Bible Software Review
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Lightning Study Bible

Publisher: HeavenWord
Version reviewed: 2.5
Cost: Free
Reviewed: April 26, 2008
At A Glance (1-5)
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In all my years of working with Bible software, I had never heard about the Lightning Study Bible (LSB) until a reader of my website recently brought it to my attention. However, the product has not been updated in over four years, and the website nearly as long. It would appear that the product is longer being updated or supported, though is still available for download. But as you'll read below, it turns out it is still being supported, just not updated.


The interface is pretty basic. There is a tree control pane on the left that controls most of the functions, and a large open pane on the right for opening books.

To open your books, select the Book tab from the tree control pane. From here you can see a list of books in each category. Double-click on a book and it will open on the right. Books automatically open in a tiled fashion, and you must click one of the Tile Window buttons to arrange them in a readable layout, though you have no say in the order that they are laid out. I find the vertical layout the best, as it allows for better side-by-side reading and comparisons. Even after you have tiled your windows, each subsequent book is opened across all the others, and the tile button must be clicked again to get them in order.

The books are automatically linked to start. You can easily turn off synching for any book using a button on the books toolbar, and you can even turn off any individual book from causing a synch in the other books. In other words, you can select your commentary to automatically synch to your Bible text, but if you turn of it's "Initiate Synch" button, you can scroll through your commentary without causing your Bible to scroll with you. This is a well-thought out feature.

Bible windows have options to show Strong's numbers (if they exist for that version), and to jump to a specific verse, either by using a tool to select book, chapter, and verse, or by typing in the verse freeform.

The Open Book tab in the tree control is a table of contents for the currently selected book. So if you are on a Bible window, the tree structure is a list of all Bible books, chapters, and verses. With this open, you can simply click on the verse here instead of the Bible pane and move through the verses in that fashion.

The tree control also contains a "Synchs" tab, which very quickly shows you all the Bible references, commentary entries, Topics, and root Greek words for the verse you are on. It was extremely fast, and very easy to use. I was unexpectedly impressed. It was very similar to the Passage Guide in Logos, or the Cross-Reference feature in WORDSearch, but much faster (though it has much fewer resources to manage).

There is a My Study tab, which is very similar to the Synchs tab, except that it works for a range of verses and is not tied to any currently open book.

Another neat little feature is the ability to open a "Zoom" window, which shows you the Strong's info for each word you scroll over with your mouse in the Bible pane.

You can also open an internet window, and browse the internet from an embedded window in the program. Many of the software packages have this now, but considering how old LSB is, that was a feature way ahead of its time.

Finally, LSB includes the Lightning Atlas, which is a map of the Middle East. It contains a large list of cities (I was not able to find if that list was comprehensive, or just ones that are more well-known) that you can select and they will appear on the Atlas. You can also determine distance between two cities, which is nice.

Unfortunately, LSB was the buggiest of all the products I tested. I encountered a number of bugs related to verse selection, a number of buttons didn't work right, or at all, and it was the only product to actually crash.


Searching is very basic. There is a text search, which will search your Bible text or Strong's words, with a few options.

Secondly, there is a Topics and Roots browser, which allows you to enter a topic, such as "sacrifice" or "Holy Spirit", or a Strong's number, and the browser will give you a list of all the resources that contain information on that topic.


The library for LSB is not very large, but it does have enough contents to make it worthwhile. It contains a small set of Bibles with the KJV and ASV, of course. But somehow Heaven Word was also able to acquire the rights to sell the NASB, along with the NASB exhaustive concordance and cross-references.

The standard set of older commentaries are available - such as Matthew Henry, Robertson's Word Pictures, Keil & Delitzsch OT, and Jamieson, Fausset & Brown. You also get some decent dictionaries - Smith, ISBE, and Unger's to name a few.

Some of the content is free, some has to be paid for separately. The free content was just a bit hard for me to find. After you get to, select the "Free Lightning Resources" link on the menu at the left.


There is a note pane that runs along the bottom of the interface. You can enter very basic notes that are saved and linked to the Bible text. But there is no clue on which verses have notes, which makes them less useful. The Notes pane also has a [Links] tab, which supposedly allows you to save links to various resources, but I was never able to get it to work.

There is no method to create your own books.


There is no user community to speak of, and as I mentioned, the website looks very old. Product support consists of a single page with six issues listed. There are a large number of contact emails listed, some of them seemingly in conflict with each other. I sent an email to the company on Saturday morning, and got a reply from them by Saturday afternoon! That's pretty impressive. In response to the question of whether the product is still being supported and whether or not you can still purchase items from the web page:
Yes, the product is still supported, and content can still be purchase from the web page. In recent years, we've done more work directly with a large print publisher rather than emphasize Christian retail sales.
So, it sounds like the product is still being supported, and questions about the product are being handled (on Saturdays, no less!). But the product is obviously not being updated or cared for, and the attentions of it's authors are elsewhere.


You can download the program and about 15 resources or so. This is barely enough to get you started. Remaining resources are reasonable. But you can also spring for a bundle pack, which ranges anywhere from $15 to $40. Value here is pretty minimal, though the NASB study bundle is not bad. But compared to what you get for comparable price with other products, it's not a good value.

Copyright, 2002, 2008
Foster Enterprises
Email me at: Jerry [ at ] Fostertribe [ dot ] org