Reviews of

BibleWorks 9

In Bible Works, Codex Sinaiticus, Critical Apparatus, Dan Batovici, Linguistics, Manuscripts, New Testament, Scribal habits, Scripture, Textual Criticism on July 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm


2013.07.14 | BibleWorks 9.

Review by Dan Batovici, University of St Andrews.

Many thanks to BibleWorks for kindly sending us the review package.

BibleWorks is a rather visible product on the market of biblical softwares. The 9th version, reviewed here, offers a number of added elements, both in content and to the interface. With respect to the latter, among other features: a fourth column, a verse tab displaying critical notes or a critical apparatus for the verse under the mouse, a tagging tool for Greek NT morphology; I would also mention the set of transcription tools and search tools, which supports the new text-critical element of this software. With respect to content, BibleWorks 9 offers several additional modern Bible versions, the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine text with morphology, the Loeb Classical Edition versification for Josephus, the Moody Atlas of the Bible, and others.

For the present reviewer, the most important additions are the New Testament critical apparatus produced by the CNTTS (Center for New Testament Textual Studies) and the (first) results of the BibleWorks Manuscript Project; together, they open a whole new venue for the utilisation of this product.

Started in 2004 under the lead of Kent Clarke (TrinityWesternUniversity), the BibleWorks Manuscript Project is described in the help files as follows: “The long term goal of the project is to provide new transcriptions of the most frequently cited Greek New Testament manuscripts and to accompany them with manuscript images with verse locations tagged. The transcriptions are to be tagged morphologically and fully searchable in BibleWorks. Another major goal is to provide a set of tools to assist in the analysis and collation of the manuscripts.” This will be very welcomed.

As first fruits of this project, BibleWorks 9 offers new transcriptions of the New Testament from the following Greek manuscripts: Codex Sinaticus (01), Codex Vaticanus (03), Codex Alexandrinus (02), Codex Bezae (05), Codex Boernerianus (012), Codex Washingtonianus (032), and GA1141; in each case, BW9 offers separate transcription for each layer of corrections, which means they are correctly treated as a separate manuscript. Transcriptions have some capitalization added, for names, the first word of a sentence, divine pronouns; they also have some notes appended, commenting on further physical features. Commendably, the transcriptions take into account scribal features, such as nomina sacra, “iotacisms”, or the upper dash for the final ν; apparently not also the “umlaut” over vocals, as the two instances in Mark 1:2 of Codex Sinaiticus, present on the Codex Sinaiticus Project website. A note on the Sinaiticus transcription: M-O1A being the first hand, the M-O1B transcription seems to mix together several correctors (S1, ca, cb2) as identified on the Codex Sinaiticus Project website; with this comparison in mind, at least in the first chapters of John, the BW9 transcription seems not to distinguish between the corrections made in scriptorium in the 4th century (S1) and the later ones of the 5th or 6th century (mainly ca).

Even more importantly, BW9 offers images of these manuscripts. They are scanned from the one century old classic facsimiles (Lake, Kenyon, Cozza-Luzzi, etc), with the exception of the last in the list, which is featured with the images taken of the original by the CSNTM, also available online at The images have the verse locations tagged up, and are as such synchronised with the text.

To take John 3:5 as an example, BW9 can display in the main column the text of NA27, then successively the transcription of the same verse in the six manuscripts featured in this version, hand by hand. Of course one could add in the same list modern versions, morphological commentaries, dictionaries, but there are not new features, so I will not insist.  What is more important is that the images of the manuscripts are synchronised, having tags on verse locations: pressing the “Mss” tab in the third window will retrieve the same verse in the selected manuscript; see for instance the variant in Sinaiticus:


One can also retrieve in additional windows several manuscripts of that verse, which means that one can check quite easily the readings of the same verse in several manuscripts. This will prove a useful tool in class:


The manuscript column can be split horizontally in order to get the verse transcript of the six manuscripts included so far, synoptically in a collation pane, with the corrections treated as a separate manuscript, alongside the text of Scrivener (sc), Westcott-Hort (wh), Robinson-Pierpont (rp) and NA27 (na) ; places of variance are highlighted. One can also access the transcription notes at the bottom of the same column:


Another very important feature is the inclusion of the CNTTS NT critical apparatus, under the “Verse” tab. I believe the Tischendorf apparatus was already featured in earlier versions of BW. It does not seem to include Patristic evidence. For John 3:5 the CNTTS apparatus it looks like this:


The apparatus can also be expanded full screen:


The variants are hierarchical: “Lacunae”, “Significant variants”, “Insignificant variants” and “singular readings”. Various hyperlinks in the apparatus facilitate navigation and offer further resources. For instance, clicking on the “>>” symbol that follows the manuscript list supporting a given reading, a table pops down (apparent above) with the temporal distribution and the Aland categorisation of those manuscripts. This sort of friendly interface is most helpful in retrieving the needed comparative data and is very instructive. There is also a fairly complex search function within the apparatus; it seems to offer the possibility of finding all singular readings or lacunae or addition of a manuscript or a group of manuscripts. It is also possible to combine several such filters. This will prove very useful. Their help files offer various examples and plenty of explanations; well worth a good read to find out the possibilities offered by the package.

BW9 comes in a pack of tree DVDs, including a wealth of how-to-do videos. When in use, the programme can virtually clone itself so that one can work in parallel on several verses, using the same resources simultaneously without having to close any windows. The installation will take some 13GB of your hard disk, without the how-to-do-videos. BW6 seems to work rather smoothly with manuscript windows open on a machine with a 1.86 GHz processor and 1 GB RAM. BW offer NA28 (and Vulgata 5th revised edition) with BW9 replacement DVDs, see here.

The interactive and up to date CNTTS critical apparatus makes BW9 a very appealing instrument for NT textual criticism; the images (and especially the prospect of adding further manuscripts to the collection) make it more than useful in class work. Should they add in an interactive manner a textual commentary such that of Wieland Villker, that would be excellent.

Dan Batovici
University of St Andrews
dan.batovici [ at ]


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