I have recently developed a philosophy of book-buying. It goes like this: “Anything you’re not going to read cover to cover, get electronic.” Time is a valuable commodity, and the faster and more efficient I can be in my study, the more time I have to focus on other areas of ministry.
You’ll never drive by my home and find tables full of books in print waiting to be sold at a quarter-a-piece, though. I still enjoy reading the good-ole -fashioned book (besides what would I do with my book shelves?). But when it comes to study, there is just no comparison to having electronic resources that are fully searchable. It would take me days to go through all the books in my physical library and find every reference to “Zephaniah.” But in my digital library, it takes just minutes.
And did I mention affordability? If there is no overhead cost of printing, that means the consumer gets a better price. I’m not trying to give an economics lesson here, but the fact is, you get more for your money with e-books. When you’re dealing with church budgets, this makes more and more sense (no pun intended).
BIBLE STUDY SOFTWARE
Bible Explorer 3, Premium Edition
System Requirements: Compatible with Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP; hard drive space: 40 MB minimum; for Windows 98/Me: 32 MB of RAM minimum, for Windows 2000/XP: 64 MB of RAM minimum; resolution: at least 800×600 with high color; certain features require a modem or Internet connection; CD or DVD drive.
Price: Current sale price is $299.97 (Suggested Retail: $379.95).
Review: The subtitle of Bible Explorer 3 is “The Internet-Enhanced Bible Library,” and it truly is just that The distinguishing feature of Bible Explorer is its integration with the Internet. If you have a connection to the Internet, then you have access to discussion groups and a community library.
Have a question you can’t find the answer to? With Bible Explorer, you can post questions, responses, and comments on a bulletin board that may be viewed by all other Bible Explorer users. These bulletin boards are indexed by topic and library, making it simple to find the category for your question or comment. You literally have a global network of Christians available to you in addition to your digital library.
The community library consists of articles and studies posted by the global network. You can access these works on-line and view them right there or download them into your library. You can also add your own writings to the community library quickly and easily. To do so, simply open the Bible Explorer word processor and then open your document. The only catch is that your document must be in .html format (an Internet format). Every current word processor I’m aware of has a feature that will convert the document to .html for you. It’s an extra step, but easy to learn. And if you utilize the Bible Explorer’s word processor, it does it for you.
Once you have the document opened in the Bible Explorer word processor you can edit it to your liking. All you do to publish it to the community library is click the publish button and follow the instructions in the publishing wizard. You are then given the opportunity to write a brief synopsis and give key words for searching. Once loaded, all your Bible references are hyper-linked too.
Another advantage of Bible Explorer is the capability of creating your own fully searchable documents. You can import (in .html) all those Bible studies and Sermons and add them to your digital Library. Bible Explorer is also quite easy to learn.
The real beauty of this software is in the Internet enhancements. Bible Explorer is the only Bible study library I’m aware of that is taking this approach. The deve-lopment is relatively new, so there are not yet vast amounts of resources avai-lable on-line; however, it’s improving daily. Though Bible Explorer is not as advanced in its library features and exegetical tools as a Bible Works or Logos, it is certainly valuable and quite capable of many of the standard features available in Bible Study software today. And if you’re looking for interaction with a global community, then Bible Explorer is the right choice.
Contact: Epiphany Software, Inc., 15897 Alta Vista Way, San Jose, CA 95127, 408-251-9788, www.epiphanysoftware.com.
Logos Bible Software Series X
System Requirements: Processor: Pentium 133MHz (Pentium 300MHz processor recommended); CD-ROM drive; Operating System: Microsoft Windows 98 or later (Will run on Window 98/98SE/Me/NT 4.0 (SP6a)/2000/XP); Memory: 64 MB (128 MB recommended); Hard Drive Space: 60 MB; Minimum Screen Resolution: 800×600 or larger.
Price: $149.95-$599.95, depending on library
Review: I simply cannot overstate how impressed I am with Logos, Series X. If you were a fan before, just wait until you update! Logos is revolutionizing the digital library with its subsidiary company, Libronix Corporation. As stated on their web site: “Libronix Corporation delivers technology and services that help publishers build one-to-one relationships with users through an integrated, commerce-enabled digital library system.”
Though wholly owned by Logos, The Libronix Digital Library System (DLS) has a vision even beyond Christian publications. Libronix may soon be the industry standard used by doctors, lawyers, or any number of professions to access information efficiently.
Series X consists of five different libraries: Christian Home Library, Bible Study Library, Pastor’s Library, Original Languages Library, and the Scholar’s Library (Listed here in order of price, from least to greatest). However, the Libronix DLS is not limited to the Logos Bible Software packages, but is used by over 80 publishers. Anything you purchase with the Libronix logo on the package includes the DLS. And there are plenty of resources to choose from — over 2,000 religious, academic, and reference titles.
Logos, featuring the Libronix DLS, boasts a very user-friendly interface with innovative search capabilities. Usually while using Bible Study software I keep a mental list of features I wish were available. So far Logos has me stumped! The only mental check list I’m keeping now is the book list of titles I hope are soon available.
