There’s really no more important decision than, “What Bible software will I use?” As you’re about to see, many people are still working on the same technology today that we worked on years ago with Quickverse 2. however, that was back in 1993-1994, and computer technology has increased greatly. Bible software on the other hand has either increased slightly, or in leaps and bounds, outpacing even the advances in technology.
Last year, I re-evaluated the way I did Bible Study thanks to a series I ran in Dec. 2015 by David Cloud. I decided that if I was going to seriously change the way I studied the Bible, it was time to see if the tools I was using were up to the challenge. I discovered they weren’t.
So, here’s the shootout on the top Bible programs I use, and which ones I recommend. For the impatient, cut to the chase people, I’m recommending two Bible Programs as my must-have recommendation… Logos and Bible Analyzer. You need both of them. The Number two spot goes to Accordance, and #3 goes to Wordsearch.
However, understanding that not everyone thinks the same, and some people prefer different interfaces and different approaches. So, I’m giving you the blow-by-blow on them, and letting you choose.
What features do I insist on for a Bible program? All Bible programs have some form of Boolean search, so that’s not even a problem any more. The must have features are Passage Lists, Clippings, and Word Lists. If they don’t have those, I didn’t even seriously consider them. And as you’ll see, it ruled out immediately all the free Bible programs. Another must have feature is original language study capability. It was okay back in 1996 to be satisfied with Quickverse and using Strong’s too look up the root… but not in 2016, with programs like Logos and Accordance that give you the ability to look up the Manuscript, the root AND the lemma, and be able to investigate all the places in the Bible where that lemma is used in, say, the active tense.
The lay person can be satisfied with E-sword or Theword, but if you’re a pastor, teacher, or if you’ve been called of God to start a blogging ministry where you teach… they are not even close to sufficient.
Accordance, for the impatient, stands as number two on my list. It is, like all premium Bible software, a little expensive. Not as expensive as Logos, and by means not offering near as many library addons.
Accordance is available in a time limit demo. You can supposedly only use it for 30 minutes. I don’t understand that, because it’s never shut down on me. You get five Bible with it, the King James, the Textus Receptus Greek, the BBE, the ASV, the WEB and the Douay Rheims Bibles. You also get Eastons and Strong’s dictionaries. Other than that, you don’t get too much for Accordance in Libraries.
I suppose the first thing I need to explain is the basic appearance. It’s got that old-style Mac look to it. Back in the day, Apple computers were in black and white to save money and make more profits. They have a slightly different architecture than PC programs, and so, Accordance looks a little different. Accordance die-hards insist that Accordance is only available for the Mac, and that there’s a program similar to it with the same name for PC. That’s kind of splitting hairs. Accordance has a lot of die hard users. This is one of those I suggest you try the demo and see if it’s what you’re looking for in a Bible program.
Accordance is difficult to add on to. As I see it, they like to sell collection packages, meaning if you need ONE BOOK in a collection, you still have to buy the collection to get that one book. That to me is a downer. If I just want to buy the Bible Knowledge Commentary, I have to search for the bundle that has it, and buy that bundle, spending more than I want to spend. But then again, it saves you a lot more money, as you’re usually buying at discounted prices for the bundles. So, if you decide on Accordance, be prepared to save up and purchase bundles, not books.
Accordance starts at $60 for the basic, $199 folr bible study, $299 for the original languages bundle, Essential is $499, Advanced is $999, and Ultimate is $1,999.00 – so the packages seem to at least double in price as you go up. Most of my readers will do well to buy the Basic or Bible Studyn packages, if you decide that Accordance is your preferred Bible software.
Accordance is very RAM light. You can apparently open just about everything without the program bogging down. You have windows, and panes (tiles, in other Bible programs). It’s kind of like a mix of Wordsearch and Logos, in that you can have several panes (like Logos) and several windows (like wordsearch). It’s much more customizable than Wordsearch in its desktop display, but much less than Logos in terms of panes/tiles.
The first thing I did was to open the King James twice, one with the Strong’s hidden, the other with it visible, and then the Textus Receptus was opened in a third column. Accordance calls columns inside a pane a “parallel”.
I then opened other windows, with the research window open, and all the individual resources as well. If you’ll click on the above images, you’ll see how I arranged it. It’s actually not that hard… Accordance tends to set up the desktop similar to this anyway.
