Bible study software

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[edit] Overview

The first question you might ask is: "Why is special software needed to read the Bible?" The answer is that it is not required. You can certainly read a Bible like any other book and copies are available in most eBook formats. However, the Bible has special location features using chapter and verse and these are not always easy to use in standard eBook readers. In addition the ability to study the Bible typically needs the ability to link commentary text to a separate copy of the Bible with the version chosen by the user. This need has caused a proliferation of Bible software in a wide variety of formats.

[edit] History

An electronic copy of the Bible was the first full book available from Project Gutenberg in the seventies. They actually typed the whole book into a computer from a paper copy. By 1989 Franklin was making portable devices that could be used to read and study the Bible. As CD-ROM devices made their way onto home computers by the second half of the eighties and early nineties software programmers started making programs to do Bible study. (Bibles and study tools were too big to fit on a single floppy disk or even several floppy disks.)

When eBook reading hardware appeared, there was an interest in making Bible software for them. Godspeed computing made a special e-book reader called Godspeed eBible, using a Hiebook reader with Bibles and commentary preloaded. They no longer offer this product, but it can occasionally be found on ebay.

[edit] Bible Software for PDA Units

Most of the software in this list uses proprietary eBook formats that are unique to the software. There are a few exceptions, which will be mentioned in the description.

  • Memoware - E-text source of Bibles and other text (search for bible). These are suitable for Palm and PocketPC units.
  • Scriptures - A free reader program. The software is available in many languages, and the Bibles are in even more languages. You can also add your own notes. This is a great study tool.
  • AsaiSoft - A freeware Bible reading program for Palm devices.
  • QuickVerse - Quick Verse for Palm units and PocketPC units offers Bibles, Commentary, Dictionary, and reading plans. QuickVerse PDA books are not compatible with QuickVerse for Windows, which defeats the pioneering idea of Parsons for STEP. Personal notes are interchangeable with version 8.0 on the pc. QuickVerse is now owned by Word Search Bible.
  • Bible Thumper - Bible Study for the PalmOS with the King James Bible, a concordance for fast searching, bookmarks, dictionary, commentaries and Greek/Hebrew lexicons. Some support for German as well.
  • Devicecom.net makes a program called Bible Link that offers good compression and fast searches. It is available for PocketPC, Palm, and includes a free Windows pc version. It has a few Bibles and several commentaries, dictionaries and even books that are not Bible related. It is available in English and Korean. A lite version is available for free.
  • Pocket E-Sword is the PocketPC version of the E-sword Bible study program. It is free but some of the Bible versions are not. While it has the same name it will not read the same books and does not have the same features of the PC version. It does support multiple Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries and devotionals.
  • WordSearch to go is a product from Word Search Bible. Version 1 was a repackaged copy of Bible Link. As of version 2, they have partnered with OliveTree. As of 2010 they have developed a program for the iPad and later for iPhones to read the same books they have for the PCs.
  • Online Bible has versions for Palm and Pocket PC. For users still using HP LX palmtops, they also have a DOS and Windows version. The PocketPC version is included with the Windows PC version and will use the same books.
  • Bible+ is a Palm-based reader (formerly called BibleReader) that has more than 74 books available.
  • Dagger is a CrossWire SWORD-compatible reader for portable devices running Opie (typically Zaurus but some iPaq have been modified for Opie).
  • QPSWord is a Qtopia SWORD reader for CrossWire Bibles and books. It runs on iPAQs and Zaurus.

[edit] Mac OS

MacOS X can use emulators to run some Windows software but the ones in this list are native for the Mac"

  • QuickVerse Mac - uses Step books - Modeled after the Windows version.

[edit] iPad

  • There is now an iPad app for WordSearch Bible. It will read the same books as your Desktop version.
  • Olive Tree - Bibles for iPad and Apple iPhone. They also have a collection of other Christian eBooks, including commentaries and fiction eBooks. Many eBooks and Bibles are free, and others are reasonably priced.

[edit] Windows

The largest choice and biggest selection of eBooks are available on "Windows" based systems. Most of these have DRM on at least some of the books.

[edit] Cross Compatible

Cross is a new data format for Bible book interchange. CROSS stands for Christian Reference Open Software Standard. It is based on XML but most documents are highly compressed and DRM controlled.

Books and tools that support this format include:

  • Word Search 9.0 from Word Search Bible has developed the new data format, CROSS, for its main programs since version 7.0. It has more that 14,000 volumes of books available and more released every day. Prior to adopting this format change WordSearch 5.0 was Step compatible. WordSearch is complemented with a Lesson Maker software page that can use special lesson packages and all of the cross book.
  • A free Bible Explorer software package is available that will work with cross formatted books. It is a subset of the functionality in word search Bible. This program is often included with books from other publishers. there are 210 free books available but purchased books will also work.
  • Doxa Digital Press makes books that are cross compatible. They are dedicated to publishing theological resources that are from a reformed perspective.
  • Cross Partners contains a list of other publishers of Cross books. Many of these are available directly from Word Search Bible.

[edit] STEP Software

Step used to be a standard document interchange format between a number of Bible Software companies. But today this support is limited almost entirely to Parsons. These are generally protected with DRM.

