August 2016 Update – this page gets a LOT of hits, and all my opinions on everything has changed since I first wrote it in January. So, I’ve completely rewritten this!
You know how it is…Every pastor, Bible teacher, etc. is CONSTANTLY looking at other Bible programs. I mean, really, if good enough was all we needed, we’d have all stopped with Quickverse 2.0!
I think deep down inside, every one of us are constantly in fear we’re going to completely miss out. If I just use Quickverse 2.0, what if Logos (it’s Law-Gahsss, not Low-Goes) has some gizmo, some widget or whosawhatimacallit, that Quickverse doesn’t?
Back in those days, Quickverse was new, and cool. I mean, we’re talking Windows 3.11 here. When Logos came out, it was Windows 95. And Logos was REALLY hard to copy and paste back then, but it seemed a little better than Quickverse. Just going from one program to another seemed to spark my creativity.
OKAY!!! Moving onto today, and a little less reminiscing…
I should first mention Accordance. It’s neat. I downloaded the demo, and it’s pretty… well, it’s got that slick, clean look that something from an iPad or a Kindle has. I like it. They give you about five Bibles, which is about 4 more than I really need. But the key here is in this kind of ministry, where I’m addressing the modern Bible translations pretty regularly, I really can use all the moderb Bible Babble Buffet editions I can get, so when someone says “Well, Acts 8:37 is in the ESV” I can answer, “uh… no it’s not”. Last time Will Kinney beat me to it, but see, he’s good at that stuff. Having Will follow this blog is kind of like having a professional boxer walk around with you, and letting you pick fights with other people!
Getting back to Accordance, I have the demo. If it never expires, or shuts down, then I’ll keep what I have. They say it shuts down after an hour of use (yes, you ca restart it) but I’ve had it open since 8:30 and it’s 10:30 now, so…. NOTE: I’ve been using it a while. It has yet to shut down on me. It’s very interesting if you like getting into the original languages.
Accordance has good tech support – I wrote to them to ask about the use of the BHS and the Ben Asher texts, and they responded back within an hour. I got absolutely nowhere trying to explain about the Ben Chayyim texts, and they answered it was virtually the same. Well, virtually the same is not the same – it means there’s differences. If I promised you a thousand dollars and pay you $998, that’s virtually the same thing. When it comes to the Hebrew Bible, having a SINGLE LETTER wrong can condemn a whole Torah scroll.
What Bible companies fail to realize is – if you don’t offer the Ben Chayyim Hebrew texts, it’s a deal breaker with many Fundamentalists. No purchase. That’s what it boils down to. I can’t understand why so many of them just simply REFUSE to offer Morphologies keyed to the TR, and Hebrew displays of the Ben Chayyim Masoretic text.
Anyway, they were very polite, but saw no need to offer the Bible in Hebrew, but rather a flawed text in the BHS and the Ben Asher text.
I was able to set up a KJV-Strongs window with the original languages showing next to the words (neat, but the Hebrew was left to right, and IMMEDIATELY I noticed it was wrong – they had the first word in the Bible as Rayshiyt, and not Bereshiyt), Another window with KJV strongs (this time with numbers and interlinear hidden), Matthew Henry, and “outline of Bible Books. All in four columns. A really cool feature is the right click parsing, showing the root Greek word, and the suffix. A more complex construct I’m sure has the other Greek diacretics, and perhaps prefixes as well, such as the Ha- prefix. A simple right click gives you a Research window, where you see the English word, and the Greek or Hebrew lemma, with strongs number.
For the entire passage.
ἀγαπη τός Beloved G0027 ἀγαπητός agapetos
It was neat, I suppose. I did like the way they do it, but they need to offer the interlinear with Ben Chayyim, and… get it right! The only real drawback to this kind of program (very intuative – it took me maybe 30 seconds to figure it out – the rest of you would probably do really well with it, because you all use smartphones and Kindles and Nooks and what have you…) is – really – the cost. To really get the benefits out of this program, you’re going to need to buy the program, then LOAD UP on modules. Expect to pay several hundred dollars. BOTTOM LINE – $59 starter package, $350 minimum and up. I did like this program!
