Things to love in BW8

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A series on new features in BibleWorks 8

 

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Today is Black Friday, the day known for people who get up before dawn to spend hours just to be the first ten people in the door of stores and get the best deals. Let’s spend today talking about a deal you won’t have to stand out in the cold to enjoy: The seventh thing I think you’ll love about BibleWorks 8 is the addition into the base package of three top-rate Greek and Hebrew Grammars.

Theyre not the Magi, but at least there are three of these.Meet Wallace, Waltke-O’Connor and Joüon-Muraoka. They’re not the Magi, but at least we do know there are three of these. Typically these grammars are used in intermediate or advanced Hebrew and Greek classes. Although not everyone agrees with everything in them, they are books that must be consulted for any seminary student writing an exegetical or any scholar writing about a certain grammatical construction. Daniel Wallace’s book Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics is obviously a Greek grammar, while Joüon and Muraoka and Waltke & O’Connor are Hebrew grammars. If you are interested in dealing with the original languages of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament, you will need these at some point in time. In fact, I would go so far as to say that these are pretty much mandatory resources for any serious language student.

So let’s go on a trip to the store, shall we? On our Christmas list for today is three top-notch grammars.

  1. Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. ~ Brand new this book would cost $45. But who pays retail anymore, right? You can find a new copy on Amazon for $27. Previously incarnations of BibleWorks had it available for $30 as an add-on module. Other Bible programs have a price around $40.
  2. Waltke & O’Connor’s Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Eisenbrauns lists this book at around $53 normally. Amazon doesn’t carry it exclusively, so if you order it from others on Amazon you still have to pay shipping. Other Bible programs price this one at about $50. In previous incarnations of BibleWorks, you could buy this as an add-on module for $43. (do you notice a trend here on BibleWorks pricing vis-a-vis other Bible programs?)
  3. Joüon and Muraoka’s A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. Also not available in Amazon, but you can get it for $100 at Eisenbrauns. Note this edition is a revision of a previous edition floating around out there. So if you want the latest and greatest, this is it. This was available from BibleWorks and other Bible software programs for the same price, $75.

So there you have three really good intermediate/advanced language grammars, that will set you back either $200 if you buy the books, $165 if you got them in other Bible programs, or $158 in previous versions of BibleWorks.

But now, if you choose to look at the math this way, if you update from BibleWorks 7, you pay $150, and get for that price these three books unlocked (in addition to all the other great stuff in BibleWorks 8). So think of it this way. Prior to BibleWorks 8, BibleWorks made whatever profit on the sale of these three resources, totalling up to $158. In BibleWorks 8, the company threw away the profit they made on these “add-on” modules which would cost users extra dollars and now they are part of the BASE package. I don’t care how you do the math, the inclusion of these three products into the base package of BibleWorks clearly was a move to help USERS not to cushion bottom lines, for that I am grateful.

But not everyone will have this opinion. Some might complain because they previously did pay for these modules in earlier versions of BibleWorks and now when others are getting huge savings, they are seeing none (although again, keep in mind, if the value of upgrading is not in these particular resources, there are many other areas to show that the program is worth the cost of upgrade). To my knowledge, BibleWorks has no credit system, where you will get a discount because you already own these add-on modules. If this really irks you, please try calling (or emailing) their Customer Service people, but if you are one of those people who are upset about “money lost” keep in mind that you’re talking to a company that just gave these resources to thousands of people not to feed their own bottom line, but to create a product that is one of the best exegetical tools that exist. No other “base” package of any other Bible program puts in this kind of content, which everyone who studies the text will tell you is indispenisble to that work.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in my part of the world. And so for number six on our hit-list of things to love in BibleWorks 8, I’m picking not merely a new feature I love, but one I am especially thankful for: the addition of a tab in the Analysis Window for a new additional Browse Window.

If you’re like me, you’re always wishing there were more Browse Windows. In previous versions you could have a new pop up Browse Window (and you can still do this in BW8), but it’s just not the same if it’s divorced from the BibleWorks window as a whole. Well now there’s a remedy to that.

