Mechanics shell out tons of money for high-quality tools like Snap-On wrenches. Engineers use a really expensive computer program called AutoCAD. Graphic designers purchase pricey software like Adobe Creative Suite. What about pastors? What are the tools of the trade? Books. Pastors buy books. However, “books” no longer describes just the bound stacks of glue-and-paper that line our bookshelves. Books are now packaged in bits. They are viewed on Kindles, iPads, and computer screens. They hurtle through cyberspace. They are downloaded in seconds. They are backlit. They are copied/pasted with the click of a mouse. They are digitally highlighted. They are stored on hard drives. They are synced with mobile devices. In a word, books—the pastor’s foremost tools of the trade—are changing.
Enter Logos Bible Software.
Logos is a Bible study software company. But calling Logos a “Bible study software company” is kind of like calling the Versailles a “house.” Logos, with two-decades of technology experience behind them, is responsible for building the largest digital library of Bible research tools. The company has big results to show for their twenty years of hard work, outside-the-box thinking, intense collaboration by scholars, and just plain hard work. The results are astounding. Logos is not merely keeping pace with the technological advances in Bible research. No indeed; they are way ahead of the pack.
Following is a review of Logo’s product. The goal of this article is to inform you about a useful tool for pastors, to encourage you to consider Logos for your own use, and to perhaps contribute to the overall effectiveness of pastors and teachers.
Reviewing Logos 4 Mac
The kind team at Logos allowed Sharefaith to review their latest product, Logos 4 Mac and the Scholar’s Gold library. Throughout college and seminary I used the whole gamut of Bible software iterations—from the freebie, to the cheapo, to the bigger and better. I had a long relationship with BibleWorks, a stint with Accordance, and a sprinkling of mobile Bible software versions along the way. I entered my two-month review period of Logos 4 with a few questions, a modicum of curiosity, a little bit of planning, and a MacBook Pro.
Who is Logos for?
Windows or Mac? If you’re not a Mac aficionado like I am, don’t be scared away by ‘MacBook Pro’ and the other ‘Mac’ verbiage you just read. Logos is a newcomer to the Mac market; their Windows version was their bread-and-butter product until the recent release of Logos 4 Mac. Logos caters to rabid Mac fans as much as it does to maniacal PC users. If you spurn Macs like Steve Jobs spurns business attire, you’ll be happy to know that you can get the same level of versatility, power, and productivity from Logos using your Windows machine.
PhD? Pastor? or Preteen? Beyond the Mac/Windows divide, there may be other questions regarding who should be using a powerhouse product like Logos. I’m not given to pandering, but Logos is a product that is good for just about anybody who’s interested in Bible study.
Allow me to explain why Logos is useful for PhDs, pastors, and even preteens. First, Logos Bible Software is a library. You’ll find books and collections that are within arms reach of a junior-high reader, and then a whole lot that will stretch the thinking of a PhD scholar. Second, as far as software functionality is concerned, Logos has features that allow for intensive research into the original languages, and then some features that require no more skill than just reading and clicking. Logos has pleased customers among laymen, pastors, stay-at-home moms, and high-powered intellectual moguls.
That being said, the largest group of Logos fans consists of pastors, Bible students, and those with a bit of Bible training under their belt. It only makes sense. To harness the full range of tools, it helps if the user has some Bible knowledge.
Logos and Your Life
In a day of apps, cloud computing, and iPad hysteria, I need to mention a thing or two about how Logos can fit into your mobile world. Three factoids below may be a deciding factor as you ask, “Is Logos for me?”
Mobile device portability. I like Bible apps. Being a mobile-device toting kind of guy, I’m interested in tools that I can hold in the palm of my hand. Logos did not disappoint. Their app, which I regularly use, has features beyond all of the other Bible apps I’ve used (most significantly, my entire Logos library). If mobile is your thing, you’re in good hands. Logos provides iPhone, iPad, and Android (coming soon) apps. Imagine stepping into the pulpit, iPad in hand, wielding more notes, books, Bible, translations, grammar helps, and resources than you ever have before. If you really need to, you can even listen to a pronunciation of “Zurishaddai” before you read Numbers 10:19.
Multi-platform usability. Logos can be installed anywhere you have a computer, without having to pay a cent more for a new version of the program. The company sells user licenses, not device licenses. If you have an office at the church and at your home, you may have experienced the inconvenience of having two computers and unsynced files. You’ll never experience this kind of frustration with your Logos library. Using Logos’s multi-platform model, all your resources will stay in sync from device to device. From a late-night study session using your Mac at home, you can cruise into your church office PC and see all the same stuff, then catch a few more minutes on your iPhone in the hospital waiting room. Oh, and if you suffer the event of a computer crash, theft, or upgrade, don’t worry—you can get everything back for free. (The program that is, not your computer.)
Mobile web accessibility. It gets better. What if you find yourself without any of your familiar computers at hand? You’re staying at your uncle’s house for the holidays; he’s asked you to preach at his church tomorrow morning; you don’t have your laptop with you. Not to fear. Here’s where the value of Logos’s mobile web version comes into play. Using the site biblia.com, you can remotely access the bulk of your library even without using an installed Logos platform. Web access is all you need, and presto, there are your materials, available for you to study. (Hey, Google isn’t the only company that uses cloud computing.)
Logos and Packages. To further help you decide if Logos is or isn’t for you, it helps to know how the product is marketed. The Logos product is designed around packages. There are nine different packages. Each contains the base software, which is unchanged throughout all the packages. The differences between the packages are due to the amount of data (i.e., books) that they contain. At the low end of the price continuum is the “home” edition. At $149, Logos Home edition contains nearly 100 books and electronic resources. At the other end of the spectrum is something large and ominous called the “Portfolio Edition,” which costs over $4,000 and contains over 1,700 books. The middle ground is divided up into the following collections: “Bible Study,” “Leader’s Library,” “Original Languages,” “Scholars Library,” “Scholar’s Silver,” “Scholar’s Gold,” and “Scholar’s Platinum.” With a little bit of investigation, you can find a package that matches your budget and interest level.
These are called “base packages,” because they get you started with a nice collection of books. As an electronic library system, however, Logos is ready to receive whatever other collections, books, and resources you may wish to add. Thousands of additional titles are available for purchase. The base package gets you started, and there is often no need (or obligation) to buy more. However, the Logos store provides as much variety and selection as you could possibly want.
Now for some sort of disclaimers.
It’s Not Free. We need to talk about cash. Logos costs money. If it’s just an electronic Bible you’re after and you don’t have any money, you can download free Bible software from the Internet—like Logos. Logos is a major player in the free Bible software market. You can create an account at Biblia and receive more than thirty free Bible study resources.
It’s Not Paper. Second, Logos is a digital library. If you are disinclined to peruse books electronically, Logos won’t be your go-to choice for a cozy evening of reading books by the fire. But Logos isn’t just a recreational reading tool. It’s a high-octane research machine. Even if you’re not yet an electronic-reading junkie, you will benefit from the max-out research capabilities that Logos provides.
In the following review, we are using Logos Scholar’s Gold. Most of the remarks we make will apply to any of the Logos packages.
To read the rest of the review in its entirety, visit the Sharefaith Blog.
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