Bible Software Review, June 2, 2007

Logos Bible Software 3 - Scholar's Library: Gold (v 3.0d)

Overall Rating: 7.5
User Interface: Searching:
Ease of Use Features:
Help & Support: Modules:
Customization: Original Languages:
Speed: Price:



A review written by Rubén Gómez, Bible software translator and beta tester. Copyright © 2007 by the author. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce any part of this document without obtaining permission from the author.


Through the years, Logos Bible Software has become one of the big names in Bible software – and rightly so. Their offering of digital libraries has not ceased to grow in terms of quantity and quality, reaching a point where virtually anyone with access to a computer can now use most of the top-notch biblical reference tools that were only available in print not so long ago.

Given the spectacular growth of the Internet and the plethora of digitally available materials, the digital library [1] concept has gained momentum in many fields, and the world of biblical and theological studies is a prime example of it. So much so, that the library metaphor has been adopted by the vast majority of Bible software companies nowadays.

Digital libraries offer great advantages over conventional ones, including audio and video libraries, since they not only include data (the contents themselves), but metadata (that is to say, data about data, or, to put it another way, information about the information itself). This metadata is created by means of a mark-up language (usually some sort of language derived from the standard XML) which is used to code with different tags certain aspects of a resource relating to its structure, content and layout of the material. These tags are transparent to the end user (i.e., they are not visibly displayed), but prove to be essential for the computer program to perform all kinds of queries and "jump" from one reference to another.

For example, in a typical library we can arrange books in different ways. Frequently, works are categorized by subjects, and within each subject, by specific topics, authors, date of publication, or some other similar method. There is usually a catalog (which is no more than a form of metadata) that allows us to arrange and locate the different resources. By looking at the general catalog we can try to find books that deal with the subject of the Incarnation, for instance. To do that we would have to go to the Theology section, then find the area of Systematic Theology and see what is available under Christology. Alternatively, we could look up authors that have written on Christological issues (Oscar Cullmann, I. Howard Marshall or Leon Morris, to name just a few), or search for Bible commentaries that deal with Christologically relevant passages (John, Philippians, and so on). At any rate, our research would take quite a bit of time, and we would never be sure we have not forgotten some significant book or article along the way.

An electronic library, on the other hand, enables us to perform the kind of queries that would be impossible to do with printed books, or, in the best possible scenario, that would take us forever (like, "Which resources refer to Philippians 2:6-11?"). Not only that, we can do it almost instantly, follow up any reference we feel might be relevant to our line of research, and easily get back to where we started. And don't forget that no physical space or travel time and expenses are involved in the process! But, "How can this be?", I hear some of you ask. The key is not so much the amount of materials available, but the added value provided by the electronic editions of those materials (i.e., the metadata mentioned above) and the way that information is managed. In this sense, there are two key concepts that become particularly important, and that have contributed in no small measure to the massive use of the Internet: the search engine and the hyperlinks. [2] The search engine makes the most out of the tags used during the process of coding the resources and retrieves all sorts of information, however complex that may be (if it is available, it will find it), whereas hyperlinks offer unprecedented possibilities and flexibility when it comes to explaining, fixing and expanding on the contents of a given work.

Well, enough theory already! Let us turn now to some of the characteristics of the Libronix Digital Library System, which is the technology behind all Logos libraries. We will focus on Scholar's Library: Gold, which is the top-of-the-line package among those currently available. Retail price is $1379.95, but there are different discounts and payment plans. [3]

System Requirements

Theoretically, all that is needed to run the program is a 500 MHz Pentium III with 192 MB RAM, a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, 550 MB of hard disk space and an 800 x 600 display. It works with Windows 98/Me/NT4.0(SP6a)/2000/XP/Vista, and must have installed Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later. However, if we really want to have a satisfactory user experience we should take good note of the recommended requirements (1 GHz Pentium III with 512 MB and a 1024 x 768 display), at the very least.

My own experience tells me that Logos 3 works quite well with a reasonably up-to-date Pentium IV with 1 GB RAM. Besides, we should not forget that copying the resources to our hard drive (which I highly recommend) can take as much as 3 GB of hard disk space.


Scholar's Library: Gold ships on a single DVD or a set of CD-ROMs, and includes a separate CD with a selection of video tutorials featuring some of the general program features. This is a good introduction to the very many training articles and tutorial videos available online.

