Best Bible Software for Christian Writers
Does a Christian writer need Bible software? I think it is very useful for most, whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction. The question is, what is the best Bible software geared to writers?
Christian writers may not always be dealing with chapter and verse, and may think their regular Bible, or a quick verse look-up using a site like Bible Gateway, will meet their needs. However, almost all Christian writers are dealing with Christian concepts in one way or another, and they often need reference material to help them. The web is always good for that, but there is such a wide range of material, much of it not theologically sound, that there is always some risk involved. Christian writers want reliable biblical and theological resources, and most want it quickly.
I have owned several different kinds of Bible study software over the years. Some were very simple programs that allowed me to collect a variety of verses and compare them with each other. Others were very complex and allowed me to search verses, as well as books which were part of the program, for relevant information. I had many hundreds of books on my shelves, but hundreds more on my computer that I could access much quicker.
For Rich People Like Pastors
There are many different Bible study programs, but here I will assess the extremes. The first is Logos Bible Software. It is seemingly exhaustive, but very pricey. Their Standard Package prices range from $295 for the basic software engine and a few books, up to $10,800 for a complete library.
You can get many Bible and book combinations with sets geared to Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostal and Charismatic, Reformed, Seventh Day Adventists and Catholics.
I owned an early version of the Logos software when it was more affordable, but abandoned it when they switched technology for reading the books. The upgrade pricing was so outrageous that it did not seem reasonable to continue with them. Since then they have taken a quantum leap forward in their technology, and their prices could be worthwhile for pastors who spend all week in their study preparing messages, or for academics. They offer apps for a wide range of smart phones and tablets and ancillary services the ability to create multimedia presentations for sermons. It is state-of-the-art software.
Their advanced technology is a double-edged sword. Logos seems to have many functions that are cloud-based, and that may be a problem to some. Their site was recently down for about 72 hours and people were complaining in comments about not being able to access books they had purchased. Ed Flam, Pastor at Agape Christian Fellowship got a lot of support from others when he said, “Wondering if I wasn’t wrong to invest in digital library. My old reliable book copy although sometimes get lost, borrowed or misplaced, but I don’t lose them all at one time.”
Jim Julian of Tyndale Theological Seminary said, “The problem is not about doing the maintenance on the weekend, but Logos needs to be upfront about it. I know many pastors depend on it for the weekend. If Logos is going to schedule maintenance just tell everyone. I do not think Logos works offline at all. If it does, it does not show the offline screen when you start.”
Martin Doers, Pastor at Wittenberg Lutheran Church reminded other comment readers that, “This is not planned server maintenance, people. They are suffering from a catastrophic hardware failure. You are right to complain, however. Logos has built a cloud infrastructure without investing in the necessary redundancy that would prevent down time when something major fails.”
This is something you must deal with if you want an expensive cloud-based system.
Good Buy for Writers
What is a good buy for writers? Free, of course! But that’s just one reason I use and recommend Bible Analyzer. There are several free Bible research programs, but none are better than Bible Analyzer by Timothy Morton.
The core module, which runs on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers is free, and it comes with the King James Version and a dozen or more Bible commentaries and dictionaries.
You download the core and all the books to your computer, so your access is not limited if their server happens to go down. The core comes with features like a harmony/parallel viewer and text generator, an independent image viewer with hundreds of charts, maps, and other images. It also has a searchable book viewer with thousands of pages of valuable optional books. It has ScripturePad, a built-in word processor which can receive exported verses and display Bible reference pop-ups.
In addition, you can purchase many “old standard” reference books, Bible commentaries and dictionaries. However, don’t expect to pay an arm and a leg for them like at Logos. For example, Strong’s Hebrew/Greek Dictionaries are only $2 and it integrates with either the KJV or NASB versions that are offered. The 37-volumes of the Preacher’s Homiletic Commentary is only $8 in the digital format that integrates into the search software. Barclay’s 17-volume Daily Study Bible Commentary is only $5. The digital Expositor’s Bible sells for $365 at Logos, but the Bible Analyzer edition of the same material is just $7.
All the great old dictionaries are available for small amounts. There were eleven digital dictionaries at last count including the classic four-volume International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) for $5.
Many of the books, commentaries and dictionaries are available in bundles, and that reduces prices even more.
The Bible selection is not wide, but good. You get the King James Version as part of the core system, and you can pay a few dollars for the New American Standard Bible. The English Standard Version (ESV), which has been adopted by millions who revere the Bible, is available for just $9. By comparison, the same ESV digital edition sells for $49.95 as part of the Logos system. The New International Version (NIV) is not available in the Bible Analyzer.
You can layout your Bible Analyzer screen in many ways. This image illustrates how I like to display it my own screen. I have numbered some of the features I rely upon.
1. Prayer List and Daily Devotions
2. Access to book list, maps and audio playback of text
3. Search by Bible verse or topic
4. Select from Bible version you have installed or see them in parallel layout
5. Find Bible book and chapter
6. Selected Bible text
7. Exhaustive cross-references in several formats
8. Select from many Bible commentaries
9. Select from Bible dictionaries, other search results or your ScripturePad word processing file
How Bible Study Software Can Help Christian Writers
If you are writing nonfiction Christian books, Bible software can help you write faster and with greater biblical accuracy. You are able to look up Bible passages in several translations and quickly and cut and paste them into your writing project.
You can easily view related verses and discover their Hebrew or Greek meaning with a click of a mouse. You can immediately find related topics in books, Bible commentaries and dictionaries. Each of these resources can either supply specific biblical data you need, or it can serve to trigger your creative thought processes.
If you are writing Christian fiction, you may not always looking for Bible facts, but you are looking for biblical and theological concepts to include in your work. You are sometimes looking for bits of history to include. The Bible Analyzer is ideal for adding biblical and theological substance to Christian fiction plot lines.