e-Sword is a very nice free Bible program with lots of features. It is available at here. I mentioned the e-Sword Bible program in my Instructable "Learn New Testament Greek." Later in this Instructable I will refer to some steps in that Instructable rather than duplicate information.
Download the basic program ("application installation"--16.6 MB). Install it.
In the drop down menu you can see various categories of add-on modules that are also available. Most are free. Some require you to pay a copyright royalty fee.
e-Sword is not available for Macintosh or for Linux, but you can find somewhat similar programs for both of those.
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Step 1: Preliminary Information
This screen shows briefly when you open e-Sword. While e-Sword is free, notice the warning not to sell copies to anyone. If someone tries to sell you a copy, you are to report it. The home page location is also given on this screen, in case you forget.
Step 2: Who Reads Directions?
One of the items in the home page menu is Training. With this you can download a series of Flash Movies that will lead you through all of the features of e-Sword. (Notice the lime green link. It is lime green because I clicked on it.)
The author of the e-Sword program depends on donations by users to make e-Sword and upgrades to it available. Make a one-time donation of $15 US and you will receive a CD with most of the available modules on it.
When I began using e-Sword I did not read the instructions, but simply began following my nose through it. That worked very well. But, after several years I still discover some new feature. The purpose of this Instructable is to give you a quick introduction to the features I find most useful and how to make them work for you. This Instructable is not meant to be complete. There are features and modules available in e-Sword that I will never use. It is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that you can add new modules at any time. The bad news is that too many modules added slows the program down, depending on how much horsepower your computer has.
Step 3: Set Up a Printer
I learned the hard way that some features in e-Sword do not work until a printer has been installed on your computer. Go to Start > Control Panel > Printers and Faxes.
Step 4: Basic Layout--Bible Tree
This is about what you will see the first time you open e-Sword, except that you can also see menu tabs for the various modules I have added. I should note I do not have the very latest version of the basic program, so there may be slight changes.
I used a heavy yellow line to outline the Bible tree. It is one way to navigate the books and chapters of the Bible. Scroll down to a book. Click on the "+" sign to its left, and an enumeration of its chapters appears. Click on a chapter number and the text for it is displayed in the main window also known as the Bible window.
In the next step I will show you how to remove the Bible tree.
Step 5: Eliminate the Bible Tree
Pull down the Options menu (highlighted with a yellow box) and click on Layout. In this box you can choose or eliminate the Bible tree. You can also change the arrangement of the windows and other things.
Step 6: Add a Useful Feature
In the various versions of the e-Sword program the Bookmark Navigator comes and goes, but it is still available, even if not displayed by default. Pull down Options and click on Display Bookmark Navigator so a check mark appears in front of it.
I outlined the Bookmark Navigator in a heavy yellow line. It gives you ten tabs you may set to any passage currently displayed in the main Bible window. Just right click on any tab and follow the prompt. I frequently am working with several Bible passages at once. It is helpful to move quickly between them. If I have various passages bookmarked, I can just click on a tab and the Bible window jumps to that passage. Genesis 1:1 is the default setting on all tabs.
Above tab #1 and below tab #10 are two sets of black lines with bent arrows. These allow you to jump ahead or back one chapter or one verse. Move the cursor over these and wait. A pop up will also tell you which "F" keys perform the same functions.
As a matter of personal preference, I use the Times New Roman font for most things. When I copy items from e-Sword over to a document, it is handy if the font is already set to Times New Roman. While you have the Options menu open, you might want to change the default fonts in everything from "Bible Font" through "ToolTip Font" to your normal font type and size.
Step 7: Getting Around Without a Bible Tree
I prefer the Lookup Scripture Reference window at the upper left of the screen for finding passages in the Bible.
Just type the first three letters of the book's name. An exception is Judges. The first three letters are "jud," but those take you to Jude. Judges uses "jdg." This window is not case sensitive, so you can be lazy. Further, although most Bible references use a colon to separate the chapter and verse, a period works just fine in e-Sword.
This window has a drop down feature that records where you have been. This can be help for getting back to someplace you want to find again. There is also a black verse trail arrow with a drop down menu to the right of this window. The forward arrow is grayed out. These arrows and their drop down menus perform the same function.
