I’ve been in seminary for a semester now and I was thinking about buying some Bible software to help me get deeper into the text. Which program would you recommend? They have Bible Works at school, but I have a Mac and I heard you can’t run Bible Works on Macs.
This is a bit of a difficult question to answer. If you’re used to Bible Works, it’s a great program, but you’re right it’s not Mac friendly. Lots of Mac people use Accordance. There are a LOT of other Bible study programs in the world today, and they all fill in a different niche. I can’t really answer what the best program might be for you, but I can tell you which program is the best for me, and that question has a very easy answer. My hands-down favorite program is Logos’ Catholic distribution “Verbum.” I think that the Logos system is just about perfect for my own needs, and the emphasis on church documents and liturgy that you get with Verbum puts it over the edge for me. I thought I would offer 10 reasons I love Logos/Verbum
- The language resources
As a PhD student the first thing I look for in Bible study programs is how well I can use it to get at the original text in the original languages. Logos/Verbum does an amazingly good job with this. Not only does it allow you to have immediately parse each word and give you quick definition simply by hovering over the text, it also gives you tools to see how the word is used throughout the scriptures and in the broader corpus of literature. It helps you diagram the sentence and provides tools for better language acquisition. I used to use Bible Works, and I think that they also have great language resources, but the more I have used Logos/Verbum the more I have fallen in love with their product.
- The ability to read it on my kindle
I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t love reading off a screen. Logos offers huge libraries of texts, but if I really want to delve into a chapter I want to be able to take it with me on the bus, or to read it in bed. Logos/Verbum lets you do it. You can take export books, or sections of books easily with the program.
- The ability to have a book read to you
Sometimes I need to get work done while my eyes are elsewhere. I may have dishes to wash, or tidying up around the house to do. It’s great that I am able to learn while I work. You can turn text-to-speech on for any book, at least in the full computer version of the program. I would love to see this feature built into the mobile version as well, but alas it has yet to be incorporated.
- The scope of their resources
Logos has a ton of books available, and the scope is really impressive. They have some of the best scholarly work available, personal devotional materials, fiction, source documents, and image libraries. I am more and more amazed on what they have. Most paid packages come with a lot of books. I burn through books like candy, so this is great for me.
- The ability to import books of my own in
After highlighting the scope of their resources I do need to add that they don’t have everything. Sometimes there is a book I use a lot that they simply don’t have. Thankfully there is a way to import the books. This feature is really nice. If allows me to search across my whole library, not just my logos library, however, it would be even better if they had a wider diversity of supported formats. As it is now I have to input the book via a word document. I would love it if they supported PDFs, epubs, and mobi files (the most common ebook formats)… As it stands I have to go through the trouble of converting these to word, which is a pain.
- The Cross platform support
Logos/Verbum is the “hands-down” leader of making your library available anywhere. If I buy a book on logos I can access it online, on my PC, on my Mac, on my tablet, and on my phone. They not only have a “Logos” app, they also have a study bible app (my personal favorite), and an app designed to function as an e-reader. Each app is optimized for a different experience. I have all three on my phone and on my Kindle Fire. Each app gives you access to your library. I also love using http://bible.faithlife.com when I’m away from my computer. It gives me my full library anywhere.
- The extensive cross referencing
If there is a book available on Verbum, which is also available on amazon, I will ALWAYS pick the Verbum version. The reason for this is simple. Logos has an amazing system of cross referencing. If I am reading a book which quotes another book in the logos library it will offer a link I can click which will open up the book (if I own it) to the exact location that the other book has quoted and if I don’t own the book it gives me the option to buy it. This is so great. Verbum has also built a fantastic resource called the “Catholic Topical Index.” This is a great resource that has masterfully brought together the best resources within the Catholic tradition into an easily referenced place. If I, for example, was looking for information on purgatory, I could easily find links there to council documents, scripture passages, teachings by the fathers, and more.
- The faithlife project
One of the perks of using Logos/Verbum is that you can share it with others. As I make notes I also post them online in the faithlife community I started. There I have a few dozen friends who are able to make comments and add their own comments. What results is essentially a communal study Bible which consists of the notes and comments that those close to me have contributed. I think this is awesome!
- The free stuff
Logos/Verbum offers a LOT of free stuff. In fact to get started with the program you don’t need to buy anything. They offer free apps, free books, and free software. All you pay for is the content. Right now they are giving away a ton of Faith Life study bibles. This is a great app, and it comes with a bible and study notes to get you started.
- The exclusive stuff
There are some resources that you can only get digitally if you have logos, and there are other resources that you can’t get anywhere else period. I have loved this. I spent ages trying to track town a kindle edition of Brown’s Introduction to the New Testament, it didn’t exists, but it came standard with my Logos package. Great!
So those are my 10 reasons I LOVE Verbum. There are other products out there, but I honestly don’t use them now that I have Logos. You can start using it for free today, but if you have money to spend I recommend investing in one of their introductory packages. It’s a great deal and worth every penny.
I know there are probably some Bible Works or Accordance fans out there. I would love to hear why you like those programs. If you have another bible application or program you swear by let me know in the comments below!