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Monday, August 13, 2007

Choosing a Bible Study Software Package

This post looks long, and it is, but it is primarily long because of the comparison to follow!

There are so many different Bible study software packages on the market today. Each package claims to be the best, listing many reasons why you should select that package. Each package provides many of the same benefits including: fast electronic searches, multiple Bible translations, commentaries, savings over purchasing the materials in book format, etc. The packages generally include some different resources and tools as well. Some of the programs include macros to easily paste Bible verses into Microsoft Word or other word processing programs.

The most popular Bible software programs I know of include: PC Study Bible, Quick Verse, Logo's Bible Software, GRAMCORD, and E-Sword. While there are others, these are the five that I most often hear recommended. The price of the different current versions of these programs ranges from free to $1,379.95. In the spirit of frugality, or should we say in the spirit of stewardship and yet retaining our interest as students of God's word, I want you to consider what is the best Bible study software package for your investment.

In order to make this determination, one really has to compare the contents and prices of different Bible programs. In the chart below I look at many of the reference tools that I frequently use or that are considered standard reference tools, and compare which of the programs they are included in. In the chart the following programs are being compared:
  • E-Sword v. 7.8.5
  • Quick Verse 2007 Standard Edition
  • Quick Verse 2007 Expanded Edition
  • PC Study Bible 5 Reference Library Plus (Red Box)
  • PC Study Bible 5 Complete Reference Library (Purple Box)
  • Logo's Bible Software 3: Christian Home
  • Logo's Bible Software 3: Scholar's Library
  • GRAMCORD for Windows: Scholar's Bundle
  • GRAMCORD for Windows: Ultimate Bundle
Click the image to the
left or here to see the full
comparison chart of
the different programs.



When I compare what is included in the programs listed above, I must conclude that what I get for around $100 or more is a brand name program with extra reference materials which I wouldn't use even if I had access to them. I would like to have the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament on my Bible program, but I do have it in book form for the times I need to consult it. I would like to have the NKJV and the NASB in E-Sword, but those really aren't necessary with the KJV, ASV, and ESV, but I can add them both for $35 if I'd like to.

I use the free E-Sword program. I do so because it is free and I cannot see how I can justify spending hundreds of dollars for the bells and whistles that come with the other programs when I will rarely access those extra tools. I look forward to hearing comments from users of other programs, and your reasons for going with your program. If you disagree with me at this point, that's fine, but I encourage you to seriously consider . . . what am I getting for the hundreds of dollars I spend every few years to have the latest version, compared to what James has for free?

6 comments:

Mark Rhodes said...

I agree James. I use E-sword and have found it just as good if not better at times with anything you can buy on the market. I also appreciate the free Pocket PC version, which is very powerful for such a small device. Anyone who uses a Pocket PC might look into that also (I carry it to services with me. I have found the reference tools very useful in Bible Class).

Joey said...

I have E-Sword and have used it to success.

I also purchased Logos Silver Scholar's Library (now they have Gold Scholar's available) when I was a senior in college (they offer a 50% off discount for students during a specific window). For me, it has been more than worth the large initial investment (I used graduation present money). When I graduated, I had no foundation for a true "preacher's library." I have yet to upgrade or add new volumes (but plan to), but I still have plenty of helpful commentaries and resources that I would not have been able to purchase if buying bound volumes one at a time. The kicker for me at the time was that it included TDNT in addition to the wealth of other resources.

There is one thing noting about all the resources that "I wouldn't normally use." In Logos, if I do what it calls a "passage study," it will bring up related resources...many of which I would not otherwise consult. Because it does the searching for me, it saves a lot of time, but more importantly opens my eyes to those resources I normally might not have bought in bound form or consulted even electronically.

Most linguists praise either PC Study Bible or Gramcord for language studies, but I have gotten a lot of language help from Logos. The ability to search for ANY Greek word, usage, etc. is amazing. There hasn't been a time (yet) where I've wanted to look into something Greek-wise and not been able to find an answer. To me, it seems pretty user-friendly as well.

Finally, every resource I have checked into is available in Libronix (the format for Logos) format. Prices are basically the same as for bound versions. So, the "discount" is the initial cost (much cheaper than buying bound versions) and the interface that enables and connects everything.

Whew...my comment may have rivaled your original post...:)

BTW, it might just be my screen, etc., but I only see through PC Study Bible on the comparison...which from what I can see looks helpful and very time consuming...good work...

almcfaughn said...

I noticed the chart stopped after three columns, too.

James, you might want to put a link to a PDF version of the chart, or something, so we can see it all.

This is VERY helpful. I'm not a huge fan of computer programs, because I'm old-fashioned enough that I want to hold a book in my hands.

However, I do some study on my computer and this post is of great interest.

Also, some of these very basic tools are available at www.blueletterbible.org for free.

JHDalton said...

Thanks guys, I fixed the image...it looked right in my preview, I just didn't check it once I posted it, so this other way I've done it should work.

Mark, the only gripe I have about Pocket E-Sword is that it won't work on my Windows Mobile Cellphone. I was looking forward to that when I purchased a smartphone, but no such luck.

Joey, I remember discussing the software with you when you purchased it. I agree that getting TDNT in electronic version is a huge benefit. If I didn't already have it in book format, I probably would be interested. I like the feature you pointed out about the program pointing out other references. And it sounds like it would take another step out of the Greek searches. So there are some benefits, but for me and for many other preachers and for many Christians looking for software for their personal studies, E-Sword is more than enough.

Adam, thanks for pointing out the free online resources. I use www.studylight.org myself, though from what I've seen, the two sites offer much of the same resources. The site enables me to check the NIV, NKJV, and NAS on the few occasions where I really want to. And, it is a great resource to keep in mind when working in a computer lab, such as when I'm at FHU or the library.

Kevin W. Rhodes said...

James,

I can't believe that you didn't mention BibleWorks for Windows! I used it early on and it consistently was ahead of the pace for high end users at a relatively reasonable price ($299). I found most other works to focus so much on books I couldn't use and opinions I didn't value that I never bothered investigating them further.

Of course, now I use Accordance on my Mac, which has top of the line abilities across the board with a superior user interface!!!

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