Now, Olivetree. My wife was given a Kindle as a gift a few years, and she loaded on a Bible program that came for free from the Kindle LIbrary. It’s… Olivetree. After hearing David Cloud talk about it, I decided to try it. It comes with a couple of Bibles, a couple of commentaries. And a link for free software. Very easy, very intuative – not that many add ons or functions. Really, in terms of tools and functions, nothing compares to Wordsearch.
I don’t need to describe Olivetree too much for you. Most of you own it already on your electronic device. I have it pretty much as it opened up, except I hurriedly swtiched it to King James with a click of the mouse, since it opened to the ESV (I quickly cleaned off my computer screen with a cleansing of oil, blood and water and a heave offering). For the casual user who’s going to use it for Bible study and reading, it’s great. It comes with almost nothing – HCSB, ESV, King James, JFB commentary and Matthew Henry. That’s it. Oh, what’s on the left? A link marked “free books”. Well! I bet it’s only like 20 books. What’s that going to do you? Absolutely… wait. A hundred frree books???
Can’t fault that! Well!!!! Let me just give a cynical look at the paid volumes and see how much they’re charging for… ummm… $3? A lot of the books are very reasonably priced. It can add up, of course, but that’s going to be said for any Bible software. Bottom line – Free, and over 100 free books. Limited to no tools besides note taking. Right click reveals “Highlighting” and “Bookmark”. Good for a casual user. David Cloud, interestingly enough, says this is his favorite Bible program now, even over Swordsearcher! Comparing that program to Wordsearch meant… nothing. It just didn’t have any tools I could use.
Logos 6 – This is the Cadillac of Bible programs. In my first review of this program, I was completely annoyed that – unlike what apparently is Industry Standard – they REFUSE to give you the King James for free to try it out. They offer the Lexham Bible for free, but not the King James. To me, the explanation makes ZERO sense. If they have to tag the Bible to make it work, then they had to tag the Lexham the same way!!!
The learning curve for Logos is steep compared to Accordance, which is supposed to be in the same league of Bible software, Logos is much more difficult to learn. If you’re going to simply get the free engine and buy the King James – which is what I did from February until August – I’d really recommend taking the time to download and watch Morris Proctor’s free videos on Logos Basics. Once I did that, I understood the difference, and really, how to use the program.
Every review of Logos I’d read sums it up this way… They’re saying expect to pay $1,000 for it, and it’s worth it the way everything works together. My experience with it is you can actually do a LOT for $9.99… just get the free engine, the King James Bible, all the free addons they have available (very little) and you’re really good to go. If I ever made it to being dirty filthy wealthy and could spend ridiculuous amounts of money, then I suppose that I would just say “ehhh” and purchase EVERY Bible program, load them up with everything, and sit around giggling as I scroll through eighteen windows and Bible programs, reading about how Abraham and the twelve children of Israel escaped the flood in the Ark. (If that didn’t make you laugh, you’re WAAAY behind on Bible readings).
Logos gives away the program with… nothing. You can purchase packages, but get this concept into your head right away, and be prepared for it – if Logos charges you for the KIng James Bible, they’re going to charge you for everything else. Nothing is free. Free books? Zilch. Zip. Free tools to get you started? Forgetaboutit. Getouttahere!
Well, they do have some free books… but nothing useful! You can get the Lexham Bible, the Lexham Bible dictionary, and you can get the faithlife Bible commentary. If you just download the Logos 6 or 7 engine, then you get… Bupkis! And several have no use unless linked to the costlier modules. For instance, if you’re interested, you can get the Daily Daf cycle, that tells you what pages to read in the Talmud on what day. Absolutely free. If you don’t have the Talmud, it’s… completely useless. Oh, but you can buy the Jacob Neusner Talmud from Logos, though! (BTW, a serious Talmudic student would bypass that for Steinsaltz’s Talmud, or the time honored Soncino edition, which I used to have.)
To understand why Logos is different requires an understanding in the trend in Bible software. Originally, they were designed to READ, LOOK UP, MAKE NOTES. That’s it. Logos began back in the 90’s giving you options in searching that Quickverse didn’t, and once you got the hang of it, it was very cool!
