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E-Sword by Rick Meyers

Last Page Update: Jan 2006
: Rick Meyers
Title: E-Sword
Version/Date: V7.7.7 (Current January 2006)
Description: E-Sword is a well done freeware Bible study program. E-Sword is very easy to use and should be intuitive for most users, and even includes a STEP reader. It provides a fixed window layout of Bible text, Commentary, and Dictionary views for simple Bible study, along with a well designed notes tool. The design of E-sword concentrates on ease of use over providing tons of complicated features, yet it still provides a powerful tool for most users. It can be downloaded from the web site above, or a CD with most of the available modules can be obtained for a modest donation (the list of available modules has become too large to fit on a single CD).

A PocketPC version is also now available.

Comments: This review is based on a CD-ROM version of this program, updated with the latest engine.

The number of modules available for e-Sword has been growing, and even includes the Lockman Foundation's New American Standard Bible (NASB) for an additional license fee, and J.P. Green's Modern KJV and Literal KJV translations. Other licensed Bible versions such as the NIV are not available, but this shouldn't hinder most Bible studies. Webster's 1828 English dictionary is also now available, which is a great homeschool resource.

Screen Capture (click image to view): esword

1. Installation and Startup

When started, the program loads all installed modules, and displays a "user tips" window. You can view other tips, and you can disable this window from appearing on subsequent startups. If Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotions are loaded, this window also appears at startup, unless disabled.


E-Sword uses a four window layout. The left column window displays an index of the Bible for selecting Book and Chapter. The middle top window contains Bible Verse text. The middle bottom window displays Dictionary entries. The right column window displays the Commentary entries. The Bible Index can be moved to the right side or turned off, and the positions of the other three windows can be changed as well, all from the Layout Options screen. In addition, the size of the three text windows can be changed as desired, and the Menu contains options for maximizing any one window, then displaying all windows again.

The Resource tool under the Options menu lets you select those books that will displayed in the tab bar over each book view window. Thus, you may have five Bible translations on your hard drive, but only regularly work with two of them. Rather than cluttering your desktop, you can mark just the two you use most often. If you need another translation, simply open the Resource tool, mark the needed translation, and its Tab will appear in the Bible view window for selection.

The e-Sword Bible view displays text a chapter at a time. If necessary, a scrollbar appears to allow you to view all of the verses. The PageUp and PageDown keys also let you scroll the text. Icons at the right of the Bible view window allow you to move to the previous or next Chapter or Verse (the verse tools are useful in the Compare window, which displays one verse at a time). You can also use the Function keys instead of the mouse.

The Bible Tree window helps you to quickly go to a needed verse. The window displays every book of the Bible in a table of contents order. If you select a book, the chapter numbers expand beneath the selection. You can then click a chapter number to go to that chapter in the Bible view. As mentioned above, this tree can be toggled on or off for more screen space.

There is also a Lookup Reference Box on the toolbar. You can enter a verse reference, such as "1 Jo 1:1", or "2 John 1:1" (abbreviations don't have to be exact), and instantly go to that verse in the Bible view. A pull down menu keeps a history of previous verses, and you can select the previous and next arrow icons to go to previously entered lookups.

Some pop-up windows such as the verse list prevent you from working in other windows. You have to close the verse list window first. Other pop-up windows, such as the Search tool do not prevent you from working in the background windows.

Desktop settings are saved so when E-Sword is restarted, it will appear the same way as you left it. There are no options for individual desktop settings.

Fonts displayed in each text window can be specified, although there are no adjustments for font colors or background colors. However, there is an option to add a "textured" background to the text areas.

The Help file is a standard Windows help file, and provides lots of graphical screen shots and good detail on the program operation.

3. Modules:

The list of modules available for E-Sword has grown greatly. Although many of the licensed modern translations are not available such as the NIV and NKJV, many good Bible versions are available including Lockman Foundation's NASB (though you must pay a license fee for this module). Also available are J.P. Green's Modern King James Version and Literal King James Version. E-Sword has become popular enough that there are quite a few user made modules available for it now. 

