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The Word 3

Publisher: Costas Stergiou
Version reviewed: *
Cost: Free
Reviewed: April 26, 2008
At A Glance (1-5)
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Costas Stergiou, a resident of Athens, Greece, is the author of this wonderful piece of software. The Word is fairly new to the scene, being first released in 2003. But Costas has worked hard, and in spite of being both a family man and a working man, the product has progressed rapidly.

In response to the question of why another Bible software program is needed, Costas states, "Watching every day the numerous sites on the Internet with immoral and irreligious content, I feel that yet another site that aims in promoting the pure Word of God needs no excuse for being. No apology is needed for yet another channel for the truth of God." Well, you can't argue with that!

* Note: Version 3 is beta, which means it has not been released as production-ready and may contain bugs. The reason I am reviewing this over version 2 is that I downloaded the v3 beta first, and found it to be such a stable program, more so than many other package's final release, that there was no reason to go back and check v2. I don't have any qualms reviewing or recommending v3 in spite of it's beta status.


The Word's interface is one of the most elegant, configurable, and nimble products I reviewed. Most of the larger software companies in any genre would do well to study The Word. Costas has gone through great pains to make sure the interface becomes a tool that can be wielded by the user, not an albatross that bogs you down. In fact, the more I use the product the more I am amazed. It is mind-boggling that one person has thought of, and implemented, so many useful things that just add to the product in every way. I simply will not be able to comment on all of them in this small review, if for no other reason than I am sure I have not yet found them all, as I seem to uncover more each time I use the program.

The interface in The Word consists of three types of panes: the Bible View, the Search View, and the Study View. You can open multiple windows of each view and place them wherever the heck you please. Each view is configurable to your heart's content. The Bible view, especially, can be configured in a dizzying number of ways. I counted no less than 50 options associated with the Bible view alone - what to see, how to see it, what it looks like etc.. But you don't have to worry about all those options if you don't want to; they are hidden nicely behind an options icon that brings up an easy-to-use window with all the options grouped in easy-to-understand categories.

While we are on the Bible pane, you can quickly jump to other Bible versions you have available via a thin toolbar at the top of the Bible view. Or even more useful, in my opinion, is to change the Bible view to "Compare" mode (usually designated "parallel" view in other packages). I have faulted other packages for only providing the parallel view in a row configuration, where the verses are on top of each other. I find this very difficult to compare versions, preferring instead the column view. True to form, The Word gives you the option to decide which parallel view you prefer - row or column (what a concept - let the user decide!). Even the row view, utilizing a subtle use of color change between verse blocks, is pulled of with aplomb. You can select as many version in the Compare mode as you can fit.

You can jump to passages via a Bible tree (which can be hidden from view if you don't care for this method), or through typing the desired verse in a text box.

Another nice feature in the Bible pane is the Cross Reference Links. When you turn this on, a set of verses appear at the end of each verse that are related to that verse. This is very similar to the cross-reference verses you may have in the margins of your print Bible. You can also easily add your own cross reference verses to a verse as well. Unfortunately, this feature works only with related verses. In other words, there is no mechanism to show the current verse cross-referenced across commentary or dictionary entries.

A study view is a window pane that is linked to the Bible view and can contain any number of reference modules. You can select from a set of standard references (such as all dictionaries, or all commentaries), or actually define your own list from across all reference categories. Like I mentioned, you can have multiple Study views on screen. Combined with the flexibility of choosing which modules are shown in each pane, you have a powerful mechanism to create a study desktop tailored exactly for your study needs.

I like the fact that a single-click on any word in the Bible text will automatically jump to that entry in any dictionary you have open. Other dictionaries in your study views that may not be open will still be designated as having a corresponding entry by having the book title underlined. Same with commentaries. The open commentaries will follow the verses you view in the Bible View, and other commentaries with entries for that verse are designated in the same manner - with an underlined title. In addition, you can select a set of Word lookup dictionaries. Hovering over any word in the Bible text will show a tool tip containing the entire text from the entries of that set of dictionaries.

Showing deference to the user, you can eschew the study view pane altogether and simply view commentary entries inline with the Bible text itself in a parallel view mode. This is a really cool feature, showing again how you will never feel constrained using The Word.

There are so many nice small touches that seem rather frivolous at first, yet after getting used to them I missed them greatly when I have to use another Bible software package. When viewing verse references in many places in The Word, such as the Bible Tree view, the Search View, or the Verse list section of the Bible view, all the OT references are in green, while the NT references are in red. What does this do for you? Well, I can't really articulate it, other than I love it. It makes things stand out. The results in the Search view, specifically, seem even more useful with this little interface touch.


