So, what computer Bible do YOU use?

Howdy, all!

For years I have been a PC Study Bible user and I recently upgraded from version 4 to version 5, which was going to include a Septuagint and improved Greek/Hebrew parsing.  Well, I have it now, and it does have those things, as well as Bible translations than you can shake a stick at (meaning more than I would ever want), and a generally prettier interface.  But the interface isn’t necessarily easier, and I find it terribly annoying that when I click on a Bible passage in a reference work to open (what I call) a “secondary panel” to read said passage, the book, chapter, and verse of the passage is displayed in a miniscule font with light gray colored letters against a light green background (read: virtually unreadable).  There may be a way to change this in the preferences, but I have not found it yet.  And the Visual Basic code for the MS Word macros that come with it is still protected (unlike the code for v.3, I think), which is annoying since I would like to customize it a bit (e.g., for handling non-contiguous verse references).

Anyway, I thought I would use this as an opportunity to ask you, intrepid readers of this blog that you are, what Bible reading software you use.  I know there is a great deal to balance: cost, available translations, cost, supported reference materials, cost, and, of course, cost.  Actually, for software that is truly delivers bang for the buck, cost is not necessarily a limiting option, but there is something inherently unsatisfying in saving for a whole year for a software program that may be out of date by the time you buy it…  (And being a past PC Study Bible owner, the discounts on updates do help make choosing it a more attractive choice, even given its drawbacks.)

My own system is PC Study Bible v5.0 when I want it for the features it has that are relatively unique to it (and I do not mind opening up the behemoth), but e-Sword v.7.8.5, the free computer Bible, for all other times.  e-Sword is not so large when it opens and is pretty straightforward with fewer bells and whistles (and I have purchased the available NKJV plug-in now that it is available, to replace the “free” one that has been out there on the internet for some time).  Actually, e-Sword has a really interesting Scripture memorization helper that seems promising enough that I have stopped my plans to make one myself using MS Access (which would have been finished around, oh I don’t know, the year 2525).  When taking notes at church, I have MS Word open on the left hand side of my screen and e-Sword open on the right.

So what do you use?  And why do you use it?  What factors went into your decision to use the computer Bible you use?  Do you enjoy it?  Was it a good buy?

I’m sure that I could find some good consumer comparisons out there, and I am at least familiar with some of the more popular offerings (e.g., Quickverse, Logos).  But still, I would prefer to know what you guys and gals are using.  So consider this an open call for comments!  All that I ask is that you be as respectful as you normally are on my blog.  If you do not like a particular company’s product, there is no reason to be nasty or abusive — though I’m not saying you can’t be colorful. 🙂

18 thoughts on “So, what computer Bible do YOU use?

  1. Deano

    Hello Mr. Smith,

    I primarily really enjoy digging into the actual books. Just something about it. However, I do use e-Sword because it is free and has a lot of different things for something that is free. It is also pretty fast and very easy to use. I like it!

    For more in depth study I will use the Libronix Digital Library System from Logos along with the good old fashioned books.

    What is good about Libronix is if you get in a rut with Bible study you can type in a passage using the Exegetical Guide and you’re off and running – no more rut.

    It has a lot features. Another thing I really like is that you can add in your own commentary in any given verse with hyper links. That is cool for expounding verses and tying into other verses.

    I really don’t take advantage of it as I should, but it is a great program and I think it was worth the money I gave for it.

    Deano

  2. william henry wilson

    WSA, Washington’s technology association, is the largest state-wide association of technology companies and executives in the world. With more than 1,000 member companies representing more than 80,000 technology sector employees in Washington state, WSA is a catalyst for setting new industry directions, sharing expertise, fostering collaboration, delivering key business services, and advancing the economic value and global impact of technology companies doing business in Washington.

    2007 WSA COMMUNITY’S CHOICE AWARD – Logos Bible Software 3
    Libronix Digital Library System applies cutting-edge information retrieval technologies to the age-old task of Bible study, helping students and scholars learn more in less time.

    Here’s what the Consumer Product of the Year application listed as criteria for this award:
    The successful applicant will demonstrate technical innovation, consumer adoption, and intuitiveness, value to consumers, staying power and general distinction of the applicant’s product in the consumer marketplace.

    And for those of us getting ready to ditch Microsoft ‘anything’ Libronix DLS is Mac-ready.

    The answers are found at http://www.logos.com and best reviewed after foolin’ with as many less expensive/extensive/stable pretenders to aiding effective e-Bible study as possible.

