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Tools for Interpretation

Do you want to better understand the language and context of the Bible? Bible software can be a great resource to help with biblical interpretation in your studies. In fact, Western so believes in the benefit of these tools that we recently entered into a special arrangement with Logos to offer our students an amazing discount on that program. Below, three of our professors explain which program works the best for them and why. Looking for more information on the benefits of Bible software? Read why Bible software can be an aid for teaching and research in this article by Andy Peterson, Western Seminary’s V.P. for Educational Innovation and Global Outreach.

Logos

Review by Dr. Gerry Breshears
I highly recommend Logos, the superstar of Bible software that runs on virtually every device you own: PC to Mac, desktop to mobile phone, syncing them all.

The powerful and expandable electronic library combines materials of all sorts: commentaries, articles, encyclopedias, sermons, videos, maps, and more. This makes deep exegetical work with biblical texts  possible. I particularly appreciate the interlinear display that parses English, Hebrew, and Greek words. With just a few clicks you can go deep quickly. (This is limited by the size of your base package.) The strength of the Logos system is its power to find and relate information across your whole library. Type in a key word or reference in one of the search windows and it searches your whole library (or any specified part of it) to find materials.

Access to a large library, no matter where I go, enables on the spot research in the most remote parts of the world. While you can copy into other documents with footnotes automatically appended, you cannot lend a book to a friend. As with any powerful software package, your use will depend on how much you invest in instructional training and the hardware to run it. But anyone can do a lot with the simple search windows. Logos can be expensive. It will not save money over print materials, though it will speed up your research and enable you to look at many resources. As with any electronic library, you will need to keep up to date which means regular investment.

Pastors and ministers of the gospel in the modern age are blessed to have multiple Bible programs to assist them with their libraries and languages.

BibleWorks

Review by Dr. Jan Verbruggen
BibleWorks focuses on the Bible. It comes with access to Bibles in 40 languages, often with many different translations in each language (200+), and over 50 original language texts. While it does not focus on giving you an electronic library, it does come with the most important research grammars, dictionaries and lexicons in the major biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, as well as a number of introductory grammars.

Beyond this, it provides a great number of additional features like a biblical map app (just move your mouse over a place name in an English Bible and it will bring up a detailed satellite map with the probable location of your biblical site), a vocab app (for learning the original languages), a time table (covering all of the major events related to the Bible or the Church), access to the Sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls, the Apocrypha, the Talmud, a number of Christian confessions, Josephus, Philo, the writings of the Church Fathers, some classic books on Church History, Theologies (Grudem and Bavinck), with most of the original language texts analyzed grammatically and searchable. The user can make notes on any word in the text, any verse or any chapter written in any European language, interspersed with Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic. These notes will automatically pop up the next time you look at that word, verse, or chapter.  For those interested in the original text, BibleWorks gives you access to the original manuscripts by way of detailed photographs of the Leningrad Codex and a large number of the New Testament Greek manuscripts. BibleWorks comes with free access to video tutorials for everything that you can do with the program.

Accordance

Review by Dr. Patrick Schreiner
Pastors and ministers of the gospel in the modern age are blessed to have multiple Bible programs to assist them with their libraries and languages. Each Bible program available (Logos, BibleWorks, and Accordance) have similar functions, but they also specialize in their own way.

I prefer Accordance for several reasons. First, Accordance is text-centered. I use my Bible program mainly to perform Bible study functions and they have set up their program to where the text is central. As a native Mac program, the developers have devoted time to making the space simple and intuitive. They do not distract you with all the functions the program can perform, but focus on the searching function and the text. The text is always before you in Accordance. This seems theologically right to me. Second, Accordance excels at language capability. Although the other programs do have language functions, I find that you can do both more in-depth study, and do it quicker,  with Accordance. Third, Accordance is nimble. It never slows down my computer or smartphone, and when I click “Enter” the results appear immediately. Previous experiences with other programs stalling out drove me back to Accordance. Although Logos is better for building your library affordably, I have decided to stay with Accordance because of the ease of use, text-centeredness, language capabilities, and because it is the most nimble of the programs.

 

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 edition of Western Magazine.