark 16:9 ff.:

Hovering over the verse references (superimposed over the manuscript) brings up the pop-up window that you see there, where I can compare the given manuscript, the English, and the BGT Greek text in BibleWorks. (!!) This is all pretty amazing.

The Mss Tab is easy to figure out. Using the CNNTS Apparatus was less than intuitive for me. But this BibleWorks video explained it quite well. I’ve had to work at it to figure out how to best use it, but having done that, it’s a great apparatus. Especially helpful is its classification of variation types (significant, insignificant, lacunae, etc.). The Apparatus is chock full of abbreviations to learn, but what critical apparatus isn’t? And this one hyperlinks the abbreviations to what they stand for, so it’s not too bad.

For the Greek manuscripts that include some parts of the Septuagint (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus), I would love to be able to see both testaments in future BibleWorks editions. That was a loss for me, especially given my appreciation of the Septuagint. So be aware that even though BibleWorks has images of manuscripts that contain parts of the LXX, it’s just the New Testament that appears in BibleWorks.

But the images are already some 8 GB, and this is a work in progress (with future updates promised), so the lack of the LXX/Old Greek is understandable. Viewing Hebrew manuscripts in the future would also be awesome! Until then, what BibleWorks includes and gives the user access to (as part of the purchase price) is pretty remarkable.

BibleWorks won’t actually answer the question I posed in the title of this post: Would Mark’s Jesus have us handle snakes and drink poison? Exegetes will always have to interpret and answer questions like this. (This one’s a bit of a softball, admittedly.) BibleWorks also can’t determine with certainty what the actual ending of Mark is.

But it can sure show you a lot of evidence, and give you just about everything you need to try to have an informed opinion on the matter. Being able to look at images of actual manuscripts still boggles my mind. And it’s not only being able to view those manuscripts (much of which you could do online anyway)–it’s the fact that they’re tied to BibleWorks’ analysis tools that’s truly astounding to me. BibleWorks has enhanced my Bible study immensely.

BibleWorks 9 is easily a five-star program in my book. I’ve enjoyed being able to review it.

See all that’s new in BibleWorks 9 here.

I received a free upgrade to BibleWorks 9 in exchange for an unbiased review. (Thank you, BibleWorks!) See the other parts of my BibleWorks review here. You can order the full program here or upgrade here. It’s on Amazon (affiliate link), too.

These 4 Perks are Divine in BibleWorks 9

Okay–not divine per se, but pretty indispensable for Bible study. Here are four perks in BibleWorks 9 that, the more I use the program, the more I appreciate.

1. Archer and Chirichigno’s Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament

Sure, this is perhaps an obscure thing to highlight. But it’s a major perk in my book! Archer and Chirichigno’s resource is already an invaluable one, particularly for studying the NT use of the OT. But the way it’s laid out in BibleWorks opens up possibilities unavailable to the owner of just the print version.

Because the focus is on OT Quotations, everything is listed in Old Testament canonical order. So if you’re wondering where Exodus 20 (the 10 Commandments) shows up in the New Testament, you can skip ahead to that section and find (click for larger):

Everything in Archer and Chirichigno’s book is there–their commentary at the bottom, their comparison of MT/LXX/NT. You can hide or display the English in BibleWorks (I have it shown above). Also, when you mouse over a blue hyperlinked verse, as I’ve done in the image above, you see a popup with that verse in three different versions. This seems to be an underrated part of BibleWorks, but if you’re serious about LXX or OT/NT study, having this is a great help.

2. Lots of how-to videos

Some six hours worth, according to the BibleWorks site. The videos I’ve watched have been clear, simple, and substantive.

3. Intermediate Hebrew and Greek grammars included

BibleWorks 9 comes with these three classics included:

They’re keyed to individual verses so that the appropriate information from each of these grammars will automatically show in the “Resources” window at any given verse. Using even Amazon prices, just these three grammars cost more than $150 in print. And having them lined up with the OT and NT texts as I use them in BibleWorks saves me time from flipping through indices and physical pages. (See this portion of my BibleWorks review to see Wallace in action.)

4. The Use Tab

In an earlier part of my review I wrote:

[T]he new “Use” tab … instantaneously shows you all the uses of a word with how many occurrences it has in that book and version…. You had to search on a word in previous versions to do this…. I find this particularly useful for vocabulary acquisition. As I come across a word I don’t know in the text, I can easily see–does this occur 121 times and I should know it? Or is it just in the text two or three times, so I was okay in not knowing right away what it means?

This feature was reason enough for me to pursue an upgrade from version 8 to version 9. (!) With the new fourth column (which I mention at more length at the same link above), the Use tab can be open together with an additional analysis window.

Although I still regularly use print copies of the Bible (Greek, Hebrew, and English), BibleWorks has been a useful companion in my personal Bible study and devotions for the last couple years. Especially when I want to do word studies or delve into the grammar of the text or compare multiple translations, BibleWorks has been a great program to use.