As is customary with all Logos products, a user account needs to be created (though it can be anonymous) and the program activated within the following 45 days. The boxed product ships with a serial number, whereas a license file is sent via email to those who simply upgrade.

Books and other files can be easily copied to the hard drive with the Location Manager (Tools | Library Management). Last, but not least, no matter what version is installed, we should always make sure we have the latest program version (3.0d) and resources available. To update the program over the Internet is as simple as going to Tools | Libronix Update on the main menu bar. Following this process I updated a good number of titles.

General Features

In order to better understand the great possibilities that Scholar's Library: Gold has to offer, it would probably be a good idea to point out some key aspects of the Libronix Digital Library System (LDLS) in general.

First of all, thanks to the use of a powerful mark-up language, resources are tagged according to a number of distinct fields and data types [4]. These are extremely helpful when we need to fine-tune searches, as we will see later on. To find out which fields and data types are available in each resource we will have to access the About Resource dialog (Help | About This Resource).

Secondly, LDLS includes an adaptive user interface. In other words, it automatically tries to adapt itself to the user, based on a series of assumptions. Two clear examples of this are the different Search dialogs that pop up depending on the type of resource that is being displayed in the active window, or the options that appear in the various context menus based on the currently selected text. This way, it is the program that adjusts to the user's needs, and not the other way round.

KeyLinks are what make it possible to establish a tight interaction and integration between all the resources available in the digital library. By KeyLinking, users can follow the train of thought or line of research they wish at all times. These KeyLinks can be configured on an individual basis (Tools | Options | KeyLink...), and add even more value to hyperlinks (explicit references or hard links that are easily recognized by their different color or style, much like the usual hyperlinks found in the Web). This concept is so important, that every word in Libronix is, potentially, a hyperlink (not only the hotspots). [5]

Finally, the automated reports gather and display all the relevant information available in the library's resources with minimum input from the user, who typically has to simply choose a range and select or deselect a few checkboxes. The automated report par excellence is the Home Page. [6]

Overall, customization options are very numerous (Tools | Options | General...), and allow us to change the behavior and the look-and-feel of the program in many cases. It is even possible to set the size and font type for non Latin languages (Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic, and so on) in the Ancient Languages tab of the Bible Tools Options dialog box (Tools | Options | Bible Tools...) or choose to transliterate those scripts we cannot read, thus making it easier to read the text in reports and tip windows.

Automated Reports

It is impossible to mention each and every one of the reports included in Scholar's Library: Gold. Suffice it to say that they meet more than adequately the different needs that arise in the course of studying the Scriptures, both devotionally and academically.

Passage Guide (Tools | Bible Study | Passage Guide) is particularly well suited for sermon or class preparation. We simply have to write a Bible reference (e.g., Ephesians 2:8-10) in the reference box, click the "Go" button (or press the Return or Intro keys) and the report finds for us all the commentaries in our library that refer to that passage, as well as all the cross references and parallel passages. It categorizes the genre of the passage, displays information about the characters and places mentioned in the pericope, and lists prominent words (in English or in the original languages) and topics. As a further aid in preaching, it lists relevant illustrations and music, sermons that others have preached on the same passage (currently only from the online database available at and a graphical comparison between different Bible versions.

As is often the case, most items are clickable, and open the appropriate resource window on the right side of the desktop. Besides, there is an Other Tools area with links to additional reports and tools that can be easily accessed with a single mouse click if need be (figure 1).

Fig. 1 Other Tools links in Passage Guide report.

The Exegetical Guide report (Tools | Bible Study | Exegetical Guide) focuses on exegesis, and that is why priority is given to grammatical definitions and information, graphical visualizations of clauses and the breakdown, word for word, of some or all the terms that appear in the Bible text under study. It also displays links to relevant lexicons and includes the option to hear the pronunciation of each word. Figure 2 shows an analysis of the well-known verse found in John 3:16 (in this case constrained to nouns and verbs).

Fig. 2 Exegetical Guide report on John 3:16.

The density graph that appears to the right of each Greek word is really a "sparkline" [7] that operates as a hyperlink and allows us to see the statistical results in graph form (figure 3). In addition to choosing from a wide range of graph types and styles, it is also possible to export the results to an Excel sheet for further manipulation of the data.

Fig. 3 Graph showing the distribution of the Greek verb αγαπαω in the ESV NT Reverse Interlinear.

