Top 10 Bible Study Software Programs
I thought it would be helpful to provide a review of what I am calling the “Top 10 Bible Study Software Programs”. In this review, I will share my thoughts about each program, give the pros and cons of each program to help you decide. In this case, I am primarily reviewing Bible study software programs that operate across different platforms. There are web-based versions (like the STEP Bible from Tyndale). However, I review only those that are cross-platform.
Accordance is a program written exclusively for the Mac. It is written with the Mac user in mind. The interface is very “Mac-friendly.” Recently, the program has been written for Windows. It is feature-rich and extremely fast. It is only available for the Mac, Windows, and iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch).
The Accordance website lists all of the features and it includes a store to purchase more products. The website even gives a free trial.
BibleWorks is a powerful program which caters itself to the student of the Bible, primarily in college and seminary. I used BibleWorks 8 while I was in school and I can attest to its capabilities. The good: It has a very powerful search engine specifically catered for language study. If you want to look up and study the Bible in the original languages, then this is your tool.
The bad: Because it concentrates on languages, the program does not provide a large library of resources. There are no commentaries, no Bible studies, nothing in digital format which you would find in a Christian bookstore. However, if you have WordSearchBible modules, they are compatible with BibleWorks starting with version 7. See here for more details. You pay a license for the software engine, and then you pay for more modules not provided with the software. The program is available now for PC, Mac, and tablets.
The BibleWorks website lists all of the features, along with videos, a store, and other information.
Crosswire is a group of open-source Bible software projects, the largest of which is The SWORD Project. They are available for Linux, Mac, Windows, Mobile, and the Web. The good: It is open-source, and therefore free. The bad: It is not technically cross-platform. You have to download the program for each OS.
The SWORD Project website provides all of the resources and modules.
e-Sword is the original free Bible software program. Started in 2000, the program was primarily available for the PC. Since that time, it has been adapted for use with the Mac (using a WINE emulator), iPad and the iPhone. Technically, it is not a cross-platform program. It is a free software engine and most of the modules are free as well (those in the public domain or user-created modules.) The e-Sword website also has a store for premium books which can be purchased. The good: The software engine is free. You can’t beat free. The bad: Since, it is not cross-platform, you are restricted to how you can use the program. Also, the library of premium modules are growing. Yet, because so many user-made modules have been made that were originally copyrighted, publishers are not that excited to produce content for e-Sword.
The e-Sword website lists all of the features, along with videos, a store, and links to other sites of interest.
This is the Cadillac of Bible software. Since 1996, this company has produced a comprehensive software engine and modules to go with it. The software engine is free, but the power of this program is the fact that all of the linking of every word so that one can make comprehensive searches in seconds. The good: The library of resources are enormous, the software is cross-platform (Mac, PC, Android, iPad, iPhone). When you sign-in, all of the resources for the program are synced. The search capabilities are fast.
The bad: It costs for all of these books and excellent search capabilities. You must be willing to invest money in order for this program to be worth it. However, Logos has an excellent forum where you can find help. There is 24-hour technical support for free. They provide deals year-round and you can find books for free if you look. Logos includes a family of websites (Vyrso, Faithlife, Logos, Proclaim, Noet, Verbum, Reftagger) which work together. They use a dynamic pricing model to help you find savings for the resources you purchase.
The Logos website lists all of the features, including books to buy on sale in pre-publication or community pricing, contains videos, graphics, and support information.
OliveTree provides a full-featured premium Bible program, similar to Logos, WordSearch, and Accordance. The good: The software engine is free. It is cross-platform and is available in all kinds of platforms (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and even Kindle). They have a growing list of premium resources. The mobile app performs better than other programs. All of the features are integrated into the smartphone and tablet device. This is not so with other Bible software programs. The bad: The library of resources is not as large as Logos and WordSearchBible or Accordance, but it is quickly closing the gap.
The OliveTree website lists all of the features, including free resources as well as premium resources. The main site also promotes gift cards and ways to connect to social media.
7. The BibleAnalyzer
The BibleAnalyzer is another Bible software program which has the look and feel similar to e-Sword. The program is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. It is a freeware cross-platform program. The good: Similarity to e-Sword makes it easier to maneuver and understand. The bad: All of the resources are old. There are some premium resources, but not many. Perhaps this will change.
The BibleAnalyzer website lists all of the features, including a store, forums, and other important information.
TheWord is similar to e-Sword in that the software engine is free. It is not as user-friendly as e-Sword, but it is available for PC, Mac, and iPad, although like e-Sword it is not technically cross-platform.
TheWord website has a similar set up as e-Sword and many of the modules are the same.
LifeWay Resources recently bought WordSearchBible. The layout is similar to e-Sword. The program has really been improved. The good: It is now cross-platform and syncs across all devices. WordSearchBible provides many free modules. LifeWay brings out new modules on a regular basis. They have a free resource post every Friday on their blog. The bad: While they are trying to unify the Bible software, LifeWay seems to have a disjointed set of programs. They have WordSearchBible, Quickverse, LifeWay Reader App, MyStudyBible.com and other apps. LifeWay Resources provides the WordSearchBible for the iPad, iPhone, and Android. LifeWay are working on unifying all of their products. Yet, it can be difficult to jump from one app to another for Bible study.
The WordSearchBible website has all of these wonderful tools.
This Bible software is strictly an app for tablets and smartphones. However, it is available for just about any platform. There are Bibles in over 500 languages, reading plans, devotionals, videos, and other useful study tools. LifeChurch.tv provides this app for free. For people who want a Bible app, this is the place to go. The good: it is a free app which focuses on the Bible, yet it is user-friendly. The bad: There are no commentaries, no dictionaries, no other resources to purchase. (However, that can be good thing as well because it lets you focus on the Word.)
The YouVersion website is the place to go for this app.
Honorable Mention: SourceView Bible – promotes a new approach to Bible study including searching and seeing the Bible in various spheres. The app contains all kinds of stats, graphs, and different ways to view information. The SourceView Bible website shows you the details. (Thanks to Chrissie Willker for pointing this out to me.)
You can see a list of other top ten lists as well as movie reviews, book reviews, reflections, and sermons (including Lectionary resources).
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