This Thanksgiving I'm thanful for more browsing goodness.

This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for more browsing goodness.

The new Browse Window tab allows you to do just about everything the normal Browse Window does either in sync with the main Browse Window or independently of it. So this means you can have in one Browse Window multiple versions of one verse, while in another you can have one continuous version. Or you can have two windows doing the same thing. It’s your choice!

Browsing has never felt so fulfilling. Now pass the stuffing.

Browsing has never felt so fulfilling. Now pass the stuffing.

I think this additional Browse Window will help boost productivity and will make me lose my place a little less often. Now if I want to follow something up, I can do so in this extra Browse Window rather than losing my place in the main Browse Window or starting a new Tab in the Search Window. Before I would use the Synopsis Window to do some of this kind of work, but now I can use this extra Browse Window.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I’m already up to #5 in this series of things to love in the latest edition of BibleWorks, BibleWorks 8.

This time I’m going to highlight the expanded ease of cross-references. Not only did BibleWorks add a whole bunch of new cross-reference databases, they’ve also made it a lot easier to learn quickly about the cross references. Now if you click a tab called “X-refs” in the Analysis Window you can instantly have not only the verses, but also the text of cross-referenced verses at your eyes. You can quickly choose which Bible version you want the cross-references to be displayed in and you can also add or subtract your own cross-references to create a cross-reference database for your own uses. Maybe you keep notes in your Bible at certain verses like (See Joh 7.4 or Mat 3.5). With the x-ref tab you can quickly do this same sort of thing and save your X-refs to its own unique file so that you can share it with others. It’s pretty neat.

X-refs, or Christ-refs, as Christians call them

X-refs, or Christ-refs, as Christians call them

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Thing number four to love in BibleWorks 8 is the Phrase Matching Tool (PMT). This added feature (along with its related cousin the Related Verses Tool) will probably be among the most valuable to people who love BibleWorks for its ability to search the text well and search it fast. Not only will the speed of the searches (given their complexity) blow your mind, the ease with which you can use this resource will thrill you.

Click on me to see comments.

Click on me to see comments.

Someone asked the following: How do you get both verses into that window? i.e., you’ve got John 7:38 and then underneath it you’ve got John 3:36. How do you get those two into the window, and could you add more if you wanted to?

Answer: The text for John 7:38 will stay there throughout the session because it is the verse you specifically wanted to match phrases for. If you changed verses in which you’re looking for a phrase match, obviously then it would change. John 3:36 appears (with phrase being matched highlighted) because that is the verse that I have last selected in the results list for phrases matched (on the left side you’ll see it’s greyed). So all that is automatic. They display in the Bible version you ask it to (see bottom “Display results using…”). You can’t get more than one version or more than one verse to appear at a time. You would have to then select verses to export to the Search List, which is a mouse click away, or something to do fancier things.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Continuing the series. The third thing to love in BibleWorks 8 is the addition of the Greek Pseudepigrapha into the base package and what its inclusion says about the BibleWorks business model. I know for some people this will not really light up your night, but I am a text person (the whole reason I got involved in this BibleWorks Blog was so there would be a standard way to release new versions in BibleWorks that I developed for myself (and then hopefully for others). So this means a lot for me personally.

And this will also mean significantly more for those who work in original languages than not, but even if you don’t know Greek these texts are still accessible to you through English translations or through their morphologically-tagged texts. If you don’t know the parsing or definition of a word in Greek, any of the tagged texts will tell you the parsing information or link you to the lexical entries. But let’s put down on paper why this particular addition, the Greek Pseudepigrapha, is such a big deal.

