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Biblical Recorder, December 11, 2004

Review: Get a key(board) to library with Bible study software

By Tony W. Cartledge, BR Editor

Computerized resources cannot make serious Bible study easy, but they can make it incredibly convenient. Speedy language tools can save hours of time thumbing through heavy lexicons, and a growing list of digital books make it possible to purchase a virtual library in a very small box.

In this article we take a look at several Bible software packages provided to the Biblical Recorder for review.

Logos Bible Software Series X

With its Series X, the league leader in the sheer quantity of available resources combines a clean work screen with powerful search tools that are easily mastered. Since our last review (2002), Logos has added several impressive utilities for original language studies, and continues to pile up available resources.

Logos X can be purchased in nine different packages, including a Spanish edition and two new bilingual Spanish-English editions. The Christian Home Library ($149.95) contains several Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, devotional books, and a locker full of theologically conservative home-schooling resources. The Pastor's Library ($299.95) adds more Bible study resources and a number of books relative to leadership, counseling, and other pastoral concerns. An Original Languages Library ($399.95) features Greek and Hebrew texts, along with supportive language resources. The Scholar's Library ($599.95) includes all of the above, while the Scholar's Library Silver Edition ($999.95) adds a slew of antiquities studies and additional commentaries, including 37 volumes of the early church fathers, Miriam Lichtheim's three-volume Ancient Egyptian Literature, Barclay's Daily Bible Study series, and 31 volumes of Holman's New American Commentary.

The Scholar's Library Silver Edition I reviewed included books that might cost more than $8,000 if bought in print. In addition, the company has more than 4,000 other titles available for separate purchase, with new volumes every month.

Each Logos Series X package is powered by the Libronix Digital Library System (Libronix DLS). Libronix Corp. is a subsidiary of Logos Research Systems, which uses Libronix DLS to drive its own Bible software, and licenses it to other publishers as the core technology of their Bible software products.

Logos Series X users begin with a straightforward home page that allows them to type a biblical text or topic and choose what kind of research they want to do. "Bible only" will display the verse or passage in an adjacent window, using a user-selected Bible translation. "Bible and Commentary" opens links to related references in available commentaries. "Word Study" and "Exegetical Study" generate a vertical listing of each word in Greek or Hebrew, along with links to supportive lexicons or other related articles.

Logos touts the powerful search engines used to generate the lexical reports as being like "a personal research assistant." The assistant does not absolve the user of the need to think and utilize some language capability, however: one can only expect so much of a search engine faced with the daunting task of sifting through multiple morphological databases that use different classification systems. As a result, the search engine will occasionally link to a word that has the same root letters, but a different meaning. This is more common for Hebrew than for Greek. Logos developers are currently working on supplemental index-based search procedures, which should raise the level of accuracy.

The Scholar's Library Silver Edition includes a nice sentence diagramming utility and comprehensive search tools that enable complex searches for particular words or phrases in English or the original language.

Other advanced features can generate tailored graphical presentations of search results, as well as a colorful "verb river" utility that can map the frequency of verbal moods or tenses in a defined passage or book.

To do comparative studies, users can view different versions in parallel columns and use highlighting to compare them to a chosen base version. Students interested in a parallel study of the gospels, for example, can view parallel texts in adjacent columns, with color highlighting indicating similarities and differences. Similarly, language students can easily compare the majority Greek text favored by translators of the King James Version with the comprehensive critical texts that underlie most contemporary translations.

I was pleased that the button bar can be customized to suit individual preferences. For personal study, I like to work from several translations, including the original language, in parallel columns. Logos Series X allows such a display, but the default setting requires three steps with the mouse to get there. Once I learned how, it was a simple matter to create a new button to call up my custom-designed parallel display with just one click.

With its amazing array of available resources, powerful utilities, and customizable functions, Logos Series X continues to offer something for every student of the Bible.

© 2004 Biblical Recorder. Used by permission.