Ordained Servant, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 63-64
Review of Logos Bible Software Series X - Scholar’s Library V. 1.1a
by Stephen Pribble
Logos Bible Software Series X is a very powerful Bible study program that enables the busy pastor to easily mine the depths of sacred Scripture. A click of the mouse brings up resources that would more than cover all the space on the biggest desktop: original language and English Bibles, linguistic resources, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, maps, reference works and many more—all organized for easy use.
Logos Bible Software Series X (also called Libronix Digital Library System, the name of the technology behind it) comes in a variety of editions: Christian Home Library (containing 60 reference books and retailing for $149.95), Bible Study Library (over 100 books, $249.95), Pastor’s Library (over 165 books, $299.95) and Scholar’s Library (over 230 books worth $5000 in comparable print editions, $599.95—the one I reviewed).
Logos is definitely a high-quality tool for serious study, yet it is easy to use. Its greatest virtue is simplicity; Logos does the work for you (just enter a passage and click "go"—that’s all there is to it). Its downside is that it is a resource hog; it is slow to load and slow to perform certain operations.
But it is one powerful program! Becoming a power-user with a mastery of the program involves a learning curve, but it’s time well-spent. I came to see its value one evening when my daughter-in-law called with a Bible question. Her uncle, new to the U.S., wondered why his Arabic Bible had "bless God and die" (Job 2:9) while English Bibles have "curse God and die." I quickly discovered the answer with one or two mouse clicks.
My preferred way to use Logos is for the program to load using a workspace I created: the KJV and Hebrew O.T. linked in parallel columns on the screen (any translation or combination can be used). With the KJV selected, pressing Control-G (for "go-to") automatically takes the user to the Scripture reference window where he can type in the desired reference (abbreviations are O.K.—‘ps 23.6’ brings Psalm 23:6). Typing in a N.T. reference automatically substitutes the Nestle-Aland 27th Edition Greek N.T. for the Hebrew. Finding references in open books is lightning-fast—way quicker than opening two bound volumes to the same place.
For study of the Old Testament Logos utilizes a very clear and legible Hebrew screen font which is a pleasure to read. The text contains all the vowels but no cantillations. A very helpful feature: hover the cursor over an abbreviation in BDB and an explanation of that abbreviation pops up (formerly baffling abbreviations now make perfect sense). Similarly, when a Scripture verse is cited, hovering the cursor over that reference brings up the full reference in the user’s preferred translation (something the print version cannot deliver). BDB is enhanced with links to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, which goes into more detail.
One very handy feature for users of Microsoft Word is automatic footnoting; when an excerpt is copied and pasted into a Word document, a complete footnote in proper form is automatically created. Users of other word processors get the footnote information following the quotation, ready to copy into a new footnote. You will never forget where you got a quote!
Logos comes with a VHS video demonstration, and a set of video tutorials on CD-ROM is also available. The tutorial is very helpful, but it would be even more helpful if it came with a workbook for easier reference ("to do this, follow these steps"). I recommend watching each segment of the tutorial in turn, then trying out one procedure at a time.
When I began to use Logos on my 3-year-old Pentium 866 it had only the factory-installed 128 MB RAM. Using the program’s many features gobbled up precious seconds for disk-swapping—the operating system kept having to write and rewrite information to the hard disk for later retrieval. Then I upgraded to 512 MB RAM (perhaps the best $60 I ever spent) and realized a quantum leap in computing speed—Logos (and everything else) ran much, much faster. I definitely recommend having the fastest computer you can afford and upgrading memory to the max. Logos works on older computers with less memory, but it is slower.
Logos tech support is very helpful. I had a problem upgrading from the web on a day that the Internet was running excruciatingly slow due to a fiberoptic break somewhere in cyberspace. The download timed out, and when I tried to install the upgrade it wouldn’t work. Libronix tech support was oh-so-helpful. They rushed out new disks free of charge and patiently walked me through the reinstallation process.
Browsing the many resources available is sure to inspire sermon ideas. The Scholar’s Library includes the following—electronic books: 16 English Bibles including the KJV, NASB 1995, NIV, ESV, and NKJV; four Bible dictionaries; topical Bibles; commentaries: Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Matthew Henry, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Bible Commentary and 11 of Warren Wiersbe’s "Be" commentaries; 9 Greek texts including the Septuagint; Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia; the Vulgate; Kittle; "little Kittle"; Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; BDB; Pilgrim’s Progress; Logos Deluxe Map Set; Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary; Wuest’s word studies; Treasury of Scripture Knowledge; Calvin’s Institutes; 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories; the complete works of Josephus; and many more (see the complete list at www.logos.com/scholars). More than 3,000 titles are compatible with Logos Bible Software Series X, with new books being added all the time, and notice is frequently given of pre-publication specials (brand new titles you can order in advance of publication and pay for upon shipment). Logos comes with free upgrades for life via download, so your software will never be obsolete.
A few drawbacks: Some of the smaller Hebrew fonts have truncated vowel shapes which require some getting used to. Matthew Henry’s commentary does not have the Greek and Hebrew words in the original characters but in transliteration. There are a few minor typos (for example, "Thus prophet" instead of "This prophet"). Sometimes the "keylink" feature takes the user to a Hebrew verb of the same root rather than to its corresponding noun. In Proverbs 21:17 the program confused ayin-sin-resh with ayin-shin-resh. Similarly shomerim (Mal. 2:9) incorrectly linked to the root sin-mem-resh rather than shin-mem-resh (the holem being mistaken for the sin dot). The company tells me their developers are working on these issues and will be indexing vowel points and consonant distinctors (dageshes and sin/shin dots) in an upcoming update due out soon.
I haven’t given up my 12-year-old QuickVerse 4.0. It doesn’t do as much, but it is faster. I still use it for routine pasting of a verse into a church bulletin or email (it starts up and is ready to go in a blazing 1½ seconds). But for serious Bible study, nothing beats Logos Bible Software Series X.
Stephen A. Pribble is the pastor of Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Okemos, Michigan. He is also a member of the Committee on Christian Education, and manager of the OPC web site (www.opc.org).
© 2003 by Ordained Servant. Used by permission.