Logos Bible Software 3-Scholar’s Library: Gold Edition
Logos Research Systems, Inc., Bellingham, WA, USA, 2004.
http://www.logos.com/. (800) 875-6467. $1379.95.
Christian Home Library, $149.95. Bible Study Library, $259.95.
Leader’s Library, $309.95. Original Languages Library, $415.95.
Scholar’s Library, $629.95. Scholar’s Library-Silver Ed., $999.95.
Ever on the cutting-edge of Bible study software, the folks at Logos have once again broken new ground with their latest offering—Logos Bible Software 3. In addition to a newly streamlined interface, faster and simpler search capabilities, and a broader and more scholarly selection of digital resources, this latest version goes where no Bible software has ever gone before. For the first time, syntactically tagged resources are available in a commercial program to those wishing to better understand the original languages of the Bible.
Until now, only morphological tagging was available in Bible software. Morphologically tagged texts of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament have long been the backbone of computer-assisted exegetical study in the original languages. However, one runs into a problem when using morphologically tagged texts as a tool for studying syntax—false hits and multiple hits, sometimes running in the hundreds, even thousands! It is a daunting task to weed through all those hits in order to discover which ones truly relate to the issue being studied. With the introduction of syntactical tagging, however, students and scholars alike are now able to carefully designate the parameters of complex clause structures and word relationships, thus minimizing the occurrence of false hits. The impact that this new capability will have on exegesis is still being worked out, but the prospects are exciting!
To date, only Logos is offering syntactically tagged texts. The Anderson-Forbes Analyzed Text of the Hebrew Bible is a complete, tagged Hebrew Bible that is also visually graphed. For the New Testament, two syntactical databases are offered: The OpenText.org Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament, produced by a team of scholars led by Stanley Porter, and The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament by Albert L. Lukaszewski. The OpenText.org’s database is complete, while the General Epistles are currently the only texts available in the Lexham database, with the remaining forthcoming. Both of these titles are also visually graphed to aid in exegesis.
Logos is putting a lot of emphasis on this new syntactical searching capability, and rightly so, but almost equally impressive are the revisions that they have made to their already outstanding software. Bible students of every level will appreciate these improvements and additions. As introduced several years ago in Logos Series X, the new software retains the trademark, “Enter a passage, click ‘Go’” in order to launch the software, and with its expansive library, Logos 3 continues to far surpass other Bible programs as a virtual research assistant, effortlessly scouring hundreds of resources for information significant to the search query. Query results are returned in the form of customizable reports, with features including definitions, dictionary entries, concordance results, and syntactical relationships. The flagship collection (Scholar’s Library: Gold) includes dozens of commentaries, including The New International Greek Testament Commentary series (12 volumes), New American Commentary series (31 volumes), and the 77 volume Pulpit Commentary. Major theological works such as Calvin’s Institutes, William G.T. Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology (revised edition), Charles Hodge’s 3-volume Systematic Theology, and A.H. Strong’s 3-volume Systematic Theology are included and fully searchable, as is the six-volume God, Revelation and Authority by Carl Henry.
Dollar for dollar, Logos certainly offers the most value, with over $11,700.00 worth of print resources included in Scholar’s Library: Gold. Furthermore, each library is expandable, with over 7,000 titles currently available from over 100 publishers (including a number of works by Plymouth Brethren authors.) And with the critical and scholarly works included and the most advanced search capabilities offered by any Bible software to date, Logos 3 establishes itself not only for its breadth, but also its depth.
For all of these offerings, additions, and upgrades, it is the Bible that Logos is most interested in helping people to study, and following this commitment, a vast array of Bibles are integrated into the software. Scholar’s Library: Gold includes over 20 English translations, including the NET Bible (with notes and maps). Original language texts abound as well, with four tagged Hebrew texts and a dozen tagged Greek texts (both critical and majority texts.) For those who have not learned the original languages, or perhaps have grown rusty over time, there are a number of interlinear Bibles in both Greek and Hebrew. Also incorporated into the Gold edition are a number of important texts significant to current debates, including the Nag Hammadi documents (English ed.), which served as a major source for the controversial claims made in The Da Vinci Code. For more advanced students and scholars, a welcome addition to the Gold collection is The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, providing transcriptions of sixty-nine of the earliest New Testament Greek manuscripts, all fully searchable.
Altogether, this new version is an amazing product, but a few caveats are in order. First, the search software is still a bit slow when analyzing highly complex queries, although speed has been vastly improved over earlier versions. As far as system requirements are concerned, a minimum of 1 GB of memory is a must; the more the better! In addition, this many resources require a large storage capacity and those with older computers may find that upgrades would be wise investments if they wish to tap this software’s potential. Also, as promising as the syntactical search capabilities are, utilizing them is a complex process, and the “help” databases could be more helpful. Furthermore, the syntactic databases themselves are open to concerns of subjectivity in that they represent the conclusions of their editors, who may or may not be correct in their analysis. Logos’ answer is to provide more than one database for comparison, and this goes a long way toward minimizing potential problems. Of course, it is the exegete himself who is responsible to make the final decision, for the databases, like commentaries, are simply tools in the expositor’s toolbox. Finally, a few bugs in the program occasionally show up, but they are minor and Logos is very quick to deal with them with a simple, integrated update feature that makes downloading fixes and updates a breeze.
These issues aside, with this new offering Logos has further cemented itself as the leader in the world of Bible software, and their commitment to offering the best to students, church leaders, and scholars remains at the forefront of their research and programming, with collections and pricing to meet every need and budget (www.logos.com/comparison). Mac users will be happy to know that Logos is working on a version of the software for the Mac, due to be released in mid-2007 (www.logos.com/mac).
Finally, it is a real pleasure to be able to say that, from the initial purchase, Logos seeks to make every interaction with the software and the company an easy, rewarding and enjoyable experience. Technical support is friendly, quick and knowledgeable, free video tutorials covering an array of topics (including the new syntactical search capability) are available on the website, and newsgroups are open to new users and are filled with helpful gurus, all happy to share their knowledge and ideas for getting the most out of the software. This service will go a long way toward ensuring that Logos will continue to lead the way in the ever-expanding world of Bible software. More information can be found by visiting the website and watching the online demo at www.logos.com/demo.
© 2006 by Sean T. Lillis. Used by permission.