Bibleworks 9

[Leadership Journal; Fall 2012]

Shoppers are funny. We want our tech purchases to come with all the bells and whistles, but once we bring the product home, we don’t do as much whistling and bell-ringing as we thought. One study showed that, when offered a hypothetical cell phone, consumers wanted every possible feature to be included; when queried about their actual cell phone use, they admitted they were not using most of the features they already had.

So it’s worth thinking about what you really want, in a comprehensive bible software program. I’d used a previous version of BibleWorks some years ago, then made a leap to a much more complicated program. Never did hang of it. I was glad to give BibleWorks 9 a try.

I started with a challenge: could I jump right in and start using it, without reading up online or looking at any instructions or videos? The program opened with three windows, and the first had a search box. After a tiny hitch—a popup box told me to add a period, as in “.fruit of the Spirit”— the center window opened four versions of Galatians 5:22, two in Greek. (You can, of course, select which bible versions you want to see; dozens and dozens of choices there.) It was fast and easy—two attributes I had really missed.

But it’s the third window that makes this program such a dynamo. I moved the cursor over the bible text, and a flourish of lexicographal information popped up there for every word. I selected specific words, and now could use the third window in a dozen ways—making notes, checking cross-references, see how and where this word is used throughout the Scriptures, look at Bible notes or a Greek apparatus for the verse. Then, to my great surprise, a tab labeled “MSS” opened an image of this verse in the Sinaiticus manuscript, with that clear, handsome uncial script that is in itself a work of art. What an electric moment, to gaze on the work of a fellow Christian who had thought about and transcribed these same words, almost 1700 years ago.

Of course, once I looked at the first instructions and videos I found many more capabilities and resources, particularly for helping someone with rusty original-language skills dig into the original text. And considering the strings of unexplored icons and buttons above and below the main windows, I will be expanding the usefulness of Bibleworks 9 for a long time. But finding this program so very intuitive and easy to use made me almost absurdly grateful; and the blisteringly-fast speed meant that newbie mistakes came and went in a flash. It’s stress-free.

All this swift accessibility is based on a single goal: to get the user in direct contact with the Scriptures themselves. If that’s your goal too, then this surprisingly affordable package can give you everything you’re looking for—minus the bells and whistles you don’t need.

About Frederica Matthewes-Green

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author who has published 10 books and 800 essays, in such diverse publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal. She has been a regular commentator for National Public Radio (NPR), a columnist for the Religion News Service,, and Christianity Today, and a podcaster for Ancient Faith Radio. (She was also a consultant for Veggie Tales.) She has published 10 books, and has appeared as a speaker over 600 times, at places like Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Wellesley, Cornell, Calvin, Baylor, and Westmont, and received a Doctor of Letters (honorary) from King University. She has been interviewed over 700 times, on venues like PrimeTime Live, the 700 Club, NPR, PBS, Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times. She lives with her husband, the Rev. Gregory Mathewes-Green, in Johnson City, TN. Their three children are grown and married, and they have fourteen grandchildren.

Christian Life