Consider for a moment the two digital module types that are used to recreate real
world Bible commentaries: commentaries and general books. Each have distinct advantages
over the other; each have glaring weaknesses, too.
The “Commentary” Module Format
First, let’s consider the “commentary.” TW’s “commentary” module format typically
follows this file naming convention - “Module Name.cmt.twm”. The module name is self-explanatory.
So, what’s the “.cmt.twm” for?
Well, all of TW’s non-Bible modules end with “.twm” - that stands for “TheWord Module”
(I know; clever!). The .cmt just means that this particular module will function
as you would expect any “commentary” to work: each of the individual comments in
the book are linked to a verse, a range of verses, a chapter, or a Book of the Bible.
So, when the commentary is open in a window that is linked to a Bible window, the
commentary moves with the Bible verses. Nice, nice, indeed! So, you’ll expect commentaries
and Bibles to work like the picture on the right.
I think the advantages of this format are relatively easy to see (!!). But there
is a drawback: a general inability to present a logical flow of information (outside
of the verse-by-verse structure). Commentaries don’t just comment on specific verses;
they interpret blocks of thought. Some of those blocks exist in verses and chapters,
yes; but others exist in paragraphs, or in other units of thought. In the above example,
you can’t see paragraphs in the commentary, because in the “.cmt.twm” format, paragraphs
The General Book Module Format
That brings us, secondly, to the “General Book” module type - a very powerful module
type indeed. Like other TW modules, the file naming convention follows a relatively
predictable pattern - “Module Title.gbk.twm”. In addition, many module makers also
include author name, too, like this - “Last Name, First Name - Module Title.gbk.twm”.
The “.gbk” in the middle of the file name simply stands for “General Book” module.
Anything that can be read as a “real world book” can be formatted digitally as a
“General Book” module.
The big advantage for the general book module type is hierarchialism (no, not bad
philosphy; good organizational flow!). Many real world books have not only chapters,
but also “volumes.” Here’s a real world example: Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic
Theology has 8 volumes in the original hard cover set. So, converted to a digital
module with one file, it looks something like the accompanying picture. (For a comprehensive
review of Chafer’s Systematic Theology, click here. To see a review of how it is
implemented in TW, click here.)
But many modules have not only “volumes;” they also have “units”, too. Again, using
Chafer’s Systematic Theology, any one of the volumes has more than one “unit” of
study. Volume One has three units (plus a “Table of Contents” for Volume 1): Prolegomena,
Bibliology, and Theology Proper. But these units have individual chapters, too. “Theology
Proper” has four chapters under it. With theWord’s hierarchial topic structure, it
is quite easy to see the flow of Chafer’s thought. Check out the information in the
picture to see it for yourself.
In smaller titles, this type of organization may seem superfluous. But in a larger
module? Wow! Does it ever make a difference in helping to understand an author’s
flow of thought!
The downside to the general book module is that it is incapable of linking directly
to a verse (or verse range). Pity.
But What About Single Volume Commentaries?
There are many single volume commentaries that are written not only with chapter
and verse divisions, but also with unit divisions as well. A good commentary doesn’t
only give you a verse-by-verse analysis; it helps you to understand how the parts
fit into the whole. The best way to visualize that is with the General Book hierarchialism.
But - general books aren’t linked to specific verses. Wouldn’t it be great if a module
could display both a hierarchy structure while linking to specific verses?
Well... now they can!
Introducing TW4’s Hybrid Module!
TW4 includes a beta feature: a module type Costas calls a “hybrid” module. It has
the properties of a general book module (even the .gbk.twm file format) but with
the ability to link to specific verses of the Bible like a commentary. So it truly
is the best of both worlds!
The hybrid module is still in the beta stage; that simply means that it is stable
enough for the public to use, but it hasn’t yet reached it’s planned development
as a proven bug-free part of the program. But I can tell you this: I’ve been using
Costas’ hybrid module for nearly a year; and I’ve had zero problems with it. Zip.
An example of TW4’s hybrid module type is Douglas Moo’s Romans for the New International
Commentary on the New Testament series. (To see my comprehensive product review,
click here. To see how it flawlessly works with TW, click here.) Take a look at this
picture to see how it works as both a commentary and a general book module. What
you’ll see is the combination of the best elements of the commentary and general
The picture shows the Bible window set to Rom 3:24, the book module linked to comments
at Rom 3:24, and a beautiful hierarchial flow in the topic tree. Gorgeous implementation
indeed! Bravo, Costas!
There is a downside to this hybrid type of module. Commentaries that are built as
hybrids (like the Moo Romans module from NICNT) cannot be used with the inline Bible
setting. They also do not yet work with “commentary links.” And third party module
builders cannot yet build them. These negatives will range from “non-existent” to
“minor irritation” depending on how each user capitalizes on the advanced features
offered in theWord.
I can, though, tell you this: updates that will correct all three of these issues
are currently being developed for an imminent software update. When completed, the
hybrid module will be just about perfect.
I myself have several modules already published that I will enjoy turning into hybrid
modules. I’m sure over time that more and more general books will be reformatted
to hybrids, making them more and more useful in the study of God’s wonderful book.