HomeBible TechBible Study5 Best Bible Study Programs on the Market Today

5 Best Bible Study Programs on the Market Today

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Today’s Bible software includes incredibly powerful tools, ready for Sunday school teachers and seminary professors alike. Bible study software can be a huge investment–with costs ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Here, we’ll take a look at the five best Bible software options available on the market today. These all run on both Mac and Windows, although the last two use emulation software to run their Windows software on a Mac, so Mac users should probably focus on the first three options.

Logos Bible Software

logos-7-home-page
Discover new books and learn more about the program from the Logos 7 Home Page.

Logos 7 came out in Fall 2016 and works as a basic search, reading and devotional tool for the average Bible student. However, the technical tools included will make study at a scholarly level easier. In other words, a Sunday School teacher or a seminary professor will love Logos 7.

logos-7-exegetical-guide
Logos 7 includes great study tools called guides like this Exegetical Guide.

The Logos 7 Guides often wow new users. They turned me into a Logos Bible Software user more than 12 years ago. These Guides will search your library for content related to a passage of scripture or a word/topic and organize them with links to open books right to the section about your verse or topic. The video below covers the Sermon Starter Guide, used to find tools to help teacher or preachers prepare a sermon using Logos.

Other guides will help you study a passage of scripture, do quick language study, search your library for a topic and do a language word study. Users can also create their own guide and have it search the parts of your library as you prefer. The guides are like having a research assistant that collects info from your library in seconds.

Other great features that make Logos 7 one of the best Bible study tools available include:

  • New Sermon Editor – create your sermons right inside Logos 7 and make the searchable in the guides when you come back to a passage mentioned in your sermon.
  • Courses – video training courses that bring seminary level training to your computer thanks to the great teachers they use in these series.
  • Psalms and Proverbs Explorer – great study content about these two important books of the Bible.
  • Great Custom Layouts – organize the panes of your favorite tools in a reusable layout that’s easy to reload or switch between whenever you want it.
  • Excellent Visuals – great visual tools like images, atlas, graphs, etc.
  • Logos Home Page – a home page that shows your prayer lists, reading plans, books in your library, tutorial videos and more (see image above).

Logos also includes great mobile versions for both iOS and Android. They offer a web version if you subscribe to Logos Now or Logos Cloud. Logos 7 Base Packages range in price from $294 up to over $10,000 depending on the amount of tools you want or need. It’s pricey, but powerful.

Accordance Bible Software

accordance-12
Accordance 12 brings great new features released November 2016.

Accordance Bible Software offers Mac, Windows, and iOS versions of Accordance 12 with an Android app coming soon. It’s simple enough for the Sunday school teacher and powerful enough for the seminary professor too. It also gives users a kind of research assistant in the form of the Info Pane. Open it up and see all your commentaries, dictionaries and more. The new version adds some cool features like:

  • Papers – an internal word processor that makes user created resources inside Accordance.
  • Stacks – collect research kind of like you were taught to do with note cards in your English class and come back to it later to organize into a Bible study, sermon or paper.
  • Custom Keyboard Shortcuts – create . your own custom keyboard shortcuts
  • Upgraded Timeline
  • Upgraded Bibliography Tool
  • Research Analytics – the visuals, like graphs and charts offers some interactive features.
accordance-12-graphs
A graph of a search analytic in Accordance 12.

See search results in visual graphs and charts. As mentioned above, these now let the user interact by clicking to get more details about the results.

accordance-12-analytics
Hover over a commentary in the Info Pane and hold down the SHIFT key to freeze the content from that commentary to read it without opening the commentary.

Get Accordance 12 Lite to try it out and then upgrade to one of the collections. Starter Collection starts at about $60. Others range from $200 to $30,000 for everything they sell.

Olive Tree Bible Reader

olive-tree-bible-reader
Olive Tree Bible Reader offers a beautiful and simple user interface.

If you’re looking for a simpler Bible study tool that runs on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and Kindle tablets, then look at Olive Tree Bible Reader. It’s the best mobile app available, since that’s where the company started back in the PalmOS days. Few people know there’s also a basic Bible Reader online.

The Olive Tree Resource Guide is another sort of research assistant, which puts all of your library’s tools in a quick to find user interface. It includes copies of other Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, media books and more.

Olive Tree sells books individually or in collections starting as cheap as $20. The most expensive is the Greek Premier Collection, costs $700.

olive-tree-language-tools
Click a word in a Bible with Strong’s tagging and a popup shows a definition with lookup buttons for deeper definitions or searching of that Strong’s word.

Olive Tree shows original language details in popups with tagged Bibles. You also get the Quick Detail window in the lower left corner.

 

BibleWorks

bibleworks-10-resources-tab
BibleWorks 10 with the Resources tab showing.

BibleWorks creators use a different philosophy than most Bible software makers. Instead of a large theological library, BibleWorks focuses on great tools for Bible research and language study. You won’t find a slew of commentaries, Christian life books and whiz bang features. It’s lean and powerful.

bibleworks-browse-mode
BibleWorks 10 Browse Mode shows one translation at a time.

