The Best Bible Software

The Best Bible Software September 12, 2013

So, here’s the story. I can’t really even remember how it began, but I posted somewhere that I was looking for an online, interlinear version of the Septuagint for a word I was researching for my next book. Pretty obscure, I know. Well, I heard from the people at Logos that they, indeed, had such a thing.

I’d had Logos back in the day. It was an early version, back when I was on a church staff and had a budget for such things. It came on CD-ROMs, and they’d mail updates every once in a while. But I hadn’t used Logos in many years.

The folks at Logos offered to give me the latest version if I’d review it. I told them that my review would be honest, and they were cool with that (I’m not being compensated for this review, and the embedded links are not part of a commissioned sale). So off I went. And here’s what I think:

In brief, I think that Logos is the best Bible software available. Honestly, the amount of material is overwhelming — thankfully, they’ve produced a bunch of video tutorials that can walk you through just about anything. For the average preacher, a base package is probably enough; for the serious student of the Bible, I can’t imagine a better resource than one of the higher-level packages.

Like many, my biblical languages have gotten a bit rusty since I graduated from seminary in 1993. I can pick my way through Greek, but Hebrew is Greek to me! 😉 Logos has gotten me right back into my Greek and Hebrew, and it’s even got the Latin Vulgate, so I’ve been back into reading the language that we’ll all be speaking in Heaven.

And, yes, they’ve got the Septuagint in a Greek-English interlinear.

These days, Logos doesn’t come on a CD-ROM. Instead, I downloaded their apps onto my Mac and iPhone. Then, depending on what package you buy, the system automatically populates your dashboard with the content that is applicable to you. Of course, you do a bit of set-up to get it when you’re getting started. The dashboard is complex, but fairly intuitive. Here’s a screengrab of mine:

I could go on and on telling you what you can learn about a Greek word from the text simply by hovering over it, but then it would sound like I’m gushing. Well, I’m kind of gushing, cuz I think it’s great.

But I’ve got one caveat. Logos has clearly been designed by people on the more conservative side, or at least with those people in mind. I’ve known this since I first used it years ago, and it seems to still be true. For example, the default versions of the Bible in your dashboard upon launching Logos for the first time are the ESV — the version of the Bible favored and endorsed by John Piper, Kevin DeYoung, Francis Chan, and Mark Driscoll — and, of all things the New King James Version. Yuck. I quickly replaced those with the NRSV and the NLT.

Also, users from my theological persuasion will quickly notice that most of the ancillary resources — commentaries, sermon helps, books in various packages — also come from that same conservative, Reformed perspective. At least those are the ones that are highlighted in the dashboard. When I dug a bit deeper, I found, for example, the entire corpus of Jürgen Moltmann available for download. But, like I said, you’ve got to dig for those — they’re not the default.

I don’t know if this is a function of the clientele of Logos. Maybe conservative pastors are more into serious biblical exegesis than progressives — in fact, that’s surely the case, broadly speaking. And that’s a shame.

But a lot of us progressives are used to this. Many church resources cater to conservative evangelicals, and we’ve got to retrofit those tools to meet our needs. I’m fine with that — it’s no more than a minor annoyance when using Logos. And, when I told the my contact at Logos about this complaint, he said that they’d look into it as they continue to improve the product.

So, the long and short of it is this: I like Logos. It’s solid, and I encourage you to try it. In fact, according to the website, Logos 5 is on sale now through the end of September, so it’s a good time to try it out.

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