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This post isn’t a fair comparison of Bible software, but it is a suggestion that you look into the value of something beyond the free options. If you are in a position to invest financially in software, then Bible software is well worth considering.

There are three “big boys” that I’ll mention. 

Logos Bible Software

Available on PC and Mac, Logos offers an impressive array of content. I’ll be honest, I’m still getting used to the pure Bible functions of Logos, as I have been a BibleWorks user for so long (and still reach for it on my netbook at times). But it seems to me that Logos is improving and at least catching up in terms of exegetical function. Where Logos seems to stand alone is in the array of commentaries and research materials you can get on it. My suggestion is to prioritize the quality commentaries and resources so that they are the ones you automatically go to when you are looking at a passage (i.e. there are plenty of resources on Logos that you shouldn’t feel bad about ignoring — it’s still worth the price for the quality ones!).

BibleWorks

In simplistic terms, if you want lots of books, go to Logos. If you want to work with the text itself rather than commentaries, especially in the original languages, then BibleWorks is fantastic. It is a PC-based software. (Although some do run it on an emulator on the Mac, I haven’t gone down that route.) Truth is that BibleWorks is probably capable of much that you will never use. I would say that people with any original language knowledge probably need something beyond the free options, and this is definitely one to consider for PC folks. If you don’t use Greek and Hebrew, then BibleWorks will still prove very helpful, but you may find the cost prohibitive (as with all three).

Accordance 

I can’t speak for this one, as I haven’t gone there. Accordance is the Mac-based Bible software. Users I know seem to delight in it, primarily for its intuitive Bible-handling interface, but it also has Logos-like collections of resources that can be added at a cost. I suppose Accordance would argue: what is the point of emulating a PC on a Mac? If you have a Mac, you know how it works, and so do the Accordance folks as they’ve always designed their software for this platform.

For many, these software options represent a luxury that is simply out of reach financially. For that reason I am thankful that the gap between free and expensive is not as big a gulf as it would be in most purchases.



Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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James Walker

commented on Jan 24, 2013

Really surprised that you failed to mention Wordsearch Bible. Very strange omission on your short list. Worsearch Bible is full of commentaries and all sorts of sermon preparation helps. They keep individual accounts of all previously purchased products for customer access online. Tech support is second to none (available on Saturday). I know everyone has their pet favorite but Wordsearch Bible far exceeds the category of "pet favorite". I have used it for years because of it's ease of use and exhaustive tools. Wordsearch Bible has been a leader in the industry and on the cutting edge for years. To say that it merits mentioning on your short list is an understatement. I have explored different software Bible study packages through the years and I always land on Wordsearch Bible. I can't say enough about it. Highly recommend it to Bible preachers and students.

Jb Bryant

commented on Jan 24, 2013

For those on a budget, I cannot recommend highly enough theWord, which is free. I've been around Bible software since it came on 5.25" floppy disks and have tried nearly every free and commercial package. There are major challenges in creating a program that allows you to have a great number of resources when you'd like to display any number of them at the same time. There are also major challenges in syncing various books. TheWord has done a better job with these and other issues than any software I've seen. It is really easy to use, and the "My Commentary" and "My Reading Plan" features are very well done. As for resources, you won't find a mare extensive collection. Every Bible that can be provided for free is there. All the others are available for the price of the publisher's copyright fees. Beyond that, a treasure trove of language tools, commentaries, and historical tools are available for free. Here is a partial example of what I have installed for free (and I haven't even scratched the surface of what's out there): A massive library of patristic literature (the Church Father's library); Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon; Thayer's Greek Lexicon; Hitchcock's Bible Names; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; the entire Expositor's Bible Commentary Series; the entire Pulpit Commentary Series; the Rand-McNally Bible Atlas, and about 30 other commentaries, textual aids, morphological analyses, maps, and reference material. And even more are constantly being added by hundreds or loyal users who are capable of designing these things. You install a relatively empty package and begin adding whatever you want. I have no connection or other vested interest in theWord, just love it. It's available at http://www.theword.net

John Yoder

commented on Jan 24, 2013

My favorite and the pgm I've been using for 20 years is QuickVerse from Parsons. Tons of resoruces and a lot of translations. And searching the resources is pretty user friendly.

Larry Baker

commented on Jan 24, 2013

I guess we are all more familiar with what we use. I have used PC Study Bible from Biblesoft since it was in a DOS version and now I use it's Advanced Reference Library with additions, and find there such great academic and practical material with more options being added regularly.

David Hallum

commented on Jan 24, 2013

Also available is the Online Bible. Much like Bryant's post, I have been using this software since it was shareware. It has been vastly improved and can be downloaded or purchased. My recommendation is that those who want to try it download the basic package and add what you want when you want. If you like, you may purchase a CD/DVD with copyrighted modules that can be purchased separately. This is an excellent tool.

Keith B

commented on Jan 24, 2013

I bought LOGOS a couple of years ago while in seminary. It was a great investment. I have seen nothing free that comes anywhere close. Until you use it you can't imagine how much easier it makes it.

Robert Tevis Iii

commented on Jan 24, 2013

Simply put for me... Logos is the best. Why? It syncs with Faithlife, Proclaim and Vyrso. I have access to free online bible study, powerpoint-like presentation software for worship, and a Christian ebook reader. Logos has taken me deeper into the Word and the price is just worth it,

Jb Bryant

commented on Jan 24, 2013

@ David Hallum - I agree with you about the Online Bible. I was with them in their very early days (around 1990) and contributed a good bot of assistance to the developers. I lost track of them for several years and came back. Always has been an excellent tool. I happen to like theWord better, but OLB is definitely a strong contender.

