Archive by Author

What’s All the Fuss about Baal in the Old Testament?

Ugaritic
Today’s guest post is from David Witte, Information Engineer on the Design and Editorial team.

When I read passages in the Old Testament I always come across the god Baal. This is usually a bad thing for the people of Israel. It seems that they could not help chasing after this deity with gusto. Many rich stories concerning the rulers and prophets of Israel include this nemesis, such as Elijah’s showdown on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 17-18) or Gideon’s nighttime vandalism (Judges 6:25-32).

So to understand Israel’s difficulty with Baal and how God worked within their lives, we need to understand how Baal was viewed at that time. The best place to gain that understanding is by looking at ancient Ugaritic literature. Ugarit was an ancient kingdom located just north of Israel where modern Syria exists today. There is extensive information in Ugaritic literature about Baal, who was known as the “king of the gods” or “the Rider on the Clouds.” Take a look at Dr. Mike Heiser’s excellent write-up “What’s Ugaritic Got to Do with Anything?”.

Understanding the theological environment of ancient Israel gives greater meaning to the stories of Israel’s great trials with, and triumphs against, false idols. God was with them through it all, but it was painful at times. That helps us address modern issues such as: Where do our true loyalties lie? What separates a true Christian from a mostly Christian? How do idols creep into our belief system unnoticed?

I love teaching the story of Elijah and the showdown at Mount Carmel. Whether re-enacting it with kids or walking through the story with adults, it never loses its magic. Understanding how big and important the adversary was, and how little and powerless Elijah was, shows us how almighty and loving our God is. I found Peter Craigie’s book Ugarit and the Old Testament to be a good introduction to the Ugarit people and beliefs. This can be found in the Introduction to the Old Testament Collection. For a more in-depth look at the Ugaritic language and texts look at to the Ugaritic Library.

Biblical Languages and Bible Software

Today’s guest post is from Johnny Cisneros, Product Manager for Systematic Theology, and co-instructor of Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software.

Moving from Digital Crutch to Digital Tool

Greek

When I was taking Greek and Hebrew, professors and teaching assistants continually warned us, “Don’t rely on Bible software to help you because it will become a crutch.”

They said that with good reason. The whole point of the language course was to be able to read the Greek New Testament or Hebrew Bible at sight (i.e. with little or no help from a parsing guide or lexicon).

In order to reach that goal, we spent the first year memorizing paradigms, vocabulary, grammatical terms and constructions, and doing basic translation. Weekly assignments could take anywhere from three to nine hours to complete. This went on for about twenty weeks.

I still have fond memories of sitting at a local coffee shop, filling out a custom made spreadsheet for Greek verb paradigms. I even bought a whiteboard for home so I could write out Hebrew verb paradigms first thing in the morning (crazy, I know). Each paradigm memorized was like another trophy earned.

But I learned that not every student felt the way I did. Not every student wanted to get involved in scholarship. Not every student made their own paradigm spreadsheets. At some point during the first year, they lost heart—unable to see the payoff. Faculty encouraged students to persevere with the promise that in the second year they would see that value of what they had learned.

But in first year, when the goal is identify everything word, form, and construction by sight, is software a crutch?

Yes.

So how can we call our software a tool?

Simple. We changed the goal.

Our goal in Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software is not for you to sight read the Greek NT or the Hebrew Bible without the helps. Instead, it’s to understand how to use the helps for interpreting the Bible. Do we still require you to be able to accurately identify the form of a particular word? Absolutely! But we don’t make you memorize a chart; we use our Visual Filter technology. After all, the inability to recognize liquid aorist verb at sight is not what makes a preacher “dangerous” with the biblical languages; it is being uninformed as to how the aorist tense works.

In Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software we introduce you to the grammatical concepts of a second year course, bypassing the paradigm chart and vocabulary that are supposed to be memorized in the first year. We show you how those concepts connect to English Bible translations, comparing their interpretations of the Greek and Hebrew. We open up commentaries that make use of the original languages so that you can get more value out of your library. And we demonstrate how you can apply those concepts to our original language tools and databases, the majority of which are unique to Logos Bible Software. Finally, we include principles for interpretation so that you can avoid some of the common mistakes.

