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bible - Lookup words and verses in the Bible (King James version)


bible [-f] [-l columns] [-m memlimit] [-p path-list] [-d datafile-name] [verse-


Bible writes the text of specified Bible verses to stdout. The text used is the
Authorized (King James) version. Commands may be given either on the command line, or
interactively. Bible also supports instant searches for verses containing a particular
word, or combination of words. The program uses a specially-compressed form of the text
that allows for rapid random access, while still compressing the original 4.4 Mbyte text
into less than 1.8 Mbytes (plus the "concordance" data file, which requires nearly 900

The options to bible are:

-f Toggles special output formatting (pretty-printing). By default, pretty-
printing is on (a change from earlier versions). When pretty-printing is
off, bible precedes each verse with its book/chapter/verse reference. When
pretty-printing is on, the book name and chapter are printed on a line by
themselves, and only when the chapter or book changes. The start of each
verse is indented and preceded by the verse number. The book and chapter
names are separated from the text by blank lines to facilitate post-
processing by other tools such as adjust. Pretty-printing activates
automatic line breaks ( -l)

-l columns When pretty-printing is off, bible prints one verse per line, even though
the text may be much longer than will fit on a single line of a display.
This is very handy when the output will be processed by other programs, but
it doesn't look very nice. The -l option sets a limit on the length of an
output line, causing bible to break lines (only between words) to fit. The
columns argument is optional; if it is not specified, bible will use the
value of the COLUMNS environment variable minus one. If COLUMNS is not set
a default value of 79 is used.

-m memlimit Bible normally allocates up to 1 megabyte for buffers to store uncompressed
text. If the -m option is present, bible will set the limit to memlimit

-p path-list Bible normally searches for the text data file first in the current
directory, and then in /usr/lib. The -p option may be used to change the
search path. Path-list should be a list of directories, each separated by
a space (be sure to escape them from the shell).

-d filename Bible normally expects to find the text data in a file named bible.data,
and the concordance data in bible.data.conc. If the -d option is present,
bible will look for a text data file named filename, and a concordance data
file named filename.conc instead.

Verse References
Bible accepts verse references in a variety of forms, including single verses and verse
ranges. For example:

Jn3:16, john3:16,17 ps1:1-6

Most recognizable abbreviations are allowed, and spelling errors are ignored if the book
can be made out in the first few characters. No distinction is made between upper and
lower case. Multiple references may be provided on an input line, delimited by spaces or

Verse and chapter will be silently coerced into a realistic range, e.g. "Ps1:87" will be
treated as Psalm 1:6 since there are only six verses in Psalm 1, and "Rev99:99" will be
treated as Revelation 22:21 (the last verse in the Bible). A book name by itself is
assumed to be a reference to chapter 1, verse 1 of that book, i.e. "Acts" is the same as
"Acts1:1". Similarly, a book and chapter without a verse is assumed to refer to verse one
of that chapter.

A range of verses may be printed by giving a starting and ending reference, separated by a
hyphen ("-"). For example, "Gen1:1-Rev22:21" will dump the entire text (about 4.4 MB).

Bible keeps track of your current context and will attempt to interpret references in that
context. For example if you request "John1:1", followed by "3:16", and then "17", the
second reference is assumed to be within the book of John, and the third is assumed to be
within chapter 3 of that book. An empty reference, e.g. a blank line on the input, will
show the next verse following the last one displayed.

More examples of legal verse references:



Romans3:23 5:8 6:23




Concordance (Word Searches)
Bible includes a concordance, with which you can immediately find all the verses in which
a word appears. The ??word command will select all the references that include word.
Bible will display the number of matching references, if any, but since the number could
be quite large, it won't actually list the references until you ask.

In order to list the references from a word search, the ?list (or ?l) command is used.
Likewise, to print the full text of the verses selected by a word search, use the ?view
(or ?v) command.

The lists for multiple words may be combined using the ?and word and ?or word commands.
First create a reference list using the ?? command. For example,


will find 231 references to the word "faith". To narrow the list further, the command

?and love

will inform you that, while there were 281 references to "love", only 16 of them were also
in the previous reference list (i.e. contained both words). The "combined list" of 16
references produced by the ?and word command is the intersection of the two lists, and
replaces the original reference list.

The ?list and ?view commands will now apply to the combined list. You can continue to
apply the ?and command to the combined list. For example,

?and hope

will further narrow the combined list to only two references. Typing ?view then displays
the full text:

1 Thessalonians 1

3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of
love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the
sight of God and our Father;

1 Thessalonians 5

8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the
breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

The ?or word command is similar to ?and, but it produces a combined reference list that is
the union of the two lists. In other words, the list includes those verses in which
either of the words appears. For example

?or angel

will find all 283 verses in wich either word is used.

By default, reference lists cover the entire Bible. But for those times when it is useful
to limit them to a particular section of the text, bible provides the ?in verse range
command. For example

?in mt1:1-rev22:21

will limit future reference lists to the New Testament. If you have a current reference
list, references that fall outside the limits will be dropped. Note that only a
contiguous range of verses may be used. To reset the limits so that the whole text is
searched, the command is ?in all.

Interactive Use
For interactive use, invoke bible without any verse references on the command line. You
should see a prompt displayed:

Bible(KJV) [Gen1:1]>

Typing ? will print a command summary.

The program accepts three types of interactive command input:

· Bible verse references, as described above.
· Concordance (word search) commands, also described above. These commands are:
??, ?list, ?view, ?and, ?or, and ?in.
· Miscellaneous program control commands:

?, ?h, ?help Prints help text.
?f Toggles output formatting modes.
?wfile Begin writing program output to a file. If file exists, output is
appended to what's there already.
?w Stop writing to a file.
>, < Toggle the direction (forward or backward) in which bible will move
through the text when a blank line is entered.
q, ?bye, ?exit, ?quit, ?q
End the program.

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