First things first. I love the new Clause Search feature in Logos 5. Personally, this is my favorite feature, and a prime example of the potential of Reverse Interlinears and semantic-based databases, two of the key areas that Logos has been focusing on in recent years.
I was asked to post a review on just one condition: to be honest. I think I can do that; I’m used to doing it 🙂
Since there is so much to talk about, and it is quite easy to miss things when you set out to summarize what’s new in a major upgrade like this, I’ve decided to do an experiment and record a video for each of the new or enhanced features that I like the most. My goal is to show you how they work and, in some cases, suggest ideas of what I’d like to see added or improved. This is meant to be a conversation, so feel free to comment, link to a video response or whatever. Interaction is always the best way to learn. You’ll notice that this is an unscripted video, and I want it to be that way in order to capture that conversational approach.
I have always found Syntax Searches in Logos hard to understand, and even harder to build. Perhaps that is the reason why I am so pleased with the new Clause searches. It may well be the case that some of my suggestions/requests can be achieved via syntax queries, but I believe they belong here, and that with clause searching we are just beginning to scratch the surface of some amazing new ways to search the Scriptures. This is exciting stuff!
So here is the video (just under 12 minutes long). I hope it is worth your time!
EDIT(November 5, 2012): Rosie Perera has been kind enough to bring to my attention (see comments below) that even if you don’t specify the subject or the verb-lemma in the Clause Search, the information will be shown in the Analysis view and can be easily sorted out, as you can see in the screenshots below.
Logos Bible Software has just launched version 5 of their Bible software program. It includes some great new features and seven new base packages, from Starter to Portfolio, but above all, it is what version 4 should have been all along.
From a philosophical/theoretical point of view, I would describe Logos 5 as the Semantic Web applied to Bible software (in this sense it is not difficult to see Sean Boisen‘s hand behind it). In other words, the program tries to find meaning in context and establish connections with the vast amount of resources available both in Logos itself and online. What this means in real life is that Logos 5 focuses on the use of pretty sophisticated tools (most of them automated), connecting the information and opening up avenues for further study, and fostering a network of Christian links among its users.
It is quite clear to any outside observer that Logos is out to build a whole ecosystem, but the key is to greatly improve/enhance its flagship product. Logos 5 hopes to be not just a step forward, but more of a significant leap ahead. Does it deliver on its promises? Let’s try to find out.
When I reviewed Bible Analyzer 3.5, I immediately realized this was an application that had great potential. I’m pleased to see that I was right. Version 4 is a lot better (and I mean a lot), plus it is now available for the Mac (OS 10.5 or higher).
BA 4.6 is a native Mac app that installs effortlessly. Follow the usual sequence of dialog boxes, agree to the Software License Agreement and type your OS X user password. That’s it!
At first sight, the layout of the main window has not changed much, but it now includes a highly flexible window management system that allows for a great deal of customization. Everything is done by means of dragging and droping to a different area of the available space, or docking windows to make more room for the Bible window and the task we may happen to be doing at the time. There are many possibilities, including the ability to work with independent floating windows.
There is a Cross-Reference panel that displays all the Bible cross references included in an enhanced version of Treasury of Scripture Knowledge that are relevant to the active verse in the Bible window. Besides that, a brand new Library Hits panel shows all the Dictionaries, Commentaries and Books that include a reference to the active verse (or that verse when it is part of a range, e.g., Rom 4:5-8). A popup window displays the first instance where the verse is referenced, and clicking on the Bible reference opens the tool at that particular place. Users can decide the amount of information they want to see, as well as the category they are most interested in. At any rate, results are returned instantly.
Another enhancement I enjoy very much is the ability to have Commentaries open a whole chapter at a time, and not just the comments on the selected verse.
Resting the cursor on any word, while holding down the Control key, lets us see a preview of the description of that word in the preferred dictionary in a popup. Simply clicking on the word takes us immediately to the dictionary entry.
Again, the Control key can be used while the cursor is on a Bible tab to have the active verse, the previous and the next one shown in a popup.
The same method can be applied to different Dictionaries or Commentaries that include relevant articles (i.e., with the blue or green book icon besides the name) without the need to change tabs, unless, of course, we want to move to a different resource.
Bible Analyzer offers a Daily Devotional with live Bible links, as well as a customizeable Prayer List window.
Images are displayed in their own specialized window.
The Quick Search box located at the top of the main window can be used to look for words (e.g., amazement)
or to enter any Bible reference. The program understands if we have entered a Bible book or a search term.
The look and feel of BA can be customized, and sessions/layouts saved and recalled. There are many other options included in the program that users can also tweak to their heart’s content.