E-Sword also contains a simple STEP module reader. The STEP format has been very popular, marketed widely through Parson Technologies' Quickverse program and iExalt's Wordsearch. The STEP reader has a limited search function. 

The KJV Bible with Strong's numbers displays the Strong's number after each word as a superscript. There is no ability to toggle these numbers off. Rather, you can load a KJV without Strong's numbers if desired. Footnotes are displayed after appropriate verses in lighter text. These also cannot be toggled off.

There does not seem to be any ability to change the Bible view from the standard verse by verse format to a paragraph format.

4. Module Linking:

To select a Bible version to view, simply click on the index tab for that version over the top of the Bible text window.

A compare tab is available that displays multiple versions in a single column. For example, verse 1 of KJV, verse 1 of MKJV, verse 1 of LITV, then verse 2 of KJV, and so on. The Compare Bible option lets you select any combination of the loaded Bible versions to compare.

The Parallel tab displays up to 4 Bible versions in a side by side format.

E-Sword does not provide a parallel Gospels tool.

The commentary window is synchronized with the Bible window, thus the commentary for Matthew 1:1 will appear when that verse is being viewed. When working with personal verse notes, the commentary synchronization can be turned off. You may want to edit a note for a particular verse while viewing another!

Simply double clicking on a word will view the definition in the Dictionary window. Other dictionary entries can be viewed by clicking the appropriate tab at the top of the Dictionary window.

Hyperlinks are provided for verse references. Clicking on a hyperlinked reference in a Dictonary or Commentary window will open that verse in the Bible Verse window.

Mouse-over tooltips are supported for reference hyperlinks and Strong's numbers. Simply hold the mouse over a Strong's number and the lexicon entry for that number is displayed in a pop-up tooltip window. Holding the mouse over a verse reference will display that verse in a similar pop-up tooltip window. The pop-up capabiity can be toggled off if not desired.

Right clicking on a selection provides: Quick Search; Search (next/previous); Copy, Copy Verses, Paste into notes; Verse List; Highlight verse, Mark; Display Book/Chapter Comments.

5. Searching:

To use the Bible Search tool, you can enter words separated by spaces, or a Phrase. Then select either All Words (AND), Any Words (OR), or Phrase search. You can select Include Partial Match to provide wildcard ability, and Include synonyms to provide more of a topical ability. You can also enter words to Exclude from the set (logical NOT). Finally, you select a range from the Entire Bible, Old or New Testament alone or a sequential range from any book to any book (you cannot search, for example, Genesis, Malachi, and Luke).

There does not seem to be any ability perform a proxmity search.

E-Sword does not provide a list of words, which can be handy if you're not sure if a word exists in the current translation.

The Dictionary Search allows you to enter one or more words, select an All Words, Any Words, or Phrase search, Include Partial Match, Exclude words and then search. Topics found are listed in the top window of the tool, and selecting a result displays the entry in the bottom window. In the Dictionary Search window, there are no print or copy tools available, but are not really needed. You can select and copy using the normal Windows mouse function, or better yet, enter the desired word in the actual Dictionary Window, where you can copy or print the full article using E-Sword tools. 

The Commentary Search works the same as the Dictionary search.

From the Menu, you can also perform an extended search that allows you to search multiple books within each category. For example, to search all Commentaries, use the Extended Search tool under the Commentaries Menu, select all the commentaries you desire, and perform the search. In the results window, you can double click any desired entry, which will open it in the Commentary window (in this example), where you can print or copy it as needed. 

There were no obvious tools for performing Bible Reference searches, such as finding all commentaries with entries for John 1:1.

There are also no specific topical searches, although as mentioned above the "synonyms" selection option in the Bible search tool allows topical type verses in the Bible.

6. Bible Search Results:

The Bible search results are displayed in two windows in the search tool. The bar above the upper window displays how many verses were found, how many words were searched, and the total number of "hits". The upper window displays each found verse reference, with a single line of the context of the verse. Single clicking any verse with the mouse will display the complete verse in the bottom window. Double clicking a verse will open that verse in the Bible View window. The Search window remains open to allow you to view other passages.