Wordsearch expanded the concept to Whole Library – in other words, you worked to accumulate a Whole Library, and the search tools expanded to cover that.
Logos has expanded this now to a concept of Entire Library together. If you imagined that you tasked a research assistant with going into your library, and reading every book there and give you a list of every book that covered Matthew 5-7… and every dictionary entry that covered the key words, themes and concepts – that’s Logos. Once I grasped how to use Logos 6, everything changed, and suddenly it was very difficult to work with Wordsearch any more. I felt like I had to do so much more work to achieve the same results!
Here’s some of the features of Logos 6:
“Clippings”. It made ZERO sense until I by coincidence was reading a book by William Evans on preparing sermons, and suddenly it all made sense. As you read something, you can highlight it, right click and send to clippings. Ta-da. Why???? Well, if you’ve read the Evans book, you’ll know. Pastors should routinely make clippings or notes on things they read, to form bits of information they use to illustrate a Bible text. So, if you get Logos, you can highlight something you read, right click on it, and choose “add to my clippings”and there you go. You can type some thoughts in after that. Of course, you can use Note Stacks in Wordsearch for the very same thing!
Passage Lists – the same as verse lists in Wordsearch. Trust me when I say this is a must-have tool. Any program that doesn’t offer Passage lists and clippings, pretty much rules themselves out for me. This is the reason Accordance never made it to number one in my list.
Text compare – if you get a Starter module, you now have text compare… you can open the Bible, and then modern mistranslations, and click the little “A” icon. Now the differences are highlighted. I have my Bibles arranged in this window by the lower variance – in other words, compared to the King James, the least variance to the most heretical. If you’re King James only, this is a huge bonus, as now you have verifiable proof that thee’s agendas in how modern translations are mis-translated. Some of the changes in wordings are just to maintain a copyright – others are deliberate.
There was a very nasty comment from someone who purchased the Baptist book package, about “Really? I have to pay EXTRA for the Strong’s dictionary??? Really?” He’s right – EVERY Bible software comes with James Strong’s life work for free – not Logos. And that’s kind of the story with Logos – everything that every other Bible software company offers for free, you have to buy from Logos. Bottom Line – $10 minimum, Starter Package around $300, up to $7,995 for Platinum package.
This is my default program now, since my wife bought the Baptist Starter package for me as a present. I hope to make it to Logos Baptist Gold, but may have to settle for Bronze or Silver due to the high price.
Quickverse 11 – It’s basically Wordsearch, with a different interface. Good gift package for someone. The search functions are abysmal, and the Annotations features do not work. I have tried everything. If you can find Quickverse 2010 or 2011 Platinum, yeah… get that. There’s a massive library in there. DO NOT CLICK THE REGISTER THIS PROGRAM link. It leads you to a defunct website that someone hacked with a trojan virus. Bottom Line – Unless you can find the Platinum version at a yard sale, Ebay, or Amazon, Get Wordsearch instead. Especially since Wordsearch offered it for a year, and then discontinued it.
theWord – I’m sure a LOT of you all use this. Almost everything’s free. Customizable (kind of), you can change the layout, the colors… I’m just always accidentally closing windows. I didn’t like that I could make my own commentary, make it available for free, and really there’s no way to lock it so someone else couldn’t enter it. Too cluttered for my taste, but it has a sizeable number of followers. Not a lot of tools. Bottom line – free, lots of add-ons. Not even on my list of favorites. Deleted off my computer.
E-Sword – the king. It’s not free. It’s donationware. If you’re using it regularly, you really should make a donation. The major issue with it is that once you start adding to it, it…bogs…down… and I have a really fast, powerful laptop. I suppose if I was going to use it more regularly, I’d have to triple my RAM to 24 megs or so. The program runs best with just the books and topics that are in it when you install it. Start adding things, and it starts slowing down.
Here’s the thing – it gives you a prayer calendar, to pray for specific situations and other people. It gives you a way to mark it as “Answered”. That’s really cool. I’ve written to Wordsearch about five times asking them to include that. Wow. I can think of nothing more faith building than to keep track of prayers for others, and be able to mark most of them as “answered”! I guarantee, out of those who used to be Christians and apostated, most of them would never have done it if they’d used this. You want proof God exists? There you go.