Bible Word Study (Tools | Bible Study | Bible Word Study) offers a definition of the term introduced in the text box (be it in English, Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek) and links it with the original languages (thanks to the OT and NT reverse interlinears). It also displays an exhaustive concordance of that particular term (figure 4) based on the various grammatical relationships.

Fig. 4 Bible Word Study report.

The KeyLink Summary report (Tools | Research Tools | KeyLink Summary) lists all the KeyLink destinations for the reference specified in the text box (figure 5).

Fig. 4 KeyLink Summary report based on the Hebrew word עלומ.

The order of appearance of the resources is determined by the preferences in the KeyLink Options dialog (Tools | Options | KeyLink...), as seen in the illustration below (figure 6).

Fig. 6 Setting the behavior of the KeyLink for the "Hebrew" data type.

Auto-Lookup (Tools | Research Tools | Auto-Lookup) is a window that displays the data type references destination included in an open resource. This report comes in very handy in those cases when we are working with a resource containing lots of Bible references (like Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) or footnotes. If we prefer to have a more exhaustive information at the tip of our fingers we can always leave an information window open (selecting the Display Information option in the context menu), that will update its content as we move our cursor on the different hyperlinks available.

Fig. 7 General view of the Auto-Lookup report.

Compare Parallel Bible Versions (Tools | Bible Comparison | Compare Parallel Bible Versions) is one of a number of reports than can be profitably used to compare different Bible translations. We must choose a base version (against which all others will be matched) and select other same-language Bibles we want to compare it with. The degree of sensitivity applied to the comparison can be chosen by selecting case, marks or punctuation. Once everything is set to our liking, we hit the "Go" button and differences are marked in pink and blue. Pink belongs to the base versions, and blue corresponds to the version that is being compared to the base version.

One interesting way to make the most out of this report is by linking it with another resource (by assigning them to the same link set). Figure 8 shows the NET Bible with an Auto-Lookup window displaying all the notes that appear in Ephesians 1:1-18. Simultaneously, on the left hand side of the screen there is a Compare Parallel Bible Versions report with four different English Bibles. Since the report and the English Bible have been linked, as we scroll through the pericopes, the report will automatically generate and display the differences found in every passage we happen to be looking at.

Fig. 8 Compare Parallel Bible Versions report linked to a Bible.


Libronix Digital Library offers a whole gamut of search features, ranging all the way from the simplest ones to the most complex. To that end there are a number of search dialog boxes, depending on the type of query that is going to be run. By and large, searches can be performed by using the Basic Search (for non-Bible resources, although Bibles can also be searched via this dialog) and Bible Search (just for Bibles) dialogs, which can be accessed by selecting the Search menu item on the main menu bar (or by clicking the appropriate icon on the toolbar).

To search for one or more words, regardless of the order, one only has to write them one after the other (for example, peter john). If we want to find a phrase, we must write it in quotes ("son of man"). Having said that, anything that goes beyond these simple searches requires some degree of familiarity with the operators and modifiers used by the program. [8] So, it is absolutely essential to review the Searches section found in Libronix DLS Help (F1).


Stemming is the process used to strip a word of all its possible inflections before retrieving the data. In other words, when a search is run, all morphological forms of the search term are reduced to a common root or lexeme (thus, all prefixes and suffixes are removed). As a result, many different words that share that same root are reported as valid hits. In LDLS, stemming is carried out automatically by applying an algorithm (Porter's algorithm [9]) that parses each word and then extracts its root based on the set of rules for that particular language.

Since all searches use stemming by default (for instance, the search hope will return hits such as hope, hopes, hoped, hoping, etc.), we must often constrain our searches with modifiers such as nostem(), case(), marks() or exact(), where the search term is specified inside the parentheses (i.e., nostem(hope)).


In order to search just the Bible text (without headings or notes), it is necessary to use the bible field – unless one runs a Bible Search or Bible Speed Search, rather than a Basic Search. For example, the search death in NRSV returns 689 hits, whereas bible:death reduces the amount of hits to 596. It is also possible to search the headings or the footnotes only. footnote:jacob OR title:jacob will find all the instances where "jacob" appears in the headings o footnotes, but not in the text itself.

The table below shows some of the searches than can be performed based on the data types and fields. Obviously, not every resource includes all of the data types and fields listed here.


