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theWord Free Bible Software

It certainly is nice that we do not have to find the right parchment and unroll the scroll to read our scripture texts. Also, printing technology is so advanced, we can purchase a Bible in a variety of sizes, styles, colors, translations and applications. At one time, I had more than a dozen New Testament versions on my bookshelf. Now I can have hundreds, and they do not take up any shelf space.

There is a plethora of Bible software available, and certain premium packages can cost you $1,000 USD. Of course, those are for serious workers and not casual users. I take the Bible seriously, and do not wish to be considered a "casual user", however. What can I get?

I want to bring something else to your attention: theWord. This is some serious Bible software, and it is also free. After being familiar (and pleased) with e-Sword, I reluctantly checked out theWord. Although BPBible Portable is pretty good for basic use, I am not thrilled with it. Don't get me wrong, it works and you can get some decent Bible versions, but it is rather limited. There are other free Bible software packages available as well, but I have not learned anything about them.

(I should point out that I am getting nothing in return for doing this review of free software.)

It also can be made portable, or you can purchase it on a flash drive.

One caution I have: It's easy to get loaded. (With software, not the other stuff, silly.) The basic download package has quite a few things, but I did not want them all, and deselected certain ones in the install options:
  • Main program
  • King James Bible
  • NET Bible (New English Translation)
  • Textus Receptus New Testament
  • Westminster Leningrad Codex Old Testament
  • Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries
  • Robinson's Morphological Analysis Codes
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Two Bibles that I like very much are available as well, the English Standard Version and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (the default version that pops up in Bible references on my two main Weblogs). In addition, I grabbed the 1611 KJV (surprise, you are probably not using that version), the Geneva Bible (the version that came to America, originally published just over 450 years ago), the American Standard Version of 1901, WEB (World English Bible) and a few others, including Greek and Hebrew. No, I have no knowledge of those languages, but I like having the references available.

There are literally hundreds of modules available from various sites (Calvary Chapel made 700 modules available, and here is another module library!), and many from theWord's site itself. The modules are Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries, Maps and Books. One reason that there are so many available is that users can create their own. Aside from your own study notes, you can make your own modules (but you can only distribute public domain material). Like e-Sword, most of the modules are free, and some need to be purchased. I purchased the New American Standard Bible, the New International Version (the one before all the odd revisions) and New King James Version as well. But not all on the same day. A few other books and reference materials caught my eye, and my bank account is quivering in fear.

The customization and the features are amazing, almost overwhelming. Click on the picture for a larger version, this picture shows my KJV on the left (at the top are the other Bibles, I just click on a title to change, or I can see several versions at one time to compare verses in different versions). The clutter in the Bible view are my available reference materials, but those can be customized so that they do not show. Below the Bible is the "Bible Search View", with powerful search tools (also visible in use in the picture second from the top of this article). On the top right is my own customized (see?) view of Dictionaries and Maps. Below that, Commentaries. At the bottom is the Book module.

Any of the modules can be enlarged to fill the screen if you wish, then put back when you're done. Don't like this view? Several come with the software, and I modified one into this view and saved it as "Cowboy1".

Here is a reason I chose to have the Greek and Hebrew material available. As I said, you can turn off and on the reference materials to keep down the clutter. If I want a closer look at certain source materials, I can activate the Strong's reference numbers. Here you see the pop-up if you hover over Strong's number. Also, I had clicked on "days", and on the right, you can see the Hebrew for the word, and its meanings.

I hope this helps spur your interest in that tremendous software. You will need to invest some time. It takes clicking around and tinkering, and you are not going to destroy the software or your computer. (Sorry, habit. I know people that are afraid of hurting their computers.) My suggestion is that if you want it, click here, then the button to download the package, and then wait until you read the rest of this. It's easy to add more modules later. You can also delete modules, but you have to go to the Program Data. No big deal, the software shows you where it is.

If you are confident in your own file manipulation abilities, you may want to delete the language options that came along (.LNG) that you do not use.

Continuing my suggestions, there is a slightly outdated but still useful set of videos that show you how to move around. These will help get you started, click here for those. (Hint: Some video places have a link that says, "Dim the lights". It makes the videos easier on the eyes.) It may be worth your while to check video sites for more.
Like I said, you will need to invest time in learning the software. Parts of it are intuitive, however, and the very basics of picking a Bible version and finding a verse are quick to learn. The more time you spend on it (including that long video), the more you will get out of it. No, I am not an expert in it yet. There is a help file, and theWord has searchable forums that have already showed me some things.

I hope my excitement shows. This is fun for me, and I believe it is a very useful tool. If you'll excuse me, my learning continues...

A shorter and (I believe) fun follow-up article is here.