I’m not going to tell you what I think is the ‘best’ software for Bible study. It all depends on what you want a piece of software to do, and in any case, I haven’t tried them all.
But these are some of the ones I have tried, and found useful. In no particular order:-
Libronix Digital Library System – The big strength of this software is the very large range of digital texts that can be purchased to go with it. These are not just the out-of-copyright texts that are bundled with free Bible software, but serious works from publishers such as IVP. The software is slow to load, a bit cumbersome to use, and poor when it comes to compiling your own personal commentary and other notes. Go to the Libronix website to find out more.
Online Bible – OLB is a fast, flexible, quirky bit of kit. It’s basically free, but you can purchase modern Bible translations such as NIV. What I like about it is the ability to compile your own personal Bible commentary and topical notes (and link things together in all sorts of ways). What I don’t like is its approach to formatting text. This is more automated than it used to be, but even so you have to work quite hard to get bolds, italics and so on. It will recognise Bible references, but dislikes things like ‘John 3:16f, 5:1ff’. If you type in a line of CAPITAL LETTERS the programme will ‘correct’ them to read ‘Capital LETTERS’ – how weird is that? But I do like the programme. My Bible Study Notes are lifted out of OLB and plonked into this blog with a small amount of reformatting. More information here.
Quickverse 4 – This version dates back to 1997, and I’ve used it over the years to read Scripture and built up an extensive verse-by-verse commentary (now painstakingly transferred to OLB = above). It’s simple, stable, and quick. It hasn’t been commercially available for some time, but you can download a free copy from this link. Trouble is, I don’t know how you would get hold of a modern Bible translation (such as NIV) to go with it (but if I find out, I’ll let you know). Later versions of Quickverse work very differently, and I can’t really recommend them.
Bible Illustrator 3 – This is a brilliant piece of software that seriously undersells itself. Forget about the illustrations that are provided with the programme. As with books of illustrations, only a small proportion will be of any use to a preacher or Bible teacher. But what you can do is add any number of notes, quotes, anecdotes, and observations of your own, and build up a resource which is searchable by topic or Bible reference. It links automatically to and from Quickverse 4. Still available commercially from this link.