Step 8: Add Bible Versions
The basic program comes with the King James Version keyed to Strong's numbers. (See steps 2 and 3 of my Instructable "Learn New Testament Greek"--hot link in Step 1 of this Instructable). You can also download the King James Version without Strong's numbers.
Rick Meyers has done an amazing job of getting permissions from copyright holders for some very good contemporary English versions. I personally like the English Standard Version (ESV), the World English Bible (WEB), the Good News Bible (Today's English Version--GNB), and God's Word for the Nations (GW). I also have a variety of Greek, Hebrew, German, and Latin versions. Some of the Greek versions are complete with accents and breathing marks. Some are without those. The Hebrew texts are without vowel points.
I added the Douay-Rheims version (DRB) because it has an English text of the Apocrypha, just in case I need to check something in them. (It was on the basis of a verse in the Apocrypha that Columbus was able to persuade Ferdinand and Isabella to fund his expedition to the New World. It was on the basis of another verse in the Apocrypha that many churches have midnight services on Christmas Eve. Roman Catholics base their teaching of purgatory on yet another verse in the Apocrypha. Once even Protestant Bibles included the books of the Apocrypha. I have always thought the Book of Judith would make a great two night television mini-series.)
If you install another module, it will not appear for use until the next time e-Sword is opened.
The Compare tab allows you to select multiple versions of the Bible to view at the same time. The Parallel tab does the same thing, but computers I have used lock up when I try to use it. I do not use the Parallel tab.
To move from one version to another, just click on the tab for the version you want. It will go right to the passage you were looking at in the last version.
Step 9: Search the Bible
You remember part of a verse, but cannot remember the whole verse, or where it is found. e-Sword contains a search feature. Click on the binocular outlined in yellow, or use Ctrl + S
Step 10: Using the Search Box
When you click on the binocular, this search box appears.
Type in some of the words you remember from the passage. There are various options for refining the search.
Imagine you want to find the verse, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." I limited the search to the New Testament. I could have limited it to the four Gospels. Had I been sure which Gospel it is to be found in, I could have searched in that book only. Click on Accept. Read the last paragraph in this step.
Sometimes it can be difficult if you originally learned the verse in the King James Version, but now are using another version. The exact word or words you remember may appear in the form of synonyms rather than the exact words.
For using Strong's numbers to search according to original Greek or Hebrew words, see my Instructable on learning New Testament Greek. There is a hot link to it in Step 1. See Steps 5 - 6 in that Instructable. Follow those same steps for what to do after clicking on Accept, even if searching English versions.
Step 11: Copy and Paste Bible Text
There are several things to illustrate in the screenshot below.
First, the yellow box outline shows Joh(n) 14:6 is the active verse. Right-click anywhere over this verse and the pop up box to the right of the screenshot appears. Left-click on Copy Verses. More information about this will be given in the next step.
Notice the purple boxes. ISBE is the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. It is a type of Bible dictionary with all sorts of articles on things related to the Bible. It is a good source for all kinds of background and summary information. You want to download and install the ISBE. Its window is known as the Dictionary window.
The second purple box shows two chain links. This box is usually active by default. If it is not, activate it.
Now notice the green boxes I drew. I left-clicked on the word "way" in the Bible text. Immediately e-Sword found and displayed a Bible dictionary article on the word "way." At the lower right is another green box with the word "way" in it. This is a list of all articles in the ISBE. There will be more about that and some other related things later.
Step 12: Selecting the Range of Text to Copy
As in the last step, I want to illustrate several things in one step.
Notice the yellow "L"-shaped box. With its contents you can select the beginning and ending verse to be copied. What you see would copy John 14:6-12. When you have made your selection, click on Copy and the box will close.
Before you click on Copy, you have the option of selecting how the text will be displayed when it is pasted. I use options 6 and 7 most often. Option 6 places the full reference at the beginning of the block of text and then places individual verse numbers in parentheses as they occur within the text. Option 7 pastes an uninterrupted block of text with the book, chapter, and verse reference at the end of the block.
As you may have noticed, e-Sword prints the words of Jesus in red. When I paste text into a document I want it all black. Some of the items in the green box will be checked by default. Uncheck the last option if you want text to paste in all black color.