Not only are these objectives more relevant for a teaching ministry, but the approach is sustainable in ministry.

So whether you are a student, pastor, or professor, there is something here for everyone. Order your copy of Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software today and move from digital crutch to digital tool.

Releasing the Potential of Logos 4

LogosEngine

The word potential comes from the Latin potentia meaning power. Potential literally means “that which is possible” and is used to represent the untapped power and resources available in almost anything.

There are appropriate times to get excited about potential. When you send your child off to college, are researching a new business endeavor, or buying an engine for your new muscle car you are thinking of all the power that you hope to see released. There comes a time, however, when you would like to see that potential realized, in many instances, power that is left untapped represents lost opportunity.

Logos Bible Software is a powder keg of potential for your Bible study and we want to make sure that you release as much of that power as you possibly can. We do not want the potential for dynamic study to remain dormant and unused.

There are so many venues available to help you release the power within your Logos 4 resources!

  • Support articles: If you encounter a question or problem, there is a wealth of great information here. There are FAQs, training articles, and answers for known issues.
  • Training Videos: Here you will find literally hours of great instructional videos created in-house, by Camp Logos Instructor Morris Proctor, as well as many user-created videos!
  • Logos Bible Software Forums: There is so much great advice and information on our user forums. With the forums search feature, you can access the thousands of threads already available to help answer important questions or give you ideas on how to get the most out of a feature. But don’t stop there, you can easily sign up to ask specific questions, start your own discussions, or help others get the most out of their study.
  • Logos 4 Bible Software Training Manual Volume 1 and Volume 2: Written and compiled by certified and authorized trainer Morris Proctor, these manuals provide clear, easy to follow instructions to help you master Logos 4!

One tool that should be highlighted is found right inside Logos 4 itself. The question mark in the upper right hand corner of the tool bar or using the keyboard shortcut Alt+P opens up the drop-down Help menu. The Help menu allows you to access audio tutorials explaining the screen you have open, as well as the Logos Bible Software Help section offering hundreds of tips to get the most out of Logos 4′s many tools and features!

As you can see, the pieces are all there for you to use Logos 4 as a Bible study powerhouse. We are continually striving to provide you the most innovative and powerful Bible software in the world and it is up to you to release the potential of vigorous Bible study into your life.

You Are Smarter Than a Lexicon

Today’s guest post is by Dr. Michael S. Heiser, Academic Editor at Logos Bible Software.

Lexicons are commonly used for studying biblical languages. It may shock you, then, that I’m an advocate for discouraging their use by beginning Hebrew and Greek students. I’m not kidding. I’d be happy if beginning students never used them.

I don’t diminish lexicons because they are so frequently abused. It also isn’t because I want people to spend hundreds of hours memorizing Hebrew and Greek vocabulary. For those newly initiated to Hebrew and Greek, lexicons just don’t give you any useful information—and yet professors seem bent on convincing their students that they are indispensable for biblical interpretation.

What’s a Lexicon Anyway?

To be fair, there was a time when lexicons approached that level of importance. Think about what a lexicon is: a book that lists each word in a given body of literature of a foreign language, while assigning an English equivalent to each foreign word. The better lexicons went beyond that service to listing several English equivalents and cataloguing specific instances in the foreign literature where that word occurred. This informed the user that the given foreign word could be used on many contexts and provided examples. All of that collecting and collating had to be done by hand, and very few people were so expertly trained that they could manage the task. But if we’re honest, all of that work only enabled translation and reading—not interpretation.

Why Not Just Use an English Thesaurus?