Searching is one of the key points of BA. It’s a real joy to see that almost anything we can think of can be searched quite easily. And one of the reasons it can do so is because of its very extensive Help. It really pays off to refer to it in those cases where we want to do something a bit more complex.
I could mention the Harmony/Parallel Generator, or the excellent AV-Strongs Index (based on an considerably enhaced Strong’s Dictionary), the Word clouds, the Text-to-Speech feature, or how easy it is to access information via the contextual menus. But why take my word for it when you can download it and see it for yourself absolutely free?
If you want more modules, you can always order the Bible Analyzer Suite CD-ROM for $38 plus shipping, or download any of the growing collections of free and premium modules. Most of these modules, while public domain resources, are very reasonably priced.
In sum, this is a very worthwhile program for those Mac (as well as Windows and Linux) users who need to work with English texts and good, solid classic resources, as well as use Strong’s numbers as part of their study of the Bible.
The popular e-Sword program is now available for iPads. This first release includes a good number of the features available in the desktop edition, but only official modules can be added to the app at this time –although no Greek, Hebrew or foreign language Bibles are yet available–, and costs $4.99. The interface will look quite familiar to long-time e-Sword users.
The following video is a quick and dirty presentation of the program (make sure to watch it in HD!).
Note that the video does not show off all the features available, just a few of them.
Today I want to briefly review two products that set out to make the original languages of the Bible –and the tools that use them– more accessible to the average person who has little or no familiarity with them. In both cases the goal is to improve our exegetical skills, that is, the way we interpret the Scriptures.
Typically, learning Greek and Hebrew has been accomplished using traditional methods, being exposed to lots of grammar rules and memorizing paradigm after paradigm and vocabulary list after vocabulary list. Today Bible software is here to help. The question is whether this help is going to affect only the mechanics of language learning or have far-reaching consequences in the long run. The other issue is if a democratization of the use of Greek and Hebrew tools is a good thing or not.
These products are particularly suited for people who have never before been exposed to the study of Biblical Greek (or Hebrew), and those who once studied it but now want to refresh what they learned.
I recommend adding ESV with Strong’s – ESVS (an extra $39.99) at the very least. Other Accordance modules are recommended in the lectures as optional tools.
An even cheaper alternative is to pay $49.00 for a full year of online access to the video series. The streaming videos and screencasts work very well, and a free preview of the first couple of lessons is also available.
This Biblical Greek Primer or “Baby Greek” is, in fact, the first installment of a three-part series (“Church Greek” and “Functional Greek” will follow) that is roughly going to cover the material contained in Bill Mounce’s Greek for the Rest of Us. Having a copy of the book is not required, but it certainly helps.
Every lesson includes a video lecture and a screencast where the principles outlined are illustrated using Accordance Bible Software.
In Accordance, the link between the English and the Greek is done via Strong’s numbers (in Mounce’s case, Goodrick-Kohlenberger numbering system with cross-reference to Strong’s numbers), and some people are very vocal against the use of these numbers, but that is due to their misuse. Properly used (see Dave Moser’s series of blog articles on How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance, they are extremely useful. Just keep in mind that Strong’s is a concordance, not a dictionary, and should be used basically as an index to find out the appearances of every root word in its context. In this sense, Mounce’s Dictionary and Expository Dictionary are particularly helpful because they hyperlink the number of occurrences of every word under each entry to actual Accordance searches in the Greek New Testament and the English version, respectively.
Cost. For around $250.00 (or less) one can have access to solid teaching and tools.
Flexibility. Different packages available, as well as streaming online video.
Powerful. Mounce resources have some value-added features available only in Accordance.
If it is Hebrew you are interested in, you are out of luck.
Instructors Dr. Michael Heiser (Hebrew) and Johnny Cisneros (Greek) present a series of videos and screencasts that teach how to work with the original languages using the different tools and resources provided by Logos Bible Software.
The DVDs include a browser-like interface and are fully compatible with PC and Mac, although the screencasts always use the PC version of Logos.
In Logos, the reverse interlinears are what link the English to the original languages. Time and time again we are encouraged to create our own lexicons based on a study of the occurrences of the different lemmas, which are always accessible via the English text. This bypasses the traditional lexicon look-up and focuses on a comprehensive study of the search results. The final stage of the process suggested for word studies includes the use of some standard lexicons that define the word under consideration, rather than simply offering different glosses or English equivalents.
The powerful combination of the Reverse Interlinears and Visual Filters make possible the study of the original texts while working with the English Bibles.
Emphasis on avoiding word study fallacies.