Go to your word processor and paste as normal.
Step 13: Maximize Windows
The Dictionary window in Step 9 is really too small to use, especially for a long article. It is easy to make that window, or either of the other two so it shows as a full-screen display. In the menu bars are four small squares. Three of them contain the letters B, C, and D. I underlined them in red, yellow, green, and purple. "D" stands for Dictionary. Left-click on it and dictionary articles are suddenly full-screen. Click on the box underlined in red to go back to the default display.
You can highlight text in all windows and copy it for pasting into your word processor. In long articles it is sometimes difficult to find the few lines I really want. I copy the article to my word processor and use the Find function to locate what I want quickly.
e-Sword uses lime green hot links for most Bible passage references. That is true in all windows. Move the cursor over one of them and a box pops up with that passage in it for you to read without going elsewhere. This is a very handy feature. In the screenshot I had moved the cursor over Exo(dus) 32:8, and it appeared in a box.
If you click on a hot linked Bible reference, the main Bible window jumps to that place in the text of the Bible. You can copy and paste it from there, or just read it in context and compare it in other versions.
The B square underlined in yellow and the C square underlined in green make the Bible window and the Commentary window into a full screen display.
Step 14: Check for Similar ISBE Articles
The ISBE often has more articles with similar titles. It is a good idea to scroll down the list of articles to see if one you really want is not the one that came up when you began to type the name in the box. Here you see no less than five articles that begin with "way...." You can also drag the slider and view all articles manually.
Step 15: Add Your Own Study Notes
The one remaining window not yet discussed is the Commentary window (right side of screen). There is a Study Notes tab. It allows you to make your own notes and save them on your computer. They can be linked to specific Bible passages. Somehow I have not made use of this feature. I still tend to make notes with pen on paper in the margins of favorite books.
Choose the commentaries you would like to include in e-Sword. I find Barnes to be the most useful of all of the commentaries. K & D is Keil-Delitzsch. It pertains only to the Old Testament and uses a lot of Hebrew words in its text. Some really like Jamieson-Faussett-Brown very much. Most of the e-Sword commentaries are older, but often quite good.
One of the most helpful features in e-Sword is the TSK (Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge). The next step will be devoted to it.
Step 16: TSK
The TSK is an old, respected system of cross-references. Such references take you to other parts of the Bible where the related material can be found. This allows you to see what the rest of the Bible says about something and helps to get a fuller picture.
The references in the TSK are hot linked and function just like other hot linked Bible references. See Step 11 for more details. Click on a hot link reference and that becomes the active passage in the Bible window.
The TSK groups references in sections headed by a word in bold type. These bolded words are keyed to the King James Version text. Sometimes that becomes a little difficult when using another Bible version. It works this way. The first bolded word lists passages that deal with everything in John 14:6 that comes after "I am" up to the next bolded word, which is "the truth." It is the same scheme for each bolded word.
Step 17: Topic Notes
The Commentary window has another very helpful feature accessed by clicking on the Topic Notes tab. See the yellow box. When Topic Notes is active, a menu appears at the bottom of the Commentary window. Bring this up by clicking where indicated by the yellow arrow. You can add whatever Topic Notes items you choose. Displayed is the opening page for Alfred Edersheim's The Life and Times of Jesus, the Messiah.
You may notice the Didache. This was from a 3rd party source I found with Google. It was made for e-Sword. But, The Apostolic Fathers is an available module from e-Sword's web page. It also contains the Didache.
Step 18: Want to Remove Something?
You may decide you have installed too many modules and you want to remove something. Open Windows Explorer. Go to the C drive look in Program Files for e-Sword. Open the folder. You can probably find the file you want to remove by examining the file names. It helps to know that "-.bbl" is a Bible file and "-.cmt" is a commentary file. Just delete the file you no longer want.
e-Sword allows installing STEP programs. There are also maps that can be included in the program. In my experience, these things make the program run much slower. I have not used them.
When you encounter a problem with something in e-Sword that does not work, check the FAQs on the e-Sword web page.
e-Sword is a very useful program for anyone who wants a better tool for Bible study. And, you may make copies to give to anyone.