A review written by Rubén Gómez, Bible software translator and beta tester. Copyright © 2004-2009 by the author. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce any part of this document without obtaining permission from the author.This review has been updated.
One of the milestones of Bible software is the availability of the standard scholarly editions of the critical apparatuses for the Old and New Testament, published by the German Bible Society. For anyone who works regularly with the Hebrew (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia) or Greek (Nestle-Aland 27th edition of the Greek New Testament), this is reason enough to buy the
Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible.  But it is certainly not the only reason. Another major feature that will please Old Testament scholars is the WIVU  database that comes with the package and makes it possible to conduct searches on the BHS text at the phrase and clause levels! 
Logos has done us all an excellent service by
providing a nice, clear, and very useful program in partnership with the German and Dutch Bible Societies. A very clear example of its willingness to meet the needs of academic users. For some detailed information on the program contents and features, check out
http://www.logos.com/products/details/3005, or elsehttp://www.sesb-online.com (in German, English and Dutch). Also, if you are interested in getting to know more about what a critical apparatus is, and what one can do with it, there is some relevant information here.
What follows is a review of SESB, not of the Libronix Digital Library System in general. LDLS will be reviewed separately in due course. In the meantime, a fairly recent review on some of the general and advanced features of LDLS can be found at
TIC Talk 58.
The recommended system requirements for running Libronix are:
700MHz Pentium III
60MB hard drive space
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later
But LDLS is a very demanding program. Having a fast processor and lots of RAM
(particularly the latter) will make quite a difference in performance. After using Libronix
since it was first released, I would recommend a fairly fast Pentium IV and at least 512MB
You simply have to insert your CD-ROM and
follow the prompts. Then start SESB (with the CD still in the drive), enter the
serial number, fill in your user profile (unless you already have an account
with Libronix), activate the product and user account, and move as many of your
resources as you can to your hard drive using the Location Manager (a full
installation requires just under 400 MB of free space). When you are done you
can take the CD out and store it in a safe place.
If you are running a
non-English Windows OS, a few menu items might appear in German until you set
the User Interface Language to English (en) by clicking Tools | Options |
General... | Interface. In fact, if you are not going to need the German UI, you
may want to delete the file LDLS-de (Program Files | Libronix DLS | Shells) and
all the addins ending with the "-de" tag found on your Addins folder (Program
Files | Libronix DLS | Addins). This way, when you update the program it will
not display any German language updates as Required.
The program includes the following addins:
Bible Tools (including Passage Guide, Parallel Passages, Auto-Lookup, Verse
List, Parallel Bible Versions, Passage In All Versions, and Weight and
Measures), Dictionary Lookup, Graphical Query Editor, LLS Features, Power Tools
(containing Define Resource Associations, Remove Duplicate Resources, Fuzzy
Search, and Resources and Collections), and SESB (with SESB BHS Search and SESB
Lemma Search). Of these, the Dictionary Lookup, Graphical Query Editor and Power
Tools were optional downloads that only become available after running Libronix
Update (program updated to version 2.1b). Bottom line: you should run Libronix
Update as soon as you finish installing SESB onto your computer.
It is probably a good idea
to customize SESB to our liking right after installation. The are many different
options available to users, but three are of the utmost importance:
This is the Bible version
that will be used in all pop-up windows, and I chose the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) instead of Die Bibel nach der Übersetzung Martin Luthers (1984). I decided to go with the NRSV
in order to cover all my bases, since this version also includes the Apocrypha.
To set your preferred Bible
you have to go to Tools | Options | Bible Tools... and choose NRSV in the
Preferred Bible drop-down list (Preferred Books tab). Alternatively, you can
open the KeyLink Options dialog (Tools | Options | KeyLink...) choose Bible
(Data Type drop-down list) on the Keylinking tab, select NRSV in the lower
listbox, and press the "Promote" button. But the easiest way, by far, is to select your
Preferred Bible directly from the SESB Home Page.
Keylinking is one of the
most powerful features of LDLS. It tells the program what resource to open when
a certain data type (English, Greek, Hebrew, and so on) is clicked or accessed
via the context menu. Keylinks can be configured via the KeyLink Options dialog. Here are the settings I used:
For Greek data type (Number of Windows to Open on a Keylink: 2)
1. The Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, and 2. A Greek-English Lexicon of the
Septuagint, Revised Edition.
For Hebrew data type (Number of Windows to Open on a Keylink: 1)
A Hebrew/Aramaic-German and Hebrew/Aramaic-English Lexicon of the Old Testament.
By creating collections of
related tools we are able to refine searches. This is an excellent way to
categorize the different resources available in our library. The Define
Collections menu item, under Tools, gives access to the dialog box shown below
(Figure 1). I decided to create seven different collections (i.e., Hebrew Texts,
Greek Texts, Hebrew Lexicons, Greek Lexicons, English Bibles, French Bibles, and
Fig. 1 Lexicons comprising the user-made SESB Greek Lexicons collection.
The SESB Home Page
Upon initialization, the
program opens the SESB Home Page. The value and potential of this page should
not be underestimated. In actual fact, it is a very useful launch pad from where
many of the program features can be accessed easily and intuitively. Under each
of the five tabs users can discover pretty much all they need to know to get
started and be productive right from the start. Particularly important are the
first two tabs: Home (most notably the Working with SESB section) and Library. Options are self-explanatory, but context-sensitive help becomes
available by clicking on the question marks located on the right hand side of
Critical Apparatuses 
With SESB one can easily synchronize each text and its
corresponding apparatus, so that they scroll
together. The clear advantage over the printed
version is that here all signs, manuscripts, sigla,
etc. are hyperlinks, and both text and apparatus are
fully searchable. Moreover, since the Greek and
Hebrew texts are morphologically tagged, simply
passing the cursor over any word displays the
parsing details on the status bar (or information
Fig. 2 NA27 and critical apparatus scrolling simultaneously. This screenshot shows the variant readings found in 1 Thessalonians 3:2.
Occasionally, the critical signs do not display
properly in Reports (like the Auto-Lookup Report) and
on the Information Window. The squares that appear are due
to the fact that those critical marks are not in
Unicode just yet. As soon as they become available
as Unicode code points, and are supported by Unicode
fonts, this glitch should be fixed.
There are many different search options available in the
program. And I mean many.
According to the Instruction Manual,
"The SESB search philosophy is: 'Simple searches
should be easy to perform, while complex searches,
or searches according to special resource features,
should be possible'" (p. 93).
In order to achieve this goal, one would expect to
find a lot more information (with plenty of
practical examples), than what is actually offered.
As it is, simple searches are easy when you
become familiar with the search syntax anddefault
behavior. As for more
advanced searches, they are certainly possible, but
there is a steep learning curve to overcome.
Morphological searches are pretty straightforward,
since they can be built by means of checkboxes and
drop-down menus, but powerful field searches are
more difficult to get a hold of.
One very interesting thing to check is the About
Resource dialog (Help | About This Resource). There
we find some vital information on the search
capabilities and data types supported by each book.
This, in turn, allow us to fine-tune our searches.
If you ask me, it is worth your time to pay close
attention to this area of the program. Once you
master the fields and learn how to use them to your
advantage, you will reap great benefits.
Typically, texts are marked by "fields", and each
field denotes a different kind of information that
has been "tagged" independently. When
we perform a field-based search we can isolate that
information from the rest. This allows users to
build highly specific queries. For example, let us
take the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. This
resource includes up to nine different fields. 
Thus, it is perfectly possible to search only
the Old Testament quotes, or the disputed passages.
For example, the search usedas:otquote:[=NMSV]
allows us to find all the words that are used as noun masculine singular vocatives and
happen to appear on quotes from the Old Testament.
The result is 9 occurrences in Novum Testamentum
Graece (Mark 12:29; 15:34; Acts 7:42; Hebrews 1:8;
10:7; Revelation 15:3), 5 of which correspond to θεός.
The table below shows some of the field searches that
are possible with the different original language
resources included in SESB. 
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: SESB
qere:prep (195 occurrences)
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: SESB
lemma:ברא (54 occurrences), as opposed to the 63 occurrences we would get without
limiting the field to "lemma"."