See all that’s new in BibleWorks 9 here.

I received a free upgrade to BibleWorks 9 in exchange for an unbiased review. See my prolegomenon to a review here, part 1 (setup and layout) here, part 2 (the Verse tab) here, and part 3 (text criticism 1 of 2) here, with the completion of the text criticism mini-series coming soon.  You can order the full program here or upgrade here. It’s on Amazon, too.

Would Mark’s Jesus have us handle snakes and drink poison? (part 1 of 2) (BibleWorks 9 review, continued)

First century snake handler?

Many believe that Mark’s Gospel ends rather abruptly at 16:8 (“for they were afraid”), but others have found it difficult to think of a Gospel ending with Jesus’ followers’ being afraid to say anything to anyone about the resurrection.

So there is the so-called shorter (add-on) ending of Mark, which adds to the above, “…the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation” (RSV). This has 10 words that otherwise appear nowhere else in the book.  In my view the vocabulary and style of the shorter ending do not seem to fit well with the rest of the Gospel, and have the feel of an effort to give the book closure well after the fact of the writing.

Then there is the so-called longer ending of Mark, which is also not satisfied in ending with his followers’ fear. This records Jesus’ appearance to some of his followers, as well as the commissioning of his disciples, including the hard-to-understand reference to picking up snakes and drinking poison.

Mark could well have ended with “For they were afraid”–Mark is not unknown for being abrupt—nor would he have a problem upbraiding (or reporting Jesus’ upbraiding) people for their lack of faith or for their fear.  But would someone who started so positively with a proclamation of Jesus as “Son of God” in 1:1 have truly ended on such a dour note?  One possibility is that Mark’s original ending was lost.  R.T. France says, “It is one thing to emphasise and exploit paradoxical elements within the story of Jesus’ ministry and passion, as we have seen Mark doing again and again, but quite another to conclude his gospel with a note which appears to undermine not only his own message but also the received tradition of the church within which he was writing” (683).

Of course, lacking evidence of such a “lost” ending means that to postulate one is speculative, and it is perhaps a wiser hermeneutic to accept the text as we have it to be the intended one.

Can BibleWorks help here? One of the major new features in BibleWorks 9 is the BibleWorks Manuscript Project. From the BibleWorks site:

This massive project has been years in the making. BibleWorks 9 includes the first installment of this ongoing work. The BibleWorks Manuscript Project’s initial release covers the following:

  • Sinaiticus
  • Vaticanus
  • Alexandrinus
  • Bezae
  • Washingtonianus
  • Boernerianus
  • GA1141

For these manuscripts, the BibleWorks Manuscript Project includes the following:

  • New full NT transcriptions
  • Complete NT digital image sets (over 7.5 GB!!)
  • Verse location tagging in images
  • Extensive transcription notes
  • MSS comparison tool
  • Morphological tagging (not complete for all manuscripts but updates will be provided free of charge to BibleWorks 9 users as they become available)

Manuscripts are fully searchable and integrated with the full array of BibleWorks analysis tools. As you change verses in BibleWorks, the MS image display tracks with the current verse. Compare, inspect, and analyze the text and images of key original manuscripts. Tweak and enhance the manuscript images using the sophisticated image processing panel now included in BibleWorks.

Before I could even get into the manuscripts, there were two ways BibleWorks immediately helped me to explore this issue. First, with my NET Bible notes open in the Verse Tab (which I review here), I see a nice, lengthy note that explains the options–with manuscript evidence–for Mark’s possible ending. (You can see the NET note itself by clicking on footnote 9 here.) That much I’ve come to expect from BibleWorks.

What pleasantly caught me by surprise was that the NET note mentions a section in Wallace’s Greek Grammar that discusses the grammar of the contested snake-handling verses. I quickly and easily navigated over to the “Resources” tab in my analysis window and looked it up (click for larger image, or open in a new tab):

Wallace’s grammar is free with BibleWorks, a nice bonus. And it’s set up so that as you’re working your way through a text, Wallace tracks with you, so you can easily look up what he has to say about a given verse or grammatical topic.

Already some great help from BibleWorks in exploring a difficult textual issue. In my next post, I’ll use BibleWorks to get into the Mark manuscripts themselves, exploring the possible endings of the Gospel of Mark.

See all that’s new in BibleWorks 9 here.

I received a free upgrade to BibleWorks 9 in exchange for an unbiased review. See my prolegomenon to a review here, part 1 (setup and layout) here, and part 2 (the Verse tab) here. You can order the full program here or upgrade here. It’s on Amazon, too.

