Category Archives: BibleWorks

Jephthah’s Vow was Rash, but not a Burnt Offering

Earlier this morning I saw a link to this blog post by David Murray: Jephthah’s Perfect Vow

I very quickly posted the following on Twitter:

“This has been my understanding & what I’ve taught for years –…. Glad to see others discussing this view.”

This is a perfect example of doing too many things at once, not reading carefully, and tweeting too quickly!

I do agree with Murray, Jephthah probably did not offer his daughter as a burnt sacrifice, but rather dedicated her to a life of perpetual virginity as a temple servant. However, I disagree with some of Murray’s reasons along with whether Jephthah’s vow was rash or not.

So, I do believe his vow was rash, yet I do not believe the daughter was offered as a burnt sacrifice. Here are the reasons I have given for this interpretation for nearly 10 years as I have taught OT Survey, Conquest & Settlement, and preached from Judges.


The word Jephthah uses in 11:31 that is generally translated “burnt offering” literally means simply, “wholly dedicated”. A form of the same word is used in the Sampson account (chapter 13) to describe Sampson being “dedicated to the Lord” – clearly Sampson was not offered as a burnt sacrifice. Context must determine if the word means wholly dedicated in the form of a burnt offering or wholly dedicated in some other way.

— A Friend pointed out a problem with the above —

It is the noun form which is used in 11:31 and in fact this form is not used in chapter 13 referring to Sampson. Moreover it is only used one other time in Judges (6:26) where it clearly refers to a burnt offering.

Even more, the noun form, according to HALOT (the generally accepted comprehensive Hebrew Lexicon) attributes the noun form to only those uses meaning burnt offering.

— Therefore linguistically the weight is in favor of “burnt offering”. I am still in favor of my conclusion for the following reasons. However, I am thankful for this correction.


Clearly in the passage the emphasis is on the daughter’s virginity and lack of marriage, not on her death. Within the flow of the text one is left to understand the terrible thing this girl is experiencing is the lack of opportunity to marry and have children. This would be an odd thing to mourn over year after year (vs. 40) if this girl was burned alive.


Verse 34 seems to go out of the way to emphasis this was Jephthah’s only child! To have her killed or to dedicate her to perpetual virginity in the temple would be genealogical suicide. Jephthah would have no descendants to carry on his name, no one to receive his portion of the land inheritance (and yes, God had provided a way to daughters to receive the land inheritance from their father when there were no sons). As a result Jephthah’s vow was terminating his family from the genealogical records of Israel! Regardless of how the vow was carried out this was rash indeed.


The books of Judges is structured in such a way that the character and actions of the judges go from bad to worse. Jephthah is no hero himself to be sure, but Sampson is coming and he is far worse. The book ends with a depiction of the Levites doing things that are almost unmentionable (except they are in the Bible). So structurally the books isn’t yet to a level of depravity where one would would expect to find something so horrific as a child sacrifice. (BTW: I would suggest we don’t see child sacrifices in Israel until much later in their history as this is something God so seriously hates – Lev. 18:21; Deut. 12:31; Ez. 16)

I’ll also say here, this is why I don’t find Murray’s “filled with the Holy Spirit” argument helpful. Even Sampson was filled with the Holy Spirit on occasion. It seems clear that, in Judges, the Holy Spirit “came upon” (probably a better translation here than “filled”) for occasions of power and authority and then departed. This is why we see people who have the Spirit on one occasion doing magnificent things, and then the same person later doing horrific things.


God provided a payment to redeem oneself from a vow of this type – Lev. 27:1-8; 28-29.

Many have observed God’s silence in the rest of chapter 11 regarding the outcome of this event. Based on God’s very loud and powerful statements regarding his hatred for human (and child in particular) sacrifice elsewhere, it is difficult for me conclude that He would be silent if that is what is going on here. I certainly cannot see how one can conclude that God would have “accepted” a human sacrifice here as fulfillment of this vow. From my reading of the passage it seems like God does indeed accept Jephthah’s payment – his daughter’s whole dedication unto the Lord in temple service resulting in her perpetual virginity and the end of Jephthah’s family line.

A couple of years ago I was at a conference where someone was preaching from Judges. He happened to preach the Jephthah narrative. In his sermon is essentially said, “Oh, yeah there are some who think maybe Jephthah didn’t offer his daughter as a burnt offering, but that’s nonsense and silly, they just have weak stomachs.”

Not only in that attitude uncharitable and unhelpful. It also shows an ignorance of the arguments others have put forward for this interpretation, at best, and, at worst, an arrogance in one’s own view.

