Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bibleworks 10: Is an upgrade worth it?

Technical post alert: I switched from Gramcord to Bibleworks in 2004, when I was given an unused copy of Bibleworks 4. I upgraded immediately to version 6, and have remained current ever since. Although I am not an uncritical user, I still think Bibleworks is unparalleled for nitty-gritty, day-to-day work in the original languages, where you need easy access to concordances, lexica, and grammars; Bibleworks is also cheaper than the major alternatives (see my overview here).

Version 10 has just been released. Is yet another upgrade worth it?

To make it worthwhile, an upgrade needs to provide new features and resources that I will use a lot, not simply a library of reference books that I may consult from time to time. Before I get to what's new in Bibleworks 10, here are some features that made previous upgrades worthwhile, from my perspective:

Bibleworks 9

An array of New Testament textual criticism resources, including high resolution photos of major NT manuscripts, was the primary draw for Bibleworks 9, but the "fourth column" + "use" tab is probably the single biggest reason (aside from cost) why I haven't jumped ship for another program: Simply place your mouse over a word, and the fourth column performs an instantaneous search that gives you an immediate sense for word frequency and usage. Check out the video for more detail:

I use this feature all the time. To my knowledge, no other Bible software program has anything comparable.

Bibleworks 8 added two high-quality Hebrew Grammars (Waltke-O'Connor, Joüon & Muraoka), as well as Wallace's Greek Syntax, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha in Greek, and Schaff's edition of the church fathers, among many other new features and resources. (Bibleworks maintains its own complete list here.)

Bibleworks 7 shipped with tagged versions of the Apostolic Fathers and Philo, as well as A.T. Robertson's big Greek grammar, and a version of Tov's parallel aligned Hebrew Bible/LXX. Need I say more? (There was indeed much more.)

Bibleworks 6: The reason I switched to Bibleworks in the first place was the morphological-tagged version of the works of Josephus in Greek that came with version 6. At the time, Bibleworks was, I believe, the only Bible program that offered Josephus.

Bibleworks 10: If you purchase Bibleworks new, it comes with all of the above. But what's in it for up-graders?

To be honest, my first reaction was to be a little underwhelmed: I don't need greater mac compatibility or care that much about new colour options; ditto for the epub reader; screen scaling will come in handy from time to time, but I mostly display Bibleworks on an external monitor; hi-res images of codex Leningradiensis are great, but arguably not as important for work in the MT as the images of codices א, A, B, D (in version 9) are for work in the NT. I am also disappointed that the critical apparatuses in the Stuttgart Original Language Package are an extra add-on. (Update: more detail here.)

On the positive side, I am very interested in the New English Translation of the Septuagint, Danker's Concise Greek-English Lexicon, and the tagged version of the Hebrew text of Ben Sira; and the new screen layout options + forms tab is potentially a game-changer like the "use" tab was in version 9:

(Click here for a full list of the many new features and resources in version 10. I only mentioned those that caught my eye.)

Count me in. 

Update: More detail in this follow-up post:

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