I have written about Logos Bible Software a number of times over the years, and would like to return to it today. I do so after making the rather momentous decision to commit to it—to stop collecting printed commentaries and theological works and to focus on collecting these in Logos instead. After years of dabbling in Logos, the new version, version 6, finally convinced me to make the leap, and for the past few months I have done all my sermon preparation using only electronic resources. To this point I have no regrets.
Here are a few ramblings on Logos from my vantage point.
Apples & Oranges
We cannot make too rigid a comparison between a printed library and an electronic library. While a printed book and a Logos book may contain the same words, they are different media and each has strengths and weaknesses. We need to resist making a 1:1 comparison between the two.
The greatest strength of Logos is its wider system. What a Logos book offers that a printed book does not is integration into that system. When you add a new book to your Logos library, you increase the power and usefulness of the entire system, because that book now links to and from every other book. It is less like adding a printed book to a bookcase and more like adding a new Christian with his spiritual gifts to your congregation—it improves and strengthens the entire system.
The most important part of the Logos system is its power to find and relate information across an entire library. With a print library, it may take me hours of searching bookcases, looking for Scripture indexes, and referencing endnotes to find all my library has to tell me about a particular verse or subject. Logos makes it as simple as typing in a keyword or clicking a Scripture verse. Within seconds it will search an entire library, organize the results, and show the best ones; one more click will begin a deeper search. Logos also makes it easy to do word studies and to find basic or advanced information about the original Greek and Hebrew. It allows notes and easily formats footnotes. It is rich in features that display the unique strengths of software.
More Than Books
Over the last few years Logos has begun extending Logos to be more than a research library. Recently, for example, they added Logos Mobile Ed—video-based courses taught by prominent theologians. These courses were created specifically by and for Logos and feature the teacher looking straight into the camera, making them very natural and intimate. The ability to take courses through Logos—to watch the lectures, read the books, and take notes all within the system—adds a lot of value to the software.
While Logos’ most basic functions are easy enough to access and understand, you will probably need help discovering and taking advantage of its advanced capabilities. Logos offers many different forms of training—major conferences often have a Logos-sponsored breakout session, you can take the Logos Mobile Ed course, or watch online video tutorials. From personal experience I can say that you will use Logos better, and alleviate some of your frustrations, if you learn how to use it better.
I often see Logos at major conferences advertising as software that may appeal to the casual Bible reader. I would urge people to be very cautious before making a significant investment. Logos alone will not change your heart or give you a new desire to read and apply God’s Word. It is a useful aid in Bible study, but is very unlikely to be the key that unlocks new spiritual depths. While it is certainly useful for any Christian, the greatest value is for those who have to do the greatest amount of Bible study and who can purchase the greatest number of resources for it. At the very least, give it a good test-drive before making the financial investment.
On Building a Library
Here are several important principles to consider when it comes to building a Logos library.