If you have a previous version of Logos, don’t fret. Though an entirely new system, Libronix contains many of the same features and will not force you to learn from scratch. Also, Libronix functions like an upgrade, so you won’t lose all the unlocked titles from your previous version. Another blessing of Libronix is the many automated features available from the home page that appears upon opening the program. All you have to do is type in a Bible reference or topic and then choose how you want Libronix to search, and it does all the work for you. Choose from 5 different types of searches: Passage Guide, Exegetical Guide, Word Study Guide, Bible and Commentary, and Bible Only. You literally never have to leave the comfort of your home page!
If you’re good at tinkering and like the flexibility of using specific tools and specifying the perimeters of your searches, have at it! There are more bells and whistles than you can imagine! You can even create your own custom menu buttons to perform common program tasks or to open other useful programs like your word processor. You can create unique collections of titles from your library to narrow your searches, and the list goes on. And just wait until you start playing with the “right click” on your mouse….
If there is one perceived negative, it has to be the price. Many will see that $599 price tag on the Scholar’s Library and keep on looking. But with Logos you get far more than you pay for. For instance, you would have to spend nearly $5,000 to get the print versions of the titles available in the Scholar’s Library. And the amount of time saved is priceless. If you do a little shopping, you’ll find a much better price than listed.
Contact: Logos Research Systems, 1313 Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA 98225-4372. To order, call 800-875-6467 (outside US: 360-527-1700) or visit www.logos.com.
RESOURCES
Halley’s Bible Handbook
System Requirements: Pentium 166 MHz or higher processor; Windows 95, 98, 2000, ME or NT (works in XP as well); 32 MB of RAM; 14 MB of hard disk space; CD-ROM drive; VGA or higher resolution monitor; Pointer device; Printer.
Price: $24.99
Review: This classic best seller by Dr. Henry H. Halley is a part of the Zondervan Reference Software series and is compatible with other collections in the series. It includes the complete text along with the NIV and KJV. The text has been revised and updated to include the most current information. This software includes 90 color maps along with numerous graphs and charts located within the text, plus over 160 full-color images.
Halley’s Bible Handbook is an excellent resource. However, Zondervan’s interface isn’t very user friendly. I found it quite difficult to navigate through the various features available and spent a significant amount of time in the “Help” window. Also, the scrolling wheel on your mouse doesn’t function. This may seem like a small thing, but I rely heavily on it while scanning through documents in other programs. When looking at software, accessability and efficiency are important.
You can also get the print version with the NIV for $13.99 on amazon.com. You’ll have to decide whether having this resource on your computer is really worth the 11 extra dollars.
Contact: Zondervan, 5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530. www.zondervan.com.
Ilumina: Interactive Bible and Encyclopedia
System Requirements: Windows 98 or above; DVD or CD-ROM
Price: $49.99
Review: Revolutionary, innovative, imaginary — just a few words that come to mind after viewing this product. Ilumina is the first of its breed, and Tyndale publishers gathered an exceptional staff of artists and programmers to take on this ambitious task (They even have Alex Saviuk, 25-year veteran artist for Marvel and DC comics!). The content is excellent and the graphics superb!
Though this software is geared more towards the layperson, it is definitely worth mentioning. Ilumina serves as an excellent tool for motivating interest and excitement about the Bible and its context in congregants of all ages. And with the full screen features, it will also prove to be a valuable visual aid for preaching and teaching. Imagine hooking your audience with a high-tech, fully-animated, biblically-accurate scene from the Bible, or walking students through the streets of biblical Jerusalem.
Ilumina includes animated scenes from the Bible, virtual tours, the full biblical text with commentary, an encyclopedia of information, maps, a time line of world events, photographs, and more. The scheduled release date is September 30, and the Macintosh version will come soon after. You can find out more information by visiting their web site at www.ilumina.com.
I lost track of time investigating the many features of Ilumina. And I can guarantee that you’ll find yourself in the same predicament.
Contact: Tyndale House Publishers, PO Box 80, Wheaton, IL, 60189. 630-668-8300. www.ilumina.com.
Modules for BibleWorks 5
Software Requirements: BibleWorks 5.
Price: Together, $197; Individually, $159 (HALOT), $99 (BDAG3)
Review: BibleWorks 5 is still the leader in original language study (see last year’s review), and they have recently made available two modules that can be downloaded and added to the language reference works: The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 4th Edition (HALOT) by Koehler-Baumgartner-Stamm and A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition (BDAG3) edited by Walter Bauer and revised by Frederick William Danker.
One of the advantages to owning BibleWorks is that everything is unlocked. In the last 10 years the only resource that required an additional fee for unlocking was the NIV, and that was due to the large start-up cost. Once the costs were recovered, the fee was dropped.
The royalty fees for HALOT and BDAG3 are also too large for BibleWorks to absorb, and that means either raise the price of the software or offer them as modules. I, for one, am glad they chose the latter. The publishers prohibited the bundling and selling of these resources for anything less than the current selling price.
If you already own BibleWorks 5 and just have to have the latest, then visit their web site or call to order. You will get the module(s) on CD and receive an unlock code to download them immediately.
