Bible Explorer by Epiphany Software

Last Update: Jan 2006
Manufacturer
: Epiphany Software
Title: Bible Explorer
Version/Date: V3.0 Deluxe (V3.0.13.23 reviewed)
Contact: Web Site: www.wordsearchbible.com
Description: Bible Explorer has now merged with WordSearch after its update to version 3, and now uses the CROSS format modules. This version represents a complete overhaul of the program, sporting a new, clean look with one of the most versatile user interfaces available. Some new features of version 3 include:


Comments:

Click here to view a sample screen: Bible Explorer thumnail

Although this version was reviewed a couple of years ago (2003), the WordSearch site still shows Version 3 as "current" (Jan 2006), so I'm not sure if any updates have been made since then. WordSearch seems to be concentrating on the WordSearch engine instead.

Overall, I liked the Bible Explorer program. The interface really wins it for me, with nice graphics and good versatility. Version 3 is a great improvement over earlier versions.

One note: I was not able to use any of the Internet features as my office uses a Proxy server. Although Bible Explorer is designed to work with some firewalls and proxy servers, for some reason I was not able to get the Internet-activated portions to operate with my particular configuration. This should not be a problem for most home users, however. Also, I was able to update the program version over the Internet, but could not access the discussion groups or the community features of Bible Explorer.


User Interface:

Bible Explorer can be installed to run off the CD-ROM or installed completely to the hard drive. I would have preferred an ability to load "most-used" library modules to the hard drive, while keeping little used modules on the CD-ROM, but in the current version it seems to be all or nothing.

The default opening screen in Bible Explorer is a graphical "Easy Start" screen. The Easy Start screen provides the following items for using Bible Explorer:

Bible Explorer News: information about automatic updates. This area may update via the Internet connection, but I was not able to test this.
Enter the Library: this opens Bible Explorer
Daily Devotional: Opens Bible Explorer with the current day's devotional open, such as from My Utmost for His Highest
Discussion Groups: Opens Bible Explorer with the Discussion Groups section open (requires Internet access)
Daily Bible Reading: Opens Bible Explorer with the Bible View window open to today's reading selection
Video Tutorials: provides a list of 11 videos that provide an overview of Bible Explorer features. The scripts in this section did not operate properly on my Windows 2000 system, so I had to view the videos manually.
Visit Bible Explorer On-Line: Takes you to the Bible Explorer web site (requires Internet access).

Options are provided to allow you to start the program in one of the above areas rather than the Easy Start screen, if you'd rather.

Opening Books, Appearance, and Navigation

Bible Explorer has one of the most versatile graphical user interfaces I have seen. The program allows multiple windows to be opened. Smart-windowing is used so that main windows never overlap one another, and each window automatically adjusts to make the most use of the available screen space. Various menus and windows can be toggled on and off to provide additional viewing space as needed. Individual windows can also be maximized for full screen. A window bar at the bottom of the screen lists all of the windows available to allow you to quickly switch to any window (much like the Microsoft Windows task bar).

By clicking and dragging the docking button, you can combine several book types into one tabbed window. For example, you can drag all open Bible translations into one window. That window will display one of the translations, with the others quickly available through tabs in that same window. Thus, you can have the best of both worlds. For some studies, you may wish to have each book open in its own window so you can view several books at once. For others, you may want to have, say, a variety of dictionaries available at your fingertips, but only need to view one at a time. The dictionaries you want to used can be dragged into one "tabbed" window, while you keep your other resources (Bibles and commentaries, for example) open in individual windows for study. The screen capture for Bible Explorer shows one window "tabbed" with the other windows in single mode.

A library window appears on the left side of the screen. This window contains a tree-view of all the Bibles, Commentaries, and other modules available in Bible Explorer. You can easily navigate this tree to open the desired book. This window can be hidden and quickly retrieved as needed.

Desktop management tools are available that allow you to save and restore desktop settings. This lets you set up window arrangements for particular Bible studies, and easily recover those open books and display arrangements as needed.

Bible Explorer features pop-up mouse over views. When the mouse cursor is held over a verse for a brief period, a pop up window shows the full content of the verse.

You can view Scripture in either paragraph or verse mode. Paragraph mode is good when reading the scriptures, the verse mode is good when doing Bible studies so you can easily isolate verses.

Help: The help files are well done and include graphics to aid in understanding. Eleven video tutorials are also provided that walk the user through topics such as: Opening Books, The Bible Window, Arranging Windows, Searching, Word Processor, and Greek & Hebrew Word Studies.

2. Module Linking and management

Module linking in Bible Explorer is well done.

The Bible window features a Show Cross References tool. When the cross reference tool is opened, all other modules are displayed in a tree-hierarchy window. As you scroll through the scripture verses, the available cross-references will change to show only those that pertain to the current verse.

For example, if the Bible is opened to Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 1, the cross reference listing will display the Bibles, Commentaries, Word Studies and so forth that contain references to Genesis 1:1. Viewing the Commentaries tree shows that Adam Clark's and J. Vernon McGee's commentaries have discussions of Genesis 1:1, among several others. Viewing the J. Vernon McGee tree will show that 32 sections of J. Vernon McGee's commentary references Genesis 1:1. You can then select any of these references, and that reference will open in a new window, with all windows automatically adjusting.

