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 also read commentary text with a connection to a separate copy of the Bible; with the version chosen by the user. A computer can make this easy by linking the two locations together to automatically track the verses in the study. This need has caused a proliferation of Bible software in a wide variety of formats.

Generally speaking most Bible Study software can also be used to read other books. The use of commentaries has already been mentioned but there are plenty of other types of books also available from the publishers. Some are just intended to be read by themselves and the portable versions and desktop versions of these programs can be used to simply read the books and have general eBook reading features. Some of these publishers have thousands of books available.

[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 Mobile products

Mobile products include PDAs, Smartphones, Web Tablets, and other devices. 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 - QuickVerse is now owned by Word Search Bible (see more below) and their products have been converted to use the same eBooks as Word Search uses. Historically Quick Verse was for Palm units and PocketPC units. They offered 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • E-Sword has versions of the E-sword Bible study program for iPad (E-Sword HD) and iPhone (E-Sword LT) use. It is free but some of the Bible versions are not.
  • LifeWay owned WordSearch Bible but they also have direct eBooks available from their store. Books will work on both products. They sold WordSearch Bible to Logos which was a competitor.
  • Logos has multiple Bible Apps which all look similar but the mobile versions are a bit less powerful than the desktop versions for Windows and MacOS. They also have versions targeted at Catholic users and one for philosophers.
  • Bible+ is a Palm-based reader (formerly called BibleReader) that has more than 74 books available.
  • QPSWord is a Qtopia SWORD reader for CrossWire Bibles and books. It runs on iPAQs and Zaurus.

[edit] Apple

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. They are now owned by WordSearchBible and use cross books, the same as Word search. The upgrade includes conversion of most step books.

[edit] iPad

A search for Bible will find hundreds of Apps available in the store. (Many of these are mentioned above in the Mobile Products section.)

  • There is now an iPad app for WordSearch Bible app. 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. Their iOS version is simply called Bible Study.
  • Another program called "Free Bible Study" - God's Plan for People focuses on particular Bible Studies.
  • Accordance Bible is new software for iOS devices as well as Mac and Windows.
  • "Online Bible" is an app with several Bible versions and some commentaries. Cross link Services created the app.
  • "Blue Letter Bible", BLB, is another Bible app. It uses a free online reference library.
  • "Timelines" shows charts with backup data, The are mostly Larkin charts.
  • "You Version" is just Bibles but they have more than 1000 languages covered. They do offer items like Verse of the Day and reading plans.
  • "Logos Mobile app" has an iPad/iPhone app.
  • "e-Sword HD" has Bible study available.
  • "PocketBible" is a Bible Study program from Laridian. They also have apps for other platforms.

[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

This format is no longer being supported. The Word Search product has been sold to Logos and all the books are being converted to their format. ***

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 10.0 (recently upgraded to Word Search 11.0 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 (more that 5,000 sets) 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 WordSearch Bible Basic 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.
  • now uses the WordSearch Bible program. Lifeway now owns WordSearch and QuickVerse.
  • Pleasant Places Press features lesser known books that are still important. They offer books that are Cross Compatible, Laridian Compatible, or Logos Compatible

[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. As of 2013 this format is no longer used in new products but can be replaced one for one with Cross eBooks. Wordsearch Bible will import books in this format and replace them with cross books for free.

STEP Bible is now used by Tyndale House, Cambridge UK for a program they have to provide bible study tools and resources. see

[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:

[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.
  • - 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.
  • - 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.
  • Bible Analyzer - the program is free, most of the Bibles are free. A good collection of modern and older versions of the Bible dating back to the 16th century or earlier. Some other modules can be purchased inexpensively. They feature Larkin books and timeline images. This program works on:

[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] ePub

Christian creates Christian eBooks in ePub format. The also have an app called CBD Reader that supports linking.

[edit] Online Bible Study

These programs are free to use in your browser.

  • Cross Books - Online copies of some of the Word Search eBooks.
  • My WSB - online Bible Study. Uses with WordSearch or Lifeway accounts can get access to their entire library online.

[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.
  • GoBible - Audio player that contains the Bible.

[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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