Novum Testamentum Graece
otquote: (69 occurrences)
Novum Testamentum Graece
disputedpassage: * (718 occurrences)
Novum Testamentum Graece
lateraddition: * (414 occurrences) or 414 occurrences in 5 articles if set to
chapters or sections rather than verses
NTG Apparatus Criticus
insertions: * and apostelgeschichte (4861 occurrences)
NTG Apparatus Criticus
transpositions: * and "1 Johannes" (115 occurrences in 8 articles)
NTG Apparatus Criticus
Insert: * BEFORE ιησου* (450 occurrences in 56 articles)
BHS Apparatus Criticus
footnote:symmachus (812 occurrences in 237 articles)
A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint
speech:N3F (634 occurrences)
Novum Testamentum Graece
Crasis: [=C??] (91 occurrences)
Novum Testamentum Graece
Usedas: [=J???] (115 occurrences)
Stemming versus Lemmatizing
By default, LDLS applies
Porter's Algorithm to index words according to their simplest form. Stemming
means that the search engine looks for the most common morphological and
inflectional endings usually attached to the English words as prefixes and
suffixes (i.e., affixes). Therefore, different word variations derived from one
single "stem" will be considered true hits.
That's why if we look for faith the program will return "faith," "faithful," and "faithfulness" (but
alas, not "faithless" or "faithfully," let alone "unfaithful," "unfaithfully" or
"unfaithfulness"). With the NIV as the search Bible, the search syntax faith will find 412 occurrences (faith – 270 –, faithful – 83 –, and
faithfulness – 59). *faith will return 270 (i.e., only occurrences of
"faith"). faith* will find 443 occurrences (the same as "faith" plus 18
instances of "faithfully," and 13 of "faithless"). Finally, the search *faith*
will return 510 hits (the 443 occurrences above in addition to 50 instances of
"unfaithful," 3 of "unfaithfully," and 14 of "unfaithfulness"). On the other
hand, unfaith finds 64 occurrences (i.e., "unfaithful," and "unfaithfulness"),
and unfaith* returns 67 (64 plus 3 instances of "unfaithfully").
This behavior can be
modified using the nostem modifier. Thus, nostem(faith) will
return just "faith" (286 occurrences in the NIV). And if you want to be
really precise you may use the exact modifier instead. This will
turn off stemming, accent-insensitivity and case-insensitivity. In this
particular case, exact(faith) would find 273 occurrences (thus excluding the
13 instances of "Faith"). Unless modifiers are used, all queries will follow the
default search routine.
Lemmatizing, as opposed to
stemming, consists in grouping or organizing all inflected and variant forms of
the same word under one single lemma (lexical root or lexeme) or dictionary
form. For instance, if we choose Gute
Nachricht Bibel as the search Bible, the search syntax lieben (stemming) returns 328 occurrences, while the search lemma:lieben (lemmatizing) finds 297 occurrences. The difference is due to the fact that the first search
includes noun forms like "lieben" (beloved) in addition to the verb forms (to
Therefore, stemming focuses
on morphology (form), whereas lemmatizing focuses on grammatical categories
(parts of speech – infinitive for verbs and masculine singular for nouns). It
could be said that stemming is a subset of lemmatizing, but the latter is
obviously more accurate.
SESB BHS Search
This is, undoubtedly, one
of the jewels of the crown. Old Testament scholars have often felt "left behind"
by Bible software developments. Now, at long last, they have a useful "toy" that
will help enhance their study and research.
Not being a Hebrew scholar,
I decided to stick to fairly easy queries (easy if you know Hebrew, that
is). I looked for instances of verbal predicates where an infinite absolute form
of the Hebrew verb "to die" was immediately followed by another verbal form of
the same verb (Figure 3). SESB returned a total of 8 occurrences.
Fig. 3 SESB BHS Search dialog.
SESB Lemma Search
This unique feature can
only be used to search the Greek, Hebrew, and German lemmatized versions
included in the SESB package. It can be particularly useful for finding themes
and semantic domains (areas of meaning). This is achieved by locating clusters
of certain related terms (synonyms, antonyms, and so on). For example, I
performed a search for two lemmas corresponding to the Greek terms for "light"
and "darkness" in NA27. Quite naturally, many of the hits were found
among the Johannine writings (see Figure 4). Users who already own or decide
to unlock Louw-Nida Lexicon will find it a very helpful source of information
when it comes to grouping different lemmas.
Fig. 4 SESB Lemma Search dialog.
Topic and Reference Browsers
The Topic browser (Figure 5) is
designed for topical searches. Not all resources are tagged for topics, but
those that are can be profitably searched with this tool. In SESB it is possible
to search for Hebrew topics (Wörterbuch zum Alten Testament), Greek topics (any
of the three Greek lexicons available), French topics (La nouvelle Bible Segond,
édition d'étude), or German topics (Martin Luthers 1984 or Gute Nachrich Bibel).
