I know there are some other LDS Logos users, and perhaps others who are interested but wondering about the whys and whats.
Edit: Logos4 for Mac will officially leave beta in October. Logos is having a giveaway to publicize it.
Why use an electronic library?
- Carry around 200,000 or 200,000,000 pages of text in your iPhone or laptop or cramped Brooklyn apartment.
- Search them. All of them. In less than .25 seconds. For any reference to Amos 3:7, or Abraham, or anything else you can dream up.
- Usability. How many times have you read something with scripture references and actually looked them up? What if they just popped up with a mouse-over, not even a click? Like to take notes? Mark things up in multiple ways? What if you could double-click on the river Cedron (or Kidron) and have it open up a Bible dictionary entry and map? Or just go directly into a Hebrew or Greek lexicon from the KJV text, without knowing any Greek or Hebrew.
- If you ever got mad at how lame Gospelink or Infobases was, this is for you.
- LOTS of books available, though nothing LDS. Logos caters to the market for Bible/theology resources, meaning their selection of books, user boards and market demands skew heavily Protestant, Evangelical, and thus occasionally anti-LDS. I’ve griped about this before. It is what it is. The forums are explicitly non-theological, but there’s still some occasional light Mormon (and Catholic) bashing or misinformation.
- Cross-platform compatibility. The Mac version is technically still in Beta, but functions just fine for me and is guaranteed feature parity with the PC version.
- You own your books, but the program is free. If you switch from PC to Mac, or have multiple machines, there’s nothing to rebuy. If you buy a book package, you also get all your books available online (i.e. if you’re not at your computer, there’s a web-based version you can log in to), and on your iPad, iPod, iPhone, iWhatHaveYou.
- Powerful program. Really powerful. But also easy to use. And the reader/engine/program is free to download as are some resources. (Go for the KJV, Strongs, and the Abridged BDB.)
- Lots of video tutorials (Logos-made and user-made) and a very active forum mean you can get help anytime you need it. Even at 1:30 am.
So if you’re interested, what books should you buy?
My Logos recommendations are skewed by a few things. First, coming from an academic background, a lot of the things I’ve bought have been oriented in that direction and therefore aren’t useful to non-academics. For example, I own the 7200 page Anchor Bible Dictionary, but I think that’s overkill for most people.
I don’t own everything I’m recommending, though I’m at least familiar with it or have flipped through it once or twice. Second, I have oriented this list towards general things that cover the whole Bible instead of more specialized or detailed works. I’m assuming that most LDS want general tools like that, not specialized scholarly focus on text criticism or Nahum, for example. I’m also assuming that we’re mostly looking for Bibles and reference tools, not regular read-all-the-way-through books. Most people don’t like to read whole books on computer screens.
The main question, then, concerns bang-for-your-buck. Logos offers a lot of book packages. For reasons I’ll explain, I don’t own any, but you might want to.
Advantages of a package
- The main one is, lots of books at a low price, plus some useful tools that aren’t available a la carte (Biblical people, Biblical places, etc.)
- Gets you a lot of Bibles and reverse interlinears (explanation below), which are particularly useful if you’d like to understand why translations differ or bootstrap yourself into some Greek or Hebrew tools.
- Inclusion of general tools like maps and such.
- All your books (or most of them, subject to licensing agreements) become available online and on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Disadvantages of a package
- Unless you get a group discount or a school/University discount, the cheapest package (Leader’s Library) starts at $150. And I don’t recommend you get that one. (Two recommendations below)
- Besides good stuff, you’re also getting lots of fluff you don’t need and maybe don’t want to pay for, EVEN IF it is really cheap per book.
- Lots of the books you may want aren’t available in any package, so why buy one? (I suspect many LDS would really like using the reverse interlinears and all the Bibles, and to access those, you need a package.)
I suggest you put together a list of what you need want, and compare it to the packages, it may be more economical to buy a la carte.
What’s a Reverse Interlinear? A tool that let’s the average person do some good digging. All of the following kinds of things are easily and quickly done with reverse interlinears. -”So, I have this Greek word. I want to know all the ways it is translated in the New Testament. How do I do that?” “What are the different Greek words that get translated as this English word in the New Testament?” “How does this phrase or these words in the KJV get translated in the NRSV?” (This is called sympathetic highlighting, and it’s pretty cool.) And go from an English word directly to a dictionary discussing the Greek or Hebrew word standing behind that English translation. (Though reverse interlinears aren’t strictly necessary for that, the sympathetic highlighting makes it easier to follow, I think.)
Finally, the list.
Free resources- worth downloading. KJV, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Abridged Brown-Driver-Briggs, NET (without notes) http://wiki.logos.com/Free_Logos_Books
This is not an all-inclusive list. All of these have flaws or bias of one kind or another. I’ve starred a few things for the truly shoe-string budget.
If you want a package, I suggest the Bible Study Library or the Original Languages Library. The main difference between the two is Original Languages has more non-Biblical texts (like the highly valuable Context of Scripture series) and original Hebrew, Greek and other texts. Check the comparison here between green (Bible Study) and red (Original Languages). Given that Context of Scripture alone is $300, but only about $160 to jump up from Bible Study to Original Languages (which includes it), you can see why packages are economical. (Edit: Also know that sometimes you can get a lower price by calling their Sales line.) Also, if you own a package and a friend of yours buys a package, you get a referral bonus and they get 15% off. If anyone decides to buy a package, let me know first. I’ll buy one and then refer you
*NET Bible- http://www.logos.com/products/details/4468
Five Books of Moses- http://www.logos.com/ebooks/details/5bkmoses
*Harper’s Commentary- http://www.logos.com/ebooks/details/hbc
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds commentary
*Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament-http://www.logos.com/ebooks/details/COMNTUSEOT
JPS Torah Commentary- http://www.logos.com/products/details/2913
*Harper’s Bible Dictionary- http://www.logos.com/ebooks/details/hbd
IVP package- http://www.logos.com/products/details/1516
OT Dictionaries- http://www.logos.com/products/details/4714
Greek/Hebrew tools (easily misused. I’ll write a separate post on these)
*Mounce-http://www.logos.com/ebooks/details/MOUNCEEXPDIC (I’d use those two together.)
(Free Strong’s and Abridged BDB too.
These two are magazine archives. Written by experts for laypeople, they’re really good and cover all sides of an issue. I find myself handing out articles from BAR and BR all the time to my Institute classes. Highly recommended.
Biblical Archaeology Review -http://www.logos.com/products/details/1767 (This includes a Bible and multiple books from the Biblical Archaeology Society, including Ancient Israel, which is a good accessible history to read.)
Bible Review- http://www.logos.com/products/details/2076
History of Israel by John Bright (conservative and a bit outdated, but useful to have at least one good history in the mix.)
Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament- http://www.logos.com/products/prepub/details/6046
Raymond Brown collection. -http://www.logos.com/products/prepub/details/5749
Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge (included in most packages, but a good collection of cross-references)
And if you want to learn Greek and Hebrew through Logos tools, this may be worth the cost. http://www.logos.com/products/details/5876
Watch for occasional sales, check the blog, and take advantage of the pre-publication program. You can get good quality books at 50% off or more. (It’s really the only way I’ve been able to build my library on such a shoestring budget.) Logos is able to gauge the interest and not lose money on books, and you get a good deal and your credit card isn’t charged until the book/series actually ships. Depending on the complexity of the book, sometimes that can take up to a few years.
Unless you are filthy rich, it’s most likely you’ll buy a few things, and then add slowly to your library over time. If, on the other hand, you ARE filthy rich, drop me an email and I’ll make some custom suggestions for a nominal fee. Or Logos books