Tracking Changes in the ESV with Bibleworks


After reading a post by Rick Mansfield on the changes in the ESV (from 2001 -> 2007) I began wondering myself what the changes in particular were. I have on hand one of the best Biblical textual analysis programs ever made: Bibleworks 7. When previous versions were upgraded (NET and NLT) I made export copies of the original then recompiled them using the built in module as “original versions” named NEO and NLO on my system. I’m going to do the same thing with the ESV 2001 so that I can compare the old 2001 version with the new 2007 version as I move along in my own study. If you want to do the same, I invite you to follow along.

Make sure you have the original

To see which version you have of the ESV change your browse mode to verse at a time by clicking either the menu feature under “View” or the footprints icon. Hover over The little ESV and the Word Analysis window will change to show the copyright info and should read “ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION (ESV). Copyright © July 2001” If it says 2007 you’ll have to roll back your ESV in order to do this little trick.
Of course since I update regularly I already have the 2007 edition installed in BW so what to do? Since I keep all my old patches I had no problem here. Note that if you’re not in the habit of keeping your patches I’m not sure how you can accomplish this. And I’m doubly not sure if it’s legal for me to post the patch (or the ESO compiled version) here since it would be in essence distributing the ESV without paying royalties. But I can show you how to do this with files you already own.

    Roll back your ESV Version:

  1. Navigate to Help > Bibleworks on the Internet>Check for updates
  2. when it opens select Options > Show Downloaded Patches
  3. Scroll through the list until you find English standard version update 7.017a which as far as I can tell is the “newest” of the original 2001 ESV.
  4. Select and click Apply selected Updates
  5. Bibleworks will download the patch and will ask you to restart the program. Obey that request.

When Bibleworks reloads you can check your work by hovering over the ESV in the browse window and checking the copyright text.

Export the original ESV

    Bibleworks has all the tools you need to complete this task.

  1. Proceed to tools > Export Database…
  2. In the export tool make sure you Select ESV, Check the Export notes and cross references box and save it with a reasonable name (click OK to open the save dialog). Make sure you change the file type to .TXT This is important!
  3. Once you hit save it will take a few seconds to export the text.
  4. When the process dialog goes away, click CLOSE.

Import the Original ESV

    Again Bibleworks has all the tools you need.

  1. Proceed to Tools > Version Database Compiler…
  2. Under “DDF” click NEW and navigate to where you want to save the Database Description File. This will be used later to rebuild if you ever need to, so it’s worth saving. (And I’m almost positive it’s necessary.)
  3. Under #2 “Raw Text File” browse to and select the file you just exported.
  4. Give it an adequate description like “English Standard Version 2001”
  5. Give it a meaningful Version ID. I used ESO for English Standard Original
  6. For Version number I might suggest something between 7000 and 7999 so that you know it was compiled with version 7 of Bibleworks. I chose 7350.
  7. Under 3c change Notes to “End notes”
  8. Put check marks in “has X-Refs”, “has italics”, “has superscripts”
  9. Put a check mark in “install after Compiling”
  10. check the rest of your options to be sure they are correct.
  11. Click “Compile”.


The process took less than a minute for my computer. When it was done I clicked close to close the dialog.
Now I can type ESO in the command line to see the original ESV.

Update to the 2007 ESV

Return to the BW update under Help >Bibleworks on the Internet > Check For Updates
Scroll through the list of changes again until you arrive at the updated ESV which is named “English Standard Version Update (7.017a). Select and apply that patch.
Once Bibleworks has restarted you should be able to load both the (new) ESV and the (original) ESO by typing them in the command line. By hovering over the name “ESV” you can verify that the upgrade worked when you see the updated copyright text: “ESV – The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001,2007 …”

Compare away

Now for the fun we’ve all been waiting for! Again from the menu select Tools > Text Comparison Settings. Insert ESV and ESO on a single line, be sure to enable the checkbox, click APPLY and then click close. If you happen to be on a verse which has a difference you’ll see instantly what those changes are.
For instance you can see the stylistic change made in the new ESV at Genesis 25:20 to help clarify Rebekah’s lineage was distinct from her marriage to Isaac.