It is far better when teaching/preaching a passage like this to give the arguments on both sides clearly & helpfully, then conclude with which view you hold and why. As a result people are not just taught to think what you tell them, but they are taught how to think and how to think carefully from the text.


Sermon Prep in Ephesians 2

I am so thankful I attended a seminary that focused on equipping the students with the tools to handle the text of Scripture.

I have been studying for a short series on “the church” which I will preaching over the next three Sunday mornings at Howick Baptist Church.

It is such a blessing to be able to pull out of my files (yes, I kept everything) a full translation and clausal/block diagram of Ephesians completed eight years ago. Work that then didn’t seem immediately practical bears fruit today.

Here are PDFs of the whole book: Ephesians 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6

Translation and Block Diagram of Ephesians 2

Eph 2a

Eph 2b

Eph 2c

Eph 2d

Eph 2e

Eph 2f

Eph 2g

Eph 2h


BibleWorks Training – Reflecting on Ten Years

As far as I can tell from a quick scan over my records I conducted my first BibleWorks Training Seminar in the US in 2003. Just as I was beginning my ThM studies.

I had been using BibleWorks for about three years and had developed a good relationship via email with their team in Norfolk, Virginia. It was through this relationship that I worked with their main tech support guy at the time to develop some simple training seminars which could be taken onsite to seminaries and Bible colleges.

This resulted in me being sent all over the US conducting full-day training seminars at nearly every major seminary from 2003 to 2006.

Upon reflection, I am not sure how I did it, but in those three years, from what I can tell from my records, I had the opportunity to conduct BibleWorks training seminars at 30 different seminaries and/or Bible colleges, and some more than once. (I lived only about an hour’s drive from Princeton, so I took one there at the beginning of every semester.)

In addition to these full-day seminars on campuses, I also had the privilege of conducting seminars on the integration of technology into the seminary classroom at the Annual Meeting for the Evangelical Theological Society in 2004 & 2005, along with facilitating a panel of seminary professors on this same subject during the Annual Meeting for the Society of Biblical Literature in 2004, 2005, & 2006.

Since moving the New Zealand (Sept. 2006), I have conducted training seminars in Australia on four occasions at four different theological colleges, along with representing BibleWorks at the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2007 and the Oxygen Conference in 2011.

Tomorrow I will conduct only the second of these seminars here in New Zealand.

For me, this exercise has been a wonderful opportunity to thank the Lord for His provision.

During those years 2003 – 2006, before moving to New Zealand, we were waiting on the Lord to give clarity as to where He would have us serve Him in ministry. In that time there were a few opportunities which came and went, but through it all, the Lord used my contract work with BibleWorks and their generosity to include me on several projects to keep us afloat financially.

I am very thankful.


January 2010 Travel & Preaching/Teaching

Tomorrow we will drive from Hastings up to Auckland as a family for the purpose of flying from Auckland to Sydney, Australia Friday morning.

This will be the first time the kids have been in a plane since we moved to New Zealand over three years ago. Tabitha (our youngest) really doesn’t even remember ever being in a plane. Needless to say, they are very excited. Should be heaps of fun.

While in Sydney, I will be preaching/teaching on the following dates:

Sunday, 17 January – Preaching both AM & PM (from the book of Ruth):

Bible Baptist Church
178 Humphries Rd.
St. John’s Park, NSW 2176
(02) 98231950

Thursday, 21 January – Conducting BibleWorks Seminars (Two, three hour workshops):

Bible Baptist Church
178 Humphries Rd.
St. John’s Park, NSW 2176
(02) 98231950

24 January – We are planning to attend St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney to hear Phillip Jensen preach.

Wednesday, 27 January – Conducting BibleWorks Training

Sydney Missionary & Bible College – (I will be conducting a training workshop for their 1st year Greek students.)

During our time in Sydney I will also be meeting with pastors and other lecturers seeking to encourage them and learn more about what the Lord is doing in Sydney and how we might more effectively serve each other.

We also have several fun family outings planned (Zoo, Aquarium, Opera House, Beaches, Parks, etc.)

We arrive back in Auckland on the 29th, but will stay in Auckland for a few days as I am preaching at Howick Baptist Church on the 31st.

31 January – Preaching in the AM – Proverbs 31

(09) 5345142

Corner of Picton & Wellington Streets
New Zealand

We will finally be back home late on the
31st. I will only be home for 12 days as I leave again on the 12th of February for Ukraine for 2 1/2 weeks – but more on that later.