Search Syntax Search Result
greekstrongs=444 Strong's number "444" in the New Testament
hebrewstrongs=1285 Strong's number "1285" in the Old Testament
page=693 Page "693"
bible=mat 15:30 Exactly "Matthew 15:30"
ggk=2962 Goodrick-Kohlenberger # "2962" in the NT
hgk=1578 Goodrick-Kohlenberger # "1578" in the OT
tdnt in 5 References to "volume 5" in TDNT
twot=500b Number "500b" in the lexicon TWOT
logosmorph=J* Any "adjective" in the Logos morphology


This search syntax (datatype=searchterm) is used only in the search dialogs. In the Quick Navigate Toolbar, for instance, there is no need to use the "=" operator. Thus, one can simply write english die or greekstrongs 1962.


Search Syntax

Search Results

lemma:κυριος Any form of the Greek lemma "κυριος"
form:αγαπητοις The exact form "αγαπητοις"
footnote:psalm 22 References to Psalm 22 in the "notes"
woc:repent "Repent" in the words attributed to Jesus


Bible Speed Search

This is arguably the most practical of all search dialogs. It consists of a drop-down list where Bible versions can be selected and a text box where the user writes one or more words, or a whole phrase (in quotes). The great advantage of using this kind of search is that results are displayed immediately, as we write the query. Note that it is also possible to use various types of operators, modifiers, fields and data types, as we would in other search dialogs.

Fig. 9 Combined Bible Speed Search (Strong's number and vocative case).

Quick Navigation Bar

This is a real gem that can be very easily underused, if not completely overlooked. It is basically a textbox located to the right of the main toolbar that can save us a lot of "clicking around". Note that it will only be there if we have installed the free Power Tools addin, and that it can be accessed at any time by pressing the "Ctrl + Shift + G" combo. It can be used to open resources (including data types) and Bible passages, and once you get a hold of it you will want to make it part of your regular workflow.

Widely used abbreviations for the different Bible versions work just fine. For example:

kjv – King James Version
nasb – New American Standard Bible
net – New English Bible
niv – New International Version (or bible)
nkjv – New King James Version
nrsv – New Revised Standard Version

The following abbreviations can also be used:

open – Syntactically Annotated Greek New Testament.
clause – Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament: Clause Analysis.
interlinear – Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (or linear).
lexham – Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament (or lex)
andersen – The Hebrew Bible Andersen-Forbes Analyzed Text (or ander)
esvntrevint – ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear NT (or reverse)
esvotrevint – ESV English-Hebrew Reverse Interlinear OT
nrsvntri – NRSV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear NT
dbl – Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Hebrew
dblaram – Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Aramaic
dblgreek – Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Greek
com – Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
merriam – Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition
logosna27 – Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, 27th ed.
logosna27int – Nestle-Aland GNT 27th ed. with McReynolds English Interlinear
deluxe – Logos Deluxe Map Set
strongs – Enhanced Strong's Lexicon

In the Quick Navigate tab of the Advanced Tools Options dialog box (Tools | Options | Advanced Tools...) we can add a series of data types so that the program recognizes them without having to use their data type names. For example, as can be seen in figure 10, we have added "Greekstrongs" and "Greek" to the default "Bible" data type.

Fig. 10 Data types listed so that they may work automatically in the Quick Navigation Bar.

So, when we write any Bible reference, Strong's NT number o Greek word (figure 11), our preferred Bible, Greek Lexicon or Dictionary will open, depending on how we may have set up our KeyLinks for each one of those data types.

Fig. 11 Searches that can be run with the data types selected.

Morphological Bible Search

This search dialog box is available for any morphologically tagged Bible version (thus including all reverse interlinears), and allows users to choose a search term based on a set of morphological criteria.

Fig. 12 Morphological search for all aorist active forms of κυριευω.

Topic Browser

This tool (Go | Topic Browser..., or Ctrl + T) is designed to look up topics in those resources that include this information (which is really nothing more than another data type). To find out if a resource is topically indexed we can click the "Active Index" icon (the one representing a sheet of paper). If it has been tagged for topics, it will be shown there and we will be able to run topical searches straight from the reference box itself (located on the toolbar of the resource window). When we enter a topic and press the "Go" button, the window will display the first hit found. If there are more hits we can press the "Reference Locations" button (the black arrow facing downwards) and select the place where we want to jump to, as seen in figure 13. [10]

Fig. 13 Navigating search results of a topical search.

Since the Topic Browser is multilingual, we can use it to search, among other things, Greek terms in the available lexicons (figure 14). Also, we should keep in mind that topical searches can be run by using the topic() modifier in the Basic Search dialog.

