Product review: BibleWorks 8

Communications Staff — February 11, 2010

I used to be a hacker.

No, not that kind of hacker: a Greek hacker. If Greek found its way into one of my sermons or Bible Fellowship Group lessons it was basically a glorified word study on a verb or participle spliced out of its original context. Because I didn’t want to do that, I actually wasn’t really a hacker: I was a non-user.

Five months ago, however, I decided I wanted to change this. I enrolled in Southern Seminary professor Tom Schreiner’s Galatians exegesis course. And I started using BibleWorks 8.

Now I am no longer a hacker; I am a user. Not an expert, or even a semi-expert mind you, but I am a user.

There is only one way to learn Greek: long hours of study. There are no shortcuts, no secret passageways to Greek mastery. It is like digging the Panama Canal. But there are tools to aid you in your work and over the last five months BibleWorks has been my central tool.

If you are looking to unpack, understand and use the original biblical languages, BibleWorks would be a great resource to consider. In the five months I have used it, BibleWorks has done two key things for me: save me time and enable me to better understand biblical Greek and, thus, the Bible.

A time saver

So far, BibleWorks has saved me time in two main ways. First, it helps me rightly identify words quickly that I can’t break down (parse)
at first glance or that I might break down wrongly. This is particularly helpful for words with irregular forms or that look like one form, but are actually another. In years past, you would have had to look up each word you didn’t know in a dictionary. Now, you can scroll over the word and you have everything right in front of you.

Of course, if you lean on BibleWorks in this way too hard it will become a crutch that cripples you versus an aid that helps you. But if you take a moment to figure out why a verb is an aorist – drawing on the paradigm chart tucked away in your mind from previous study – you will begin to need less and less help.

Second, BibleWorks provides a number of reference works that are readily available and searchable. For instance if I am trying to determine how an infinitive functions in a sentence, I can search Daniel Wallace’s “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics” and get his thoughts on different uses, broken down into categories (purpose, result, time, etc.). This is an instant time saver.

Of course, there are many other ways BibleWorks would save you time. One is its ability to allow you to quickly cross reference words and phrases to other passages. One prominent example of this is John Piper using a Bible software program to cross reference the key verb and noun in the phrase “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” in Colossians 1:24 to Philippians 2:30 to help him determine its meaning. With BibleWorks, you can do this in a matter of minutes.

For those who are not mere users, but who are experts or scholars in the biblical languages, I am sure that BibleWorks saves times in more advanced ways as well. For example, SBTS professor – and Greek and Hebrew scholar, and pastor – Jim Hamilton says “If my computer is on, BibleWorks is open” (For more of Hamilton’s thoughts on BibleWorks, visit

Better understand biblical Greek and, thus, the Bible

Another key benefit, perhaps the greatest benefit, of BibleWorks is that it helps you understand biblical Greek and, thus, the Bible better (yes, it can help you better understand biblical Hebrew as well: I just haven’t used it for that purpose yet). Bibleworks enables you to access the original languages of the Bible in a more efficient manner. For busy students and pastors, the importance of this can not be overstated. Students and pastors must balance the priorities of family, counseling, pastoring, studying, reading and evangelizing to grow in their understanding of the biblical languages. It is possible to do this without BibleWorks. But BibleWorks makes it much more feasible. It is like digging the Panama Canal with a backhoe instead of a shovel.

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