e-Sword Bible Software

Sometimes I like to recommend various Bible study tools, and this is especially fun when the tools themselves are free and of good quality. Free software is often worth precisely the price you pay for it, but in the case of e-Sword, you will be pleasantly surprised. (Note: For other Bible study tools see my page Bible Study Tools, and the Participatory Study Series pamphlet Bible Study Tools.)

As might be expected, e-Sword does not come with a wide variety of current tools and Bible versions. Many of these require licenses from the copyright holders, and it simply would not be practical to provide them. Some licensed material is available for download with a key to be purchased from the publisher. On the other hand, some fairly current materials are available, such as the CEV and Good News Bible provided by the American Bible Society. There is a good selection of materials related to the KJV, and quite a number of notes from older authors (Wesley, Scofield, Matthew Henry’s commentary, and so forth).

In the area of Biblical Languages, the BDB definitions are available for the Hebrew scriptures, along with an unpointed Hebrew text. There are several older Greek texts available, including Westcott and Hort, the Majority Text, the Textus Receptus, and a few others. The Greek lexicons available are Strong’s and Thayer’s definitions. These do not constitute a very good set of tools for the serious student of the Bible in its original languages. It does provide an opportunity for reading and for some reference work. Again, this software and all of these modules are free, and in that context they are better than might be expected.

I find the screen busy and a bit hard to maintain, but the benefit to the arrangement is that it keeps the majority of your tools available at all times. I normally work with a smaller selection in my preferred Bible software (Logos Bible Software), and only open other references when I actually need them. It is possible to work the screen on e-Sword into a much better configuration; it’s probably just my personal quirks that make me feel uncomfortable with it.

Notes are easily available, and can be edited. Various reference works and Bibles are linked. Original language Bible texts are linked via the Strong’s numbers. I expect this system in a free piece of software, but I am not fond of the Strong’s numbers. If you are, this will be a feature.

Having now stated my complaints let me simply say that all other features of the software seem outstanding. The available resources are surprisingly diverse. They can be found easily on the e-Sword web site, and can be downloaded and installed using good, trouble free installation scripts. There are no lengthy files of instructions; the job is done for you.

I have also found the software stable. I am running it under Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home.

For further information on choosing Bible software, see an article I wrote for Religious Product News, Choosing Bible Software

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  1. a) Links to energion.com are broken. I don’t know if they broke before, or after you wrote your blog. [I’m guessing afterwards.]

    b) It is possible to convert Bibles found at Crosswalk.com, and Biblegteway to e-Sword format, using various e-Sword utility programs. This gives one some modern versions of the Bible tht are not otherwise available.

    c) Bible Language Research:

    i) Sentence diagramming, and other tools for original language studies that Logos, BibleWorks, etc include require more computer expertise than the audience that e-Sword is designed for.

    ii) Biblical Language modules are slowly being created by users. For various reasons, I expect the number of modules in / about Original Biblical languages to increse dramatically over the next year.

    d i) “>Options >Layout”
    On the fight hand side in the middle is a frame labeled “Tabs”. By selecting “Single Row”, your e-Sword resources will be on one line. Moving to resources is merely a matter of clicking on the arros t the end of the resource row.

    The “Toolbars” frame lets you include/exclude the tooldbars for those components.

    The rest of the things on that screen are described in Barrie Gordon & Johan Sturwig’s _e-Sword Tutorial_.

    d ii) “>Options >Resource” lets you select the resources to be displayed. [Changing these does _not_ change the length of time required to start e-Sword.]

    d iii) “>Window” lets you maximize the Bible Screen, The Dictionary Screen, or the Commentary Screen.

    Between those three things, the e-Sword work space can look a little less buzy.
    [I dont’ remember where I posted it, but there is a screenshot of e-sword, that displays the first line of John 3:1`2. The entire rest of the screen is covered with tabs of various resources for e-Sword.]

    e- The gripe you didn’t mention, was that with the LXX , Hebrew Stong’s numbers are displayed, not Greek ones.
    [This is built into e-Sword. I do not know of any reliable workarounds.]

    e) Perhaps half of the modules that are available for e-Sword, can be found at http://www.e-Sword.net. The rest are scattered throughout the net.

    http://esnips.com/web/eSwordFAQs has a file from April 2005, of what e-Sword modules were available then. [It is available as either an Excel Spreadsheet, or an OOo 1.1.x sxc spreadsheet.]



  2. The energion.com link problem was a typo, but thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt! 🙂

    The remainder of your comments are well taken. I use Logos regularly myself, but I think for many users, e-Sword will be a better choice, both because it is less expensive (read free), and also because some aspects are simpler.

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