As mentioned in an earlier section, you can also hold the mouse over a hyperlinked verse reference and a pop-up window will display that verse. If you click on the hyperlink, it will open in a new window.

To look up a word in a dictionary such as Easton's, you can begin typing the word into the word list, and the list will show the possible available selections. There was not a capability to, say, right click on a word in the Bible view and have that word looked up instantly in the dictionary.

For Strong's numbers, however, this is possible. Strong's numbers can be toggled on in the KJV Bible, and then when a number is clicked with the mouse, that entry in the Hebrew/Greek dictionary will display.

3. Modules: Bible Explorer comes with a wide variety of modules in every category, such as Bibles, Devotions, Dictionaries, Commentaries, and so forth. Several packages are available to fit your budget, with the Premium package containing all available modules. See the Epiphany software website for details on available modules.

Bible Explorer modules are unique to Bible Explorer, and cannot be used with STEP or Libronix Library System reader programs.

4. Search:

The Search tool allows you to search single books or any combinations of books in the library.  Search text is entered (phrases can be entered using quotes), and you can use AND, OR, and NEAR operators. The operators are easily entered by clicking on a button. The NEAR operator allows you to search for a combination of words occurring within a specified number of verses. For example, you may be looking for a verse reference about "Jesus" and the "Temple", but you're not sure if both words are in the same sentence or perhaps a verse apart. You can use the NEAR operator and specify 2 or 3 verses to find all such occurrences.

Several search options are provided. You can select a range of books to search, with several presets available. You can include or exclude headings and notes from the search. An asterisk (*) can be placed at the end of words in case you are not sure of the ending you need, such as "eat*" to find "eat", "eating", "eaten", and so forth.

Search Results:

Results are displayed in a Search Results window. The results shows the total number of words found, and each entry displays a number, a check block, the Book found, a description (such as verse number), and the context of the found entry. Clicking on an entry will open the appropriate book to that reference.

The copy and paste function can be used to save all or portions of the search results list. Simply mark the check blocks of the found occurrences you want to copy, and click the right mouse button to copy those selections for pasting into the word processor or your own text application.

Bible Explorer passed the "eat" AND "meat" search test as explained in the Software Evaluation page, finding 35 references containing both the word "eat" and "meat".

Bible Explorer does NOT provide the following search tools:

There are not any word lists provided to help you identify obscure words.
The search results cannot be searched again. That is, searching first on "Jesus", and then refining those results with a further search.
There is no "NOT" operator to specify words to exclude from the search. 

Although the Bible Explorer Search tool does not provide a specific Verse Reference search, such as finding all references to John 1:1, the excellent cross-reference tool in the Bible Window essentially performs the same function. Simply go to John 1:1, turn on the Cross Reference tool, and you can see all the cross references available.

Also, while Bible Explorer does not provide a "topical search" tool, several topical references are provided that provide a similar capability.

5. Editing Features:

Bookmarks: The Bible Explorer bookmark tool is well done and provides a sort of "verse list" capability. Bookmarks can be placed in any library module, and the bookmark list can be developed into a hierarchical tree-list. Thus, you can provide subjects such as "the deity of Christ", and place appropriate bookmarks under this folder.

Bible text can be highlighted to emphasis certain words or verses for Bible Studies, such as color coding used in the Rainbow Bible. Highlighting tracks with a specific Bible version.

The words of Jesus can be shown in red if desired by a simple toggle.

When text is copied from a Bible version, the verse reference and Bible version are copied as well. I did not find any tools for specifying verse reference options.

Bible Explorer includes a full features word processor window. It allows you to format and justify text using the common features of Microsoft Windows. When a verse reference is typed, it is automatically hyperlinked.

When typing Notes, References are automatically hyperlinked, and even the mouse-over pop-up window will appear.

Verse notes can also be added to the Bible View window. The verse notes are not unique to a Bible version. That is, if you add a note to KJV Genesis 1:3, you will see that same note if you view the American Standard Version. As with the word processor, a good set of formatting tools are provided for the editor.

 6. Greek and Hebrew Tools:

 Bible Explorer provides Strong's number support in both the KJV and the NASB versions. Strong's Number system includes Tense/Voice/Mood numbers for all Greek and Hebrew verbs. Strong's Dictionary also includes Brown-Driver-Briggs definitions for Hebrew, and Thayer's definitions for Greek. Several word study modules are available including NASB Greek/Hebrew concordance & dictionaries, Vincent's Word Studies, and Vine's Expository Dictionary.

7. Graphics and Audio:

Internet Discussion Groups. Available only through the Bible Explorer interface. You log in either as anonymous, or through your own screen name (you need to apply for one). You can only post messages from your own screen name. The Discussion Groups discuss various aspects of Bible Explorer and Bible Study in general. In the video demo, for example, a questions was asked looking for Bible references to drug and alcohol abuse.

A map viewer tool is available, with a dozen full color maps of David's Jerusalem, Jesus' Journeys, and so forth.

Specific modules may also contain graphics, such as Easton's Illustrated Dictionary.

8. Availability:

NRSV Version: $9.95
The Message Bible Library: $14.95
Bible Knowledge Library: $129.95


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