Fig. 14 Searching with the Topical Browser.

Reference Browser

This browser (Go | Reference Browser..., or Ctrl + R) is specifically designed to search for some data types (Bible, Greek Strong's numbers, G/K numbers or morphologies, among others – see figure 15) in any resource or collection in our library. As is the case with the Topic Browser, these data types can also be searched as part of a query in a search dialog box, but this way we save ourselves the trouble of having to use abbreviations and operators, since all the options can be selected from the available drop-down lists.

Fig. 15 Looking up a Louw-Nida Semantic Domain with the Reference Browser.

Graphical Query Editor

Logos 3 offers the possibility of building graphical queries that allow us to actually "see" the type of search we are going to carry out. For some users this can become a good alternative to the regular text-based searches. Despite the fact that it works best for advanced and complex searches, this tool can also be used to perform simple searches (figure 16). The editor can be accessed via the New Document dialog (File | New...) and it is both flexible and powerful, though not quite as intuitive as one would wish. [11]

Fig. 16 This query will find the words angel, glory or kingdom provided they precede "God" and are located at most 4 words apart.

Syntax Searches

Typical morphological searches are limited by the current databases being tagged at the word level and within traditional verse boundaries. They can be used to find out what words are (i.e., their form), but not how words operate in context (that is, their function). Up until now, to approximate syntactical searches it was necessary to make use of the morphological tags in combination with proximity and agreement operators. It was better than nothing, to be sure, but more often than not results were either too numerous – forcing us to sift through a large amount of irrelevant hits – or too few – leaving us with the uncomfortable feeling that we had missed true hits somewhere along the way.

Happily, syntactical searches and visualizations are now possible in Logos 3 thanks to brand new databases that have been tagged for both form and function at the clause level, thus allowing us to find clearly defined structures based on the relationship between different sentence and clause constituents. In short, we are talking about a real paradigm shift in Bible software, and as such don't expect it to be a bed of roses. In many cases there is a whole new technical jargon to learn and the way to interact with this new material is not always readily apparent. [12]

There are specific resources with clause visualizations of the Hebrew and Greek Bible, as well as a new search engine that can be used to perform syntactical queries (figure 17). These queries are indeed very powerful, but also a bit tricky at first. The good news is that two key automated reports, Bible Word Study and Exegetical Guide, already take advantage of the new syntactical databases in a truly transparent manner, and I am led to believe that more creative ways to handle this gold mine of information will be surfacing in the near future.

Fig. 17 General view of a syntax search. Here we are looking for instances where θεός or πατήρ are the subject of a verb that belongs to Louw-Nida's semantic domain 25 (Attitudes and Emotions).

If we happen to choose one of the reverse interlinears as our preferred Bible, then the search results will be displayed and highlighted in both Greek and English (figure 18). This is very cool (and helpful!).

Fig. 18 Syntax search results in Greek and English.

For more in-depth study we can click on the Bible reference or the visualization symbol (to the left of the Greek text) and open a graphical representation of the relationships that exist among the different parts of the clauses.

Reverse Interlinears

One of the greatest innovations, and most useful tools, found in Scholar's Library: Gold are the OT and NT reverse interlinears. Unlike conventional interlinears, these are based on the English version (ESV or NRSV), and the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek text is displayed underneath. This means that the text can be read following the regular English syntax and word order, and that the original languages follow the running text (not the other way round, as it used to be the case). Moreover, the tool can be configured in such a way that morphological information, transliteration of the original terms, and corresponding Strong's numbers are displayed. [13]

By way of an illustration we can see in figure 19 how McReynolds Interlinear and the ESV Reverse Interlinear display John 4:53-54. The first one makes reading the English text a bit awkward – to put it mildly, whereas the second one reads just like the English Standard Version. As can be clearly noted, the difference is remarkable.

Fig. 19 Comparison between a traditional interlinear (above) and a reverse interlinear (below).

But the real advantage does not lie merely in the layout. To this I shall now turn.

What can be done with a Reverse Interlinear?

1. Discover all the different ways a particular Greek or Hebrew word has been translated into English (running a Speed Search based on the original term) or, alternatively, look for an English word and find out which Greek or Hebrew term is associated to it (running a Speed Search based on the English term). In both cases we can perform a Speed Search via the context menu (using the Selected text option that opens when we select a word and right-click on it), and then choosing Search Analysis by Lemma and Concordance, respectively, under Other Tools in the Search Results windows.