In other words, the only thing lexicons really did for the user was put data in front of them and suggest a one-to-one correspondence of each word with an English word. If you think about it, that’s basically what an English thesaurus does for English. You start with one word and then are given a list of other words that you might want to swap in for the word you started with. To be blunt, we use a thesaurus the way beginning students use lexicons. If I wanted to know what the word “beginning” might really mean in that last sentence, I could go to a thesaurus and discover that “beginning” might “mean” the following: birth, commencement, onset, opening, inception, source, emergence, rising, dawning, simplest, initiatory, or introductory. You could argue for a couple of those as to what Dr. Heiser intended, and then you’d pick one. Never mind that each of those synonyms has its own range of nuances. Never mind that this method makes the user the point of origin for “meaning”—as opposed to context. The latter requires time spent reading through the spectrum of a word’s usages and then—most importantly—thinking carefully about how the context allows or rules out certain meanings. In the latter you’re tracing the thought of the text and its author in an effort to describe what his point is in as many words as it takes. In the former you’re looking for one word substitutes. That’s what standard lexicons do for you—provide lists of English substitutes. That isn’t word study.

Reading is not Exegesis

Why do we think that the enterprise of looking up a Greek or Hebrew word to get an English equivalent is a useful thing to do? Professors would answer: “So you can do translation.” We now have hundreds of English translations, so why would we need to do our own? The truth is that knowing thousands of English word equivalents for Hebrew and Greek never made anyone a more careful interpreter. Being able to sight read Greek or Hebrew doesn’t guarantee exegetical accuracy any more than being able to read your English Bible does. Reading and exegesis are two very different things. My eight-year-old daughter can read me any passage in the Bible, but I’m not using her in place of a commentary. Reading is not exegesis.

Illustrating the Problem

You might think I’m exaggerating a bit. Let me demonstrate. Below is the entry from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament for the Hebrew word baraʾ, the word translated “create” in Genesis 1:1.

Bara Strongs

So what did we learn? That the Hebrew word baraʾ means “create” in many instances, and that God is its subject. We’d already know the former if we were using an interlinear. The fact that God is the only subject of that verb is interesting, but it tells us nothing about what baraʾ means. Are you more able to interpret the passage? Did your congregation learn anything when you told them that behind the English word “create” was a Hebrew word that meant “create”? What kind of creating are we talking about? Does the word ever refer to creation using materials? Does it always mean creation from nothing? Does it have synonyms that describe the use of materials? How do I find them? What are the verb’s objects, the things created? Why would an author use this verb and not another one? Does an author ever use this verb along with another one in parallel? The lexicon doesn’t tell us. More importantly, the lexicon never suggests that we should even ask those questions. It just gives us an English equivalent and becomes mute.

Maybe the problem is that I used The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament. Perhaps if I used a scholarly lexicon the floodgates of insight would open. Nope. The entry below is from the leading scholarly lexicon for biblical Hebrew, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT):

Bara Halot

What did we learn this time? That baraʾ means “create”—just like our English translation tells us. We learned that some other Semitic languages have a verb for “create” as well (really, does any language not have such a word?). The rest of the HALOT entry divides the occurrences of the Hebrew verb baraʾ into something in Hebrew grammar known as stems. Depending on the verb, that can be very important, since translation of a word can depend on the stem. But beginners aren’t going to know about stems, and in the case of baraʾ, even if they did it wouldn’t be useful. The Hebrew verb baraʾ occurs in two stems. In the “Qal” stem the verb means “to create”; in the “Niphal” stem, which is passive, the verb means “be created.” Wow. That’ll preach.

An Antidote

So how can you do better in word study if you’re not a specialist in Hebrew or Greek? There are three truly indispensable things you need for developing skill in handling the Word of God.

First, you need a means to get at all the data of the text. Logos Bible Software is the premier tool for that. Through reverse interlinears, you can begin with English and mine the Bible for all occurrences of a Greek or Hebrew word. Logos 4 then takes that data and renders it in a variety of visual displays and reports so you can begin to look at the material and think about it from different angles—such as the Bible Word Study report, where you see how your word relates grammatically to other words in the sentence. Second, you need someone who is experienced in interpretation to guide you in how to process the data in front of you. You need training in what questions to ask and why you’d ask them. There is simply no substitute in word study for thinking about the occurrences of a word on your own. Lexicons will give you lists of English choices, but cherry-picking a list isn’t the same thing as asking critical, reflective, interpretive questions about the word in its context. Third, you need practice, practice, and more practice.