Work is done by highliting a verse, and either choosing from a right click menu, or from the “amplify” drop down menu. I got the hang of it the first day, searching and amplfying. Apparently, Accordance learns from you how you like to do things, and will try to offer you results first based upon your usage history. Kind of creepy. As long as I don’t wake up with Accordance standing at the foot of my bed holding a meat cleaver, i’m good.
As I mouse over Titus 1:16, the Textus Receptus begins to shadow over the Greek word of the English one I’m looking at. Here’s the verse…
Θεὸν ὁμολογοῦσιν εἰδέναι, τοῖς δὲ ἔργοις ἀρνοῦνται, βδελυκτοὶ ὄντες καὶ ἀπειθεῖς καὶ πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἀδόκιμοι.
Theon homologousin eidenai, tois de ergois arnountai, bdelyktoi ontes kai apeitheis kai pros pan ergon agathon adokimoi.
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
It’s really handy, as it works both ways. In many ways, a step or two less work than Logos… but much less info than Logos, where I can see what the Lemma is, how the word form changes in uses, how many times those forms are used in the Bible, and where those are. If you do a LITTLE Greek and Hebrew research, Accordance might be enough for you. If on the other hand you have an apologetics or teaching ministry, or if you’re a serious Bible student or a Pastor… Accordance is not sufficient.
Reference lists are a handy tool in Accordance – you can build lists of verses based upon the Ressurection, prophecy, etc. There are only a couple of programs that do this, and only those programs make it to my top three. Wordsearch, Accordance, and Logos do it. The others do not.
What Accordance needs is the Noteclipping feature of Logos. As for user books, forget it. You’re limited to making user notes, where you make your commentary. Still, it’s a very powerful tool. If you don’t need a large library, don’t have a lot of money but want to do a little original language research, then Accordance may be your best choice. http://www.accordancebible.com
Bible Analyzer. This one is not in my top three (it’s at number 4 right now), but let me put it this way. If you’re saved… you want this program. Every saved person on the face of the earth needs it. I’m using it less now that I have Logos 7, which does some of the same things but…
Want to know how many capital letters there are in the Bible? You need Bible Analyzer. Want to see immediately the first usage of every word in a verse? You need Bible Analyzer. Want a good free library? you need Bible Analyzer. Want a list of all the words used in a range, or even the Bible? you need Bible Analyzer. You want to see the Bible act like it’s own dictionary? YOU NEED BIBLE ANALYZER.
Here’s an example of some of the research. Trust me… you need Bible Analyzer.
Various Statistics For:
Acts 20:21 (AV)
Act_20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Complex Words: 2
Avg. Word Length: 4.65
Grade Level: 4.01
Verse Index: 27648
Verses To End: 3454
Numerical Sum: Omitted
Bible Analyzer Scripture Pad/Commentary Window
Bible Analyzer does not have a lot of Bibles or commentaries, but that’s not the point. Tim Morton has created a HUGE benefit to Bible Study through this program. This program is apparently designed for use when you use another program a lot, and need Bible Analyzer for what it does best.
It’s free… go get it. Bibleanalyzer.com. Every Christian should own this.
Long time readers of this blog will recall this was one of the programs I’d gotten that I used for Hebrew study. It’s free. Davar basically is a collection of dictionaries, cued to texts. I don’t open it often, but the Hebrew dictionaries they offer are outstanding. Searchable, and if you install a Hebrew or Greek virtual keyboard (there’s several available on the internet), you can type in Hebrew and determine the exact spelling and definition, using backwards and forwards thinking. Nice. It’s free. If you don’t do much in Hebrew, it won’t do you much good. If on the other hand you want a little bit of extra Hebrew resource, Davar is it. However, if you’re loooking to make this your sole Bible software suite, I don’t think this is your best choice.
It’s about time, because I suffered through agonizingly slow E-Sword through the first year of seminary, Theword in second year of seminary, and then someone bought me Bible Explorer, which became Wordsearch.
It’s much faster now. I don’t really have to explain to you what E-Sword is in depth, because most of you already own it.