Now, standard in BibleWorks 8, whether you buy it for the first time or are upgrading, are (among other things) the following texts:

  1. The Hebrew Bible (And numerous Targums)
  2. The Greek Septuagint
  3. The Greek New Testament (multiple versions)
  4. Josephus (Greek tagged and English)
  5. Philo (Greek tagged and English)
  6. Apostolic Fathers (Greek tagged and English)
  7. Greek Pseudepigrapha (Greek tagged and English)

That, my friends, is amazing because no other Bible software program has ALL of those things in its BASE package. In fact, for the Greek Pseudepigrapha ALONE, you would probably pay around $150-200. Now I don’t mean to fault the other companies for charging that much. A laborer is due his wages. But my point is to show how much BibleWorks isn’t charging for them. So what does that tell you about BibleWorks as a company that they put these things in the standard package rather than as features that have to be paid for later? It tells me at least a couple of things.

  1. These textual resources are really important. Theologically and historically, these texts help form a larger canon of the thought-world in which the Bible and the Judeo-Christian world had its birth. BibleWorks #1 goal is to help users focus on the Biblical text, but they’ve realized that in order to understand the Biblical text, these other texts also have an important role to play. Although most Biblical Greek grammars focus almost exclusively on learning how to read and understand the New Testament, these other texts help you understand a greater part of the conversation that helps one to learn even more about the Biblical text. Sure these may not fall under the category of “Word of God”, but they will undoubtedly be useful to you as you study what you do understand to be the Word of God.
  2. The other thing that I learn from this is something of economics. BibleWorks as a company really has no reason to charge the costs it does. It should be charging much, much more for them (every other Bible company is after all). Now keep in mind, I don’t want them to read this post and start charging more, but what I am saying is while other Bible programs may give you thousands of resources and show you that a cost of $500 is worthwhile because that only means you’re paying $3 per resource, BibleWorks charges $350 for fewer resources, but the resources it puts in are not unimportant filler. They are fundamental to the BibleWorks goal of helping one to “focus on the text.” Of the making of commentaries and writing of theological treatises there will never be an end. If you buy a commentary set, in 10 years you’re going to want another commentary set because so and so has revised his opinions or someone else completely reversed her theory on such and such. The reason people keep making commentaries is because people believe the person before them didn’t get it right, so why buy an inferior product, right? (And I say this as someone who would love to write a commentary someday. The value of a commentary isn’t that it’s the final word on a text, but that it helps you think about a text.) But listen to this: The materials BibleWorks gives you access to are primary texts. These are the meat and potatoes. When others make commentaries and such, they use these resources. While interpretations of the texts change, the texts themselves don’t (ok, granted translations of the texts and slight textual emendations do change, but I think you get the point…). So while other companies try to load up your Bible programs with a lot of secondary or tertiary materials, they sure will win in the quantity department, but when BibleWorks gives you the primary texts, the main resources, you’re always going to be the winner in the end. And that’s a very different model of a Bible software company, not just economically, but from the very foundations of the company’s mission. BibleWorks is not an electronic publishing company, but it is a company that exists to help people study and learn the Biblical text.

No really, that's their goal.

No really, that's their goal.

This is how BibleWorks themselves describe their philosophy on their website. Maybe you’ve never read it before, but I found it rather astounding for what it says, so listen up:

We exist to serve the church, not to make a profit, and all of our business decisions are made with that in mind. Our goal is to provide a complete package containing the tools most essential for the task of interpreting the Scriptures in the original Greek and Hebrew, and to do it at a price that poor pastors and students can afford. To accomplish this task we routinely make marketing and sales decisions that many would consider to be bad business but which serve our primary goals. On the other hand, because everything that we do reflects on our real employer, the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our desire to provide a professionally executed and supported software package, while at the same time compensating employees with reasonable salaries that are competitive with the rest of the software industry. We try to treat both our customers and our employees as we would like to be treated ourselves. We are thankful that the Lord has  lessed our efforts thus far and look to the future with expectations of further blessing, for as long as the Lord desires.

If that stuff doesn’t shock you, I don’t know what would.

Ok, well that’s my sermon, you can disagree with my assessments, but the fact remains the addition of the Greek Pseudepigrapha into the BASE package of BibleWorks is a sweet, sweet deal.