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Jan 24, 2013

I have used BibleWorks for twelve years and have also tried several others, including eSword, WordSearch, Logos, and others -- the free ones, too. It all depends on your particular orientation, but I have found that eSword, WordSearch, Logos tend to nickle-and-dime you to death -- and by "nickle-and-dime" I actually mean $25-and-$35-and-$50, etc. Sure, purchase the $1,000 Logos package that includes virtually everything and then you begin to receive e-mails informing you of the "new" stuff just added which you can get for the low price of $_____. I have settled into BibleWorks almost exclusively and have assembled a select pallate of trusted resources to which I can refer as needed. I do keep up with the best in commentaries through D.A. Carson and Tremper Longman's guides along with John Glynn's Commentary and Reference Survey and recommendations of trusted seminary contacts.

Reed Lohrenz

commented on Jan 24, 2013

I also use BibleWorks from Olive Tree. I like because I can use on my iPad and iPhone as well as my Mac and PC laptop.

Reed Lohrenz

commented on Jan 24, 2013

I also use BibleWorks from Olive Tree. I like it for its simplicity and because I can use it on my iPad and iPhone as well as my Mac and PC laptop.

Jeffrey W. Crowder

commented on Jan 24, 2013

Had to join just to add my "two cents worth". Everyone needs to know about PocketBible from Laridian. This is the only software I know of that is affordable (basics are free!) and goes everywhere with me! PocketBible is intended for mobile formats. iOS is incredible, the old Windows Mobile is great (they are in beta with the current Windows phone), it is on Blackberry, the old Palm (even though they are dying out, the program still works), and some other lesser known formats. The Android platform is in ALPHA, but is available to everyone. It is side-loaded via Laridain's blog on their website. For sermon prep, I use the Windows desktop version (also runs on a emulator on a Mac). Best part is ALL platforms not in beta or alpha will sync via laridian servers. I do not have to print the lessons! I do the notes on my desktop and sync my data, then preach from my iPad! You can find a link to their website on my personal site www.crowders.info/access You will see a large banner for Lardian. Just click on it. For those still using Quickverse, you may want look at where your money is going. At one point the owner of that program was also an owner of some less than reputable business in Las Vegas. It has been sold many times! The original quickverse was written by the owner of Laridian. I sometimes run PocketBible on my desktop right beside e-Sword from Rick Meyers. The two together are fun to use because you can get so much information on one screen if you have a large enough monitor.

Prescott Jay Erwin

commented on Jan 24, 2013

Reed Lohrenz: I don't think we're talking about the same thing. BibleWorks is offered by BibleWorks, LLC and has no connection with the Olive Tree folks. BibleWorks is advanced language-focused exegesis software. The Olive Tree Bible Studdy App is much like the Logos, Parsons, WordSearch, etc. with all the add-ons. But I'm glad you've found something that works for you. That's what it's all about! God bless!

Scott Weaver

commented on Jan 24, 2013

WORDsearch for me. I've been with them since the early days (over 20 years) and I don't feel nickel'd and dime'd to death probably because I've bought things when I needed them (or on sale if I saw a future need). I like the fact that since my early days in seminary, they've kept track of my purchases so I never have to worry about losing something. I've tried other software including two of the packages listed above and in the comments and always end up back with WORDsearch. By the way, WORDsearch and QuickVerse are now owned by the same company (LifeWay).

Mh Constantine

commented on Jan 24, 2013

I might as well mention the program I use all the time: E-Sword, from Rick Meyers. It is free, multilingual, and has many good resources. You can also download (at a price) many standard works like the Expositor's Bible, etc. I am not proficient in original languages, but for me this program wokrs great. I have usee Quickverse and WordSearch, but like E-sword best.

John Wild

commented on Jan 25, 2013

The only one I use is PowerBible CD. It is extremely simple to use, has an interlinear (with the KJV) and can display another translation alongside. Lots of commentaries, good Greek and Hebrew stuff from Strong's, and much more. We bought about 30 copies to hand out in our church because we were able to get them for about $ 7.00 each. They are constantly updating, and will soon (if they haven't already) be adding the ESV to their list of translations. Check it out.

Sean Van Zant

commented on Jan 25, 2013

I have tried most of the others, ie QuickVerse, WordSearch, Zondervan, and others mentioned. Although the Bible study software wasn't the best when I first started using it over ten years ago, Logos seems to be the best. It is professional Bible study, although I do admit it is pretty pricey :)

Keith B

commented on Jan 25, 2013

I paid about $400 per credit hour for Seminary. When I considered that for less than what it cost me to take a 3 hour class, I could have LOGOS on my computer...the decision was easy. It is just far better than any free option I've seen.

Dennis Cocks

commented on Jan 25, 2013

I would love to have LOGOS. Although I've never used it they have a presentation and booth at the Pastor's Conference I attend every year. It is quite costly which is why I don't have it. But if I could afford it I would purchase it in a minute! BTW I have to come home and ask for forgiveness from the sin of coveting every year : )

Derrick Tuper

commented on Jan 25, 2013

I use something called "PowerBible" software. It has 14 bible translations, 14 commentaries, 3 dictionaries, 7 topics based references, along with Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. Someone gave it to me years ago and I am very thankful.

Richard Healey

commented on Jan 25, 2013

I also love Logos. It has the best range of commentaries on offer and I love the convenience of being able to carry my library with me wherever I go - although the search and functions of the iPad or Android apps pale in comparison to the PC version. It is also a little scary that I have spent around $8,500 on my Logos library over the past 5 years, with another $1k on order - but it sure beats the storage and moving costs of a physical library - and the power and convenience is unbeatable. Go on, invest in your community and your preaching.

Stephen Ventura

commented on Jan 29, 2013

Check out Power Bible CD. It is inexpensive and comprehensive. powerbible.com

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