Search results can be added to a Verse List (see below), printed, or copied to the clipboard for use in other programs or the notes editor. There does not seem to be a capability to save search results for later retrieval in E-Sword, and you cannot perform refined searches on the current results. Verse lists, however, can be saved and added to later.

E-Sword passes the eat AND meat search test (see evaluation criteria). The default search is to perform an exact search, so searching eat does not find the word meat.

7. Editing Features:

A limited bookmark capability is provided. Along the right side of the Bible View window are 10 tabs. Right clicking on a tab allows you to set a bookmark to the current verse. Although you can't tell which verse a tab is set to simply by looking at it, mouse-over tooltips will show the verse set at each tab.

E-Sword supports a good verse list capabiilty. The verse list tool allows you to create topic titles, such as "Angels". One title comes with the program titled, "Does Our Shepherd Lose His Sheep". You can edit titles, and delete subjects. You can manually add verses to the list of relevant verses, and they appear in the uppermost of two windows in the tool. Clicking on any of the verses will show the complete verse in the lower window. Verses in the list can be deleted, and their position in the list can be moved.

The Search Results list can be added to the verse list. The Add to Verse Lists tool also allows you to edit the list before adding verses. Each verse has a check mark before it so you can eliminate verses if desired.

Another way to add verses is to select a verse list to work with, say the study on Angels. The verses in the list will appear at the top of the screen in the toolbar. You can right click on any verse and select the verse list option. You can then add or delete the current verse from the verse list.

You can copy verse lists to the clipboard, using the copy verses tool.

The Copy Verses tool provides the following options. You can select to abbreviate book names, include the translation name, or include character formatting. Reference delimiters, such as (John 1:1) or [John 1:1] can be defined. You can select from 7 format styles, which vary where and how the verse references appear in the copied text.

The Copy Verses tool can be used from the Bible text as well.

A hightlight and marking feature is provided to allow you to mark sections of Scripture passages. You can select from a variety of pastel colors, and a variety of underline styles. Simply select the words to be marked, and use either the color highlight or text mark tools on the toolbar. Text markings are saved when you exit the program.

E-Sword displays the words of Christ in red if the Bible module supports that feature, such as the ISV. The KJV Bible module, for example, does not support this.

Print and print preview capabilities are provided. Full formatting is supported, including text highlighting and marking.

E-Sword does not support the creation of user developed modules for Bible versions or Commentaries. However, there are third-party tools that provide this capability. 

Bible Study Notes:

E-Sword supports both Topical notes and Verse notes. 

Topical notes allow you to create notes based on subject topics. For example, you might want to do studies on Salvation, The Holy Spirit, and so forth. Topic subjects can be selected from a pull-down menu, and titles can be deleted or edited as needed.

Verse notes are also supported, and these can be sychronized with the Bible view if desired. You can toggle synchronization off, which is handy when you want to create a new verse note, but need to view a different Bible passage. Only one set of verse notes is supported, so you cannot have different sets for different users.

The Notes editor provides full editing features. Notes can be searched, printed, and copied.

8. Greek and Hebrew Tools:

E-Sword fully supports Strong's Numbers, including the ability to search quickly and to view the lexicon entries with pop-up tooltip windows. A Greek New Testament is available as a module. A King James Concordance is provided that lists each Strong's Number, then shows the Hebrew/Greek word, the transliteration, the total number of KJV Occurrences, and lists the passages where the word is found.

9. Multimedia support:

E-Sword provides a Graphics Viewer for viewing maps and other images.

There are several graphical modules, including: Son Light Bible Atlas, Rev. Clarence Larkin's Book of Charts, and Gustave Doré New Testament Woodcuts, among others

There is no audio support in E-Sword, such as for reading the Scriptures.

10. Cost and support:

You can download E-Sword and all modules at no cost from the Internet. There are no nag screens or registration to deal with, and E-Sword is provided for free. Rick Meyers does ask for donations to support the ministry, but they are not required. If you send a donation of $15 or more, you can obtain a CD-ROM with the latest software version and all available modules.

E-Sword has been periodically improved over the past couple years, and the list of add-on modules is still growing.

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