2. Execute KeyLinks in English but have the program do a data type search in the original languages. To do that we have to have a reverse interlinear open (but it can be configured to display just the English text of the ESV or NRSV, if we like). That way, when we double-click the word "servants" in Genesis 32:5 a new resource window with the Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon will open, displaying the entry on עבד, whereas if we double-click on the word "judge" in John 7:24, LDLS will display the appropriate Greek entry (κρίνω) from the Dictionary of Biblical Languages Win Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament), provided we have not changed the default order of our KeyLink destinations for the "Hebrew" and "Greek" data types in Tools | Options | KeyLink...).

3. Run a Bible Word Study report. Even though we select an English word (highlighting the text and right-clicking on it), we will be able to access the option Bible Word Study: "term" in the original Greek or Hebrew.

4. Highlight the Bible text in English based on the underlying Hebrew or Greek morphology. We can accomplish this by going to View | Visual Filters... | Morphological Filter and adding the filter to the Active box. We set it up by clicking the "Details..." button. Once the Visual Filter Details dialog box opens we choose the part of speech (e.g., Verb) and the details associated to it (Imperative, for instance). We can then add those details to the list of references and choose the type of palette and the style we wish to use to mark the text (let us say Emphasis Markup and Color Box). We click OK and Close, and the filter will be displayed in the interlinear text. To see only the English text we have to go to View | Interlinear and deselect all checkboxes but the first one in the Interlinear Configuration dialog. This way we will be able to read the Bible in English and see which words are used to translate Greek imperatives.

5. Perform searches based on Strong's numbers without having to depend on any English version (like the King James Version or the New American Standard Bible). Evidently this type of searches has become obsolete, since the English text is now directly linked to the Hebrew and Greek originals, but nevertheless it can still be an interesting alternative for those who do not know these languages.

Suggested Improvements

While using the Visual Markup feature I could not help thinking how convenient it would be (and what a real time-saver!) if one could apply it to all search results with a single click or keyboard shortcut.

Apart from that I only have two major suggestions to make:
a) Please make stemming an option! To me, the current default search behavior is counterintuitive, particularly when searching biblical texts.
b) To be on a par with other high-end programs, some type of end-user authoring tool – beyond the existing note-taking capabilities – should be made available as part of the package.


Scholar's Library: Gold is a superb program. Its quality resources and innovative features (automated reports, syntax searching, non-linear history, sparklines, cluster diagrams and directed acyclic graphs, to name just a few) are unmatched on the Windows platform. Obviously, so much power entails some degree of complexity and, sometimes, slowness. Nonetheless, the more complex tasks and somewhat steep learning curve need only concern those who are really going to get involved in more advanced uses of the program. For the rest of users, it should be a relatively smooth ride.

At any rate, students, seminarians, pastors, missionaries, teachers and professors would do well to get a copy if they can. But be advised that once you discover what can be accomplished with computer-assisted Bible study and research, it will be next to impossible to go back to the "old ways."


Reverse interlinears
Syntax searching
Quality of reference works
Full compatibility with all other Libronix-based products available.


Complex searches and syntax searches are not particularly user-friendly
When inserting Greek or Hebrew characters in text boxes, the size of the font is far too small
There is no free tool for users to create personal resources.


[1] A digital library could be defined as a collection of different types of resources (text, audio, video, etc.) available in digital format, which can be accessed electronically (via a computer). These resources can be stored locally (on a computer's hard disk drive), on a network (either local o remote), or on the Internet.

[2] Strictly speaking we should be talking about hypertext, but given the fact that a hyperlink is, by far, the most frequent form of hypertext, I have decided to simplify things somewhat.

[3] While it is true that this is quite an investment, it is well worth it. On the other hand, there are other packages that cost considerably less (Scholar's: Silver or Scholar's) and also include the new reverse interlinears and syntactic databases discussed in this review.

[4] Fields are the different types of information or sections that comprise a given resource. For example, a book might include a preface, text, graphics and footnotes. Similarly, in a Bible we could find headings, the text itself, cross references, study notes and maps. Well then, each one of these elements that make up a "book" would be considered a distinct field.