E-Sword has a lot of tools and features, more than theWord. Not very customizable, but you right away get the feel for how to work in the layout, and I almost guarantee you’ll never change the setup of it. Clean looking. I like the calendar function. I like the Scripture Memorizing tool. Very neat. The latest change of making the Topics pop open in a new window I suppose is better. I’m just aggravated by an unusable software that moves slower than a pregant elephant in drought season. And Rick has zero interest in user comments and suggestions. Bottom line – donationware. Many many addons. Expect to pay only a few hundred dollars if you desire any of the premium addons. SLOOOOOWWWW and cumbersome.
Bible Analyzer – This Bible program is, to describe it simply, a complete right angle from all other Bible software. This is Tim Morton’s program, and I suspect that as a KJV only Fundamentalist, his approach was simple “I don’t need a lot of addon modules – so what can my program do that nobody else’s does???”
In case you’ve never tried it, I can honestly say – you’ll never delete it off your hard drive. Go ahead! Buy Logos! Pay for every add on module and package! You’ll still spend about 30-50% of your Bible study time looking at Bible Analyzer. seriously. I am sometimes dumbfounded at the very neat features of this program. I’d say Mr. Morton has to be left handed, because it’s completely different from every other bible program.
Ever wanted to know what the first reference is for any verse in the Bible? Bible Analyzer does it. Like to know what’s the most commonly used words in a chapter or book of the Bible, in order? Bible Analyzer does it. Want to know statistics? Bible Analyzer does it. LIst of capital letters? Bible Analyzer does it. I did a series on the book of Romans where half the time I simply was putting in the statistics of the chapter, and it was sometimes downright creepy, in that the words of the Bible sometimes spelled out Gospel messages. I had to stop that, because it was getting too much like divining or something weird like that. Timothy Morton’s Bible package needs to be looked at FIRST out of all the free Bible programs. You now can buy the Way Of Lfe Encyclopedia and Things Hard To Be Understood from the Bible Analyzer store, as two of the most expensive premium modules he offers – $9.95 each. Yes, just under ten bucks each. “Virtually the same thing” as ten bucks.
I’ll say this – if Logos weren’t so cool, Bible Analyzer would probably be my go-to Bible program. Did you know you can highlight a LETTER, right click on it, and see options of searches? That’s like… wow. Bottom Line – Completely different from every other Bible program. You need this. Free. Most add on modules are free or $3-$5. Use in conjunction with your other Bible program.
Bible Works – yes it does. But because it has no demo, the BHS instead of the Ben Chayyim text, I’d have to pay $400 just to find out what it’s like. Probably great! Other than that, I have no way of knowing. Everyone says if you like working in original languages, I hear it’s amazing. No commentaries, no dictionaries. Just for the most part Bibles. That’s really a downside. Not sure if they offer Lexicons and grammars.
I don’t know how they can say this when they don’t offer the Hebrew Masoretic text! Bottom line $400. No addons except for what you buy from Wordsearch. Updated note… The customer service was intersted in my contacting them about the Ben Chayyim text. Their answer was simple – if I can help them find an E-text of it, they’ll gladly pay whoever typed it in and offer it. THey’ve had many requests, and would love to offer it. And when I told them under Jewish law the Ben Asher text belonged in a Ganiza (burial vault for holy manuscripts that were flawed or decayed)… they actually paid attention, unlike Accordance.
Swordsearcher – this program is the go-to for many IFB pastors. I do like the uncluttered look of it. The gentleman who designed it did a GREAT job giving you everything you need, right where you can see it. Theres a number of symbols on the left hand side of the verse, and by making a verse active, the tools come into play. A pop-up window tells you every book with something on that verse. You can click on say, Nave’s in the popup window, and your Nave’s will suddenly open to the entry corresponding to that word in the verse. VERY neat. It has a number of very nice features. But my bottom line really is, for me, there’s nothing there so outstandingly great that it causes me to immediately say, “I have to have this!” It’s more, “Well, that’s nice!” So, bottom line, unless I get a drastic increase in my funds, I won’t be buying the complete package for $60.