BibleWorks Training – Sydney, AU

BibleWorks Training – Sydney, AU

Bible Baptist Church
178 Humphries Rd.
St. John’s Park, NSW 2176
Click here for a map.

Thursday, January 21, 2010
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — BibleWorks Essentials Workshop
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. — BibleWorks Intermediate Workshop
Click here for help deciding which workshop to attend.

AU $30 per workshop

These workshops will demonstrate the use of BibleWorks version 8 and the instructor will do all teaching in both workshops from BibleWorks 8. Click here for a brief description of what each workshop will cover.

Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop with BibleWorks 8 installed. Each workshop will include some hands-on review assignments to give you an opportunity to practice what you learn. If you bring a laptop, please make sure to apply the latest free updates to your installation of BibleWorks. Click here for instructions on how to update BibleWorks.


Research Software for Biblical Studies

As you will see I am still suggesting a combination of BibleWorks and Logos tools. This is to ensure you get the most for your money.

Buy purchasing BibleWorks 8.0 you get all of the original language tools available in any of the Logos packages, plus more for much less $.

You can then build a Logos library piece by piece to get tools you will actually use and still come out spending less $.

Now, if your rich uncle dies and leaves you heaps of $ or if a generous supporter would like to help you build your library you can certainly move down this list and purchase a number of additional tools.

For Everyone: Everyone should own The Word with all if its components – it is free – download @

Group #1: This suite of software is considered extremely valuable for computer aided biblical studies.


Product Name



BibleWorks 8.0


Wallace – Greek Grammar


Waltke/O’Connor – Hebrew Grammar


FBHG – Beginning Biblical Hebrew



New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis


New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology


Group #2: These additional tools can be added to expand the above suite. These are considered very helpful for computer aided biblical studies.


Product Name



HALOT & BDAG Modules


CTEN – Comfort & Barrett – The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts


EDNT – Exegetical Dictionary of The New Testament


LSJM – Liddell, Scott – A Greek-English Lexicon


TDNT – Kittel – Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (abridged)


VGNT – Moulton & Milligan – Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament


ZERW – Zerwick – Biblical Greek


WEIN – Weingreen – Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew


METZ – A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition


Galaxie Software

Theological Journal Library CD-ROM

Vols. 15


Vol. 6


Vol. 7


Vol. 8


Vol. 9


Vol. 10



The Essential IVP Reference Collection


Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation

Journal of Biblical Counseling – 2.0


Group #3: These additional items can be added to expand the software suite even further. These items are helpful, but not viewed as essential.


Product Name



Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts w/ morph tags


APNT – Magiera – Aramaic Peshitta New Testament Database


STEV – Stevenson – Grammar of Palestinian Jewish Aramaic


CROY – Croy – A Primer of Biblical Greek


QBSET – Dead Sea Scrolls English Translation Bundle: Biblical and Sectarian Texts



Exegetical Summaries Series (24 Vols.)


Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: New Testament


Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament


The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament


Scholar’s Library Gold Edition (Contains the New American Commentary Series + The New International Greek New Testament Commentary Series + more)


Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible (Contains the Apparatus from BHS & NA27)


** All prices are in US$ and do not reflect any possible academic discounts, sales, etc.


Getting the best out of Bible Software: BibleWorks 8

Instone-Brewer at Tyndale House, Cambridge has put together a very helpful guide to getting the most out of BibleWorks 8.0.

If you have BibleWorks 8.0 check this out:

Getting the best
out of Bible Software:
BibleWorks 8

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Posted by on 01/06/2009 in BibleWorks


BibleWorks 8 is Here!


As some of you will know I have been involved in the development, testing and training program of BibleWorks since 2001 – version 4.0.

I have had Version 8 now for about three months and although I have not had the time to give to the testing as I desired, I have worked enough with it along with monitoring the test email list to know this is a substantial new version offering a significant number of essential tools for exegetical study.

Upgrade here.

Download the PDF Brochure here.

All of the following comes in the new base package:

Here’s a survey of the new features and databases in BibleWorks 8.

New Features and Databases!

New Analysis Tabs

Expanded information about the current verse and search

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We’ve made significant additions to the Analysis Window. Now when you do a search, the Context Tab shows the most common words in the current pericope, the most common words in the current chapter, and the most common words in the current book. With a click, the Browse Tab shows the full context for the active verse. A plot of the current search results is shown in the Stats Tab. All of this is right at your fingertips!