A Hebrew search for אב returns quite a few topics. Clicking on any of
the topics that appear on the Topics list displays all the available
articles. Another click on one of these articles will open the resource
to the appropriate section.
The Reference Browser, on the other hand, is used for searching data types. The only one
available in SESB is "Bible" (Figure 6). Actually, it is also possible
to look for GRAMCORD's morphological codes (e.g., V??FPP??? would
find all future passive participle verbs), but this is best done with
the Greek Morphological Bible Search dialog.
Reference search run against the French Bibles Collection. Note that
the program finds all the places where the book of John is referred to.
In this particular example we can see that the Bible reference (John
5:17) is found in a footnote in Genesis 2:3.
I think the package would be
greatly improved with the addition of a Latin-English dictionary and a copy of
Metzger's A Textual
Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Also, considering the fact that
the original language texts are morphologically tagged, it would be nice if the
Morphology Filter could be added to the visual filters available. Whatever
the case, these and other tools can be conveniently unlocked and added to SESB
in order to enhance its already quite impressive capabilities.
Those of us who have been longing
for an electronic version of the standard critical apparatuses have, at last,
been able to see one of our dreams come true. I will not be dropping my printed
editions altogether (God forbid!). They are still necessary, and include some
useful bits of extra information not found in digital form. But it really is a
pleasure to look up and search in ways never thought possible
before these great electronic resources. I must confess that the "wow" factor
remains high even after roughly three months of use. Thank you, Logos. Now, if
we could only have UBS4 critical apparatus...
The first ever electronic version of the standard critical texts and apparatuses in Greek and Hebrew
Field and morphological searches
Seamless integration with an impressive array of LDLS-compatible resources
High degree of customization
Searches are slow
Advanced and field searches could do with more thorough explanations and examples
UPDATE (April 21, 2007): Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible
(SESB) Version 2.0
Two major reviews (among others) were published after I wrote mine: one by Sarah Lind
(TIC Talk 59) and
another one by Jan Krans (TC: A Journal of Biblical
Textual Criticism: Volume 11 ). Both are worth reading, but Krans' article goes
into a lot more detail (probably too much for the casual reader!). He also raises some
interesting questions about whether or not electronic editions of critical apparatuses
should simply mirror their printed counterparts in every detail or rather take advantage
of the added value digital media has to offer. This is an interesting area that needs to
be explored by the different partners involved in the process (authors/publishers,
software developers and users). My personal feeling is that certain reference works (like
critical apparatuses) would greatly benefit if they were allowed to depart from their
original printed layout.
This new edition
of SESB is now based on LDLS version 3.0b,  and comes with a Supplement CD-ROM
 and a revised Instruction Manual.
I was very pleased to see that many of the things I was longing for in my original
review have been addressed in version 2. The Greek New Testament (UBS4) and its
associated critical apparatus is now available, as is Metzger's A Textual Commentary
on the Greek New Testament. Also, the Morphology Filter (as part of the Biblical
Languages Addin) has been added to the package.
New additions include Biblia Hebraica Quinta: Megilloth, Ezra, Nehemiah (with
critical apparatus), The Greek New Testament, 4th revised edition (with critical
apparatus) and The Gospel According to Thomas (in Coptic, English, German
and Greek), as well as two new Dutch Bibles, four Norwegian Bibles and one Modern Greek
Bible version. There are also three new addins: Biblical Languages (including Visual
Filters and Verb Rivers), Graeca-Hebraica Converter (a handy tool for converting older
fonts to Unicode fonts in Microsoft Word documents) and Sentence Diagramming.
Biblia Hebraica Quinta (BHQ) with critical apparatus
This is still a work in progress, called to become the successor of Biblia Hebraica
Stuttgartensia (BHS). The books currently available are Ruth, Canticles, Qoheleth,
Lamentations, Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah. It is supposed to be an editio critica
minor, for non-specialist in textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible. As usual, text
and critical apparatus can be made to scroll in sync (Figure 7).
Fig. 7 BHQ and Apparatus
The Greek New Testament (GNT4th) with critical apparatus
I used the third edition of this Greek NT when I began to study Greek and NT textual
criticism. Like many others, I turned to NA26/27 as time went by, but my love
and appreciation for UBS3/4 (supplemented with Bruce Metzger's companion volume – A Textual Commentary) has never waned. So, you can imagine what a treat it is
to have this resource in electronic format after all these years.