Cost. The series is far too expensive, considering the fact that all the modules have to be bought separately.
No streaming option offered.
Greek and Hebrew are bundled together, which means that it is not possible to get only Greek or only Hebrew.
Both courses follow a very similar approach to word studies, and offer helpful tips on how to use the particular brand of Bible software they use. However, in my opinion, Mounce’s series has the edge if you are interested in Greek only.
I would also like to address the issue of expectations. Marketing language falls very easily into hype, and that can develop all sorts of unrealistic expectations. In my opinion, The Biblical Greek Primer is more down-to-earth and restraint in what it claims to do. On the other hand, Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos should drastically revise their promotional videos (for an earlier criticism, see D. Miller’s blog). Personally, I consider the assertion “after completing these videos with comprehension you’ll be at the level of a third year Hebrew or Greek student who was trained by traditional methods. All without memorizing anything” to be quite an overstatement, to say the least.
I have taken Greek and Hebrew at degree level (as well as taught a Greek class for lay people at church) and I can assure you that some degree of memorization and quite a bit of hard work are essential. After all, you do have to memorize the Greek or Hebrew alphabet and some pronunciation just to be able to read! Add to that a good number of grammatical terms. Talking of which, in my experience the first single most important problem people face when they try to learn the biblical languages is their poor grasp of English grammar!
Regarding the two questions I raised at the beginning, I do believe Bible software will change the way we approach language learning, but will not supersede what we have known until now. As to the dangers and consequences of knowing “a little Greek or Hebrew”, I have a confession to make. I have sat through some painful sermons lately. I mean, no exposition of the Scriptures. Topical messages loosely backed up with proof texts taken out of context for the most part, motivational speeches, personal experiences and whatnot. Getting acquainted with the biblical languages and the basic pitfalls inherent to shoddy exegesis surely cannot make matters any worse.
I welcome the effort to show how to make use of the powerful tools available in Bible software, and can only hope that it will reverse the current trend to belittle the usefulness of getting to know as much Greek and Hebrew as possible.
Disclaimer: Just for the record, I have NOT received any gratis copy of the products reviewed here.
Aquí está el vídeo con mis impresiones sobre la nueva Biblioteca Platino Bilingüe de Logos. Todavía estoy familiarizándome con la técnica de creación de videotutoriales, así que espero ir mejorando con el tiempo. He tenido que dejar fuera algunas explicaciones básicas porque de lo contrario se hubiera hecho excesivamente largo. Para más información se pueden consultar los vídeos que aparecen en la página web http://www.logos.com/es/capacitacion/videos. Para aquellos que así lo prefieran, el vídeo también está disponible en HD.
Here is a video review (in Spanish) of the new Biblioteca Platino Bilingüe recently released by Logos. I’m still learning the basics of screencasting, so I hope to get better as I create more of these videos in the future. I had to leave out certain basic explanations, otherwise the video would have been far too long. To get more help, check out the videos posted here: http://www.logos.com/es/capacitacion/videos. Note that this video is also available in HD.
Since a number of people wanted to see the new Accordance for iOS in action, I decided to upload a short video showing some of the basic functionalities of this app for iDevices. Take it as a mere introduction.
BibleWorksis a must-have tool for original language exegesis and Bible translation. It is an affordable package, offering solid tools and excellent features. In my estimation there is no doubt that this is the best Bible software product of its kind for Windows.
To get the full context you will need to read the whole piece, but one of the keys is that BW has stayed true to itself, while offering the ability to work in close synergy with other programs that focus on areas BW has decided to not go into (e.g., digital libraries).
My review of WORDsearch 9 is now online. Great program for pastors and teachers, but needs some work in the area of searching. Nevertheless, it offers excellent resources and a nicely integrated working environment. Good option for those who teach the Scriptures on a regular basis.
One of the highlights of 2009 was my trip to Israel. It was such a great experience that I sure hope I can go back soon. Meanwhile, I keep looking at the many pictures I took. I can’t tell you how excited I am when I review those places and reread my personal travel journal.
I have always enjoyed photos, and since I had recently come back from Israel I thought it would be a good idea to review The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. This 2-DVD set, containing more than 4,000 carefully chosen pictures of biblical lands from the 1900s, is available from Life in the Holy Land and was produced by Todd Bolen, who runs BibePlaces.com. It really is a superb arsenal of teaching aids that should come in handy to anyone studying or teaching the Bible.
I have come to appreciate Todd’s contributions in this area, and can say that his work is of a consistently high standard. Do check out Todd’s excellent posts on this blog, many of which have recently dealt with different aspects of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection.