Sunday, September 3, 2017

Best Free Bible Resources: Online Sites and Downloadable Apps/Programs


I have previously commented on some of the main free and trial versions of Bible software available. I have now compiled an updated and more extensive list of the free Bible resources with which I am familiar. Some of these are capable of original language Hebrew and Greek work, but they are primarily oriented to English Bibles. (Some do feature an extensive collection of non-English Bibles.) Most of them offer basic search features, and some offer a variety of supporting resources. I like those that allow for viewing texts in parallel. If you know even a little Hebrew or Greek, the ones with sympathetic highlighting (Bible Web App, Lumina Bible) are especially helpful.

Online Bible Resource Sites
BibleGateway: There are too many English (and it does include the NRSV), non-English, Greek, and Hebrew versions to list. If you want to compare English versions, you can see a verse in every version they offer with a single click. There are quite a few linked resources, but many need you to subscribe for $4 USD/month.

Bible Web App: This site provides the ESV, KJV, NASB, NETi, OEB, and WEB English versions. The Hebrew OT is based on Westminster Leningrad Codex (WLC), and the Greek NT is that of the SBL GNT. It offer two versions in parallel, so you can compare two English versions, but it is most helpful if you choose the WLC or the SBL GNT and pair it with the NETi, because it provides ‘sympathetic highlighting’ where a word in one version is highlighted in the other as you put your mouse over it. The NETi includes all it’s fine annotations. Clicking on a Hebrew or Greek word will give you lexical information and also parsing for the Greek

BibleHub: Among the English versions included in this site are the NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, KJV, HCSB, NET, JPS (1917), Douay-Rheims, and ERV. It also includes Hebrew, and a collection of older Greek texts along with the SBL GNT. The greatest asset of this site is the integration of so many resources: an excellent collection of site maps, commentaries, lexicons, interlinear, parallel texts, and links to other sites.

FaithLife Study Bible: This site provides a broad collection of very helpful resources. Among the English versions are the Douay-Rheims, ESV,  KJV, NASB, NCV,  NLT, GNT, HCSB, KJV, LEB, Message, NET, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV. There are a number of non-English language Bibles, the Vulgate, and a number of Greek texts including Textus Receptus and SBL GNT. (Oddly, no Hebrew text is offered.) In addition to the abundance of English versions, a key attraction to this site is the FaithLife Study Bible itself with its excellent Infographics, maps, photos and videos, dictionaries, and other resources. (Logos is part of the FaithLife family)

Lumina Bible: The primary English version to use here is the NET with its notes, but it also includes the ESV, HCSB, ISV, KJV, Message, and NASB. If you use the Parallel feature, it displays the NET, NIV, NASB, ESV, NLT, Message, BBE, NKJV, NRSV, and KJV. Using the NET alongside the Hebrew or Greek, you get sympathetic highlighting and lexical information and also parsing for the Greek. There is also a library of articles and maps.

YouVersion: The primary attraction of this site is the abundance of Bibles it offers, both English (e.g., CEB, CEV, CJB, ESV, GNB, HCSB, KJV, LEB, Message, NAB, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, ) and nearly countless non-English ones. For Greek, it includes SBL GNT and Textus Receptus, and the Westminster Leningrad for the Hebrew. Two texts can be set in parallel.

STEP Bible (Scripture Tools for Every Person): "Trustworthy Bible study software designed specifically for the disadvantaged world." It is, however, available for anyone to use and has a nice interface with a collection of English (e.g., ESV, JPS, KJV, LEB, NASB, NET, NIV), Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, and more texts. Depending on the version, notes, vocabulary and interlinear options are possible. 
My Recommendations:
If your main goal is to compare English versions, BibleGateway is your best option. YouVersion offers many more versions, but you can only compare two at a time. If you have some knowledge of Greek and/or Hebrew, I like the Lumina Bible best with its sympathetic highlighting. If you want more study tools, BibleHub and FaithLife Study Bible are good choices.

Free Downloadable Bible Apps and Programs
The following downloadable programs usually offer more versatility and features than the online sites but will not include as many English versions as the online sites offer.

Accordance Lite: It includes the ESV and KJV with Strong’s and some other texts and resources to get you started. Features are limited, but it gives a good idea of what Accordance can do. Windows or Mac capable.

e-Sword: The basic installation includes the KJV with Strong’s and its related lexicon along with a few other resources. Once installed, there are many other free Bibles and resources that can be added. Windows and Mac.

Faithlife Study Bible: This app, available for just about every platform, features the very helpful study Bible along with many resources as in the online site described above.

Logos 7 Basic: Logos offers a free Basic version that includes some very helpful resources. In addition to the KJV, they include their own Lexham English Bible and a number of good resources, most notably, the Faithlife Study Bible notes and the Lexham Bible Dictionary. For Windows and Mac.

Logos 7 Academic Basic: You need to verify that you are a student, faculty, or staff member of an educational institution to receive this offer, but if you qualify this is an excellent starter package. It includes, among other resources, tagged Hebrew Bible and abridged BDB lexicon; Greek LXX with lexicon and the Lexham English LXX; SBL GNT and Abbot-Smith lexicon of the NT; Lexham English Bible, dictionary, and textual notes; FaithLife Study Bible, and more.

Olive Tree: This free Bible app is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and Android. Once you get the app, check out the free resources. It includes SBL GNT and Hebrew Westminster Leningrad. For English, it includes many of the usual versions (KJV,  NKJV, ESV, limited versions of HCSB and NET, Douay-Rheims, Tanakh 1917), but it does also offer the NIV. A number of useful study tools can also be added.

YouVersion: This app, available for just about every platform, includes over 1000 Bible versions. It is similar to its online version described above.

The Word: The Word is one of the first I recommend to people wanting a free program, since it is rather full featured program. It includes Greek / Hebrew. You can always buy some modules, e.g., NRSV, to expand its versatility. Among many non-English versions, free English versions include: Douay-Rheims, ERV, ESV, HCSB, KJV, Tanakh 1917, NET (but with limited notes), LEB. For Greek: LXX, SBL GNT, and other Greek text. For Hebrew: a tagged Hebrew Bible.  Only runs on Windows or under Mac emulation.

WORDsearch 11: WORDsearch offers a free basic version. There are more than enough resources to get you started, and they have a large collection of resources for purchase to expand your work. For Windows and Mac.

My Recommendations:
If you want to study and read the most English versions, then YouVersion is best. If you want more study tools and resources, I recommend that you look first at The Word, e-Sword, and Logos 7 Basic. If you are connected with an educational institution, then your best bet is to get Logos 7 Basic and then pick up Logos 7 Academic Basic. Some of these programs are expandable for a cost or have full-featured upgrades, so you may want to check out trial versions of Accordance, BibleWorks, Logos, and WORDsearch.

Bible Apps for Portable Devices
See my summary HERE.

Did I miss your favorite site or app? Please let us know in the comments!