E-sword has a lot of tools. I think the Journal notes/topic notes/study notes functions rank among the best aspects of it, as is the Scripture memorization tool and the prayer requests. But it completely lacks the tools I consider so necessary I can’t recommend a Bible program without them – note clippings and verse lists. You can kind of make verse lists, but not in depth, with nothes and etc.
The big thing is, I never really felt comfortable or motivated to write any commentary or take notes in E-sword. That’s probably just me, and I’m sure there are others that use it. But for the most part, no, I never really felt motivated or comfortable taking notes inside E-Sword. If you regularly use the study notes window, leave a comment and let me know.
E-sword has a sermon illustration manager, which probably gets zero use from most users. Anyone who is collecting sermon illustrations is a Pastor, and they’ll be using something more serious.
E-Sword, to me, is one of the best amateur programs out there. It gives you basic Bible Language study capabilities, but little in the way of serious original language work. I say this from someone who had a year of Greek and a year of Hebrew. Both E-Sword and Theword are completely insufficient for language study purposes. Indeed, when I first started writing this blog in my laptop (before I took it live), I was a regular E-Sword user, then switched to Theword, which I loved – and hated.
E-Sword is essentially a mostly free version of Quckverse. Craig Reardon’s influence is felt throughout all of the amateur Bible programs. Essentially, E-Sword and Theword are good versions of 1994 Bible technology, but this is 2017, and they need to start stepping it up a notch, as you can see from Accordance and Logos.
This program is not free. If you use it regularly, you really should send Rick Meyers a donation.
If you’re a Ruckmanite/Riplingerite/Pearlite King James Only person, this Bible program is for you. Very little in the way of tools. About the only feature in this I liked was the bare bones approach and the “add your own lcross references” approach. If I wanted to spend one year seriously going through the Bible and identifying every cross-reference, then I’d be spending the year in this program. Other than that, it’s not even a contender in the serious Bible student category. The programmer has only one thing to say to those asking for Strong’s capabilities is that they read Gail Riplinger’s highly flawed “Toxic” book. If you’re interested in something that forces you to build your own list of cross references, then give this free program a try. If you’re Ruckmanite-Riplingerite, then yes, it’s for you. But I’m telling you, what Gail Riplinger says about concordances and other Bible tools is nonsense, and you’ll be Biblically ignorant without MAJOR dedication to reading the Bible and note taking.
I really can’t think of a better way to describe Logos than the official way to describe it: “Imagine that you have a large library, filled with commentaries, dictionaries, monographs, etc. You want to find everything in that library you can on John chapter 9. So you hire an assistant, and tell them, ‘bring me everything in my library on John chapter 9.’ And a month later, they bring you a detailed report. Now imagine them doing this in just a few seconds. That’s Logos.”
It really took me a while to transition from the “set up your desktop and study from that unchanged desktop every day” to the Logos way of simply typing in what I want in the reference box, then simply adding any work or tool that Logos neglected to add that I want to use (and the guides will give you the list!!!). And once you mentally make that transition, you just can’t go back. It literally saves me hours of work. The study I did on Hebrews last year was hundreds of hours of study and research – I cannot even imagine how much more hours it would have taken using any other program. I’d estimate ten times the number of hours. My expository teaching on Hebrews might have been over 1,500 hours of work using Theword or Quickverse.
For instance, typing John 9 into the reference box yields my top 5 Bibles, one commentary, a passage guide and an exegetical guide. The passage guide lists several other commentaries, harmonies, etc that have information on John 9. I simply click on those entries to open the commentaries to that. Logos will auto-synchronize your Bibles and commentaries to the scroll set you want (I use scroll set A by default). In other words, if you change an “a” set Bible to a different passage, all the scroll set “A” books change with it. You can choose 6 different scroll sets (A-F) or “None”, meaning that you can open two King James’, one that stays on the passage and another one for hyperlinks. Just choose “None” for the second King James, and “Send all hyperlinks here”. Amazingly easy to do, less clicking on back buttons.
To look at a passage in Greek or Hebrew, just go to your exegetical guide. You’ll see the passage in English, then in Greek, and a break down word by word. You can do a word study by looking at the lemma of each word, and you’ll see a little circle (like a “recycle” symbol). click that little “recycle” symbol, and it will open a word study guide that shows the breakdown, meaning and usage of the word, so you can study it in context, how it appears in other books of the Bible. Knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is really important here! THanks to the revolutionary way Logos is structured, I can honestly say… if you have no language skills, get Logos Bronze and… you’ll have a good background in Koine Greek VERY quickly. To a first year seminary student, this is HUGE. It’s time saving. You’ll be able to see the tense-voice-mood of every Greek and Hebrew word in context.
