Review: Bibleworks 8, part I (first impressions)

My copy of BW8 arrived in the mail yesterday, and I have taken the last day to explore its basic features.  In the coming days and weeks, continue to watch for subsequent updates as I begin to plumb the depths of what BW can do.

Prior to receiving BW8, I was running BW5 (which, I believe, was originally released in 2001).  Much of what attracted me to BW8 was the inclusion of the various Targumim, Philo, Josephus, Apostolic Fathers, and Pseudepigrapha . . . but more on that in another installment.  Install, as always, was  a breeze; I chose “custom” (thankfully, the disc defaults to that option) and opted not to install many of the modern foreign language versions.  In the end, in addition to the obvious English, Hebrew/Aramaic, and Greek, I also installed the German, French, and Latin versions.  I actually realized when I first opened the program I had forgotten to select French initially.  No problem—I just popped the disc back in, selected “modify” the install, and added the French translations.  No need to reinstall.

Aesthetically, the layout is quite nice, with three separate panes.  In BW5 I only had two panes; with three the screen is still not crowded in the least, and the information is easy to navigate.  Another basic feature new to me is tabs in the command/search window–which you can rename, a nice feature that aids in quick navigation during complex searches–and tabs in the analysis window.  The amount of information located within these ten tabs is staggering.

What excited me the most initially about BW8 was the inclusion of the Targumim, Philo, Josephus, Pseudepigrapha, and Apostolic Fathers.  All are available in both their original languages and in English translation.  To have the full BW experience now with these seminal texts–identifying parsing, root, translation–is a tremendous addition that more than makes the program worth its cost.  For me, personally, the ability to search the various Targumim is a great additional as well, not only for the text-critical work I do (and the fact the BHS apparatus is terribly abbreviated in many instances, unfortunately), but also inasmuch as the Targumim reveal a certain way of reading some difficult episodes in the biblical text (for example, Gen 27:35 in MT has Isaac saying to Esau “your brother came in deceit . . . ” whereas Targum Onqelos says “your brother came in wisdom . . . “—this is a fascinating reading, to adopt Tov’s more neutral language, and the ability to search the various Targumim [Neofiti, Onqelos, etc.] adds a level of specificity to the often quite general text critical notes in the apparatus of BHS).

Here are a few other additions unique to BW8 I have noticed in my perusing that have my very excited and which I do not believe have received the attention due them (I trust there will be many more):

1) Rodkinson’s translation of the Babylonian Talmud (Mishnah and Rashi’s comments). 

2) The ability to search across all versions, biblical and non-biblical, for a single term with ease!

3) Juoun-Muraoka’s Hebrew Grammar and Waltke/O’Connor’s Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax.

The inclusion of (1) and (3) alone will save anyone a large amount of money if they do not already own these texts.  And the beauty of having them included in BW?  BW does the linking to them for you!  Simply use the ‘resources’ tab in the far right window.  In addition to these resources, one finds also Wallace’s Greek grammar, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, Coneybeare’s LXX grammar, and a host of other resources, all indexed for you and available at the click of a mouse.  As a student raised on Waltke/O’Connor’s book, I can say that the addition of their Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax is going to be a resource I will be consulting quite, quite often . . . now just through my BW!  And even better, in these grammars the verses are linked, so all you have to do is hover your mouse pointer over the chapter and verse numbers and the verse will pop up in the versions you have selected.

One other feature worthy of mention is the regular updates one can access easily through the program’s ‘help’ menu.  There are both ‘recommended’ and ‘optional’ updates, each, thankfully, with a description of what it does, which helps tremendously given the file names themselves are not always clear indicators.  From my initial update after install, it has become clear the BW team has taken great care to address any issues, including basic typos, and allow for an update to remedy the difficulty.  I look forward to regular updates, and trust the BW team will continue to work assiduously towards keeping their program running as smoothly as it has for me thus far.

Thus far I am tremendously satisfied with the upgrade.  Any user of BW interested in these texts should make the leap to BW8!

As I write my prospectus and begin on the dissertation, I will be putting BW8 to the test!  It has been a great help thus far . . . I trust it is up to the challenge!  In the coming days and weeks, I will update this series with my analyses of what else it is that I discover BW can do.  I look forward to learning much more, and to more (pleasant) surprises!  Stay tuned!

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2 thoughts on “Review: Bibleworks 8, part I (first impressions)

  1. Hebrew Student says:

    Thanks for your review of BibleWorks 8, and especially the Hebrew and Aramaic resources available. BibleWorks 8 is awesome software, essential if you want to understand the Hebrew/Aramaic of the Tanakh, Targumim and Talmud/Mishnah. BibleWorks 8 also includes a lot more resources on the Peshitta than the previous version.

  2. John Anderson says:

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I was pleased to see the Peshitta text can be presented IN SYRIAC FONT, for those of us who can read Syriac (that’s me! and no, I’m not being sarcastic. BW is a dream for a language person like me!).

    Continue to check back for further installments of my review of BW8!

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