PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide
PDA Phone Notebooks Gaming Gadgets iPhone & iPad Shop Discussion


Complete Word Study Bible – from Olive Tree, for Palm OS and Pocket PC
Posted September, 2004 by Tanker Bob

“Bible study” means different things to different folks. At one end of the spectrum, some consider simple Scripture reading to be Bible study. At the other end, perusing original scrolls and codices fills that bill. Most of us fall on a continuum somewhere between those extremes. Clearly, though, a grasp of Biblical Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic provides a leg up on getting to the nuances of meaning in difficult passages and even a better understanding of not so controversial ones. Not everyone possesses a command of those ancient languages, but don’t despair. Olive Tree Software has brought one of the absolute best original language study tools to your Palm OS and Pocket PC handheld. AMG’s Complete Word Study Bible edited by Dr. Spiros Zodhiates towers above all comers for bringing the original languages alive for every student of God’s word. couldn't resist taking it for a test drive.

Dr. Zodhiates put over four decades of work into this collection of study resources as part of his work with Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (AMG), International, the predecessor of which he started in 1942. He has earned a reputation as one of the leading extant Greek scholars. He started tying detailed language helps to the English Scriptures with the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, and progressed to the Complete Word Study Bible series and their associated dictionaries. The last element, the Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, edited by Drs. Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, just reached publication in 2003.

I tested the King James Version (KJV), the only version available electronically in any form at this time. Although Olive Tree’s CWSB supports both Palm OS and Pocket PC, I only tested it on my Palm Tungsten T3. The data files and most of the reader operations are identical on the Pocket PC.

screen shot


The heart of the Zodhiates’ study system centers on the exhaustive coding of each word’s grammatical details in the original text linked with Strong’s numbering system. These grammar codes can be daunting to get through in print, but usage simplifies dramatically in an electronic medium. More on that in a minute. The small black triangles in the text indicate the notes in each book, including a book introduction and comments on key passages. The Strong’s numbers and grammar codes may be hidden from view either through the menu or using /s, making the actual text more readable, and the definitions may still be accessed by tapping a word. However, you'll sometimes want to view the codes in the text for very detailed work and to see how words group.

screen shot


The Olive Tree BibleReader+ 3.52_F081 supports up to three windows on the Palm OS screen. Its default setup uses one window (full screen). By tapping a word, note, or grammar code in the text, the screen splits into two windows of equal size with the bottom window as the target for notes selected in the top window—a very slick operation. This behavior can be changed or enhanced in the reader’s Preferences. The screen shot above shows the introductory note for John’s gospel in a window set to the optional 1/3 screen size. Every book has an introductory note that discusses authorship, dating, and historical setting.

screen shot


The core strength of the CWSB lies in its grammar codes and dictionaries. Tapping on a word or its associated codes brings up the grammar code explanation with links to a broader explanation and the word’s Strong number, Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic form, its transliteration, and an extensive discussion of its usage throughout the Bible with reference to specific passages. Some of the discussions in the Greek dictionary cover several pages in the printed book and bring clarity to difficult portions of the Scriptures. Changes in meaning with tense or voice add a great deal to understanding the text as well. The Greek dictionary also has synonyms and often antonyms at the end of each definition article. Definitions for compound words appear together in the dictionary window with the second word following the first’s definition.

screen shot


As with all of Olive Tree’s offerings with embedded Strong’s information, the CWSB can be searched on Strong’s numbers. BibleReader+ possesses powerful search options and its speed has been improved to be on par with its fastest competition. All the extensive Scripture citations in the notes and definitions are hyperlinked for quick jumps. Tapping the back arrow on the tool bar returns the user to the previous Bible verse. Additionally, the grammar code numbers in the definitions also hotlink to an explanation of that part of speech or tense. A cornucopia of original language information sits just a tap away.

The inevitable point of comparison comes between the AMG Complete Word Study Dictionaries and the popular Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. I own print copies of both reference sets and compared them. Like Zodhiates, W.E. Vine’s strength lay in his expertise with the Greek language. Vine’s provides discussions of word meanings and usage as a word appears throughout the Scriptures, but words are not linked with Strong’s numbers. In fact, Vine’s organized around the English translation rather than original Greek, limiting the ability to link uniquely to the underlying Greek words in electronic format.