Contact: BibleWorks, 800-74-BIBLE, www.bibleworks.com
Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible Library (WORDSearch)
System Requirements: Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT4.x, 2000, or ME (also works with XP) with an appropriate computer system (489 minimum, Pentium recommended); CD-ROM drive; 16 MB RAM; 16 MB free hard drive space; sound card and speakers required for pronunciation.
Price: $329.95
Review. The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible Library (POSB) is a product of WORDsearch. The features of the WORDsearch interface have been reviewed in past years, so our focus will be on the POSB. This resource is a popular aid for sermon preparation. The POSB covers the whole New Testament and offers quite an extensive set of notes with the outline. The Library also comes with 13 other tools. If you find outlines useful in your studies, then this is a resource that will be invaluable. Also, once you have the WORDsearch interface, you can pay to unlock any of the numerous resources offered.
Contact: WORDsearch, 1934 Rutland Drive, Suite 500, Austin, TX 78758-5418. 800-888-9898. www.WORDsearchBible.com.
The Theological Journal Library CD, Version 5
System Requirements: Microsoft Windows 98/NT/2000/XP compatible. See requirements for Logos.
Price: $99.95
Review: The Theological Journal Library (TJL) utilizes the Libronix digital library system included with the software. The TJL is an extremely valuable resource at a very reasonable price. The contents include 250 years of journal articles including: Bibliotheca Sacra (1934-2001), Grace Journal (1960-1972), Grace Theological Journal (1980-1991), Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (1966-2001), Trinity Journal (1980-2000), Master’s Seminary (1990-1999), Westminster Theological Journal (1960-2000), Emmaus Journal (1991-2001), Michigan Theological Journal (1990-1994), Journal of Christian Apologetics (1997-1998), Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (1988-2000), Chafer Theological Seminary Journal (1995-2001), Conservative Theological Seminary Journal (1997-1999), Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (1995-2001).
You can imagine how much shelf space these journals would take up in print form. Not only do you save space, but these journals are fully searchable. Just imagine how long it would take to rummage through just one of these journals in print form. With Libronix it takes just moments to search through over 80,000 pages. Of all the resources available in my Libronix library, this one tops the list. It’s a must have!
Contact: Galaxie Software, 6302 Galaxie Road, Garland, TX 75044. 800-GALAXIE. www.galaxie.com.
Zondervan NIV Study Bible Library, Limited Edition
System Requirements: Pentium 166 MHz or higher processor; Windows 95/98/2000/ME/NT (also compatible with XP); 32 MB of RAM; 80 MB of hard disk space; CD-ROM drive; VGA or higher resolution monitor; Pointer device; Printer.
Price: Sale price, $129.99 (retail, $259.99)
Review: The Study Bible Library (SBL) uses the same interface as Halley’s Bible Hanbook mentioned earlier. The real benefit of this resources is the 12-Volume Expositor’s Bible Commentary included with the SBL. There are also 20 other tools published by Zondervan, including the NIV Study Bible, the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, and the 2-Volume NIV Bible Commentary. Though Zondervan’s user interface is more difficult to use than others, having the Expositor’s Bible Commentary in a searchable electronic format will still save you time in preparation.
Contact: Zondervan, 5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530. www.zondervan.com.
FOR YOUR HANDHELD
MyBible
System Requirements: Palm OS 2.0 or later; Compatible with Palm III, V, and VII and later series devices; also Handspring Visor, TRG Pro, and other compatible devices; Requires 400KB available memory for New Testament only; about 1.6MB for entire Bible; Both NLT and NKJV together require 3.2MB; Windows or Macintosh computer with CD-ROM drive and Palm software installed.
Price: $44.97
Review. My Bible is a great resource if you’re one of those ministers who can’t get along without your hand-held. You can do simple searches and record your thoughts into your Memo Pad. Having a hand-held is convenient, and having the Bible on your hand-held is even better.
MyBible comes with two translations: the New Living Translation and the New King James Version. You can also buy other translations, including the NIV and NASB. MyBible also includes bonus software that will help you track prayer requests.
Contact: Laridian, 4430 Sundance Drive, Cedar Rapids, IA 52411-9901. www.laridian.com.
PocketBible
System Requirements: There are several versions depending on your system. See web site for system requirements.
Price: $10 plus the price of Bible versions and/or resources
Review: The folks at Laridian have also come out with software for your Pocket PC. Not only can you get the several translations of the Bible, but there are also five reference tools available for PocketBible: New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, New Unger’s Bible Handbook, Nave’s Topical Bible, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, and Easton’s Bible Dictionary. This is quite a bit to offer considering the limitations of these devices.
PocketBible features a “Go To Verse” keypad that allows you to quickly find the text you’re looking for. You can also search for words and phrases and easily copy text and paste it in Pocket Word, Notetaker, or other applications. Just highlight a word to learn more from the Hebrew and Greek sources or the reference tools available. PocketBible is proof that good things sometimes do come in small packages.
Contact: Laridian, 4430 Sundance Drive, Cedar Rapids, IA 52411-9901. www.laridian.com.

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