I’m grateful to the folks at Logos Bible Software for the opportunity to review the latest version of their product, Logos 5. I plan to do several posts on this software, including the desktop version. And so in this one, I will focus only on the corresponding iPad app, which provides convenient access to the same purchased materials one can access on one’s desktop computer.
While most of the bloggers I have read talk about the software have focused, understandably, on the software’s usefulness for reading the Bible, and a few have focused on the Reformers, the first thing that I noticed – and got really excited about – was related to a text that is not part of the Bible or even the Christian tradition. The Logos app provides access to an incredibly large number of ancient texts even in its free version, courtesy for the most part of the Perseus library. But there are even more available for purchase individually or included in its purchasable packages, including many in the original languages.
I had long been using the Logos app’s free SBL Greek New Testament for convenient reading of the New Testament. But, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I recently started meeting with colleagues in Classics to read Philo in Greek. That is not something included in the free version of the app, or any other that I am aware of. But having installed the Platinum edition of Logos 5 on my computer at work, when I next opened the Logos app on my iPad, there were works of Philo in Greek!
The version in the Logos app is actually the Greek text with morphology, which can be both useful and distracting. The app has a “Look Up” feature which will provide a definition of the word if it is a Greek term also found in the Bible, and otherwise will provide the root form and morphological information (spelled out – in the actual book, the morphological information is abbreviated beneath the text). This is an really useful feature. Learners and readers of ancient languages will know that one of the frustrations when learning, or reading a new work with some unfamiliar vocabulary, has traditionally been the need to stop reading, find the word in a lexicon, find one’s place in the reading again, and continue until the next such instance, when the process repeats. The ability to read a text in Greek and look up an unfamiliar word without leaving the text is a welcome change, and I will be interested to see what effect the incorporation of technology like the Logos app in classes will have on student success in learning ancient languages, and ancient texts in their original languages.
I should mention that, using the app iAnnotate to read a Greek pdf of Philo’s “On the Creation” (that is what I was doing before I had the text in Logos), one is able to highlight a word and select “Look Up,” and it will search online for lexical information, often bringing a reader to the online version of Liddel and Scott when there is a relevant entry. This is more cumbersome than what the Logos app does, but in some instances it would still be nice to have that additional lexical data accessible from within Logos, even if it meant an additional click indicating you want to search for more lexical information online. As you can purchase the Liddel and Scott lexicon in Logos, perhaps if I did so, that data would then be accessible when reading Greek texts? If so, that may have to be my next purchase!
There are useful linguistic and textual resources for other ancient languages and texts as well – including Ugaritic, Coptic, Syriac, and more.
Logos 5 is thus a program which ought to be drawn to the attention of a much wider range of potential users. Like many programs which fall under the heading of “Bible software,” one will encounter a high volume of conservative Christian materials in the list of products, and if one spots those early on and does not look as closely as one should, one might make assumptions about the kind of software this is and who it is for. While Logos offers those things, it in no sense offers only those things. It offers a full range of mainstream scholarly works on both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, including major commentaries and academic monographs. It offers primary texts and works related to extracanonical texts from both Judaism and Christianity, as well as the wider context of both traditions. And it offers language learning materials and primary texts in original languages which can be useful to students of those whose primary interest may not be related to the Bible. And so, while I personally use the Logos app in church as well as at work teaching at university, the app is not only for those with such interests and reading habits!
Logos regularly offers pre-publication deals on products. And for those of us interested in the Bible, the range of exegetical reference works available is impressive – not only the major commentary series, but also works on specific themes, topics, or methodologies. To give one example, a search today on the Logos web site for the term “social-scientific” produced 67 results, and any scholar glancing at the results who uses this approach will recognize what is available as standard texts, journals, and commentaries by the key authors in our field. If you’ve never looked at what Logos offers and you are a scholar of the ancient world, you really need to. And that is true all the more if your focus is specifically on the Bible.
I do not envisage this post as the only one I will write that reviews or discusses this product. In particular, it is my intention to also blog about actually using Logos 5 in my research, teaching, or simply to find information when prompted by curiosity.
But in this initial post, let me say that I highly recommend Logos 5 for iPad users. There are aspects of the navigation on the iPad that could be improved upon – in particular when it comes to navigation around an individual work or the collection. But many of these are common on iPad apps, such as iBooks, where navigation features are hidden until one taps around, sometimes resulting in turning a page rather than causing a menu, search box, and/or slide bar to appear. And so such things may simply be the price we will always pay for trying to have something as close as possible to the experience of reading an actual book, via a tablet device. Be that as it may, I don’t feel that such features by any means detract from the usefulness of Logos. Indeed, I find that, on my iPad, it is an app I use with ever-increasing frequency.
Have you used Logos software? If so, how have you found it? Any resources that you particularly recommend? There are so many, I may well have missed something good, and so do mention your favorites in the comments section! And if you have experience of using Logos on Android or an iPhone or other device/platform, I would be interested in hearing your experience, to see how similar or different it is on different devices of different sizes.