The user-interface has at least 3 columns with a search pane on the left, the Bible Browse window in the middle and the Analysis tool on the right. You can add a fourth pane to show a 2nd Analysis window.

The search pane has tabs, so you can do multiple complex and powerful searches and save. The Browse Window shows your Bible. Toggle between Browse Mode (shows one translation with a verse per paragraph like above) or Multiple Version Mode (shows one verse in multiple translations like below).

bibleworks-multiple-version-mode
The Multiple Version mode shows one verse in many translations. Notice the Analysis window to the right.

The Analysis Window shows all your study tools. It’s a tabbed interface where you see details about the passage in the Browse window. You get language tools, search tools, the Notes editor and a built-in word processor called Editor. This is where you can find cross references and the Resources tab, BibleWorks 10’s version of the research assistant the other programs offer. The analysis tool also loads ePub formatted eBooks.

bibleworks-10
Notice the great tools in the Notes tab in the 3rd pane from the left.

BibleWorks offers the best study notes feature of any Bible study program available. The Notes editor works like a word processor and saves in RTF files so you can get your notes out of the program and use them in a word processor.

The full version of BibleWorks 10 with most of the books they offer goes for $398. They do offer a small number of module upgrades you can add to your library. BibleWorks also partners with WORDsearch to let users open some of their WORDsearch books in BibleWorks 10.

WORDsearch Bible

wordsearch-11-home-page
The Home page shows news and deals from WORDsearch. It also has links to their site, like training resources.

WORDsearch 11, which is powered by LifeWay, shows up last because it’s not as potent as the above tools. The simple user-interface has three tabs including a Home tab, Study tab and Library. On the Home tab you’ll see news and deals from the company with support links to the WORDsearch website. The Library tab on the right shows your installed books in either list or grid format. Click to open them in the Study tab. Open multiple books by unchecking the box above the library which reads Switch to Study tab after opening a book. Search for titles in the search box. See the video below.

Click the Study tab or open a book with the check box unchecked and it will take you to Study. The toolbar above the book panes gives quick access to tools. The panes show your book content. Each pane also has a useful toolbar.

wordsearch-11-study
The Study tab is where all the work gets done in WORDsearch 11.

One of the best features of WORDsearch 11 include the NoteStack feature, which keeps track of your research ready to use after you’re done finding all the pertinent info on a passage or topic. WORDsearch 11 also has a great notes feature and built-in word processor (see below). See other great features on their site.

wordsearch-11-notestack
The Notestack feature is like study note cards you used to use in English composition class.

Buy the basic program with a few books for $40 or try WORDsearch Basic to test it out first. However, most people will want to buy one of their Libraries that start for $100 for the Teach Library and cost as much as $2000 for the Preaching Library. Once you get a library of books, you can use the My WORDsearch Bible online site, the best online Bible study site in the business. Unfortunately their iOS and Android apps are some of the least useful of the mobile versions in this roundup.

No matter what Bible software you choose, you’ll be able to do far more than you ever could with a few books and pen and paper. It’s really amazing how you’ll be able to dig in and study God’s Word!

 

Kevin Purcell
Kevin Purcellhttp://www.kevinpurcell.org
Dr. Kevin Purcell is a pastor, writer, and tech enthusiast. He serves High Peak Baptist Church as pastor. He is passionate about digital Bible study and enjoys helping others delve into God's Word using tech tools. Kevin is married to Barb, an elementary school teacher, and is father to two college-age sons. Pastor Kevin blogs at https://www.kevinpurcell.org/

23 COMMENTS

  1. I oversee 6 colleges in Central Africa as the ED of Trinity Center for World Mission and Trinity Biblical Institute. Our headquarters is in Kapchorwa Uganda and Dahlonega, GA Do you know of any discounts or can you recommend a starting point? We have about 1000 students in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan. On my next trip I hope to bring a dozen used laptops. If you have an old laptop that is Windows based and would like to donate it, the address is 199 Twin Fawns Trail; Dahlonega, GA 30533

    Thanks for this article and the comments. Pastor Pete Anderson

  2. I appreciated your review of these Bible Study software programs. I’ve used Online Bible for Mac since the 1990’s. Unfortunately they will not be updating it to the new 64 bit Mac OS Mojave. That leaves me in a place where I’ll need to look for new study software. The great thing about Online Bible is that they had special pricing for missionaries. While I served overseas it made it very affordable for a complete set a study tools. Even at the retail price of $79.99 it was a great buy, and the user interface very intuitive and easy to become proficient. A similar package in E-Sword is around $170, Logos & Accordance around $500. I still work with missionaries and try to encourage the to use Bible Study software but how can I do that when 1. They may end up paying $500-$1300? 2. The complexity of learning some of these software packages is such that I know some have just left them unused.
    Any suggestions for transitioning from Online Bible to something else?

    • I understand how difficult it is to transition from one thing to another. The cost of the tool you’re using is low, but I think that also means it’s not as feature rich. You may not need all the features of the more expensive tools. You didn’t say how much acmes you have to the Internet when you use your bible programs. You could try something like Bible Gateway which is inexpensive if you subscribe to a paid tier. Other than that, consider Olive Tree, one of the simpler tools or PocketBible from Laridian which is also very simple to use. I know Accordance has discounts for missionaries and believe Logos might also so contact them to see what you can get.