Logos Bible Software has been helping you do the first of these steps for years. Moving your Bible study beyond perusing a list of English words is precisely why Logos has made a commitment to the second item—by producing nearly twenty hours of guided advice in our Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew video tools. These video tools are our first step toward helping you understand how to think about words and grammatical concepts so you can begin to discern the interpretive nuances Greek and Hebrew can provide. It’s time to learn how to handle the biblical text, not just read English words in a lexicon. You’re smarter than that.

The Gnomon of the New Testament on Pre-Pub . . . Again!?

John Albrecht Bengel’s Gnomon of the New Testament is a great example of a Pre-Pub featured on Logos.com that has already had a pre-pub run in its lifetime!

While we were preparing Bengel’s Gnomon of the New Testament, we discovered documents that laid out a pre-publication proposal for the Gnomon from 1855.(screenshot a,screenshot b).

The five-volume, 1855 translation of Bengel’s work—originally published in 1742—could not begin production until 1500 subscribers had pledged 28 shillings a piece, making up about half the total production costs. For the publication costs to be fully covered, it would require twice that amount! This is pretty incredible when one considers that one shilling in 1850 had the purchasing power of over £3 ($4 USD) today.

One interesting portion of the proposal suggested that “wealthy laity” might consider pre-purchasing numerous copies to give out to friends in ministry or to students of theology.

Once again, Logos is proud to offer this important collection on Pre-Pub. The Gnomon is a result of twenty years’ work and it was Bengel’s desire that the content of his books would reawaken a desire to study the Word of God. Messrs Clark’s publication proposal called the Gnomon invaluable to all students of the New Testament, and that is just as true in the 21st century as it was in the 17th century.

“It is a work which manifests the most intimate and profoundest knowledge of Scripture, and which, if we examine it with care, will often be found to condense more matter into a line than can be extracted from many pages of other writers.” —Archdeacon Hare

Don’t miss out on getting the Gnomon of the New Testament at its low Pre-Pub price!

Video Tutorial: Biblical Places – Dynamic Maps

Video Tutorial

One phenomenal feature of Biblical Places is the capturing of actual geographic coordinates for as many biblical locations as possible. As you place your mouse over different areas of the maps in Biblical Places, you can actually see the exact longitude and latitude in the upper right hand corner. A simple click on the provided link and you can see those coordinates as they exist now in Google Maps!

Another great feature in Biblical Places is the ability to measure distances by pressing Ctrl and left clicking/dragging from one place on the map to another.

Biblical Places really opens up the geography of the biblical world to you. No longer is your biblical atlas a tool that you interact with passively, but it is powerful tool that you can manipulate and control to grasp the significance geography plays in biblical events.

Of Catechisms and Confessions of Faith

Reformed Heritage

Q. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

Catechisms and confessions of faith, in one form or another, are almost as old as the Christian faith. Primarily used in the religious instruction of children and converts to Christianity, they have helped provide a skeletal structure for doctrinal understanding throughout the centuries. These confessions are not an attempt to replace the need for biblical knowledge and understanding, but to provide a plumb line to measure it against. Creeds, confessions, and catechisms have been centrally important to the life of the Church.

The Christian Focus Reformed Heritage Collection (14 Vols.) includes a wonderful primer on the study of confessions with The Westminster Confession of Faith Study Book: A Study Guide for Churches by Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., pastor and President of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

There are fourteen volumes that total over 1,400 pages in The Christian Focus Reformed Heritage Collection. These volumes include a comprehensive look at John Calvin’s views on the Sabbath, the atonement, biblical languages and his teaching on the book of Job. This collection also includes an analysis of Jonathan Edwards’ theology of Hell in response to a growing interest in annihilationism, collected writings of theologian Roger Nicole, and over 50 profiles of important figures in the Puritan movement.

The Westminster Confession of Faith Study Book: A Study Guide for Churches is an amazing addition to this collection. Not only do you get a 26-lesson study of the Westminster Confession of Faith, you get a section for each lesson specifically designed for those teaching the confession.

But that’s not all!

This study guide also includes:

  • The complete Westminster Confession of Faith
  • The Belgic Confession
  • The Heidelberg Catechism
  • The Canons of Dordt

These incredibly important confessions and statements of faith are all in one place and completely tied together with the incredible searchability of Logos 4!

