For a long time doing Bible study on a Mac meant getting Accordance Bible Software, a couple of lesser known programs without a lot of support for current Bible translations and resources, or installing something like Parallels software to run Windows Bible study software on a Mac. Today, there’s a number of great Mac Bible study programs that run fine on OS X.
Search the Mac App Store and there’s still not a lot of quality there, but that’s alright. Go directly to the source and download the programs below that don’t show up in the app store and start enjoying some excellent Mac Bible study software. To make this list, the program must run as a real Mac app, not a Windows app using emulation software like WINE.
Here are the 5 best Mac Bible study programs in alphabetical order.
Accordance Bible Software
Long the standard for Bible study on a Mac, Accordance 11 from Accordance Bible Software offers a rich, powerful package with everything a user might need or even want in Bible software. Some of the best features we get with Accordance include:
- A true Mac program without any Windows code ported over using WINE or some other overlay
- Speed with power in one package
- Excellent search features
- Original language study
- Extensive options for screen layout
Learning to use Accordance will take some time, but the company offers some free training to help new users. Mastering Accordance takes time because it’s not simple to figure out. For example, entering a Bible verse may take the user to that verse, but it may not, depending on how the user enters it. Sound confusing? It can be.
Also, sometimes the program displays one verse at a time or it shows the verse in context of a few verses or a chapter or more. The user must learn how to change the settings to make it show what the person wants to see.
Despite the complexity, Accordance is a great program. It offers all of my favorite features in a single, powerful Mac Bible study program, including a feature filled notes tool, lots of top-flight digital content and quick and powerful navigation.
One lesser known feature includes some of the best multimedia content. The company produces what they call the Bible Lands Photo Guide with pictures taken on site in Israel. There’s also a nice collection of artwork centered around Bible topics and passages.
The program relies on Dropbox for syncing user content, which isn’t idea. However, it’s available if needed. The new iPad app also syncs via Dropbox or direct sync over Wi-Fi, but this requires a manual connection between the Mac and iOS app while they’re sharing the same network.
Accordance doesn’t come cheap. They sell Collections starting with the Starter Collection at $59.90, but it doesn’t include a lot. There isn’t much multimedia content and only has the ESV and KJV plus a few older public domain translations. We only get is the IVP New Testament Commentary plus a few public domain commentaries and references. The other Collections include:
- Bible Study – $199
- Original Languages – $299
- Essential – $499
- Advanced – $999
- Ultimate – $1,999
Of those, the real bang for the buck is the Essential Collection, if you can afford $500. If not, start with the Original Languages Collection and upgrade as soon as you can afford to. Accordance also offers payment plans.
Buyers can get it directly from Accordance or from the Mac App Store for $50, but I don’t recommend that route since it’s not updated as quickly as the version they sell on their site.
Bible Study from Olive Tree
Olive Tree’s started in mobile Bible software early on, but recently Harper Collins bought them. The company still keeps their mobile apps fresh and now makes a Windows and Mac version. It’s one of the few decent Bible apps available in the Mac App Store.
Olive Tree’s Mac Bible Study program runs on Apple OS X and provides Apple fans a great native Mac app that runs quickly.
The library of digital books available from Olive Tree makes this an intriguing solution. However, it’s not just a simple book reader. Multiple features make it an excellent option for users. Here’s a few of the reasons I put it on this list of the best Mac Bible study programs.
First, the program runs with speed, offers a healthy library of books, and uses a simple user-interface. The Bible Study app from Olive Tree quickly shows users content about a given passage in the Resource Guide, which opens on the right side of the screen. It lists all the resource in a user’s library that include information about the passage displayed on left. Users can customize what it shows. See the customization option in the screenshot below.
Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the Resource Guide tab from inside Preferences and there’s a link to the company’s online store where users can buy more books. The bookstore opens inside the Olive Tree Bible Study App window. I like that the store’s there if you want it, but it stays out of the way until you do. There’s also a link on the at the bottom of the Library sidebar on the left.
