It’s been a number of years since I graduated from seminary. As I look back, I would have given almost anything for any one of the programs in this year’s Software Review. This year’s batch of software is a little different. We have a couple of returns but mostly we have new programs to share. (If you would like to review last year’s survey to learn about some of the programs not covered here, visit the Preaching web site: www.preaching.com/preaching/features)
Some of the programs reviewed this year are directly related to Bible study and some directly related to preaching. Of course some work for both. So, let’s look at this year’s software.
Unless noted, these programs run in Windows 95 or Windows 98.
BIBLE STUDY SOFTWARE
Bible Study Software is an individual thing. No two of the programs take the same approach or use the same or similar interface. They all contain much of the same information, in various forms, so the secret to being happy with your Bible Software is finding one that feels comfortable and intuitive to you. Next to the Word itself, the interface may be the single most important aspect of Bible software. Most of the major Bible software vendors will let you purchase a sampler CD (I know Logos and WORDsearch do.) If not, then talk with your friends or ask your store about return policies. Find one you like, then build upon it.
Bible Works 4
Wow! I would have given my eye teeth for this program both in college and seminary. I have never seen a more powerful exegetical software tool. I would have aced New Testament Greek with the help of this program. And now I can go back and refresh my studies as I do all that ground work for the weekly task of preaching.
There are absolutely too many Original Language texts and Bible Translations to list. There are 14 Greek and Hebrew texts. There are 15 English translations plus German, French, Haitian Creole, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Albanian, Vietnamese (Romanized) and Indonesian.
There are 13 Lexicons including Liddell-Scott Greek, abridged; UBS Greek-English Concise Dictionary of the New Testament and Thayers abridged Greek-English, Greek-French and Greek-Russian.
Like most serious Bible Study packages today, Bible Works also includes Naves and A Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge plus other Reference Works.
The interface is intuitive and easy to use. There is extensive hypertext online help. The CD includes some Lotus ScreenCam instructional videos that are very helpful.
I probably can’t say enough good about this program. The only thing it doesn’t do is write your sermon and plan potluck suppers. But it can help you determine the origin, meaning and instances of both events in more than one language.
The people at Hermeneutika have really built a top notch program. Unlike most of the Bible programs which have opened their libraries to every kind of work (sermons, illustrations, daily devotionals etc.) Bible-Works has a single focus, the study of the Word. Don’t get me wrong, including all of the other types of material is great and we’ve all benefited from the growing library of books available to us. But Bible Works has stayed focused on one thing. And that’s good news for those who want to dive into serious study of Scripture. If that’s your aim, then this is the software for you and well worth every penny.
Bible Works 4 will run under 3.1, 3.11; Windows 95/98/NT. You need a minimum of 8 MB RAM. If you choose to run it from the CD it can take up as little as 10 KB space on your hard drive.
HERMENEUTIKA Computer bible Research Software, P.O. Box 220, Dept. BX-199, Big Fork, MT. 599112200. (800) 74-BIBLE or http://www.bibleworks.com.
Bible Companion Series, Standard Edition
This is Version 2.0 and an intermediate collection of Bibles and reference works. This is one of the Library style Bible Software entries. It has a number of Bible Translations, 11 to be exact, including French, German, Spanish and the Old and New Testaments in Greek. The CD also includes 12 reference works. Most of the works are what you will find packaged with every other Bible Software system. But there are two that are unique to the Bible Companion Series. They are: Exploring Ephesians by Phillips and Introducing People of the Bible — Volume 1. These are both good studies and would be great additions to any library. Of course, there are a ton of other books to unlock.
One of the nice things about this program is that it is not a hard drive hog. You can install it with as little as 2 MB of hard drive space. It will run from the CD. Of course its slower that way, but if you need to use a minimum of space, this is a good program for that.
Bible Companion will run under Windows 95. You need a minimum of 32 MB RAM. Again, if you choose to run it from the CD, it can take up as little as 2 MB space on your Hard Drive.
Power Bible CD 2.3
Next I want to look at one I received just shortly after last year’s round up. I was already finished with the article and didn’t have time or room to include it. It’s a shame because this is a great program, and it would’ve been nice to see it get in the hands of a lot of people. For those of you who have been computing since the days of DOS, you may remember the Online Bible; well this is it’s Windows big brother.
Let me tell you, if you haven’t got a lot of cash to spend on a Bible program or haven’t figured out whether you would even use one or not, this is the one you want. It has most everything you need for a starter system. It’s intuitive and easy to use. And it has a very unique interlinear interface.