The Verse Tab: Review of BibleWorks 9, part 2

I continue to be impressed with BibleWorks 9. The new Use Tab is likely my favorite new feature (I posted about it in part 1 of my review). The Verse Tab is another new feature. Here’s how the BibleWorks site describes it:

The Verse Tab tracks with any Bible version. For the current verse under the mouse, it displays the relevant sections in resources such as the CNTTS apparatus, the NET Bible textual notes, the Tischendorf apparatus, Metzger’s Textual Commentary (requires unlock), and the ESV Study Bible (requires unlock).

I will devote a future post to the CNTTS apparatus. Today I want to comment on and review the Verse Tab and its usefulness. Just so you can have a visual of what I’m working with, here’s a layout I’m currently using to look at the Hebrew of Malachi. (Click on the image below for larger.)

(Editorial note. File this under: can you believe that’s in the Bible? I had somehow never noticed this verse until the other day… thou shalt not trifle with the Lord, especially if you’re a priest or pastor. Take obedience to God seriously.)

Here’s the great thing about the Verse Tab. In previous versions of BibleWorks, the NET Bible study notes were only available via the Analysis Window. But this meant that if the Analysis Window were open to an NET study note, you couldn’t also at the same time easily see morphological analysis and lexical data–it was one or the other in that window. Now, however, as you can see above, you can easily access both study notes and a separate analysis window for individual word analysis. I find this new feature an immense help.

The NET study notes are fantastic. (It’s worth reading more about that translation and its notes here.) Honestly, a verse like the one I’ve chosen to highlight above might be a bit jarring to some–although in context it makes perfect sense. Yahweh was dealing with a corrupt and complacent priesthood. They were not making sacrifices in the way he had commanded (and they knew it, too). So his response in context really ought not to be a surprise. The NET note (see superscript number 4 and “tn” in the image above) clarifies that Yahweh is speaking of the entrails of to-be-sacrificed animals. The priests were supposed to dispose of these away from the sacrificial altar, but apparently were not in Malachi’s time. Bad idea. Clicking on Lev. 4:11 in the BibleWorks Search column (far left column) immediately takes me to the verse that explains this requirement.

One other neat thing about the Verse Tab: if you click on the “Expand” button, you can get a free-floating window that shows you all the NET notes for the whole Bible. This is easy to navigate through, as you can imagine:

I welcome the Verse Tab as an addition to the BibleWorks program. I’ve already made heavy use of it and will continue to in the future. For a mere $20 you can buy a module that gives you the notes and maps from the ESV Study Bible in that same tab. The program comes with the NET Bible notes already loaded.

See all that’s new in BibleWorks 9 here.

I received a free upgrade to BibleWorks 9 in exchange for an unbiased review. See my prolegomenon to a review here and part 1 (setup and layout) here. You can order the full program here or upgrade here. It’s on Amazon, too.

BibleWorks out of the box: Review of BibleWorks 9, part 1 (setup and layout)

The perennial question: Should I upgrade my BibleWorks program? I was perfectly happy with BibleWorks 7 until I upgraded to 8. (Then I was really happy with 8.) I thought 8 was such a vast improvement that when 9 came out, I saw no need… at least until I got to know version 9 a little better. Versions 7 or 8 are certainly still powerful in their own right, but my upgrade to 9 has been a great experience so far. In this and future posts, I’ll highlight why. Today: BibleWorks 9, out of the box.

The installation is easy and quick. I consider myself somewhat proficient when it comes to computer know-how, but certainly don’t have programming expertise. No matter. BibleWorks is easy to install and keep updated. And the BibleWorks staff is constant in making updates available if and as they find bugs in the program. Better than any other computer software I’ve used, in this sense.

BibleWorks 9 comes with a “Quick-Start Guide,” which has the Installation Instructions (they are mercifully short–three pages and easy to follow) and a 12-page Orientation to BibleWorks guide. The guide focuses on the Search Window, the Browse Window, and the Analysis Window, and gives instructions and specific examples as to how to best utilize each in studying the Biblical text. My only quibble with the helpful guide is that the images contained therein seem to be from BibleWorks 8, not 9. But that doesn’t really keep it from doing what it needs to, namely, quickly and effectively orienting the new or only somewhat experienced user to using the program well. (The instructions do detail the contents of the new tabs in version 9.)

BibleWorks 9 adds a delicious fourth column (essentially, a second analysis window). It looks like this (click on the png below for a larger view, if you wish):

Already this opens more options. There are also more available tabs in the Analysis Window. For example, the new “Use” tab, in my third column above, instantaneously shows you all the uses of a word with how many occurrences it has in that book and version (here, the WTT=Hebrew Bible). You had to search on a word in previous versions to do this (using the first column above). I find this particularly useful for vocabulary acquisition. As I come across a word I don’t know in the text, I can easily see–does this occur 121 times and I should know it? Or is it just in the text two or three times, so I was okay in not knowing right away what it means?

