C.S. Lewis Institute mailing, September 2004

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Resources for Discipleship

Recently, C.S. Lewis Institute President Tom Tarrants had a conversation with a representative of Logos Bible Software about their exceptional Bible study software product line:

Tom: Give me your “elevator pitch”…what is Logos Bible Software all about?

Logos: Imagine hiring the Genie of the Lamp as your Bible research assistant. What would that do to speed up your study? Let’s say you’re interested in researching the phrase “pearls before swine.” Walk into your huge library lined with reference books. Snap your fingers and the books leap open to Matthew 7:6. Bibles, commentaries, lexicons, dictionaries, Greek and Hebrew texts are all opened to the right page, ready for you to dive right in.

Detailed reports materialize instantly, comparing Bible versions, pulling together word studies, and listing cross references. At your fingertips are further helps: Bible maps, topical studies, the list goes on. You would love Bible study as you never have before!

Tom: So who uses this software? Is it only for pastors?

Logos: We are constantly amazed at the wide spectrum of users we have: from seminary professors to grandmothers. Pastors of mega-churches, Bible college students, Sunday school teachers, teenage kids, you name it. Military chaplains love the software, because they can take their entire reference library into the field on a laptop. Leaders of major ministries such as Kay Arthur, Bruce Wilkinson, Dr. David Jeremiah, and Josh McDowell have equipped their staff with the software. But most importantly, we develop the software to serve the needs of anyone who is serious about the Bible. Our ideal customer is the person who spends a few hours per week in Bible study and wants a professional-level tool that’s both comprehensive and easy to use.

Tom: Sounds great, but so many of us lead busy lives and can barely carve out time to open the Bible, let alone study it in detail. What are some concrete examples of how the software maximizes study time?

Logos: First, we eliminate fruitless activities such as juggling books around, turning pages, and hunting for citations. On the computer, just type a passage, click “Go!,” and all the material needed for your study opens in front of you. When moving between Bible versions, each one opens to the passage you’re studying. This kind of capability frees you up to focus on the rewarding parts of Bible study such as discovery and reflection.

Logos also speeds up common tasks like following cross-references or comparing Bible translations. The software makes word study a breeze by locating all the information about each word in the passage you’re studying and bringing it together in an easy-to-read report.

Furthermore, we make easy some things that can’t even be imagined in print. Like a customizable comparison between Bible versions of your choice, visually highlighting every word that differs from your base version. Dynamically-generated scatterplots showing how versions differ from one another. Or a search that fetches every reference to, say, Genesis 1:1 in every book in your digital library.

Tom: Let’s say I’m pretty new to Bible study and don’t know how to use all the reference books. How would the software help me study, say, the Parable of the Mustard Seed?

Logos: When you open the software, the first thing you see is an Internet-style box marked “Passage.” Type the thing you’re looking for: “parable of the mustard seed.” The software understands what you’re looking for and suggests possible matches in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Choose one and click “Go!”

Your preferred Bible version pops open to your verse on the right side of the screen. On the left side of the screen are multiple study resources, including commentaries, cross-references, parallel passages, even Bible maps. There’s a list of topics found in the verse—in this case, things like Birds, Foods, Jesus’ Parables, Kingdom of Heaven, Plants, Seed, and so on. You’ll even see graphical charts giving an overview of how various Bible versions handle the translation of the passage. Logos has sorted through your entire library of electronic books and brought back the material relevant to your study.

The Passage Guide also lists power tools available for further study. So you can click “Word Study Guide” to get insight into each word in the passage, or “Passage In All Versions” to see how the passage reads in all your Bible versions, lined up side-by-side.

Tom: What kind of materials are in the system? Are they from one denomination or Christian tradition?

Logos: Our Series X base libraries provide a range of perspectives within the Christian tradition…and even more voices show up in compatible products from our publishing partners. We work with more than 100 publishers: Oxford University Press, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Concordia Publishing House, Fortress Press, Moody Press, Baker Book House, to name just a few. So there’s a great deal of theological diversity.

The beauty of the system is that it’s expandable. Add books one at a time or in a collection as you become interested in new lines of inquiry.

Currently there are more than 4,000 titles for Logos Bible Software. Most people start with a library product such as Logos Bible Software Series X - Scholar’s Library, which contains 250+ titles, and add books or collections as they would to a personal library of print books.

Tom: If I wanted to get my feet wet with Logos Bible Software would I begin with the Scholar’s Library?

Logos: We offer six configurations or “libraries” of material, each with a category of user in mind.

Scholar’s Library is our top seller and the second-largest collection available. It’s a tremendous value containing books that would cost $5,700 in equivalent print editions.

If you’re really into books—and interested in biblical languages—the new Scholar’s Library Silver Edition is a dream come true. It’s packed with tools and resources to take your Bible study to the next level. This library contains more than 400 titles, all fully indexed and searchable, in a variety of categories: Bibles (English, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Latin), interlinears, grammars, lexicons, dictionaries, commentaries, historical and early church writings, devotionals, theological works, the list just goes on and on. If you were to go out and buy the same books in print, you’d spend about $8,000.

I should point out that, even if it’s been a while since you studied Greek and Hebrew, you’ll find that Logos has lots of ways to gently get you back to the original languages, with easy linking from English texts to Greek and Hebrew lexicons and a variety of resources, including interlinear texts, that act as helps in original language study.

Tom: What do you suggest for someone interested primarily in devotional resources? Something to boost their quiet time?

Logos: If you’re not ready to get started with biblical languages but still want to study the Bible in depth, we recommend Bible Study Library. It has just the right mix of content for Bible study leaders, Sunday school teachers, and devotional use. The library contains more than 115 titles, which would cost $2,500 in print—another great value!

Users rave about features such as the customized Bible reading plan that lets you create just about any reading plan imaginable, and helps track your progress. If you wanted, you could create a plan with readings from Isaiah and Matthew every weekday for 6 weeks using the English Standard Version. There’s also a prayer list manager to organize prayer requests and keep track of answered prayers.

From the daily reading it’s easy to dig in and get deeper. Just a few clicks and you’ll find yourself exploring the passage, checking cross-references, comparing Bible versions, or doing a word study.

The idea is to make it easy to take that next step in your study. And if you become interested in Greek or Hebrew at a later time, you can always expand your library with additional books and tools.

Tom: So, beyond the technologies and capabilities, what is the main purpose of the software?

Logos: We believe Bible study should be at the heart of the Christian life, and we view technology as an aid to deeper and more frequent study. By eliminating some of the barriers and slow-downs to study, we hope to encourage more people to dig into Scripture and discover God’s enduring truths.

Tom: Where can folks go to find out more information?

Logos: Visit our web site at www.logos.com. You can compare the various versions, get more detailed information about the materials contained in each, and view the pricing options.

© 2004 by C.S. Lewis Institute. Used by permission.