Among the slickest features are the windows containing the full text of a cross reference verse that pop up when you hold your mouse pointer over them. Talk about handy.
Also, with this interlinear interface, if you have the KJV as your primary text, you can choose the Show Interlinear feature and you will have the Strong’s Words right in the text. Again, hold the cursor over the top of the word and get all the Strong’s information.
Cross Reference verses are always available as are links to all the commentaries and works that apply to the particular verse you are studying.
The program also keeps a running list of where you’ve been (like Microsoft Explorer or Netscape Communicator). As a consequence, you can zip back or forward to any verses your search has led you to.
This program has 10 English Translation Bibles, 1 French, 1 German and 2 Spanish. (For an additional fee, you can unlock three other translations as well.) There are 14 commentaries including Adam Clarke’s, John Wesley’s notes on the Old and New Testaments and the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary. There are four Bible Dictionaries (including Strong’s) and seven topical reference works, such as Naves.
Now the most amazing thing about this software. It’s only $19.00 postpaid. It’s worth that just to get Wesley’s Notes and Adam Clarke on CD, together.
PowerBible CD will run under Windows 95/98/NT. It runs from the CD and only takes up 3.5 MB space on your Hard Drive. It is published by Online Publishing Inc., 127 N. Matteson Street PO Box 21, Bronson, MI 49028. Sales: 1-800-243-7124 (1-517-369-2195) Check them out at http://www.BibleCD.com
WORDSearch
iExalt Electronic Publishing, formerly NavPress Software, recently released Practical Word Studies in the New Testament, a powerful new Greek word study tool from Outline Bible, creators of the popular Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible series. This is a massive work that fills 2,432 pages in print. It features over 4,400 studies on the most significant New Testament words with comparative verses from 5 Bible translations (KJV, NKJV NASB, NIV, and NLT) and 2 Greek texts for each word. The electronic version comes with the brand new release of WORDsearch 5 and a library of 10 Bibles and 14 reference tools including a Strong’s dictionary that actually pronounces Greek and Hebrew words for you over your computer’s sound card. It’s available on CD-ROM for Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000 for only $99.95.
iExalt is extending its electronic Bible study library to the internet with iBible, a new online program that is the first to work like real Bible study software through your internet browser. iExalt has been producing Bible software since 1987, so it brings a seasoned perspective and a vast library to the new realm of the internet. You can visit iBible at www.WORDsearchBible.com or www.iExalt.com.
iExalt invites you to add iBible to your website at no charge. To do so, send an e-mail to iBible@iExalt.net with your web site url and your e-mail address, name and phone number. iExalt is also offering its WORD search program for free when you download your own copy from the internet. It’s not a demo. It’s the same program you would get on CD and it comes with the KJV Bible. When you register your e-mail address, you will be periodically notified of other resources available for free or for purchase. You can download it at www.FREEWORDsearch.com.
To purchase any iExalt Electronic Publishing products, or unlock anything from one of their CDs, call 1-800-888-9898.
The NIV Study Bible Complete Library
This is one of the returns and it is a top notch program. This has a much more complete library than either the PowerBible CD or The Bible Companion Series. And as the name infers, it is based on the popular NIV translation of the Bible. There is a lot of good stuff here, some great resources for preaching and preparing to preach.
This package is filled with a lot of fresh material or material that hasn’t been available in electronic form from other publishers. It comes with 5 English translations of the Bible, 2 Greek translations (1 interlinear). It also has 4 concordances, maps, inspirational readings, The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible, and the Zondervan Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.
This program is a great value. Like most Bible programs, you can begin with a basic library and then unlock only those works that you know you will use. However, in my opinion, once you’ve decided that you want to purchase a Bible library, it is much less expensive to purchase the level which has the books you need.
I like the material contained in this software. It’s helpful and easy to use. The program is fast and it is very expandable. It has over 250 STEP compatible titles available to unlock.
The NIV Study Bible will run under 3.1 or Windows 95. You need a minimum of 4 MB of space on your hard drive. This program also comes in a MAC compatible format.
Zondervan Publishing House, 5300 Patterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49530. Phone: 800-925-0316. Check them out at http://www.zondervan.com.
Well, that’s it on this year’s crop of Bible Software. Now on to the software that is particularly tailored for preaching.