I expected to get two separate resources, one containing the Greek text and another one
with the critical apparatus (just like Novum Testamentum Graece), but in fact there is
only one resource. GNT4th (as it is labeled) includes both the textual and the
segmentation apparatuses as notes. 
I also expected a morphologically tagged text (again, like NA27), but GNT4th has no
morphology associated to it. Evidently you can always search Novum Testamentum Graece,
since the text is basically the same, although they differ in punctuation, capitalization,
pericopes and, sometimes, spelling. However, it would be a lot more convenient if GNT4th
had been tagged.
This resource contains up to twelve different fields, but has no later additions or
disputed passages tagged. If you want to search for non-original sections (those enclosed
in double square brackets) or uncertain words (enclosed in square brackets), you may have
to link NA27 and GNT4th, and run your search against NA27. This is not ideal, but it works
(Figure 8). 
Fig. 8 Search results in
NA27 and GNT4th.
It is important to keep in mind that some of these fields overlap. For instance,
"footnote" includes footnotes proper as well as critical and segmentation apparatuses, and
"bible" includes "Old Testament quotes". So, if we want to find only one of the
overlapping fields we need to use the NOTEQUALS operator. A
search like bible:θεος NOTEQUALS
otquote:θεος will return all instances of θεός except those that are part of and Old Testament quotation.
Finally, GNT4th is said to be topically indexed, but that only applies to the Title and
the eleven main sections (no subsections) that make up the Introduction.
The Gospel According to Thomas
This edition of SESB now includes the Coptic, German, English and Greek versions of the
Gospel of Thomas. It is possible to roughly replicate the layout found in Kurt Aland's Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum (pp. 517-546) by linking the four resources and
conveniently tiling the windows, as shown in Figure 9.
Fig. 9 Gospel of Thomas in
four different languages.
Bits and pieces
Visual Filters (View | Visual Filters...) are a great way to mark our resources
according to different types of data or "layers" of information that are available for a
particular work. For example, if we use a morphologically tagged text we can mark various
parts of speech so that they can be easily spotted when we open and read it. By doing
that, we are simply "turning on" one of the layers. But if there are other kinds of
information associated to that particular resource – like page numbers –, we can view
those alongside the others.  Figure 10 shows how all participles in NA27 have been
highlighted and page numbers displayed.
Fig. 10 All participles
appear highlighted. Notice that we are right at the end of p. 326 and beginning of p.
Visual Markup Syles (View | Visual Markup Styles...), on the other hand, is a
"free-style" sort of filter, which we can use to mark any text for whatever reason. There
are plenty of predefined styles one can choose from, but it is quite possible to create
new styles as well.
Sentence Diagrams (File | New... | Sentence Diagram) are an excellent tool for doing
exegesis, especially for those texts that have been tagged for morphology. In that case,
each part of speech can be made to display automatically in a different, predefined color.
One can build all sorts of diagrams (including parallel and multilingual diagrams), and
even make full use of the Visual Markup Styles in every possible way imaginable, which can
then be saved in PDF format. Figure 11 illustrates a very simple attempt at creating an interlinear with Greek, English and French versions.
Fig. 11 Interlinear of John
1:1 in NA27, NIV and TOB.
More suggested improvements
I will have another go, since I was rather successful last time...
One thing that keeps annoying me is the fact that most critical signs are not displayed
properly in the Search results window and some report windows. I know this is a Unicode
issue, but I find it hard to believe that after all this time this issue has not been
fixed. It looks aesthetically unpleasant, and it is out of line with an otherwise very
professionally looking interface.
I really miss two addins: Bible Analysis (including Bible Clusters, Bible Version Difference Rivers and Graph Bible
Search Results) and Compare Parallel Bible Versions (Compare Bible Versions and Compare Pericopes). These are
part of most academic-oriented Logos packages, and I think they should be in SESB too.
SESB Version 2 is definitely worth upgrading. It takes advantage of the excellent
features included in Logos Bible Software 3 and offers some exciting new content. I
particularly welcome the availability of GNT4th and its critical apparatus, and I am sure
OT scholars will be delighted to see Biblia Hebraica Quinta in electronic format too. I
would now give it a 7.5 out of 10.