Phrase Matching Tool/Related Verses Tool

Find verses with similar words or similar phrases

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Over lunch in mid-2007, we asked ourselves, “How could we find all verses which are similar to each other?” Out of this discussion came the Phrase Matching Tool and Related Verses Tool. The new Phrase Matching Tool takes your current verse and finds all verses containing similar phrases. The new Related Verses Tool finds all verses using some of the same words from the current verse.

New formatting for text export

More control over copied text


We’ve enhanced and refined the formatting of exported text. Now when you copy and paste Bible text, it’s simple to format the text and reference using custom or preset output formats. This seemingly small feature will greatly improve your daily use of the program.

Cross-Reference Window

Instantly view related verses


When you pass the mouse over the text, the new Cross-Reference Window instantly shows cross-references for the verse under the mouse. You can draw from the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, New Chain Reference Bible (Thompson, 1934), Nave’s, Torrey’s Topical Text Book, Stephan’s Biographical Bible (enabling you to distinguish the 31 different Zechariahs), and cross-references from the ESV, NAS, and NIV/TNIV. This feature works for any of the Bible versions in the program! In addition, you can build your own cross-reference files and swap them with other users.

New Greek and Hebrew grammars

BibleWorks now comes with Wallace, Waltke & O’Connor, and Joüon & Muraoka!


The main BibleWorks package now includes three standard original language grammars: Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Wallace), Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Waltke & O’Connor), and A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Joüon & Muraoka). These electronic texts include the full text and graphics of the print editions and are closely linked to the Biblical texts in the program. Previously available only separately, these texts now come at no extra cost in BibleWorks 8!

Syntactic and Thematic Greek Transcription of the NT

Another full Greek NT diagram set


We’re pleased to add an alternate set of Greek NT sentence diagrams. In addition to the Leedy Greek NT sentence diagrams, William MacDonald’s “Textual Transcriptions” provide another helpful and insightful arrangement of the text.

Early Church Fathers

This mammoth popular work includes the complete series of the Schaff Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers.

ERMIE: External Resources Manager

One-stop location for resources on your computer and resources on the Internet

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Over time, you’ve probably collected a number of useful books, references, and documents in various formats (PDF, HTML, word processing formats, etc.). Add to that the myriad websites with all sorts of materials and courses you find useful in your studies. With ERMIE, you can collect and organize these local and online resources into an easy to browse catalog. ERMIE catalog files can be edited and shared with other users.

Daily Light devotional displayed in English, Greek, Hebrew, or any other Bible version

Maintain your Greek and Hebrew skills with a daily AM/PM reading

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We took Samuel Bagster’s well-loved daily Scripture readings and enhanced it for Greek/Hebrew review. View the readings in your favorite Bible translations, or use the Greek/Hebrew mode to display the Old Testament passages in Hebrew and the New Testament passages in Greek. A great way to start and end the day!

English Bible Text-to-Speech

If you’re running BibleWorks on Vista (requires supplemental voice packs in XP), you can hear English Bible text read aloud!

Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Arabic Bibles

We are pleased finally to include Bibles in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Arabic!

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Greek)

We now include the Greek text and modern English translation of the Greek OT Pseudepigrapha. The Greek text is morphologically tagged and fully searchable.

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Posted by on 20/11/2008 in BibleWorks, Technology


Divinity Library Instructional Guide: BibleWorks 7.0

Yale University Divinity School Library has put together a helpful “Instructional Guide for BibleWorks 7.0

HT: The BibleWorks Blog

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Posted by on 01/09/2008 in BibleWorks


BibleWorks @ 2008 International Meeting for The Society of Biblical Literature

2008 International Meeting

Auckland, New Zealand

Meeting Begins: 7/6/2008
Meeting Ends: 7/11/2008

This year the International Meeting for The Society of Biblical Literature will be help in Auckland.

I have the privilege of assisting BibleWorks at this meeting by being their representative to man the BibleWorks vendor table, give demos throughout the week and conduct one training seminar at the conference.

One of my joys while living in the States was the great relationship the Lord provided between myself and the men at BibleWorks. Since 2002 I had the opportunity to conduct BibleWorks training workshops at seminaries all across the US along with assisting the developers as an Alpha and Beta tester plus several additional projects leading up to version 7.

Since moving to New Zealand my opportunities to help BibleWorks have been limited. We have tried to drum up interest in workshops but thus far I have only conducted one – Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia.

So when the guys from BibleWorks asked if I could represent them at this SBL meeting next week I had no problem saying ‘Yes.’ They have never before been able to afford to have a rep at the International Meeting, so my living here provides a unique opportunity.

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Posted by on 30/06/2008 in BibleWorks, New Zealand

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