PREACHING
Dictionary of New Testament Theology
This is a companion volume to The NIV Study Bible. This is the complete four volume edition. This enlarged and revised edition of New Testament study enables the user to look at the key terms in the New Testament on their computer. You don t need to know Greek to use this program. It enables you to do the word studies that those who took Greek do. This is a great addition to the NIV Study Bible system for those who want to go a little deeper in their study prior to preaching. It has over 250 STEP compatible titles available to unlock.
The New International Dictionary Of New Testament Theology will run under Windows 95 or 98. You need a minimum of 5 MB of space on your hard drive.
Zondervan Publishing House, 5300 Patterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49530. Phone: 800-925-0316. http:/www.zondervan.com.
Expositor’s Bible Commentary
This is another add on for the NIV Study Bible. It is the complete 12 Volume Commentary. This work contains a verse by verse exposition of the text. There are extensive notes and information on nearly every topic you can think of. It plugs into the NIV Study Bible quite nicely. This is one good program. It also has over 250 STEP compatible titles available to unlock.
The Expositor s Study Commentary will run under 3.1 or Windows 95. You need a minimum of 5 MB of space on your Hard Drive. This program also comes in a MAC compatible format.
Zondervan Publishing House, 5300 Patterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49530. Phone: 800-925-0316. Check them out at www.zondervan.com.
HeavenWord Illustration Databases
The Story File, by Steve May
An Encyclopedia of Humor, by Lowell D. Streiker
McHenry s Quips, Quotes and Other Notes, by Raymond McHenry.
You may wonder why I lumped these three together. For a number of reasons. First they are all books of illustrations. They each come with their own CD ROM and installable database software. And finally, they all use the same program. After installing the first one, the rest simply update your database of illustrations.
This is a very simple program that does one thing very well. It let’s you find and store sermon illustrations. You can make notes, add Scriptural references, and add your own stories.
There are some fresh stories here. Steve May and Lowell Streiker have been around a while and it’s good to see their stories being made available to preachers. The nice thing about these software packages is that they come with a book for your bookshelf.
The database will run under Windows 95 or 98 or NT. You need a minimum of 16 MB RAM. And you need a minimum of 7 MB of space on your hard drive. (A total install of all three databases takes up 10.5 MB hard drive space).
The books are published by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., P.O. Box 3473, Peabody MA, 01961. And the software is published by HeavenWord, Inc. (919) 876-2036. Check them out at http://www.HeavenWord.com.
iPreachBible.com
I’ve saved the most unique new item for last. This isn’t software; it’s a Preaching Site being offered by Cokesbury and the United Methodist Publishing House. This is a unique site in that it is designed specifically for preachers and teachers. There are actually two versions. The iPreach-Bible site is loaded with all kinds of resources for preaching. It includes everything from commentaries, dictionaries, Bible introductions, preaching and worship resources, sermons, sermon briefs and sermon outlines.
This is a really powerful site for the preacher especially the lectionary preacher. The site includes The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. And they promise to continue to add at least $1,000 worth of material each year.
I really like this site. It would be even better if I had a faster connection but that’s the bane of online study, our connections are never fast enough. Cokesbury has been doing an exceptional job moving themselves and their resources onto the computer. This is one of those exceptional jobs.
Now having said all that and sung this site’s praises, there is one draw back. And to me it is really the only drawback. The fee is expensive. The service costs $29.95 a month for iPreachBible. That doesn’t sound like too much, not much more than cable TV or a satellite dish. I know several who have already subscribed but I personally think $9.95 a month would be much more reasonable. I already subscribe to a number of online resources, some of which include a magazine as well as the site. All of these subscriptions range between $24.95 and $74.95 a year.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful site. It is a helpful site for busy preachers. But at $30 dollars a month I can buy most of the software on the site over a two year period and not have another payment. Like I said, this is a great site, but I leave it up to you as to how much you are willing to spend for the content and online availability. Check it out first though. You can order a sampler CD if you’re not sure (the CD is item #016258).
Go to http://www.cokesbury.com or http://www.iPreachBible.com to check out the site.
History video is excellent resource
Video is another form of “software” and this year’s many video releases include one particularly helpful product which preachers will want to know about.
Timothy George and Gateway Films/Vision Video have produced “History of Christianity,” a six-part video course (on two VHS tapes) which also includes a resource guide for teachers and a student guide.
This video series does a masterful job of introducing viewers to many of the key ideas and people in the history of the church. George, a leading evangelical church historian and Dean of Beeson Divinity School, narrates the program, which features a host of visual resources and music.
These six half-hour programs will provide a tremendous resource for individual or small group study.

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