    Logos is all business and innovation and, compared to all the freebies rolled together, is as East is from West from anything else available on the market today.

    One license is good for both workstation and laptop use.

    Libronix Digital Library System: Try it and you’ll know! So don’t leave home without it! Go for the Gold! For the serious only!

  3. “So what do you use? And why do you use it? What factors went into your decision to use the computer Bible you use? Do you enjoy it? Was it a good buy?”

    I didn’t look at Deano’s comment before I started writing, so I wrote the following independently.

    I use e-Sword because it’s free (actually a donation is encouraged, which I gladly gave), is very user-friendly, has some good translations (the ESV is particularly useful to me), concordances and dictionaries (and especially a good number of classical commentaries including Gill, Barnes, Keil & Delitzsch — that last one alone is a stunning inclusion — JF&B, Henry, etc.), is easy to copy and paste from, and continues to expand. I also have other programs such as Libronix for specialized purposes, and I often go online to places like Gospelnet.com and Blue Letter Bible for various text lookups, but e-Sword is the program I use the most by far. Its only real lack for my purposes is the absence of the Masoretic and Received Texts in their original scripts.

    e-Sword has an abbreviated BDB [sic] Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon as well as Thayer’s Greek Dictionary. Often these will suffice, but when I’m writing a background paper for the Church (as I am now about Passover/NTBMO/Unleavened Bread), I dig out the printed New BDBG Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon and use it frequently. The Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon is awe-inspiring, if not absolutely perfect (the flying leap off the cliff of logic that it takes when trying to get from the historical uses of “spirit” to Trinitarian theology about “spirit” is amusing), and that is one of the best buys I have ever made. Both of these books are warhorses in my library. You just have to take due care when you use them, and have sufficient knowledge of the primary languages to take such care. The rule is what it always is, though: any interpretation that makes the Bible contradict itself and/or does not lead to the simplest and yet the most complete explanation of the facts should be rejected.

  4. Terri Dorothy

    Hi Mr. Smith,

    I also use e-Sword because it’s free and has lots of features that I like. Besides the various translations that are available, I like it that I can download various commentaries as well as various writings such as the ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS or FOX’S BOOK OF MARTYRS.

    But my favorite feature is the ease of creating topic notes. I like it that I can easily copy the scriptures into the topic notes section, add comments from a sermon, as well as add my own comments.

    When I’m travelling (not having a laptop to take with me), or when I want access to translations that e-Sword doesn’t have, I frequently use bible.crosswalk.com. There’s no way to make notes using this, but it is easily searchable in many translations and has numerous study aides.

    I’m looking forward to hearing what others are using.

    Terri Dorothy

  5. P.S.: Sorry for all these P.S.’s, but this blog doesn’t allow one to edit comments…

    Let’s face it, Mr. Smith: I am mostly still back in the 19th century. I like working with books, and especially with the Letteris Edition of the Masoretic Text (by far the best for studying the original melodic rendition of Hebrew Scripture). When I need more information, I check out the Ginsburg Edition with its marginal notes. Both of those were originally printed in the 19th century. Only when really pressed do I go to the 20th-century BHS Edition (paperback) with its even more detailed notes (and sometimes speculative scholarship). On occasion I will drop in on the very recent Jerusalem Crown edition. For the Greek, I usually use Benjamin Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott (Greek-English), published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses: a very good, compact text for most purposes, if you understand its particular biases.

    It is faster and more convenient to look things up on a computer when one is on a computer, to be sure. But I have yet to see a computerized Bible study program that matches my particular needs as well as the printed books I already have do. No one has yet put the full BDBG Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon or the BAG Greek Lexicon into e-text, yet to appreciate everything that the abridged BDB Lexicon is saying, you need to cross-check it with the full BDBG. One can get badly misled into “cafeteria exegesis” by the BDB and similar tools. At least as one gains experience in full lexicons, one starts picking up on the fact that meaning is often very closely associated with grammatical context. Abridged lexicons and dictionaries don’t always bring that fact out, or if they do they don’t show the applications as well as they ought.

  6. Ray Schaefer

    I use Nelson eBible with the Logos Libronix Digital Library System. I can’t compare it with any other Bible software because it is the only one I have used. At the time I bought it, it was the only software I knew of that had the New King James Version. It also includes the King James version, plus a lot of other translations and reference works which I seldom use.

    I mostly use it for searching scriptures and looking up Strong’s numbers and definitions for Hebrew and Greek words, and for copying scriptures into my notes. Its search feature is fair. It seems to be confused sometimes by its own notes and comments in the text. So I might search for a text string and the search will not find it because in the NKJV text there is a little “a” for a footnote in the text that makes a word look to the search as if it is prefixed with an “a”, so it doesn’t match what I tell it to search for. Also, when the results for a search are large, the listing does not put the books in order, which makes it more difficult when I am looking for a particular verse among 140 items the search gives me. The search feature is not very powerful or flexible. I cannot search for a string just in a range of books, say the epistles of Paul for example.

    There is also no feature I have found (I haven’t learned all the features yet) that allows me to search for a particular Hebrew or Greek word, by Strong’s number or any other way, which would be nice, to see all the places that word is used. So there are still times when I have to go to my paper copy of Strong’s Concordance.

    Overall, it has saved me a lot of time and is well worth the purchase price to me, but it could use improvement.

    I am planning to get e-Sword and see if I like it any better.

  7. Ed Ewert

    I use Wordsearch 7. I originally bought some sort of bundle for under $50, and later updated it for over $100, but this didn’t give me anything I ever use. I can purchase additional bibles and commentaries and download them.

    The bibles I use in my Paralell Bibles page are NKJV, NASB, NIV and HCSB.

    I regularly use Vine’s Expository Dictionary, Theological Wordbook of the OT and Vincent’s Word Studies of the NT (I believe I purchased the last two as extra things).

    I’ve looked at eSword, but it was somewhat lacking, and I didn’t like that the KJV was the Strong’s numbered version. My Strong’s numbered version is the NASB.

    The ability to go forward and backward is somewhat lacking, and doing a search could certainly be better. Every now and then I’m on the lookout for something better, and since I checked it out now, I notice I can download an update of what I have.

  8. ALEX

    Howdy! Happy Sabbath!

    Another vote for E-SWORD…. I like the fact ease of use. It is free – nice since most of the programs cost alot but don’t give much bang. E-SWORD has been very useful with its selection of bibles ( I had to buy the NKJV and Amplified version) and some of the commentaries are very useful – it has helped make sermonette preparation as easy as it can be (for me).

    check it out.

  9. Amar

    I have used SwordSearcher for a number of years. It is not free, but a great value at $49. Most online comments I have read by those who have used both e-Sword and SwordSearcher “appear” to favor SwordSearcher’s UI (User Interface… ease of use), but give the nod to e-Sword for the plethora of available content.

    SwordSearcher does lack the bible versions and bible helps not in the public domain. New King James is not available, but the KJV2000 does a pretty good job of giving a modern language translation to the KJV. The software author Brandon Staggs is clearly very talented in how well he has sewn together the sea of information in a clear, fast, orderly, and eye-pleasing interface. He is also very responsive and readily incorporates many user-requested changes. I believe his is a work of love that grew into a career. Fast startup & searches, user created commentaries allows you to insert your own notes/comments, and many other niceties . The attention to detail makes a difference. Little things like being able to choose font size and color of “flyover” popup windows has eliminated the eyestrain I have had with other programs. It is an impressive work and worth looking into for those interested.

  10. Howdy. Amar!

    I haven’t heard of SwordSeacher before, and will have to take a look.

    For those who would like to look as well, here is the website (which I just now Googled): http://www.swordsearcher.com/

    Thanks for your opinion (and everyone else’s, so far!). Actually, here are some websites for two other electronic Bibles that have been mentioned above:

    Nelson’s eBible (mentioned by Mr. Schaefer):
    http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/dept.asp?dept_id=21703&TopLevel_id=210000

    Wordsearch 7 (mentioned by Mr. Ewert):
    http://www.wordsearchbible.com/

    Best regards,
    Wallace Smith

  11. andrewuy

    I have both Libronix and E-Sword. After using E-sword, it seems that I am using it more often than Libronix. Free is not necessarily inferior, and more powerful is not necessarily better.

  12. Tony Kan

    Over the last year I converted to Nelsons eBible which uses Logos 3.0d. There is a bit of a learning curve with this package. However once you’re in the groove the system is really useful. I have previously used E-Sword and Wordsearch 7.

    Effectively every bible study program has some basic functions to carry out:

    * Provide “easy on the eye” access to content.
    * Make quality content available.
    * Provide abilities to search the content.
    * Provide a cross referencing system so that relevant content can be discovered efficiently.
    * Provide bible study/linguistic tools that aid analysis.