AMG provides a fuller discussion of the Greek words and usages, covering a host of information not presented in Vine’s. For example, whereas Vine’s discussion of “foreknow” (Strong’s 4267) from Romans 8:29 consists of two brief paragraphs in print, one for each the noun and verb forms, Zodhiates fleshes this key word out thoroughly over an entire double column page in smaller print. The CWSB also references key words as used in the Septuagint, the First Century BC Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, to illustrate doctrinal continuity. The Hebrew/Aramaic offerings for both don’t rise to the level of the Greek, but Complete Word Study Dictionary—Old Testament is comprehensive and covers 1251 double-column pages whereas Vine’s provides just a minimal sample of word definitions in just 123 pages. AMG wisely chose to have two Hebrew scholars edit their Old Testament dictionary, and it paid off handsomely.

In both the New and Old Testament dictionaries, the AMG dictionaries link to explanations of parts of speech coded with each word. Vine’s has nothing like this. Overall, the CWSB provides far more comprehensive coverage of the Biblical languages.

Given the exhaustiveness of the grammar codings and dictionary discussions covering every single word in the Bible, it shouldn't be surprising that the CWSB databases are quite large. Olive Tree distributes the CWSB in two parts. The CWSB file itself includes the Bible, notes and index, as well as the Palm and PPC readers and fonts, in a 6.7 MB archive. The dictionaries come in another 6.6 MB archive, again including the reader and fonts. It requires about 11.5 MB actual space for the entire package on your handheld, and can be located entirely on an external card.

screen shot


While this review centers on the new Complete Word Study Bible, the updated reader deserves a few words. PDABuyersGuide last reviewed Olive Tree’s reader in our February 2004 Bible Software update here. Since then, Olive Tree upgraded BibleReader+ to support excellent hi res Greek, Hebrew/Aramaic, and transliteration fonts, improved its display and card reading performance, and added options that significantly enhance the power of its full, unique 3-window configuration. As mentioned above, tapping on a word with one full-screen window on the screen will bring up the user’s preferred window configuration with the requested information in the user-selectable target window. In the above screen shot, I had the CWSB in full screen and then tapped on “foreknow” in Romans 8:29. BibleReader+ automatically brought up the GRAMCORD Lite Greek New Testament I had preset in Window 2, with Window 3 the target for all lookups containing the CWSB Greek dictionary article for “foreknow” in which I scrolled down to show some hyperlinks. Several Bible readers offer a dual-window configuration, but making three windows work so smoothly and easily requires considerably more effort. Olive Tree relentlessly continues to improve BibleReader+, superbly blending flexibility and usability.

I believe that the Greek portion of the CWSB package stands as the premier Scripture language reference available for Bible study in any form for those not proficient in the Greek language, and a great help for those who are. The Hebrew/Aramaic grammar parsing is equally excellent, but as discussed above, the Old Testament dictionary isn't as strong as the Greek. Still, it holds a superior position over anything else available for the Palm or PPC platform. At $39.95, the CWSB represents a considerable bargain compared with the $190 retail of the print versions of these references, and with much greater ease of use. It nicely complements the industry- leading stable of references that Olive Tree offers for serious Bible study, from modern versions in a number of languages to detailed works using the original languages.

If I were limited to just one Scriptural language reference on my T3 (perish the thought!), Olive Tree’s Complete Word Study Bible would be it—and I’d eat beanie-weenies for a week if I had to do so to get it. That won’t be necessary since it comes at a bargain price.


Comprehensive coverage of all Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible

Detailed discussion of the Greek words and syntax and good Hebrew definitions, all in easy-to-understand English

Easy to use in a highly customizable reader

Can hide Strong’s numbers and grammar codes

Searchable on Strong numbers

All scripture citations and grammar codes hyperlinked in articles and definitions

Supports Palm OS and Pocket PC


Not having it on your Palm OS or PPC PDA

Web Site:
Price: $39.95


Back to Home Questions? Comments? Post them in our Discussion Forum!