      • The Online Bible was one of the first Bible software’s. It would be quite comparable to e-Sword in features. I’ve downloaded and done some trial work with e-sword, it may take some time, but it doesn’t seem to have any more resources than Online Bible had, except for in the open source area, and some of the extra modules to purchase. I have around 30 English translations, three lexicons in Greek and 3 in Hebrew, around 20 commentaries and equal number of Dictionaries. Since I work a lot in Italian I like that I have four Italian translations. Not even Logos has that, in fact it’s hard to find ANY current Bible software that has four Italian translations.
        I will keep checking and did call Logos, but they acknowledged they couldn’t even come close to the price per feature that I am getting with the Online Bible. I’ll try Accordance and some of the others.
        Thanks for your input, and feel free to email me, (I think you should have that in the post info.)

  3. BibleWorks announced a couple of months ago that it is going out of business.
    Whilst it remains an amazing trove of ancient documents, it never adopted
    Unicode fonts, so has fallen woefully behind the rest of the world.

  4. I am retired on Disability which means I’m on a fixed income. However, I would like to save my $$$’s for the best fit of these five mentioned. I’ve been using BibleHub.com and paper to diagram Greek and Hebrew syntax and then doing word studies as well as canonical idioms and customs – doing me best to be an audience member when the words were delivered. I have the luxury of Seminary…but it was 30 years ago. So I’m knocking the barnacles off the Greek and Hebrew I studied.

    Up to this point, I was thinking Logos first…mostly based on reviews and endorsements. Accordance was second on my list due to the high cost of the exegetical tool package in Logos. Now, thanks to this article, I’m reconsidering Bibleworks. So now I’m stuck on which of the three.

    If you were stranded with only enough resources to buy one package, which would choose *based on the following:*
    1. Tools and resources for exegesis.
    2. Expert analysis of the text in it’s canonical context.
    3. Commentaries for validating, correcting, expanding, etc. your research. Both contemporary and church fathers.
    4. Not interested in Exposition…would like to create my own.

    Thank you, brother.

  5. I will like a free bible I am just beginning to know the word of God. Where can I get a free bible and a good bible study course?

  6. MySwordBible is my No. 1 choice (Android). Being a linguist with a special interest in several ancient languages, it does for me quite an excellent job!

  7. I suggest you take a look at OnlineBible.net – it’s a lot better than Esword and I’ve just spent a week checking around (since it wouldn’t work on my new monitor – a problem they since fixed), and I couldn’t find anything free or low-end that even came close to the functionality. It’s free for the program and a lot of translations and modules and allows advanced Bible study quite easily and intuitively.

  8. Do you have any suggestions for someone who has run the wheels off of Bible Companion Series? When my Vista PC dies, BCS goes with it. We could do almost all our Bible research using this tool.

  9. I can’t believe that e-sword is not on this list. It is highly expandable, gives access to free and paid extensions and is pretty much all encompassing.

    I would suggest any article which does not mention e-sword must have a strong bias towards or away from something.

    • I can understand that fans of one program versus another would like to see their choice on the list. I didn’t include e-Sword because it doesn’t handle advanced Bible study at the level that these five programs handle it. It is a great program and I loved using it until I got access to the above five applications. Thanks for reading the site and this post.

      • Kevin, I have not tried these programs that you are suggesting. But I started out with Quick Verse for Windows. My invoice number was #24. Advanced with later versions, even went to Logos Scholar Version. What I experienced is that these later tools contained so much data that what they produced was useless. A small search would be so slow and contain so much information that would not be of benefit to the solution. Most times I could not even read all of it while using speed reading. The problem is that these programs look every where for information. God’s Word is self defining it is complete all that is needed. A search engine which will locate the portions which are associated with the subject at hand will out preform all others. You see all others are promoting man’s concepts. What is wrong with all this software including E-sword is there is no one teaching the public how to use it. Not the mechanics but how to get the information that is important. I would like to see a contest between users gaining true prospective from the Bible using different programs. Even one where the users were not professional at using computers.

        • Appreciate your thoughts, Mr. Cheek. Except to the born-again, obedient, and seeking of YHWH, He is not likely to give much understanding regardless of resources through technology. “Line must be upon line, precept upon precept…” not commentary upon commentary.

      • I have used Logos (Scholars level) for years as well as online Bible, theWord, e-sword, bible analyzer etc. Although Logos 7 has some great features, I find that for sermon prep, Bible study prep and the things most pastors do, E-sword is by far the better tool. I use Logos when I need some of the advanced features like Kittle but esword has great free tools like M & M, K&D, AMGL, unabridged Liddle and Scott BDB and Thayers, plus tons of great commentaries. BTW I have been a College and Seminary professor for over 30 years and have recommend esword or Bible analyzer for most of my students (unless they are going into the academic world.)
        LJenks

    • Ditto for PC Biblesoft which has served me extraordinarily well through the years and, while having all the bells and whistles up to doctoral level research, typically costs half of logos for upgrades. Admittedly, their tech support could use either more help or a sense of urgency!

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