You can do the same thing in the information window (which unlike wordsearch, does not crash constantly) by mousing ovver a word, then clicking on the Recycle symbol. It then does the same thing of opening the word study guide.
A little “spark graph” will show every occurance of the word in the Bible in that Lemma, such as 49 times in Matthew, etc. Clicking on the spark graph yields the results. Logos is like using a Interlinear/Reverse Interlinear/Lexicon/Concordance/Grammar all at once.
Features of Logos
Clippings – this is a VERY handy tool. It’s so handy that it’s one of my standards for what Bible software I’ll use. I will not use a Bible program that doesn’t have this feature. Accordance does not, but Wordsearch does, and Logos does. As you read through other books you get in your Logos package, you can save important quotes simply by highlighting a passage and right clicking. These quotes go to your clippings. Why is this big? THe William Evans book on preaching gives you the reason why – when you’re trying to find that quote by someone about kittens and butterflies that you wanted to use (I’m just picking an example), instead of spending hours searching your library for it, it’s right there in your clippings.
Passage Lists – this tool is so important, it remains my standard – if the Bible program doesn’t do this, it’s not in the running for what is my primary program. I save passage lists on The Rapture, The Trinity, Separation… all you do is highlight a verse on an important subject, open your passage list on that topic, and then send the passage to that list. Only Wordsearch, Logos, Accordance and Theword have it! I do this a lot, and have about 15 passage lists. I finally got to use the one on the ten commandments a couple of years ago. Why is that important? I’d looked up the re-statements of the commandments in the New Testament and saved them to the list. The bottom line? THere was no restatement on the Sabbath. So, it’s done away with.
The Word Find Puzzle is something I’ve never messed with. I suppose it’d be good for church bulletins. If you ride the bus a lot, this might be handy.
Handouts is for sermon handouts, or for position papers on your church. They’re limited to only four pages. Kind of disappointing, actually. You’ve got to be really terse with your words.
Bibliography is very handy, if you’re a seminary student. You can make multiple bibliographies, based upon which report, thesis or dissertation you’re doing. Time saver.
Notes. This is how you can take notes on topics, make your own commentary, etc. It’s so open ended what you can do with it. This is the default word processor document. In previous versions, here’s how you wrote sermons (many Logos users do not keep their sermons in Logos). However, in Logos 7, there is a Sermon tool, where now the sermons are written inside Logos, and saved in a separate list. Very quickly, your listings of Notes in your Documents folder gets HUGE. The update in Logos to adding the Sermon Tool is greatly needed. Unfortunately, you need to get the Bronze package with the full feature set to truly take advantage of it.
Like Graphics in your powerpoint, sermon or blog?
David Cloud calls this his favorite Bible program. So, I tried it, was completely dissatisfied, and deleted it. A few months later, I tried re-watching the Effectual Bible student series again, tried Olive Tree again, and… bleh. Completely without tools. Original language functions are minimal. Most of you know how to use this, as it’s a very popular program. There are many add-on books, at very reasonable prices – and 100 free books. I’ll just say that it may be some people’s favorite, but I can’t really get motivated to use it. Not even making my list of “It’s useful, download it.” Once I get done with my videos on how to use Bible software for Seminary use, I’m deleting it.
I include this program in my Bible software reviews, because you can still find it for sale in some Christian bookstores that haven’t sold it, on Ebay, and on Amazon sometimes. And I’ll point out that someone at one point uploaded the entire program to their website, as a free download. Findex is out of business, sold the rights to Wordsearch who plundered it and discontinued it. So, it’s Abandonware, essentially. If you can find the Platinum package (or whatever it’s called), by all means, get it. Don’t pay the $799 price that some Christian bookstores are probably still charging for it! Your top price for it should be about $30, since the annotations feature… doesn’t work at all. If you’re releasing a major software package that costs hundreds of dollars, you should make sure that all the features WORK before you release it. From what I understand, Findex was only going through the motions for upgrades, charging people full price, and that’s it.