Olive Tree’s Bible Study App includes all the basics expected in a Bible Study program including…
- Simple and complex search
- Easy navigation in books
- Notes features
- Syncing to backup notes, highlights, and bookmarks
One more useful feature shows up in the lower left corner of the app. Hover over a hyperlink and the information that link points to shows up in the Quick Details section. In the example above, I hovered over the word Prophecy in 1 Corinthians 13:2 in the NASB with Strong’s Bible. It quickly showed the Strong’s Dictionary entry for that word. There’s a tiny scroll bar that lets you move up and down in longer entries. Unfortunately, it’s not resizeable.
Bible Glo Premium
I only include Bible Glo Premium because of the rich media content that the program includes. Also, it’s available on the Mac App Store for only $34.99. The rest of the app looks beautiful, but doesn’t offer as much for advanced Bible study. The media along makes it worth the cost.
Logos Bible Software
One of the most complex and feature filled programs comes from Faithlife. That’s the new name of the company that sells Logos Bible Software.
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Logos recently received a major update to Logos 6 and we enjoyed a live demo from Faithlife’s Sean Boisen on the Theotek Podcast. You can watch the demo below.
There’s too much in Logos to give a comprehensive overview, but let’s start with the first of my three favorite features in Logos, the Guides.
The Passage Guide is what enticed me to first buy Logos 3 many years ago. Use it by entering a passage into the search box (see the red box on the top left of the image below) or from the Home Screen. Logos searches your library for information related to that passage. The Guide searches the following kinds of books by default:
- Cross References
- Ancient Literature
- Parallel Passages
- Cultural Concepts
- Biblical People, Places, Things, and Events
- Media Resources
- Logos Media
- Interesting Words
- Compare Versions
That’s a lot of content. Your results may not include everything on this list. Only the groups that include books in the user’s library will show up in the results. Also, the last few come from websites.
The Passage Guide shows the results in a long list, as seen above. There’s an arrow that points to the right when that section is closed (see the red arrow on the left above). Click it to open that section and the program will search those books of that kind.
Users can add other sections by clicking on the Add drop down link in the upper right corner of the Passage Guide window. See the arrow pointing to it in the upper right of the above image.
Other Logos Guides include the Exegetical Guide, focused on original language study, the Sermon Starter Guide, for finding content to put in a sermon or Bible study, and the Topical Guide, which searches the library by topic instead of passage. Find them all from the Tools menu.
The Copy Bible Verses tool seems like a mundane feature to highlight, especially when a Logos user considers the hundreds of awesome tools. Yet, people copy the Bible into their documents for creating sermon preaching notes, Bible studies, books or any other document created about the Bible. This tool makes it so easy.
The Copy Bible Verses tool grabs the verses the user selects or enters into the dialog box at the top of the window. It can copy from Bibles or other books and place the text on the clipboard for manually pasting into another program or it will automatically format it and paste it into certain programs on the Mac.
The feature works with Microsoft Word and the following:
- Proclaim (their worship presentation software)
- LibreOffice Writer
Logos Data Sets give users detailed information about their passages. This makes it easy to understand the Bible and therefore teach the word. One of the newest that came out in Logos 6 is the Factbook. It gives details about people, places, geographical information and more. See it below.
The above example shows Bethlehem (of Judea). We get media like maps, images and such. Then we find dictionary entries and references to the place in the Bible. You can’t see the other items in the Factbook list related to this entry. We get Hebrew and Greek Lemmas, a list of library search results from the Logos library, community tags, and more.
PocketBible for Mac OS X
Laridian also got an early start in mobile Bible software. I first used PocketBible on a Palm and then Pocket PC PDA. They branched out to iOS and Android. Their Windows program is a simple tool, but they recently did a Kickstarter campaign to see how many users would want PocketBible on a Mac. The campaign successfully got funded and they produced the program.
PocketBible doesn’t look as pretty as some of these, but it’s simple and fast. It includes a great search feature and a nice collection of books. The designers paid close attention to the layout tool making it easy to set things up quickly to organize the open books.
Along the left we see a mult-use window called the Study Panel that includes tabs for easily navigating the main features in PocketBible. Search, manage bookmarks, highlights and notes, and quickly navigate to a passage.
PocketBible takes advantage of their built-in Cloud Sync to keep multiple machines or devices up to date with the user’s latest information.