  • Bible Study Software by Word Search Bible called Word Search 5.0 still has some STEP compatible offerings.
  • Parsons Church continues to use the STEP formatted books. Two programs, one for Bible Study (QuickVerse) and the best Bible mapping program available (QuickVerse Map Editor). Note that the map editor is included with QuickVerse and complements the Parsons Bible Atlas. (Parsons is owned by Findex.)
  • Kirkbride publishes the Thompson chain reference Bible.

[edit] Logos Library System

Libronix Digital Library System has replaced and is upward compatible with the older Logos system. There is a wealth of data available for this system as well. The Logos reader supports DDE and can work with programs like Parsons that support DDE. DDE allows for data exchange thus you could have verse syncing between two, otherwise, incompatible systems. The books are generally protected with DRM.

eBooks and tools in this format are available from:

  • Logos Bible Software is the primary company making software and releasing books in this format. This is a good collection of software and books.
  • Thomas Nelson Publisher This publisher supports the Logos Library system.
  • Unofficial Logos Bible Works Newsletter - Has other stuff too.
  • Pleasant Places Press features lesser known books that are still important.
  • Doxa Digital Press makes books that are Logos compatible. They are dedicated to publishing theological resources that are from a reformed perspective.

[edit] Other Programs

  • CrossWire programs (SWORD) are described elsewhere in this page and they have a Windows version as well as Unix and portable platforms.
  • E-Sword.net - Another free Bible study software package.
  • Online Bible North America - Several Languages available for sites that are linked from this one. Some of the modules are free. They also have software available for several operating systems.
  • BibleSoft.com - A Bible study package and they have an authoring system.
  • Zondervan - The NIV Bible and more. They have their own standard called Pradis. There are several packages available in this format.
  • Sword Searcher - A Bible Study program that has a tool, called Forge, available to let you make your own books. There is a collection of user created books. It basically supports Public Domain versions of books but includes a good collection on the CD-ROM. The same author has a Daily Bible and Prayer program.
  • BibleWorks, is software for Biblical Exegesis and Research. This is a windows product and is currently released as Version 8. It is designed to study scripture in both your current language and the original languages. It includes some 190+ Bibles in nearly 40 languages and provides nearly instant search capability. A suite of reference works are also included.

[edit] Standard eBook Formats

While spiritual, religious, and other Bible study books are available in many of the eBook formats there are some specialized study books that are covered in this section. These have specialized study features such as the ability to link between eBooks. However, just because the features are coded into the books does not mean that a particular implementation of an eBook Reader will be able to support or take advantage of these features.

[edit] Mobipocket

The MOBI format does support links between specific books. Packard Technolgies has taken popular Christian study books and made them available in MobiPocket format. This is unusual in that MobiPocket is a very popular eBook format. There are thousands of eBooks available in this format but the ones from Packard Technologies are designed to work together. This brings Bible study books to a lot of new mobile platforms including some dedicated eBook reading devices.

[edit] PDF

PDF is another format with specific linking ability. Some products are available that can be used directly in PDF readers. There are many books available in this format from sites that offer ebooks. The companies that are specifically focused on Bible and Bible study books include:

  • Ages Software - This software uses standard pdf format files. It includes some addons for the Adobe pdf reader and may not support all of the features in the books if the addon cannot be added to the the reading software.
  • Sage Digital Library - This is another source of the Ages Software in pdf format as well as some other products.
  • Geneva Bible - This is a free copy of the original Geneva Translation with updated English.
  • Rose-Publishing - Most of their pamphlets are available in PDF and some are available as PowerPoint presentations PPT.

[edit] The SWORD Project

The SWORD Project is available from CrossWire on a wide variety of platforms. It uses an XML format called OSIS as its standard eBook format.

CrossWire is a Society dedicated to bringing the Gospel to a new generation. The major thrust of the project is a free Bible software project called SWORD. Library modules will work with any software using the SWORD engine. They have products running on a wide variety of operating systems and environments. These include:

  • JSword - written in Java it will work with most web browsers that support Java. They have a version to run locally or you can use the web.
  • BibleTime and Xiphos are for Linux and other Unix systems.
  • Sword for Windows runs on Windows systems. They have a simple version with less features for older Windows systems as well.
  • MacSword is for MacOS X.
  • Handheld versions are available also as listed above in the PDA section.
  • SWORDWeb is an online resource.

The Cross Wire Bible Society has done extensive work to get permission to release Bibles and other copyrighted material free for non-commercial use. Be sure to honor their agreements. There is a lot of material that is not available in this format due to copyright issues. They do have over 200 eBooks in 50 languages.

[edit] Online Bible Study

These programs are free to use in your browser.

  • Cross Books - Online copies of some of the Word Search eBooks.

[edit] Hardware study Bibles

  • NowBible - A hardware device that provides both text and Audio for versions of the Bible.
  • Royal Electronic Bible - Dedicated to Bible Reading, some models have audio.
  • Bookman - some models have audio.

[edit] For more information

Bible Study software - Most of that page has been merged into this wiki but there is a slightly different purpose and focus.

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