What is the best Bible software for people in the pew? That question doesn’t get a lot of attention, especially here. However, I want to change that with this post. What are the best Bible software options for the lay Bible student? These all run on one of the most popular platforms – Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android. A few will run on all of these platforms.
Advanced Bible Study software gets most of the focus on this site, but plenty of Bible students don’t need the high-powered scholarly Bible study software that a pastor, researcher or Bible translator needs. They only need to do a few things like…
Search for verses
Read the Bible
Study the Bible for teaching a class
Writing blog posts
Personally study the Bible
These lay people want more than a simple Bible reading app but don’t need as much as the expensive and powerful suites offer for hundreds of dollars. If you’re interested in simple Bible study apps to just read the Bible, look up some verses by searching by word or topic, and creating a reading plan, then take a look at my list of the best simple Bible apps that I published over at ChurchTechToday.com. Our purpose in this post is to look at the apps and software that fit between those simple Bible reading apps and the powerful tools that scholars and pastors need.
Olive Tree Bible
Olive Tree Bible fits in an in-between spot. A Bible study software user can get past the simple or basic Bible study level, but it really shines for the user who wants more than just reading plans and sharing to Facebook. You can do both of those, but you can do a lot more.
It runs on almost every platform from computers to smart phones and tablets. The app or software costs nothing and you’ll get some public domain books for free plus a modern Bible or two. To get a little more advanced you need to pay for extra commentaries.
Open the app on your computer or mobile device and you can just read the Bible. You can also open the Study Center (the right hand section in the image above) to look at the Resource Guide where you’ll find all the books in your library related to that passage open in the current Bible.
Tap or click on words to search, look them up in dictionaries or find out what a Strong’s tagged dictionary says about the world. This lets users who don’t know Greek or Hebrew understand the original languages behind the English words. You’ll need a Bible with Strong’s numbers tagging, like the KJV seen above. Olive Tree sells a lot of them.
Keep notes or highlight. You can also bookmark verses. If you enjoy listening to books, then buy some audio books to hear the book instead of read it. They have a lot of titles in the Christian Living category. You can also listen to your Bible or to other books.
Olive Tree Bible runs on all of the top platforms with a free app download and costs extra for the best books.
The top dog in free apps deserves a spot in our list of the best Bible software for lay people because it’s free and easy to use. In addition, if you want to spend some money, you can buy some more modern translations, books and commentaries at eStudySource.com.
e-Sword comes with a simple layout in four quadrants plus a list of the books of the Bible along the left. In each quadrant, you get tabs for each Bible or book installed. On each tab you’ll find a book or Bible with a toolbar for performing basic tasks.
The program’s main toolbar lets users search the Bible or book, jump to passages or change the layout. You don’t have to use the four main quadrant layout. You can show just one, two or three as well.
If you use a Bible with Strong’s numbers, then you can click on it to see the definitions in a tooltip popup. Also, scripture links in the other books will show up as links. They have tool tips too.
I love that there’s a large community of users who’ve made their own books out of public domain books. Check out eswordlibrary.com, one such source. And you can buy modern translations and recently published commentaries, Bible dictionaries and more from eStudySource.com as mentioned above.
Wordsearch Bible software offers a lot of power in a simple to use package. However, it only runs on Windows and Mac. There’s also a very poor mobile version for Android and iOS, but don’t bother if that’s where you want to study the most. Also, if you’re a Mac and iOS user only, I don’t recommend it because it’s not a native macOS program. They created it using the Windows software and put it in an emulation package. I include it here, because on Windows it’s great! Also, for Chromebook users or Mac and iPad users, MyWSB.com gives access to your library on the web inside a browser. And it’s pretty good.
Wordsearch 12 opens by default to a homepage, but the real magic come with you click on the Study tab or Library tab across the top of the windows. They also have links to their social media (bottom right) and app store sites for their mobile and online versions of Wordsearch.
The main Study screen has a Windows Explorer style layout with the Bible displayed on the right and the library and books shown on the left.You can show or hide both of these lists.
The first Bible study app I ever used came from QuickVerse. The creator of QuickVerse saw the value in mobile Bible study early on before the iPhone even existed. Now you can use PocketBible on all platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. It comes from Laridian and the creator, Craig Rairdin is a pioneer in Bible software.
Notice above that the app can show a lot on screen at the same time. This is true, not only on Windows and Mac, but also on the iPad and Android tablets. Few mobile apps let you view more than one or two books at a time.
The mobile version is also very capable. You can use it on iPad, iPhone and Android.
You can use the “Advanced Feature Set” that comes at a small upgrade price of $17.99 on all of these platforms. It’s slightly less on just one platform. There’s a journal feature, an auto study feature that finds all of your books with content related to a particular passage or a word. There’s an audio Bible included. On iOS you can use a reading mode that shows only the text on screen without the toolbars for a distraction free environment. There’s more so check it out at their website related to the advanced features.
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.