The library of Quickverse 2010 Platinum is huge. It came with just about everything but the kitchen sink, and contained everything but the NIV. Really odd, since the NIV still ranked as one of the most popular Bible versions out there, except among Independent Fundamental Baptists.
The personal book features of Quickverse are familiar to me, since I was a Wordsearch user for so long, and Wordsearch incorporated the concept, but not the coding, into Wordsearch – leaving the bizarre contradiction of being able to make a Hebrew/Greek dictionary in Quickverse 2010, but not in Wordsearch 11, which was the result of Wordsearch buying Quickverse! The personal books are arranged by date, scripture reference, or alphabetically. If you’re trying to take any books you may have written, and put them into Quickverse, there’s no real way to do it.
Quickverse used to be the industry standard under inventor Craig Reardon, but when it was bought by Mattel (I still don’t know if Craig is kidding when he says that), and then Findex. Craig threw up his hands and moved on to PalmBible, which shortly after had to change their name to Pocketbible. If you’re a diehard Quickverse fan, and you absolutely despise everything that happened to Quickverse after version 5… look at Pocketbible. The features that were in quickverse 5 that were so revolutionary have found their way into Pocketbible, which I still have not gotten (At this point, I’m so settled in Logos I’ll probably never go back to anything else.)
When I first got into the software Bible programs back in the 90’s, I had three Bible programs – Quickverse 2, Logos 1 and Davka. I found Quickverse to be good, but Logos to be better. I found Davka to be frustrating. However, as Quickverse upgraded to the various versions , I got more and more dissatisfied. the 2010 one shows all the reasons I was dissatisfied with it. Annotations don’t work. LIttle in the way of original language tools, but they give you several Greek grammars and dictionaries – then the Nestle’-Aland Greek text. Really. Why not the Textus Receptus? But you don’t get the Old Testament in Hebrew.
search capabilities in Quickverse 2010 is horrible. It takes a while to figure out how to do a Bible search, or a LIbrary search. Once you figure it out, it;s not bad. Not good, but not bad.
The read through the Bible plans in Quickverse are much better than Wordsearch. For a while this year, I was actually doing them in Quickverse, until I got the King James for Logos.
Once you get the feel for Quickverse, and ignore the functions that don’t work, you see why this was a $800 package. You literaly have every commentary, dctionary (etc) that the average Christian will ever need in this package. I’m using Windows 8, and it still works. If I ever need to upgrade my system (and I’m dragging my feet on that as long as I can!!!), I would finally bow to the inevitble and simply import all of it into Wordsearch, making the whole thing somewhat less usable.
Aside from that. with almost no tools, this is in the category of, “If you can find it for $30 or less , then get itl.”
After a reader of this blog came on and attempted to convince me I was completely wrong, I re-examined the issue and… I’m still right. Original Language tools are still minimal, research abilities are still minimal… to compare Theword with Logos is simply ridiculous. IT’s STILL 1994 technology, compared to Accordance and Logos. It’s still roughly the same as E-Sword, but without some of the more useful tools of E-Sword. On the other hand, Theword can do a lot of things E-Sword cannot!
Theword still has the same clunky, untidy interface. The minimize-maximize-close buttons are still in the wrong spot industry-wise, meaning, if you’re trying to minimize several different programs at once, be prepared for the annoyance of closing Theword when you meant to minimize it. This alone was one major reason I did not keep it. That and the “hoarder household with bundles of newspaper” look to the windows. I just expect to see cockroaches run across my computer screen when I click on a window.
In many ways, if you are simply used to E-Sword and how to do minimal Bible study, then Theword is a viable substitute. I’m sure many who use Theword absolutely hate E-Sword. The real reason so many people use Theword is really because one of the major module creators for E-Sword got angry at Rick Meyers for a major change to E-Sword, and Rick’s somewhat arrogant “I really don’t care” attitude caused him to switch to Theword, and thousands followed.
If you were used to Quickverse, and then made the change to E-Sword when Quickverse started getting really expensive, you’re already used to the same elementary approach of “look up the root in Strongs’, because that’s all we can do.” Compared to the language tools in Accordance and Logos, this comes up VERY short.