The Search View pane allows to you search through the Biblical text. Enter a word or phrase and hit the Go button to execute the search. You will search in the text of whatever translation is currently active in the Bible view. The search is fast. I mean really fast. Did I mention it was fast? It's so fast that sometimes even when I am using other Bible software I will load The Word to search for text, because even including the load time it is still light-years faster than all of the other software packages in my roundup.

The search results are shown in a hierarchical tree list. You can then drill down to the specific verses you which to look at. Clicking on a verse will jump to that passage in the Bible view, or you can choose to display the surrounding text in the search results itself. One nice touch with the hierarchical search results is that the percent of hits against each book is shown as both a percentage and a bar graph over all the books, allowing you to very quickly zero in to the specific books that reference your search term the most. In addition, there are numerous search options that allow you to designate things like whole words only, boolean searches, even regular expressions, if you're into that sort of self-abuse.

One major omission in The Word is the inability to search on anything other than the Bible text. There is no mechanism that I could find to search through the commentaries, dictionaries, or any other general book. This is a big hit, and unfortunately negates the speed and intuitiveness of the Bible text search.


The Word comes with the basic set of resources you find with free software. Bibles such as KJV, BBE, Darby; commentaries such as Matthew Henry, JFB, Adam Clark, Keil Delitzsch, and James Fausset Brown; and Dictionaries such as Easton, ISBE, and Smith. You also get basic Greek and Hebrew from Strong's and also Vine's.

The feather in the cap here is The Word's Import tool, which opens up a wealth of resources by automatically importing modules from the Unbound Bible , Zefania XML, and e-Sword. It is the latter that is the most intriguing, as e-Sword has an excellent number of classic and contemporary works available for it, such as the NET Bible. The Import Tool, however, will not work on any e-Sword module that employs password protection on the module. This is usually the case for contemporary Bible modules such as the NIV. However, workarounds exist, as I have seen The Word installations with the ESV, NIV, and NASB. And according to Costas, there will be other formats that the Importer will recognize soon, such as Crosswire's SWORD Project.

The Importer extends The Word's reach considerably, and places modules from inferior products into it's excellent interface. Unfortunately, the product is still hampered by a lack of contemporary scholarship, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and even contemporary Bible translations.


The Word provides a nice Personal Notes feature. Personal notes is a very robust personal commentary that is viewed in it's own pane. What really makes this stand out is not only can you create notes at the verse level, but also at the chapter and book level. You an even create notes on specific Topics as well. This is a very nice feature, something I have only seen here in The Word.

A decent editor is provided to modify your notes. However at the moment you must use HTML markup to do any sort of text modifications such as bold, underline, font size, and links. Hopeful a true WYSIWYG editor will be available in the product soon. Not everyone knows HTML markup tags, nor should they in order to do basic editing with their notes. This is particularly true when entering verse references in your notes. You must use either use an href tag, or surround your verse references with special symbols in order for the editor to recognize the text as an actual verse and render it as a link. The editor provides alternative "From" and "Unto" buttons which allow you to select a verse or verse range, and it will create the href for you. This is a nice workaround, but requires many mouse clicks. Some editors in other programs automatically recognize verses as you type and create the links automatically.

Version 3 transforms your notes from version 2 into a commentary module, which means they can be viewed in a Study View pane or inline with the Bible text, just like a standard commentary. However, you cannot modify your version 2 notes. Costas has said this is a temporary solution; things will change for the final release.

There is no mechanism to create native The Word modules. However, you can get around this by creating e-Sword or SWORD modules and importing them into The Word. It would be nice, however, if the ability to create The Word modules was incorporated directly into the program.


The Word is a one-man show. However, don't let that scare you. As is normally the case with Bible software, the little guys are extremely responsive to support requests.

The main mechanism for support is the user groups, which are located at
The Word Forums. It appears the user community is very active with hundreds of posts, tons of questions, responses, and sharing of information. The author, Costas, is everywhere - responding, posting, giving advice and always present. With a day job and a family, I don't know how the man does it on top of actually doing the coding. His passion for his baby shows through in a big way.

I sent Costas an email question at 9:15 in the morning, and it was answered by 1:30pm, which is quite a feat considering he lives on the other side of the world. Excellent support from this author is to be expected.


The Word is completely free. There is no charge for the product, for any features, or for any modules. It is rare that a free product is so strong. The value for the software engine is therefore very high. However, as with nearly all the free software packages that are authored by a single person, the resources are lacking. Much of the contemporary scholarship and even Bible versions are not available. This is mitigated somewhat with the powerful Import tool, but not enough to alleviate the concern entirely.

I believe you will be very pleased with The Word as a software product, and I have given it a high score accordingly. However, much of your satisfaction will be determined by your comfort level with the available resource library, and/or your ability to import extra resources from e-Sword with the import tool. If you are looking for a free package, and resources are of concern to you, I would recommend Bible Explorer as a viable alternative.

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