Data types are homogeneous groups of items that share some peculiar characteristic that set them apart from all the rest. Therefore, each individual language (English, Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and so on), each numbering system (Strong's or Goodrich/Kohlenberger – in each case split into Greek and Hebrew numbers) or each set of references (be it Bible references, references to the works of Josephus, or to any other literary corpus) forms a single data type.

The words of Christ, displayed in red in some Bibles, or the footnotes are two examples of "fields," whereas Bible references, Strong's numbers or Greek and Hebrew terms would fall into the category of "data types".

[5] Those places where the cursor changes its appearance and the color of the text is different from the rest.

One might as well take advantage of the great flexibility offered by KeyLinking in following up the route that best fits our interests and needs. For instance, if we want to refer to word definitions as we read along we could choose Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, but if our main concern is accessing articles on the different topics we come across, then it might be better to select Harper's Bible Dictionary as our first KeyLink destination for the "English" data type. The combinations are almost endless, so getting acquainted with the KeyLink Options dialog box (Tools | Options | KeyLink...) is a must.

[6] The Logos Bible Software Home Page is a great launch pad for novice users. It offers a very convenient and intuitive way to access most of the essential tasks that the software is capable of doing.

Sections are self-explanatory and can be easily customized. Do make sure, though, that the Show Study Options checkbox is selected (Customize View | Bible Study Starter | Passage Study) if you want to have more control over the type of study and/or report that opens up after you click the "Go!" button.

[7] sparklines are small-sized graphical representations – they usually take up roughly the same space of a word – that do not break the flow of the text and are used as visual cues to further illustrate some point. The term was coined by Edward Tufte in his book Beautiful Evidence (2006).

[8] When no Boolean operator is used (AND, OR, NOT, etc.) the program interprets that we want to find those places where all the terms in the query are found together (that is, an AND search). Double quotes, on the other hand, are used to search for a literal phrase search.

By default, all searches are "neutral" (i.e., do not distinguish between languages), case insensitive, ignore diacritical marks (accents, for example), and return as valid hits all forms derived from the search term's "root". This is what is known as stemming, and explains why the search faith hope in the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (NASB95) locates Hebrews 11:1, where the words "faith" and "hoped" appear.

To have "stemmed searches" by default is a moot point (I, for one, certainly dislike it, and would much rather have stemming as a configurable, system-wide option), but it highlights the need to handle certain operators and modifiers that allow us to find exactly what we are looking for. Otherwise, we run the risk of not only stumbling across a lot more results than we had expected, but also of overlooking perfectly valid hits.

[9] More information on Porter's algorithm can be found on this website.

[10] These actions can also be performed via the Window item on the main menu bar.

As a rule of thumb, resources that typically include topical information are Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, handbooks, maps, some theology books, lexicons, general introductions and, of course, topical books. That is why it is so advisable to create collections with those resources we anticipate we will be searching for topics on a regular basis.

[11] For an excellent overview of the GQE features, check out this training article.

[12] Syntax searching holds great potential, and I don't think anyone would deny that. However, trying to build syntax queries can be a bit intimidating with the current interface, even for someone who has studied quite a bit of syntax over the years, as is my case.

I think that the fact that syntax searches have to be hand-built, that there are so many different options one has to factor in, and that it is not possible to, say, run them directly from the context menu, all add up to the "dauntingness factor". So I expect to see improvements in future implementations of this brand new feature.

To their credit, Logos has been producing lots of screencasts with a view to ease the transition from morphology-based to syntax-based searching. This is helpful, but more how-to articles are probably needed.

[13] Quite often people from different camps have expressed their reservations about the use of interlinears, especially because they can easily become "crutches" that prevent students from learning the biblical languages properly, or simply due to the risk of incurring in certain widespread exegetical fallacies (after all, it is generally recognized that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing").

Personally, I have always held to the usefulness of Strong's numbers and interlinears, because I think it is important that those who have not had the chance to learn Hebrew or Greek (or who do not have a good command of the languages) be given the opportunity to access some tools that will draw them closer to biblical exegesis, beyond the modern language translations they may have within their reach. As for the danger of incorrect or even weird interpretations, it will always be there. It is something that can affect us all, specialists and non-specialists alike. And given the fact that any reading of the Bible is, in itself, also an interpretation, I believe the best thing we can do is provide people with quality reference works and make them as widely available as possible. In this sense, reverse interlinears are a significant step forward, in my opinion. Coupled with common sense they can become very useful tools indeed (despite their inherent shortcomings).


Copyright © 2007 by Rubén Gómez. Used by permission.