Theword has the same topic and commentary functions as E-Sword, but lacks the journaling function. THis is a big mistake. The ability to create Bible Memorization lists that E-Sword gives is missing as well. THe prayer list funcrtion is missing.
Theword does have a verse list capability. It’s rudimentary, but it’s better than E-Sword which doesn’t have them. This one doesn’t really make it to my list of recommended programs, falling in just behind E-sword.
I read a review recently of Wordsearch, where someone described it of falling “just short of brilliant”. The description was accurate to a T. Wordsearch has many bonuses and pluses, but what it boils down to is, once they write the code for a particular function, that’s it. THey never revisit it. So, you’ve got features they got from Quickverse and Bible Explorer and every other minor Bible program they’ve purchased and discarded they’ve added to Wordsearch, which pretty much means you’ve got two or three ways of doing exactly the same thing! It kind of makes me think they’ve got three groups of programmers working in three different rooms, and never sharing their work with one another.
The info window remians buggy, and crashes a lot. So I keep the info window hidden unless I need it open – completely rendering it useless. User books are copied over from Quickverse, but of course, don’t work as well as in Quickverse. The Annotation function still works the same as it did in Bible Explorer. The bookmark function was lost for a year in WS11 until I pointed it out to them you now could make a bookmark, but never view it! The Notebook function is to make your commwntary on a verse… but you can also do the same for the User Book function. The add on module for Morphology is locked in to the UBS Bible text. When informed that King James Only adherents simply are not going to pay $80 for a morphology keyed to a heretical text… they simply ignore you. From what I’ve read, the morphology module is still the same as WS9 when it was introduced, and still only has half the features Wordsearch promised back then. i’m glad I never bought that module – I’d be furious to pay for a module that only does half of what they advertise it for. This went a long way in increasing the dissatisfaction I was experiencing with Lifeway, the parent company. You can make suggestions, but unless they plan on doing that suggestion anyway, you’re ignored. And like Logos, it seems they lump all Baptists into the Southern Baptist category, and are completely clueless about the beliefs of Independent Baptists.
Lifeway seems to be evenly split between Calvinist Baptists, Traditional Southern Baptists, and a minor group of Emergents. You’ll see that evident in the books they offer. Lifeway sponsored a poll a few years ago, showing their bias, in which you had only three choices: “I am a Calvinist Baptist” or “I am an Arminianist Baptist” or “I don’t know”. The last category was the runaway favorite, as most Southern Baptists are neither Arminian nor Calvinist, but… Baptist.
If you like a GIANT screen for your Bible study, Wordsearch is it. But if you want a split window so you can read commentary at the same time, or use Bible dictionaries that change as you mouse over the word… it’s not possible.
Customer support for Wordsearch is very good. You will get responses pretty much quickly to any concerns. They were able to fix a long-running error I was constantly getting.
Original language tools are limited in Wordsearch. If you find yourself constantly looking at the Textus Receptus to see how it reads, then Wordsearch won’t do. THey do give you the TR for free, but any morphology or lemma work or TVM analysis… forget it. Buy Vines and see the end result, without looking at the raw data. It’s basically one step above what you get with E-Sword or Theword, which is not what the way it should be for a program they’re trying to sell.
Wordsearch offers passage lsits and clippings as does Logos. They are about the second best at those two features. Really, I think with a top to bottom re-design of Wordsearch, it could be a lot better, and place itself firmly in the same category as Accordance and Logos.
The Lesson maker addon I approve of – but then I saw the vast majrity of the modules for it are written by women, meaning they are absolutely great for women’s groups, but men Scripturally cannot buy them or use them. I wonder if Wordsearch has even considered that?
If having a huge library available is important… Wordseearch is it, topping even Logos and Accordance in available books and add ons.
Wordsearch ranks as #3 in my list. The passage lists and verse lists functions are very good. The ability to write your commentary and take notes in many ways is good, although bewhildering. The word processor function is terrible, though. Original language studies are almost nil.
Unless the company drastically revisits the way they do things, they’re on the law of diminishing returns, and they’ll go out of business within 5 years.
Bottom line: The winners
Honorable mention software you must get:
Package you should get if you find it for $30 or less:
Quickverse 2010 (don’t get Quickverse 11, it’s essentially just Wordsearch with a different logo).