David Instone-Brewer Reviews SESB 2

sesb.jpgDavid Instone-Brewer (also here and here), the Technical Officer and Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament at Tyndale House, has posted his review of version 2 of the Stuttgart Electronic Study Bible (SESB).

Here are some selections from his section “Overall Usefulness: much better than paper”:

Using these resources in electronic form makes me wonder if I will ever want to use the paper versions again. First the obvious—it is easier to zoom in on tiny details like pointing; information like morphology, roots or meaning appear by hovering or clicking; and the text can be searched in a variety of ways. . . .

. . .

What makes SESB so useable is the ability to understand the apparatus without needing to memorise all the arcane abbreviations. Remembering that codex B is 4th C Vaticanus and D is 5th C Bezae is easy compared to trying to remember that “28” refers to an 11th C Minuscule or that Hilary is a mid 4th C Father, or that “Diatessaronarm” refers to the Armenian translation within Ephraem’s commentary for passages where it differs from the Syriac original. The linking between them and the text is also very useful, because there is no need to constantly take one’s eye off the text to try and [sic] identify the relevant note. At last, the Apparatus is usable.

Here’s how he concludes his review:

If you are a PC user, this decision is a no-brainer. Sell your paper BHS, NA27 & UBS4, and buy this package. You don’t need to stop using BibleWorks but you will soon want to have both open. BibleWorks integrates itself well with Libronix and with internet resources via the built-in Link Manager. Even by itself, this package gives you a fully working Logos Libronix workface, and soon you will want to dip your toe in for other resources.

Read the entire review.1

I heartily agree with his conclusion, though I do have three complaints about the product—actually about the UBS4 resource included with it.

  1. The SESB UBS4 textual apparatus is not a separate resource, even though it is listed as a separate resource in the product description. This greatly decreases the functionality of the apparatus.
  2. The SESB UBS4 lacks morphology. Though there are other Greek texts with morphology, its absence here makes the UBS4 unusable as a primary Greek text.
  3. The SESB UBS4 forces the system to use BibliaLS instead of the default Greek font (in my case, Gentium). Minor, but annoying.

Update: I need to verify the accuracy of the following paragraph, particularly with regard to whether the condensed version is SESB 1 or SESB 2. I thought it was newly updated to 2 based on Rick Brannan’s comment in the Logos newsgroups. I will double check and post what I find here.

SESB 2 comes in two different versions: the full version (sale price: $324.95; academic $324.95) and the condensed version2 (sale price $159.95; academic: $129.95), which lacks the foreign modern-language Bibles and other resources. The condensed version is the better choice and better value for most English-speaking users. Logos is the exclusive North American distributor for SESB.

See also these reviews:


  1. You may want to sign up to receive his nearly monthly tech email (HT: Andy Naselli).
  2. It has just recently been updated to include the new resources in SESB 2.

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3 Responses to David Instone-Brewer Reviews SESB 2

  1. Mike Aubrey August 31, 2007 at 4:54 pm #

    Phil, are you sure the condensed version has been updated? The Logos page doesn’t seem to indicate this…

  2. Phil Gons August 31, 2007 at 7:28 pm #

    Thanks for pointing that out, Mike.

    I was basing this on what Rick Brannan said in the General newsgroup on 08/30/07 at 12:16 PM in the thread “BHS apparatus”:

    Actually, you could save some dollars ($160 vs. $325 at current prices) and instead buy the newly-configured “SESB Edition for Logos Bible Software Users”


    This has the primary language references of SESB without the modern foreign language bibles. See the web page for the actual resource list, etc.


    Hope it helps,

    Rick Brannan

    But you’re right that the description doesn’t seem to show the addition of the new SESB resources like the UBS4 with apparatus and BHQ.

    I’m not sure what to make of this. I’ll check with Rick.


  1. AndyNaselli.com - August 31, 2007

    […] Update: Cf. Phil Gons’s review and assessment of the SESB. […]