PC Bible Study – My former pastor and the head of my Seminary swear by this program. I’d have to try it and see, but… there’s no way to try it for free! You have to purchase the program to see if you like it. It’s probably a policy that has cost them millions. I don’t know really how good it is! It may be everything I’m looking for! It may not. Unless I buy one of the packages, I’ll never know! It’s very highly recommended from those that have spend hundreds of dollars on it. I suppose it’s the same thing for every last Bible program, I suppose! When you buy their ultimate package, it’s got so many bells and whistles that it’s just amazing! If you have an iTunes account, you can download an “app” to try it. If on the other hand, you just want to download it without getting iTunes, forget it. Bottom line – $90 to $1000, no demo available.
WordSearch 11 – This was my go-to program, until this year. Logos has replaced this program. I’ll probably never spend another dime on Wordsearch, which means I need to go and clear out everything on my wish list on their website.
Wordsearch still has somewhat of a clunky interface. Their awkward “navigating the Bible” feature in WS10 they fixed in WS11. If you like to click in the window and type “Matthew 7:14”, that still works. If on the other hand, you’re used to clicking on a window and choosing the book, then the chapter, and scrolling to the verse… it does that too.
Wordsearch gives you a small library for free with it. The engine is $39.95, and for many, many users, that’s all you’ll ever have to pay. But that’s not all – WS is loaded with tools. You can click on a verse, and choose “Instant Verse Study”. Click that, and a window opens up letting you search your entire library, or just specify books. Then you can open LibreOffice or MSWord or whatever you use, and just paste. And you have every reference to that verse in your entire library (or whatever books you specify) there. That’s huge. If you want to talk about serious Bible study, that’s hard to beat. Including if you’ve been writing your own commentary, and you want to include that as well. If you’re working on a Master’s Thesis or a Doctorate, behold!!! There you go.
Notestacks. These are like stacks of 3X5 cards. You can right click on a verse, send it to a notestack. If you keep it open, you can keep adding to it. It allows you to write down brief notes. Why is this great? Let’s say you’ve got a blog, and you end up having to say the same things OVER and OVER and OVER again, to roughly the same people. By making notestacks, you can eliminate the 45 minutes it takes you to answer comment debates… now you can just open the notestack labeled “refuting Philip Dean” and copy and paste. or whatever your notestack is. A helpful feature some of my frequent blog visitors might want to take advantage of. If it forces you to read your Bible for yourself and not rely on the Magisterium, or the Watchtower Society, or Salt Lake City, I’m all for it!!!
Verse lists. I’ve talked about these before. I’ve made up verselists for “the Trinity” the “Rapture” etc. And I simply right click on verses and send them to the verse lists. Like Notestacks, but instead of laying them out in series, it’s one list you can separate into various sections. These are for when you just need the verses without the comments.
Wordsearch also allows you to read book modules – and make your own notes in them. That’s really helpful. Especially when you read someone like Arthur Pink, and you end up getting angry over his unBiblical doctrines. You can type in your own responses and evaluations, and it can… wel… be fodder for blog articles.
User books – you can choose by verse, by date or alphabetically. You can create your own topical Bible, your own commentary, your own yearly devotional – or even your own calendar of Bible study notes. After all, when you’re reading your Bible three times this year, you’ve got to write out your thoughts SOMEWHERE!
Add on modules – Wordsearch gives you far more free than anyone else. I’ve got over 350 modules in my library, and I think I’ve paid for one of them. Every Friday night, the Wordsearch blog features “free friday” where one book is offered for free. A lot get repeated, but hey! That book you missed last year may eventually be repeated!
Bottom line – free for Wordsearch Basic, $39.95 Wordsearch Engine & library. This was my go-to software, but has been replaced by Logos. You can of course buy upgrade packages with more books and Bibles. The Preaching Gold package is the biggest one, at $1,995.00 Most people will not need more than the bottom line package.
What software do I recommend in order?
1. Logos 6 or 7
2. Bible Analyzer
3. Wordsearch 11