Technology is no longer something reserved for a select group of scientists working in a secluded lab hoping to discover the next great breakthrough that will transform society. Our world has become increasingly driven by technology, leaving very few aspects of our lives untouched. Even the church has been bitten by the computer bug, and pastors are discovering how to use Bible software to help in their preaching and teaching preparation.
In the following pages, Ministries Today will give you insight into four high-quality software products that span the scope of study needs, as well as a Bible reference work to supplement your computerized study time. Whether you are a novice computer user or an expert, a new believer or a lifelong Christian, there is software here for you.
Every software program reviewed contains numerous Bible versions and reference works, some more comprehensive than others. As with previous versions of all the works, users can enter at various levels and unlock books as they are needed. Purchase of the scholar or deluxe editions provides the most books and Bibles; however, users must determine their usable value when considering the package.
As with all the products reviewed, the software engine is what determines the ease of use and portability of the software. For example, Logos Library System (LLS) is the engine used to drive the Logos Scholar Edition and also serves as the engine for other software libraries, including Jack Hayford's Spirit-Filled Life Library, Thomas Nelson Electronic Reference, Josh McDowell Library, Word Biblical Commentaries, John MacArthur's, Charles Stanley's and more. Users can mix and match from various sources and create a custom library that suits them best.
Without exception, all the products reviewed loaded easily and worked right out of the box. They all performed well, and no bugs or glitches were discovered. All the products were presented in a visually consistent manner; however, each was developed around the particular strengths inherent in the software. We found all of them to be very useful and find it difficult to rate any one a clear "top choice." However, based upon the user's needs, one above the rest will be their best choice.
Ease of use is of primary concern, with flexibility and expendability following close behind. Every product reviewed was examined on the following points:
* Ease of installation and use
* Simple pull-down menus
* Bibles and reference works that are useable throughout the text, including original languages
* Keyword/text searches in reference works
* Cut-and-paste features that allow the user to easily transfer sections of text to a word processor
* Help features
* Cost effectiveness
For each area reviewed, there are corresponding stars assigned, as well as stars for overall product quality:
Reviewed: Bible Explorer Version. 2.0 Scholar Deluxe Edition, 64 books, list $349.95, special price $249.97 (1-892144-08-5). Other versions with fewer tools include Teacher Deluxe, 57 books, ($249.95 / $149.97); Student Edition Deluxe, 51 books, ($149.95 / $99.97); Reference Edition Deluxe, ($69.95 / $49.97); Standard Edition Deluxe, ($39.95 / $29.97); Discovery Edition Deluxe, 15 books, ($14.95 / $9.97); Trial Edition Deluxe (30 Days), 65 books, ($2.95).
Comments: This product is very easy to use for both experienced users and beginners. The software does not contain any original language texts (Greek or Hebrew); however, good re ference tools are included for word study. Most helpful in Old Testament studies is the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament included in the Scholar edition and unlockable in all others. Overall rating: ****
Installation: Quick and simple, with installation wizard (uses CD and diskette). User manual, extensive help and training videos are included on CD. Rating: *****
Bibles, Concordances & Word Studies: KJV, NLT, NIV, NKJV, NASB, NRSV, NCV, NET, TLB, ISV, ASV, RSV, YLT, DT. Strong's Concordance and Enhanced Dictionary w/Tense, Voice, Mood, Thayers & BDB; Vine's Expository Dictionary; Robertson's Word Pictures NT; Theological Wordbook of the OT; Vincent's Word Studies NT. Rating: ****
Reference Works: Thompson Chain; Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; Nave's, New Topical Index; Easton's Dictionary; Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; Manners & Customs of Bible Lands; Edersheim's Life & Times of Jesus; Fox's Book of Martyrs; Complete Works of Josephus; Finney's Systematic Theology. Other works include: Bible Reading Planner; Spurgeon's Morning & Evening and Faith's Checkbook; My Utmost for His Highest; The Necessity of Prayer; Imitation of Christ; E.M. Bounds Power and Possibility of Prayer; Augustine's Confessions; Paradise Lost / Regained; Pilgrim's Progress; Bible Atlas, Photos. This would be improved with the addition of Hebrew and Greek Interlinear Bibles and original language texts. Future enhancements include access to a complete online library and inclusion of Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Rating: ***
Cost-Effectiveness: Bible Explorer provides excellent value for dollars spent. Rating: ****
Reviewed: Logos Scholar's Library, list $599.95, special price $429.97. Other versions with fewer tools include Bible Reference Series Deluxe Collection, 42 books, ($299.95 / $219.97); Bible Reference Series Intermediate Collection, 30 books, ($199.95 / $139.97); Bible Reference Series Standard Collection, 19 books, ($129.95 / $64.97).
