Logos Bible Software and Biblical Theology

Lggos Bible SoftwareDo you use any Bible software for reading and research? I have used various programs in the past (QuickVerse and BibleWorks), and have generally enjoyed using them for research, but not for reading. So when Logos Bible software recently asked me to select any book from their library for review on this blog, I was interested in seeing if they could convert me to using their software for reading books on a computer. I recently estimated that I own about 10,000 pounds of books, and since I have moved 15 times in the last 15 years, I am getting sick and tired of moving books. It sure would be nice to just pack up my computer and go…

So when Logos Bible software offered to let me read a book with their software, I chose Brevard Childs’ Biblical TheologyIt is not a new release, but it is a book have wanted to read for a while. This post will be a review of Brevard’s book AND a review of Logos Bible Software.

Brevard Childs’ Biblical Theology

Let me be blunt. After having read this book, I am not sure why it was recommended to me… Childs suffers from the malady which has infected much of modern theology. He deals more with summarizing and critiquing the views of other theologians than with actually helping the reader understand the theology of the biblical text.

It is strange that a book which begins with the words “Biblical Theology” contains so little analysis and explanation of the biblical text. In the end, the book is not really about biblical theology at all, but rather, theologian’s theology. There is hardly a paragraph in the book that does not refer to the ideas or writings of some other theologian.

If you are looking to learn what other theologians have written about the Bible, then this is a great book. But if you are looking to gain further understanding about the Bible itself, you may want to look elsewhere.

That’s all I am going to say about this book.

Logos Bible Software

Of course, I wasn’t reading the book by Childs just to read a book. More than anything, I wanted to give Logos Bible Software a test run in reading a book.

As mentioned above, I have used other Bible software over the past 20 years, but I primarily use it for streamlining my study process. I use it for concordances, Greek and Hebrew lexicons, and other similar reference tools. Books like these are not written to be read cover to cover, but are written to aid in research. As such, I love Bible software for these purposes, because with a few clicks of a mouse, I can look up a certain Greek or Hebrew word in various lexicons, see where that word is used in other contexts (both biblical and extra-biblical), and even check a few commentaries if I want to.

logos bible software

But I have never enjoyed reading a book cover to cover on a computer screen, and this trial run of Logos Bible Software confirmed my feelings once again. Call me traditional, call me old-fashioned, but there is something about holding paper in my  hands, turning pages, and having the ability to mark up the text, underline key points, and scribble comments in the margins. In fact, the amount of writing I do in a book determines whether or not I consider it worth reading. I judge a book by how much I write in the margins.

I know that some Bible software programs allow the reader to highlight text in the book they are reading, and I seem to remembering seeing something like this with Logos, but again, when I am reading abook, I don’t want to have click a button with a mouse, highlight some text, and then click another button to add a note. That slows the reading process WAY down and annoys me to no end.

I am not sure if anyone will ever come up with a program for a tablet computer that allows you to underline and highlight text, and write in the margins of a book the way you can in a paper book, but until that happens, I am probably not ever going to read books digitally.

But back to my review of Logos Bible Software. It does have some good strengths. I love the fact that the entire library is searchable. This fact alone makes me want to read more books digitally. I cannot tell you how many hours I have wasted in my life trying to find a passage I know I read somewhere, but cannot remember which book it was in. It is SO frustrating. With searchable text, this search would be easier. Also, I liked how Logos added links to every Scripture text so that if you wanted to read a verse, all you have to do is hover your mouse over the reference, and the Scripture text pops up onto the screen. That is extremely helpful.

In the end, while Logos Bible Software is a great way to get lots of research tools in a handy, accessible way, and while it is certainly the best way to carry a vast library to the other side of the country (or around the world)–which would be helpful for missionaries or for people who move a lot–it is not the best way for traditional book readers like myself to enjoy a book in a quiet corner with a cup of coffee.

How about you? Have you used Logos Bible Software? What was your experience? If you haven’t used it, go check them out! They are the leaders in Bible software, and if you don’t mind reading books on a computer, they might be the perfect fit for you.




Comments

  1. says

    I’m in agreement with you regarding electronic books — you can’t beat real paper!

    As for Bible software … I’m a Bibleworks guy. You can’t beat its emphasis on Greek and Hebrew texts. To me, Logos is better for building a digital library, Bibleworks is better for actually studying the text. Just my two cents ;)

    • says

      I am with you as well. I do use BibleWorks. A Lot! And yes, Logos is better for building a digital library, but not better for in-depth exegetical research. Thanks for bringing this out!

  2. Jake Yaniak says

    I’ve personally done a lot of reading on my computer. Being able to search the text has been a huge time saver. I often make notes in text files so that I can copy and paste sections of the book easily and then type my thoughts underneath the text. I also tend to read faster on a computer screen for some reason. I haven’t used Logos, though.

    • says

      Hmm. So when you read on your computer, do you use PDF? or are you talking about blogs and such.

      That is an interesting point about reading faster. I should time myself sometime. I tend to scan and skim more when I read on a computer, so I bet I would read faster also…

      • Jake Yaniak says

        I usually copy what I want to read into plain text files, so I can easily control the width and font size. PDFs are more difficult to read, since they are locked into a format. I don’t usually read directly on websites because the text stretches across the screen, forcing your eyes to trek back and forth. That can be confusing and exhausting.

  3. says

    Thanks for the review, Jeremy! (I work at Logos.)

    You noted, “it is not the best way for traditional book readers like myself to enjoy a book in a quiet corner with a cup of coffee…”

    One thing I’ve noticed as I convert to reading more and more books digitally (I have way too many books at home!) is that while I don’t enjoy reading on a computer screen, I actually *do* enjoy reading on my mobile phone and my tablet. They are a much more immersive reading environment and I actually quite enjoy curling up with a much smaller screen, coffee in hand, and ready to highlight favorite passages without having to hunt for a pen or marker.

    So, don’t forget, anything you can enjoy on the desktop version of Logos Bible Software can also be accessed via 1) The Vyrso ebook reader, 2) the Faithlife Bible app, and 3) the Logos Bible Software app. Your library is accessible on multiple devices with multiple tools.

    (I tend to prefer the desktop application for study, but the Vyrso app for just reading.)

    Regards,

    Rich

    • says

      Thanks, Rich!

      My friend Chuck McKnight will be starting there in a few weeks. He is very excited.

      Yes, I think I would enjoy reading in a quiet corner with a cup of coffee more if I had an e-reader, or maybe a tablet. I don’t own either, however. I don’t even have a cell phone. Can you believe it? I am in the dark ages!

      But I do think that would make my digital reading experience better.

      • says

        Oh, one more by the way: One thing you might want to take into account when reading your digital resources: not all platforms are created equal.

        Any resource you own in your Logos Bible Software library is available to you via the Vyrso app, the Logos Bible Software app, and the Faithlife Study Bible app. (Three apps!) Each has a slightly different reading experience, with different feature sets. But if you want to curl up in a corner and just read and occasionally highlight and maybe add notes, you can do that *very* easily and with a nice user interface using the free apps Logos provides. Again: if you own the book in Logos, you can access it from your mobile device through “the cloud.”

        Personally, I can’t read sitting at a desktop machine. For reading, I definitely prefer a lean-back device. And Logos apps work on iOS, Kindle Fire, & Android (It works on my Nook, too.)

        Rich

        • says

          Say hi to Chuck! Yes, I think I would enjoy reading on a tablet if I could sit back.

          However, I have a need to scribble in the margins and underline text. Does the Logos app allow for that?

    • says

      Wow. Long time user. Hey, can you still use the books you bought 20 years ago?

      I was using a different popular program for a while, but then I stopped buying their upgrades because they told me that use the books I bought 10 years ago, I would have to re-buy them because the old versions didn’t work with the new software. I tried to argue that they should give them to be for free since I already bought them, but they wouldn’t do it. So I stopped using their software altogether.

      How does Logos handle this?

      • Terry Zeyen says

        Hey Jeremy, as far as I am aware I can use all the books I have previously purchased. My understanding is that when Logos comes out with upgraded versions of existing books there is a fee to upgrade to the new version but the old version still continues to work. You might want to check with Logos directly in regard to this thought just to make sure.

  4. says

    I agree that the sensate nature reading electronically isn’t as pleasing as the folio.

    And although various formats have attempted to mimic my practice of dog-earrng a page so it is instantly available, of highlighting text, making notations and drawing on the pages, none have quite got it yet. The closest so far is a product like PDFPen or others such on the iPad with a stylus.

    One advantage I do find in Logos – which I imagine exists in other products – is the fact that my notes are searchable. This makes it much easier to recollect my thoughts from a dozen books rather than having to pull them down from the shelves. On a side note, one slick trick I learned from a professor is to annotate the beginning of each chapter in a book with a summary of the chapter’s contents and reference to pages where I’ve made notes.

    When I have a long passage that I want to read closely I’ll print it off. Logos lets me do that. And I do find that not having to schlepp some 4500 volumes around with me to be quite handy, too.

    • says

      Yes, I would love to have searchable notes. And to easily carry 4500 volumes around in one hand. Wow. That sounds unbelievably nice.

      But how do you make notes with Logos? I didn’t really try this aspect, and didn’t see how it worked. How do you link a note with a particular portion of text in a book? Can that be done?

      • says

        I made a short screen cast to show you how it works. I dropped you an email thru your “About” page; send me your email and I’ll send the video.

        Yes, you can link portions of one text to portions of any other text – books, dictionaries, commentaries, magazines, monographs, journals and on and on. Plus, you can also create notes that link to resources outside of Logos.

        I’ll send it over at your convenience.

  5. says

    I’m all for free, so I’ve been using e-sword.net for many years. I love the way it’s set up to my choosing, but I have the various Bibles, Commentaries, Dictionaries and Editors all showing in four separate blocks on one screen. I can make my notes, everything will shift to any particular verse, and carry on. The free resources alone will keep me busy the rest of my life. I can only tell you that reading such a classic as Fox’s Book of Martyrs and other classic commentaries has had a profound influence on my walk with Christ.

    And, there is something very worthwhile in referencing the classics and hold them up against all the ‘NEW” that is being presented to the His body of believers in this day and age.

    • says

      I agree. If you are looking to just use the classics, e-sword is a good option. I have it installed on all my computers. It may not have all the bells and whistles that others have, but it is free, and you can download many free resources and tools for it.

  6. Katherine Johnson says

    I agree. Bible software is great for using Bible reference-type books, but when it comes to books you want to read from beginning to end, paper just feels better.

    However, it may be worth a shot to try the same experiment with the Olive Tree Bible Study App. The program itself is a free download from olivetree.com, and there is a decent selection of free ad-ons (plus lots of others you can pay for). Though, I still prefer paper books, Olive Tree does have some highlighting and note taking features I really appreciate. The look of your highlights is totally customizable, and all of your highlights and notes can be searched, tagged, categorized, color-coded, coded with symbols… pretty much anything you would want to do with them.

    I haven’t used Logos to read an ebook, so I can’t give you a comparison. But if you’re wanting to find a way to enjoy reading books on a screen… maybe give Olive Tree a whirl and see if you like it any better.

  7. jonathon says

    One of the more overlooked issues in Bblical software is the theologcal orientation of the reources.

    If your theology regards Catholic Christianity as the Whore of Babalon, and considers both Luther and Calvin to be heretics, you’ll have a lot more difficulty finding resources, than if you consider Andrew Murray to be the world’s best missionary, and Moffat’s translation to be the ultimate English translation of the Bible.

    Whilst the ability to create one’s own rsources is helful, not all Biblical software has that option. Furthermore, creating resources is not always a simple, straghtforward function.

    • says

      True. But one thing I didn’t know about Logos until I spoke with with my friend Chuck who works there is that they employ people from all different theological backgrounds, including Catholics and even some atheists (I think that is what he said). This is encouraging to me because it tells me that they are open to have resources from all different kinds of perspectives. Hopefully their offerings will only increase.

      • jonathon says

        Either Logos 2 or Logos 3 had denomination specific DVDs (CDs?). For various reasons, they were not upgradeable. (Most of them were created and distributed by third parties.)
        Since then, Bob has tried extremely hard to produce at least the core works for most branches of Christianity in house.

        My comment about resources was more about the low-end Biblical Software end.
        (At least one developer of a gratis program, will threaten to sue for copyright/license infringement, if the resource appears to advocate a theological position he disagrees with.)

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