Dluxe's World

Tuesday, April 24

(Mostly) Loco for Logos [1]

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3]

The promise of technological progress is always "More, Better, Faster". The ability we have today to gather, organize, and quickly search massive amounts of data is absolutely amazing. Think about it: Probably the entire textual contents of the Library of Alexandria would fit on the memory stick I carry on my keychain and be searched in a few seconds by modestly-powered modern computer. Of course, discerning good data from bad data is still left to the readers... But that's another post!

This technological promise of 'more, better, faster' has cool implications for the study of the Bible too. As I mentioned previously, I jumped into the pool of Bible software by purchasing Logos Bible Software's upper-mid-level Scholar's Library back in early April. With a few weeks of using the tool behind me, I thought it would be a good idea to post a quasi-review of the package. I hope it's helpful to others who are considering the purchase of a Bible study package. Up front, it's important that nothing I say be elevated to the level of dogma... I'm still learning Logos, and I have limited experience with the competitors - so your mileage may vary and my mileage might get better with time.

I want to provide my thoughts by answering 4 questions:
  • Why did I choose to buy Logos instead of Bibleworks or another competitive product?
  • What things do I like or think are strengths of Logos?
  • Similarly, what are some things I don't like or would identify as weaknesses?
  • What support and resources for learning the software are available?
  • Overall, are you pleased with the purchase? And what happens now?
I'm guessing all this will take at least a couple posts, so let's dive in...

Why did I choose to buy Logos?
For quite a while now, my Bible study involved a lot of surfing. I mean that, while studying a passage, I'd regular go out to sites like zhuberts, CCEL, the Spurgeon Archive, Desiring God, etc to get more perspectives on the passage I was studying. I had already been wishing for a way to pull this all together in one, neat-n-tidy package when Dan Phillips posted a review for BibleWorks 7 on TeamPyro and followed it up on his blog. Let's just say that review spurred a 'holy desire' in me... Sounds better than covetousness don't it?

I'm a highly analytical person, so I immediately started doing some research. In looking out on the web, I started to see people mentioning Logos as a similar product. Comparing the two online, here's what I gathered:
  • Bibleworks seemed very popular with the academic set (a compliment!) and really appeared to specialize in enabling you to do interpretive/exegetical work. The speed and functions seemed to be clustered around faster, more intuitive study of the text (particularly in the original languages). Lexicons and other study aids were linked to maximize performance/speed.
  • Logos represented a completely different approach. The aim here was to integrate a wide variety of resources into a true 'digital library'. The promise seemed to be that you could still do solid exegetical work but branch off quickly into other varied resources (commentaries, systematic theology texts, etc) with a click. Practically any book you might want in your library - like Grudem's Theology - could be digitzed and linked in.
The Logos approach of allowing all the varied elements to be tagged and thus cross-linked was really intriguing to me. In addition, I'm very much a geek - so the concept of centralizing my entire library on a computer (where I could carry it with me) and search it quickly made me drool. Our next door neighbor happens to have an older version of BibleWorks and seeing it in action seemed to confirm my gut-feelings...

However, one challenge was that very few people seemed to have used both tools. Both Logos and BibleWorks seem to have 'fanatical' supporters who would never consider switching camps. This made real comparative reviews few and far between... As a result, I just spent a couple months surfing various forums and tried to see which shoe I thought would fit me better. In the end, I think I could've easily gone either way but Logos just seemed the better choice.

So, at that point (around Christmas) I put all my eggs in the Logos basket and started evaluating which Logos version to purchase. I won't go into detail here except to say that no matter what you're looking for, there's a package for you out there. I settled on the Scholar's Library, and then pulled the trigger on the purchase after scratching the funds together.

There's the why... I'll try to get to the good stuff in the next day or so.

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  • A discussion between a Logos user and a BibleWorks user about Bible software is almost as much fun as a PC user and a Mac user having a discussion about computers.

    From what I've read, I think you've drawn the line correctly - a more complete library (Logos) versus a very focused exegetical tool (BibleWorks).

    By Blogger Taliesin, at 9:25 PM, April 24, 2007  

  • You were able to create a personal book in Libronix with the standard addins that came with your Scholar's Library? Or, did you have to purchase that separately?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:29 AM, April 26, 2007  

  • Anonymous,

    You were able to create a personal book in Libronix with the standard addins that came with your Scholar's Library? Or, did you have to purchase that separately?

    My understanding is that there's two separate things at work:
    1) The ability to read/utilize personal books
    2) The ability to create personal books.

    I believe that many of the packages (according to this page), can read personal books. So you can download the pbbs out on the net and add them to the library.

    If you want to create your own pbbs, it's an add-on tool (and cost). There are two levels buy in: At the first, you can create pbbs for your own library but you are not able to share books you create with others. The higher level/cost allows you to create pbbs and share them with other users.

    Hope that helps!

    In Christ, Dluxe

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 12:48 PM, April 26, 2007  

  • Since you mentioned that PBB's can be downloaded on the net would it be inappropriate to state that a good number of PBB's can be downloaded from stilltruth.com?

    By Anonymous tcblack, at 1:59 PM, April 26, 2007  

  • Absolutely not, tc... Actually, I apologize for not having linked you guys in the article.

    Honestly, I intended to make mention of stilltruth. The trick is I was sharing info about your site in an email exchange while I was doing these posts. I kept thinking I had talked about your site, when the reality was that was all behind-the-scenes conversations.

    Thanks for the plug. I'll update the posts with some appropriate linkage.

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 2:10 PM, April 26, 2007  

  • I am not sure if you guys have used Logos 3 as of yet, it came out around last May. Being that I minored in original languages in Seminary, I was very much interested in a program that gave me the digital library plus awesome exegetical tools; Logos does both and goes way beyond what Bibleworks can do. Logos 3 has the ability to do complex syntax research and searches and helps interpret the passage better. In short the original language tools of Logos 3 are more direct than the original language tools of Bibleworks, that is why I chose Logos.

    By Blogger Pastor Michael Huffman, at 3:58 PM, May 31, 2007  

  • I've been a Logos user for several years now and purchased the scholar's silver library just before pursuing my Master of Divinity at Westminster Seminary California. Most of my classmates and professors had Bibleworks, but I was able to keep up just fine with Logos 2.0 AND I was able to do most of my research at home and prepare my papers using digital resources that are (still) not available in Bibleworks.

    Today, logos 3.0 is a superior exegetical tool than Bibleworks 7.0. Not only is there nothing unique to Bibleworks, but with the new syntactic databases and the seemless integration of Bible Reference works with classic and contemporary theological works and journals, there is simply no better tool for studying God's Word.

    It is true that Bibleworks has focused their efforts on serving the academic community and their product is an excellent exegetical tool. But so is Logos. That and so much more...

    By Blogger Pastor Ed, at 10:51 AM, June 21, 2007  

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