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Journals and Logos: A Review of Master Journal Bundle 3.1

by David Jones | School of Theology, SWBTS

Modern Theological Research

Today’s researcher does not suffer from a lack of information. Rather, the problem of modern research is finding the best, most relevant information for your questions quickly and efficiently. Speed and efficiency are precisely what Logos brings to searching resources. What is true of books in Logos is true of journal articles, and the Master Journal Bundle 3.1 (henceforth, MJB) provides the best collection of journal articles you can own—for the best price.

The Edge of Scholarly Discussion

Theological journals are the frontier of scholarly discussion. Since writers can more quickly write, edit, and submit journal articles for publication, conversations occur at a much faster pace than they can in monographs. This makes theological journals great sources for new ideas, new approaches, and new applications of old concepts. It also makes having access to theological journals crucial for research and writing.

One of the most fruitful resources in theological journals is multi-article conversations between scholars on opposing sides of an issue. These conversations clarify terms, positions, and critiques on each side and generally help to move the broader scholarly discussion forward on a given topic. These conversations manifest themselves in two primary ways in the journal. First, conversations between scholars can occur through successive issues of a theological journal. With MJB in Logos, you have access to full journal series to track each entry in the debate and developments in the arguments.

Second, conversations between scholars can occur in a single dedicated journal volume. Was there a significant debate among the presentations in one of the sessions at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (or another society meeting)? These papers will likely be published in a theological journal. For example, the papers from the ETS session reviewing Kevin Vanhoozer’s Remythologizing Theology found their way to publication in Southeastern Theological Review 4.1.

Similarly, Master’s Seminary Journal published three papers presented to the Dispensationalism Study Group at ETS responding to Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum’s Kingdom through Covenant (whose abridgment was August’s Free Book of the Month) in its spring 2015 issue (26.1). These papers were published within a year of their presentation at the society meeting. With MJB in Logos, recent conference papers like these are fully integrated into your existing Logos library before full-length treatments can be published in monographs. You will see the contributions to (as well as the holes in) argumentation the scholarly community is seeing and discussing, all while you research in Logos.

Access

MJB includes journals such as Bibliotheca Sacra, Bulletin for Biblical Research, Journal for Biblical Literature, Journal for Theological Interpretation, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Themelios, Tyndale Bulletin, and Westminster Journal of Theology to name a few. These peer-reviewed series, not to mention others, provide a researcher with many thought-provoking articles and arguments. They provide a student with the treasure trove of bibliographic information that can introduce a new subject or serve as the starting bibliography for a research paper.

MJB gives pastors and students in remote locations access to journal articles to which they would not have access. Pastors and online seminary and Bible college students may not live anywhere near their campus to make use of the campus library’s journal inventory. But even if they do live close to campus, not all campus libraries are created equal. Libraries at smaller schools may not have the financial resources to provide ample journal resources or the longevity to have collected all of a journal series back issues. MJB brings these vital resources directly into one’s Logos library, giving its owner access on demand.

Searchability

MJB allows the researcher to use the superior search tools of Logos with theological journals. Most simply, Logos allows users to search any specific subset of their library. Do you want to search journal articles and reviews that are only in the Westminster Theological Journal? Search “Westminster Theological Journal” with quotation marks in the library window, select the first resource in the list, then select the last resource in the list while holding the shift key, and right-click the selected resources. Finally, select Search Selected Resources. Whether you have a specific article in mind but cannot remember the year it was published, or you want to see how the particular tradition a journal series represents treats a topic, the ability to narrow the number of resources being searched is beneficial.

With MJB in Logos, you can choose which aspects of a set of sources you wish to search. Let’s use author and theologian Kevin Vanhoozer to illustrate. Do you want articles and reviews written by Kevin Vanhoozer? Change the text to be searched from All Text to only text tagged as Author. Do you want articles and reviews that refer to Kevin Vanhoozer in their title? Change the text to be searched to only Title text. Do you want to know the most cited passages from Kevin Vanhoozer’s writings? Change the text to be searched to only Footnotes. Do you want to know how writers are referring to Kevin Vanhoozer? Change the text to be searched to only Body Text or simply leave All Text selected. Do you need to search a couple of these fields simultaneously? Select each field that you need.

Logos also makes searching for the intersection of keywords and concepts easy. Do you want to find journal articles and reviews that reference Kevin Vanhoozer and Speech Act Theory? Use Boolean operators to combine these search terms. Do you want to find sentences or paragraphs in which these words occur? Use proximity operators to narrow the search. Do you want to find these terms in proximity to one another and a specific verse? Add a Bible reference tag to the search formula. With Logos search tools and MJB, you have an unprecedented level of search control that allows you to perform complex searches on journal articles and reviews.

Integration

As your Logos library grows, you will find that these resources consistently reference one another. Monographs reference other monographs, but they also reference journal articles. With MJB, you own and can reference specific journal articles cited in books within your collection. Just like with you books, certain tagged journal articles provide a link within the citation footnote that will take you directly to the page of the journal article in question. This is not fully (or even largely) implemented at present. But the convenience it provides the owner of both resources is something Logos has consistently sought to provide its users. I hope that more of this kind of tagging occurs for book and journal article references to resources already in the Logos platform.

Books Reviews

MJB not only contains journal articles; it also contains academic book reviews by professors and advanced students in theological and biblical studies. These oft-neglected treasures frequently provide concise summations of a book’s argument, a book’s place in the broader scholarly conversation, and a book’s unique contribution to that conversation for the latest theological books and commentaries. With MJB in Logos, finding multiple reviews of the most recent books is easy. Search the title of the book you are reviewing in quotation marks, and see the window populate with book reviews from the different journals representing different perspectives.

Read Aloud

My favorite aspect of Logos resources involves iOS devices. Your iPhone or iPad can read every book in your Logos library to you. That’s right: every resource you own in Logos is effectively an audiobook in iOS.

The feature you are looking to enable is Speak Screen in the Accessibility settings in iOS. This will allow you to use a two-finger swipe from the top of the screen to read what is currently on your device’s screen. In a resource screen in the Logos app, this means the text of the resource you have pulled up. The best thing: Speak Screen will turn the page automatically. With MJB, your morning and evening commutes could translate into listening to a journal article on each. Doing the dishes? A journal article. Hitting the treadmill? A journal article. This feature allows you to redeem your time.

Speak Screen with MJB in Logos reads just the body text of the article, saving an investigation of the footnotes for deeper inspection later. Listening is smooth and the argument of the article easy to follow.

There may be a parallel feature for Android devices, but I am not familiar enough with them to know. It is well worth the time to investigate the possibility because this single feature opens up new portions of your schedule to read and research.

Conclusion

Master Journal Bundle 3.1 gives you affordable, digital access to current conversation in theological scholarship (less than $1 per volume without any discounts, even less if you have an academic discount). I highly recommend adding it to your library.

However, with Master Journal Bundle 4.1 in production, you may wonder if you should wait to buy. This is where my other favorite feature of Logos comes into play: dynamic pricing. Everything in MJB 3.1 will be in MJB 4.1; if you buy MJB 3.1 today, you only pay for the new resources in MJB 4.1 when it is available.

Add this helpful collection to your Logos library today, and move your research to the next level.

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