I’ve wanted to write this reflection for some time. As some of you may have heard, we had a baby at the end of the year.
She is amazing.
Now that I am easing back into writing and podcasting, this was the first piece I wanted to write.
It would be easy to say that I’m simply reviewing this software because I get a promo copy of the latest upgrade. Sure. (That’s my disclaimer.)
But I have never been told that my reviews had to be positive. Rather, Faithlife (Logos) want honest reviews.
My story goes like this…
I have had a version of Logos Bible Software for several years now. When I got my first full package of resources, it felt like Christmas morning.
My church, at the time (somewhere around 2010), gifted me a full version of Logos to support my seminary and preaching endeavors. What I always have liked about Logos is the ability to search within a library of resources to find key words, themes, arguments, and commentary. I still LOVE THIS in comparison to thumbing through thick theology texts.
And for quite awhile, that was my primary mode. I regret this.
It took me longer than it should have to really explore the features and the unique gifts this sort of software brings to research. There are tutorials, galore, online. If you are on the fence or have never utilized Logos in a way you had hoped, consider carving out a couple of hours for some tutorials. Seriously. It can make a huge difference.
But as I learned, I still didn’t realize just how important this software would be in my own academic journey. I definitely used it as my go to research engine for passages I was teaching on in church (still do this!), but it wasn’t until I started moving into the hairy details of research that this program went from a 10 to an 11 on the scale of helpfulness!
Last Spring I was set to graduate with a second master’s degree. (I studied the apostle Paul within the classical Roman world within his second temple Jewish identity – at the University of Washington.)
With the demands of family life, church ministry, and school, getting my final paper (a thesis, basically, but our department calls them final papers) complete felt elusive.
I had been sitting on my research idea for a couple of years at this point, done initial research, but had to tie up the argument in a coherent way. I needed more sources and access to the sort that I wouldn’t easily find in my personal library.
One example of this was when I kept discovering that several New Testament scholars appeal to an old manuscript referred to as “P46.” My knowledge of textual criticism is a weaker part of my studies, so I had to learn on the go to make a solid argument within my paper at a couple of junctures.
I panicked at first, thinking: Well, here it is–proof that I don’t have what it takes.
But then, I started googling. Which gave me some wiki results that gave me a basic sense.
Finally, it dawned on me:
Check in Logos!!!!
And I did. And there it was. The original greek variations from this important manuscript that isn’t usually reflected in standard Greek New Testaments.
I could compare and contrast. I could do word searches in the click of a button. I could compare definitions between BDAG and LSJ and also use several of the Lexham Press language tools (seriously, these tools from Logos/Faithlife published as Lexham are incredibly helpful).
Here’s an example of the Lexham Reader’s Edition Interlinear New Testament that is also helpful, once you figure out enough about Greek to understand the numeric codes for grammar:
By the end of this massive paper, I turned in a final product that not only got me the grade I’d dreamed of, but that reflected a step up on my own research abilities up to that point.
It is not an exaggeration for me to admit: Logos Bible Software proved to be a game-changer in my own ability to research and write.
A couple of months ago, Logos 8 was released. It maintains every bit of functionality that I utilized in writing my ‘thesis’ but now has an even clearer layout.
Finding every important resource on a passage or theme is only a search away.
Being able to read the Greek New Testament, for those who might use this program to aid with that goal, is enhanced as a simple hover of the mouse reveals the definition of a word you are unfamiliar with. And linking directly to any dictionary you’ve added to your collection. Amazing.
If you are reading the your favorite NT translation, you can simply hover over the English word to reveal the Greek word and definition.
For sermons, I’m able to do research and clip notes into a specific place with annotations linked to a passage. Every time I go into the book of 1 John, I see what looks like a small sticky note, which when I click it, has all of my research and reflections on that section.
There is even sermon planning functionality where you can save time by creating an outline in Logos and exporting slides to Powerpoint! I’ve done this from time to time and am impressed by the tool. I can see many pastors appreciate having a Logos Library possessing their own sermon database.
Every resource that I can integrate into my Logos Library, especially when it is mostly for the purposes of research, is a massive time saver and system integrator.
I can’t recommend Logos enough!
There are new features that make Logos 8 even better than the previous versions.
I will highlight a few here, but also link to a video that gives a great overview.
The biggest thing that I notice when I use Logos since the big update, is the layout is so darn clean. Seriously, the ease to the eye is a big deal when you do much of your work in front of a screen. The home page is helpful for launching various reading plans, video classes, and other important tools. It is fully customizable which is great tool for starting the day of research or personal Bible study.
For me, I also love the way you can search for a specific author and it gives you a bibliography of everything you own from that person. This has an “Amazon Author Page” vibe to it. I’m not sure if this is a brand new feature, per se, but it sure looks clean in the updated version.
Lastly, here’s a feature I love. Logos will walk you through your own personal Bible study process! Seriously, this is a great tool for anyone wanting to learn how to utilize important tools but who may not have a biblical studies background.
Ok friends! I hope you will check this new version of Logos out!!!!! Here’s a special deal for my readers who may be interested.
Here are some videos to check out as well!
Author: Kurt Willems
Kurt Willems is a pastor, author, and spiritual director. His first book, Echoing Hope: How the Humanity of Jesus Redeems our Pain, releases in March 2021. Kurt is also the host of the Theology Curator podcast. He has a master of divinity degree from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and a master of arts in comparative religion from the University of Washington.
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