    “easy on the eye” access: Logos is a little primitive here. It doesn’t immediately support font changes or multiple monitors. It is not immediately obvious as to how to operate the system. Logos has tried to address this issue by providing downloadable training videos. I didnt need this for e-Sword but I see Wordsearch now also provides them.

    “quality content”: This is where Libronix shines. They have been more successful than anyone else in convincing third party publishers to license their system. So quality materials from Thomas Nelson, Jewish Publication Society and Baker Publishing et al can be readily purchased. Well-known authors such as Wiersbe, Pannenberg, Fruchtenbaum, Stern et al can also be purchased. The availability of various interlinear and reverse interlinear texts provide useful tools for linguistic studies without having a prior knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages.

    “search”: contrary to earlier reviews, the usual search capabilities are all there including narrowing one’s search to various subsets of the bible. A “search as you type” feature has recently been added.

    “Cross referencing”: When a particular bible verse is highlighted how does one know if another resource also deals with it. In e-sword little “i” flags appear on the resource tabs. This is fine until the resource deals with the passage in multiple places within itself. Logos deals with this by allowing a search for all references to the verse. If there are a lot of resources, this can take a while. Multiple hits just appear as lists, sorted by title of the resource.

    “Study tools”: These include some technical linguistic graphical tools and diagramming that assist the reader to break down texts. I had to check a few dictionary definitions to understand some of the linguistic jargon: “Morphology”, “Lemma” etc. Still learning the basics on how to use these tools.

    I started out with eBible but now I’ve expanded to include the IVP Essential Collection, Word Bible Commentary (Pentateuch and Gospel collections) and the Scholar’s Library. In our bible study we encourage wide reading which enhances the discussion and debate. We have recently discovered the richness in understanding more about the Jewish milieu during Jesus’s times. Materials from Fruchtenbaum, Stern and JPS have greatly assisted this line of enquiry.

    On the whole, Logos’ strength is its access to quality contemporary content. Its weaknesses are in its ability to be customized by the user to allow different fonts and to support multiple monitors. Bible study readily lends itself to multiple monitors. My productivity is much higher when I don’t have to flick back and forth between the bible and a reference work.

    I hope this helps.

    Tony.

  13. Howdy, and thanks, Tony! That’s a really thorough review that not only highlights the strengths of the system you prefer, but it gives a great basis for examining other systems, as well.

    In my haste, I had never given Nelson’s eBible a second look. But it’ll get one now! 🙂

    Thanks, again —
    Wallace Smith

  14. Lyndell

    Long ago I used QuickVerse. Presently I use my Voice Only audio bible. “Reading” the Bible is inexcusably easy. Copied to the iPod mini I can listen to the Bible on the bus or while waiting for my laundry.

    I am curious what Bible applications will show up in the iPhone App Store. http://www.godsiphone.com/ came up in technical support one day. They’re hosted on one my employer’s servers.

  15. Since I’ve recently purchased an iPod Touch 32 GB, Lyndell just tipped me off to http://www.olivetree.com/iphone/ – which so far looks like an excellent source. I downloaded the free Olive Tree Reader to my iPod, and it includes the KJV and ASV as well as an Advanced Search feature. Once I get an Internet connection set up for my iPod, I’ll be able to download other free and purchased products to it. Among these will be (if at all possible) the Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek Bible texts that are offered (i.e., the standard critical editions).

    Incidentally, e-Sword now has the Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek Bible texts (including several varieties of Greek NT’s, in fact), as well as a Hebrew translation of the NT from the Greek Received Text. Naturally, these have proved very useful to me on my PC and my laptop alike.

  16. rj

    some other freebies worth a look.
    * in the beginning was “The Word”,
    capable of importing esword format
    * Theophilos
    * The Sword Project
    * Christian Bible Scholar
    (I like the tooltips)
    * and for Bible Illustrations
    “Holwick’s Illustrations”

  17. Richard Soule

    Mr. Smith,

    I first wanted to tell you that your message on “2012” was excellent, and it was very very well done. I can tell you did a lot of work and preparation for the series, including the magazine article and the broadcast. I was keeping up with you via your father-in-law, and he was telling me how you were doing on it. It was a big undertaking, but well worth the effort.

    Second, the Bible software I use is called Libronix. It has searches, Greek and Hebrew resources, etc, and you can purchase other items as well.

    Thank you for you work and I will continue to pray for you and your family.

    Sincerely

    Richard Soule
    Austin, Tx

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