Comments: Logos Library System (LLS) is used in other Bible software systems, including Thomas Nelson Reference Library; Jack Hayford's Spirit-Filled Life Library; Josh McDowell Library; and Word Biblical Commentaries. This makes Logos the most versatile of all packages reviewed insofar as breadth of reference tools available. More than 2,000 books are available for LLS and more are being added regularly. Original language Hebrew and Greek texts along with supporting lexicons and concordances round out the Scholar's Library. Overall rating: ****
Installation: Quick and easy with installation wizard. Scholar's Library included five CDs and a disk to make backups of the configuration files. Training videos and regional classes are available. Rating: *****
Bibles, Concordances & Word Studies: KJV, NIV, NLT, NKJV, YLT, NRSV, NCV, ASV, DB, Alfred Rahlf's Septuagint with Morphology; Nestle/Aland Greek NT with McReynolds English Interlinear; Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia with Morphology. Strong's Numbers; Enhanced Strong's Lexicon-Tense/Voice/Mood; Dictionary of Biblical Languages-Aramaic, Dictionary of Biblical Languages-Greek; Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the NT, and other extensive Hebrew and Greek tools. Other reference works include: New Nave's Topical Bible; Bible Knowledge Commentary; Matthew Henry's Commentary; Teacher's Commentary; Wiersbe's Expository OT & NT; The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; Confessions of St. Augustine, Imitation of Christ; My Utmost for His Highest; Pilgrim's Progress; Concise Theology (Packer); Institutes of the Christian Religion; Moody Handbook of Theology; Religious Affections; Logos Basic & Deluxe Map Set, and more. Rating: ****
Cost-Effectiveness: Because of the extensive enhancements and add-ons available, Logos provides the broadest library currently available. Rating: *****
Reviewed: PC Study Bible Version 3: Complete Reference Library, 28 books, list price $349.95, special price $174.97. Other versions with fewer tools include Reference Library, 21 books, ($249.95 / $124.97); New Reference Library, 15 books, ($149.95 / $74.97).
Comments: PC Study Bible is as easy to use as it is comprehensive. Whether laity or professional clergy, in-depth study is easy with the tools included. The Englishman's Greek-Hebrew Concordance searches the text for every occurrence of any original-language word, no matter how it is translated in English. Overall rating: ****
Installation: Insert the CD and watch it happen. We especially like the option during installation to have the complete system reside on the hard drive, so the CD is not required to run the software. Rating: ****
Bibles, Concordances & Word Studies: KJV, NIV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, NASU, TLB, RSV, with exhaustive concordances for each translation. Vine's Expository Dictionary; Vincent's Word Studies NT; Robertson's Word Pictures NT; Keil & Delitzsch's OT Commentary; Strong's Greek-Hebrew Dictionary; Englishman's Greek-Hebrew Concordance; Brown Driver Briggs' Greek Definitions; Thayer's Hebrew Definitions, Interlinear Bible; Greek (UBS) text; Hebrew (UBS) text. Rating: ****
Reference Works: Nave's Topical Bible; Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; Matthew Henry's Commentary; Wycliffe Bible Commentary; Barne's Notes on the OT & NT, Adam Clarke's Commentary; Jamieson/Fausset/Brown Commentary. This software could be improved with the inclusion of both the Theological Wordbook of the OT and Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the NT. Rating: ***
Other Bible Helps: Personal notes, Bible study and reading plan, Bible outlines, Bible maps, Bible photo collection. Rating: ***
Cost-Effectiveness: Broad selection for the money spent; good value. Rating: ****
Reviewed: QuickVerse Version 6 Deluxe Edition, 92 books, list price $189.95. Other versions with fewer tools include QuickVerse 6 Expanded Edition, 65 books, ($149.95); QuickVerse 6 Standard Edition, 46 books ($99.95).
Comments: The extent of the library included was a refreshing surprise; however, it is limited in original-language resources and no Greek or Hebrew texts are included. The system is easy to use and the cut-and-paste feature allows quick, easy text movement to your word processor. Overall rating: ***
Installation: Setup wizard makes installation painless, and the user manual is easy to understand. Rating: ****
Bibles, Concordances & Word Studies: NIV, KJV, NKJV, NRSV, NLT, NASB, RSV, ISV (NT), DNT, ASV, YLT, NCV, TLB, INT. Children's Bible; God's Word; The Message NT & Wisdom Books; Cambridge SB; Nelson SB; Believer's SB; Disciple's SB; New Scofield SB; Ryrie SB. Strong's Concordance; NASB Exhaustive; BDB Hebrew Definitions; Thayer's Greek Definitions. Rating: ***
Reference Works: Matthew Henry's, Adam Clarke's; Bible Knowledge; New Commentary Whole Bible; Hard Sayings; Barne's Notes OT/NT; Wiersbe's Outlines; Treasury of David; Victor Bible Background NT; Nave's, Moody Handbook of Theology; Bible maps and pictures; daily devotionals; classics of the faith and more. Rating: ***
Cost-Effectiveness: Good value for the number of resources included; limited original-language tools. Rating: ****
We promised to introduce you to a helpful research tool for your computer that would supplement your Bible study. The Master Christian Library, volume 8, from Ages Software offers more than 500 resources, including the early church fathers, writings from Adam Clarke, Finney, Spurgeon, Moody, Wesley, Calvin, Edwards, Strong, Torrey, the Deilitzsch and Keil OT Commentary, the International Standard Encyclopedia and more. Space does not permit us to list all 500 resources. More information can be obtained at: www.ageslibrary.com. *
Tom Gill is a free-lance Christian writer in Orlando, Florida, and executive director of The Lord Reigns (TLR) Ministries.