The “Verse” tab and the “Mss” tabs are new, too–those are worthy of their own post. (Anyone familiar with BibleWorks, whether they have 9 or not, may already know that this new version allows you to look at and work with images of original manuscripts.)

And, what I find best of all, you can drag and drop the tabs between the third and fourth columns so that you can customize your setup. I had already figured out a setup so that I had my own equivalent of a “fourth column” in BibleWorks 8. Now I can do even more! Check this out (from a previous post):

It’s a thing of beauty.

BibleWorks has unbeatable customer service. The user forums are active and always helpful. (Good things to know when you’re considering getting set up with them.) And they’ve provided quite a few videos to show users their way around the program. If you don’t want to wait for the rest of my review, you can see all that’s new in BibleWorks 9 here. You can order the full program here or upgrade here. It’s even on Amazon!

I received a free upgrade to BibleWorks 9 in exchange for an unbiased review. See my prolegomenon to a review here.

BibleWorks and the Septuagint

I recently blogged on why you need the Septuagint. And here are some great resources to begin and further pursue Septuagint study.

One indispensable resource for Septuagint study that I use almost daily is the computer program BibleWorks. I have not yet made the upgrade from version 8 to version 9, but much if not all of what I have to say here will still be applicable to users of version 9 (and 7, for that matter).

Here is what my BibleWorks looks like for 1 Maccabees (click or open in a new tab to view larger):

The following features help me navigate my way through the Septuagint:

  • A nice, big Browse Window (middle column in the top window) so that I can see the whole Greek verse easily at once, with English translations below. Both the LXA (Brenton’s Septuagint with Apocrypha, in English) and the NRS (NRSV, which includes the Apocrypha) are part of BibleWorks.
  • A stand-alone Word Analysis Window (bottom right of the screen) so I can better use my other columns. I set the default lexicon to LEH (Lust/Eynikel/Hauspie’s Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Revised Edition).
    Not only is this a fantastic Septuagint-specific lexicon; it also includes word frequency counts. What I particularly like about this is that I can use the Stats window (in the Analysis Window, the right column in the top window) to find out how many times a word appears in the whole Greek Bible (LXX+New Testament). Then using the LEH frequency counts, I can get a quick number on how many times a word is used in the LXX and the NT. This is helpful if I see an LXX word that occurs 200+ times, have never heard of it, and then see it only appears 10 times in the NT.
  • The Resource Summary Window (bottom left of the screen). Here I can access Conybeare’s Grammar of Septuagint Greek, which comes with BibleWorks and is hyperlinked both by part of speech and Scripture index. Another nice feature is that I can pull up BibleWorks paradigms quickly for a given part of speech–a helpful grammatical refresher! The IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels in that window is an add-on from WordSearch, but their IVP Dictionary package has a bunch of great Septuagint articles.
  • Note: There is no punctuation in the BibleWorks Septuagint text. This is not a display error; it’s just how it is. There are accents and breathing marks, though. And, the way I see it, even if Rahlfs in print has punctuation, the original manuscripts did not, so no huge loss.
  • I hesitate to write too much more about the Analysis window (right column in the top window), because BibleWorks 9 has significantly changed (=improved) the layout. In fact, there are now four columns, as seen here. However, for anyone using 8 or less, the above configuration allows you to work with the LXX profitably. For BibleWorks 9, I’m sure you could use the above layout as is (BW9 lets you use just three columns if you want, I believe) or make whatever modifications you wanted in BW9.

1 Maccabees has no existing Hebrew text. The scholars I’ve read on it all think that the Greek of 1 Maccabees has the flavor of translation Greek, and so translated a Hebrew original. But we don’t have it. (BibleWorks is powerful, but not quite that powerful!)

How I use the LXX when there is a corresponding Hebrew text (e.g., when I’m reading Micah) looks a little different. For example, in addition to the above, I’ll have the Hebrew text and English translation displayed. BibleWorks has the amazing Tov-Polak Parallel Hebrew/LXX Database, too, that comes with the base package.

BibleWorks allows me to read through the Septuagint in Greek with English translations displayed underneath. (I can also hide them–that’s what my “No Eng.” tab is in the left column of the top window.) It gives me instant word analysis (its parsing and then word definition and frequency count through LEH). I get grammatical helps from Conybeare and BibleWorks paradigms. I can search on a word to see how it’s used throughout the Septuagint and/or New Testament (note the highlighted word above). And with the IVP add-ons, I get historical background, too.

Using BibleWorks is a fabulous way to read through the Septuagint. I feel very blessed to have access to such a tool as this.

And I know there is much more BibleWorks can do. Fellow BibleWorks users and lovers of the Septuagint, how do you use BibleWorks for LXX success?

Septuagint Sunday is a regular feature of Words on the Word. All my LXX posts are here. The full contents of BibleWorks (now in version 9) are listed here. You can buy the program here or here.