You’ll find a new translation of the texts by Craig Evans, an older translation by Charles and the Greek text morphologically tagged. Bottom line. Shop around for a program that offers all that for one price.

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Onward and upward. The second thing to love in BibleWorks 8 is the introduction of a devotional resource called Bagster’s Daily Light.

This is primarily a devotional resource, which helps address a concern I’ve heard others mention about the lack of devotional materials in BibleWorks. Now obviously having more options than just this would be great, but this one is a very nice start.

Bagster’s Daily Light is a resource that is available for numerous other software programs, so I don’t think the content itself needs much explanation, so I’ll focus more on implementation.

First, here’s what a typical session of Bagster’s looks like:

Daily Light has two devotions per day one in the evening and one in the morning.

Daily Light has two devotions per day: one in the evening and one in the morning.

Notice there’s an option for Greek/Hebrew. I like this feature. Not only is Bagster’s devotional, it can also help you practice your dead languages. If you click on the Greek/Hebrew, all verses in the Old Testament will toggle to Hebrew and all verses in the New Testament will toggle to Greek. In this particular devotion, there are no Old Testament readings, so it will all be in Greek.

Now here’s something you may or may not appreciate. What you will see here is the text in whatever Unicode font you choose (Here it’s using Palatino Linotype). Ok, so now the part you may or may not appreciate. This resource is not like the Browse Window in BibleWorks. So hovering over a word will not bring up Greek or Hebrew helps! This isn’t a drawback however, because if you really don’t know languages well enough, you click the button Export.

Now you can read as many versions as you want with helps too!

Now you can read as many versions as you want with helps too!

Suddenly all the verses for this day’s devotional are loaded into the Search List and you can view them in the Browse Window with however many languages and helps you want. But this way will really keep you honest. How good is your Greek? You can read a verse without the temptation to hover and cheat ;) But if you want the helps available in the Browse Window, just export the verses with a click of a button and you’re good to go.

Bagster’s Daily Light allows reading in only one language/Bible version, but you can choose which version you wish it to use. Otherwise if you want to read in multiple versions, you’ll want to export it to the Search List.

Finally, one last helpful feature to highlight. If you so choose, you can have Bagster’s Daily Light automatically load when you begin BibleWorks 8.

Yes, but will it really make sure I read it?

Yes, but will it make sure I really read it?

That way, if you have a way of forgetting devotions (like you have a way of forgetting to update BibleWorks 8??? — is it just me or are the BibleWorks people providing more helps these days for people with slow memories ;) ), you will be instantly reminded whenever you open up BibleWorks 8. Before noon a morning devotion will show up, after noon the evening devotion will show up.

It’d be great to see more resources like this available in BibleWorks 8, but I can complain later. For now, I’m thinking, wow, neat resource. Thanks!

Things to Love in BibleWorks 8…

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

In an attempt to provide some helpful previews of some of the new features/resources in BibleWorks 8, I will begin a series (which I hopefully have time to update regularly) on cool new features of BibleWorks 8. For the record though, I must warn that because I only have access to a pre-release version, the final look and workings may be slightly different, but nothing should be dramatically changed. Or if it is changed, it will be for the better :)

So without further ado. Fun feature #1, if you’re connected to the internet, when you start BibleWorks 8 it will automatically check the BibleWorks server to see whether there are any updates available and prompt you as to whether you want to download them or not.

Updates? Why yes, please.

Updates? Why yes, please.

In older versions of BibleWorks, updating relied on the memory of the user to go and check periodically if there were updates available. Now I personally did not have a problem with this method, but some users complained that they would forget to do this and so wanted a more reliable method. My big complaint would have been if it “forced” new updates on your computer without asking, but instead BibleWorks 8 kindly asks if you wish to download the updates. If you don’t, it won’t prompt you again until there are newer updates, but if you do, it will bring up the window for selecting updates to download.

So, maybe this is a really big change for some, but I think everyone will appreciate the convenience!

Note: If you do not wish to be prompted (i.e. want BibleWorks 8 to see if there are new updates), you can also choose to turn this feature off.