Bible Reader from Olive Tree Software

by PocketGoddess on November 18, 2004

I’ve reviewed quite a few Bible software applications in my time, for both Windows desktop PCs and handheld devices, but I’ve never seen such a wealth of resources before I took a look at Bible Reader. No matter what translation you want to take with you on a mobile device, I can almost guarantee that it’s available for Bible Reader. Want the Tanakh from the Jewish Publication Society? No problem. How about the Septuagint or the Hebrew Masoretic Text? Foreign language Bible such as Swedish, Romanian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Dutch, or Albanian? You can get those too, and many of them are free. About the only translation you can’t get is the ever-popular NIV, but that’s because Laridian has an exclusive license for it. All other popular English translations are available, and for reasonable prices.

Of course none of that matters if the Bible Reader program itself is difficult to use, but you don’t have anything to worry about on that front either. I will advise you though to budget some time to learn all the ins and outs of the program, because an incredible array of options is available. Basic operation is like many of the other Palm OS Bible applications currently available; the default toolbar at the top shows the currently loaded translation, and tapping on the book/chapter/verse information brings up the verse chooser. Icons on the right provide quick access to the search, bookmark, and note functions, as well as a verse history that makes it very easy to go back and forth between multiple passages. If you never get past this point, you have a very simple, easy to use application that will allow you to keep the Bible with you at all times.

If you want a bit more power, choose a Bible that comes with a lexicon, or the new atlas resource that’s currently in beta testing. Simply access the Options menu and choose “Split Screen” to open a second window below the Bible. Depending on which resources you choose, you can tap on a highlighted or underlined word to see a definition or a map of that location. This allows you to go a bit deeper into God’s word and learn more about the context of a word or the location of an ancient city or town without too much stress or aggravation from trying to juggle two or more books at once. If you want to go even further, choose to add a GRAMCORD Bible to your English translation and study the Bible in the original Greek or Hebrew. There’s no better way to enrich your understanding, especially considering that choices have to be made every time the Bible is translated. When you study the original text, you can see nuances and secondary meanings that are obscured or even lost when translated into a modern language.

The final step is to spend some time really learning all the “secrets” of Bible Reader. I’ve never seen a more customizable and configurable handheld Bible application– though I must admit that the first time I looked at the Preferences menu I was rather overwhelmed. But after working through all of the different panels, I’m simply amazed at how easy to use everything really is–it just took some time. I got to choose what kind of toolbars I wanted to use, where I wanted the program to search for programs on a memory card, the fonts and colors for the user interface, as well as scrolling and shortcut options. I could even choose whether I wanted two or three reference windows under the main Biblical text and how I wanted verses to appear (as paragraphs or inidividual sentences). No other program even comes close to giving the user that level of control over the interface, and that earns Bible Reader high praise.

If you’re a seminary student, pastor, or a serious layperson who has a strong desire to do original language word studies, or if you’re a missionary who needs a variety of foreign language Bibles, Bible Reader is definitely the right choice for you. There are both Palm OS and Pocket PC versions available. It’s impossible to give accurate pricing information here, because Bible Reader is free but requires one or more biblical texts in order to function. Many of the Bibles are free, but some of the original language resources cost as much as $45 to license. The main program requires 536K of RAM, but the actual Bibles can be placed on a memory expansion card in order to save room on your device. For more information, visit the Olive Tree Software web site.

PocketGoddess Rating for Bible Reader: 4.5 out of 5

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