If you are looking for more powerful Reformed theology check out Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics (4 Vols.). It is still on Pre-Pub which promises our lowest price on the collection that J. I. Packer called, “the supreme achievement of its kind.” Reformed Dogmatics (4 Vols.) is under development so that Pre-Pub price won’t be available much longer!

Video Tutorial: Biblical Places Information

Video Tutorial

Walter McDougall, professor of international relations at the University of Pennsylvania, has said, “We all must learn geography in order to learn history.”

This is valuable advice. Geography provides the context for history, and location genuinely matters if you want to understand many of the nuances in historical developments and situations. This is true for a well rounded biblical understanding as well.

In today’s video tutorial we are going to look at the Biblical Places feature that makes it easy to find information on over one thousand places named in the Bible!

ETD: Where Your Books Come From

Today’s guest post is from Brittany Young, a member of our Electronic Text Development team.

As one of Electronic Text Development’s Book Designers, the most common question I hear is, “Wait . . . do you have to type out the whole book by HAND!?” That’s when I get to give them a little insight into the text development process.

ETD is a vital part of Logos’ structure. Without us, there wouldn’t be any books to ship to your digital library. Those books also wouldn’t have hyperlinks, Greek, Hebrew or Transliterated language tags, images or any of the number of things that make Logos’ software unique.

How texts are developed

Usually, we’ll receive text files from the publisher of the book and format those files to match the print version. The book goes through many stages, first to a group of people called Reference Taggers. They add Bible tags and other data tags to our—over 100 different—data types (like the Works of Josephus, Strong’s Numbering, or The Laws of Hammurabi), and jump tags both to internal references and to other existing Logos resources. Then, the book heads to the Book Designer who does work on overall edits, final tagging, formats like indentation, font size or style, image insertion, and the list goes on. We use XML code and internal tools to help with the bulk of work, which are imagined and built by our talented Book Developers. The book then goes through an in depth series of final checks and corrections by our Team Leaders before it’s sent off to the boss to be shipped. After that, your book is ready for use in Logos 4!

Is ETD the best department at Logos?!

In my opinion—biased as it may be—ETD is by far the best department to work for at Logos. We are the undefeated champion of the annual departmental Christmas Decorating Contest, we have a history of Top 3 contenders for the many Cook and Bake-offs (yours truly placed third in last year’s Pie Bake-Off), and we’re often found spending time together in book clubs, bible studies and softball leagues. This might sound like a great time, but now you know that there’s more to Text Development than just fun, games and candy.

So, the next time you’re opening up a new title in Logos 4, think about the different steps it takes to get there. Depending on the size of the book, each one requires special attention and takes a different amount of time to complete. For example, consider your best friend, The Anchor Yale Bible Commentary set. This enormous series required a colossal amount of work and took over a year to complete. Sometimes we fly through the books, sometimes they take a bit longer, but either way we are committed to delivering Logos users the most detailed, accurate and exciting product possible.

The Wonders of the Digital Library

signin

A report of inventoried estates in the eighteenth century reveals that in Châlons-sur-Marne, France, only one residence in ten was in possession of a book. In more rural areas—in the next century—the percentage of households that owned a book was around 12%, and those books tended to be found in the country homes of urban professionals.

The library of 18th century philosopher and physician Sir Thomas Browne shows not only the disparity of literature ownership between social classes, but just what was considered a remarkable collection for that time period. The 1711 Sales Auction Catalogue of the Library of Sir Thomas Browne lists about 1,500 volumes in his possession at his death. That was quite an extensive personal library in the 18th century, the kind which required a lifetime of patient and expensive acquisition. What is even more amazing is the realization that Browne’s personal library—the one he compiled over his entire academic and professional career—contained 150 volumes fewer books than Logos Bible Software’s Portfolio Edition!

Thanks to the digital age, it is easier and more cost effective to create a very impressive and thorough library, and you don’t have to build another wing onto your home to do so. If you were so inclined, you could fit all the books in a major research facility (over 400,000) onto a 2 TB hard drive!

With a Logos Bible Software digital library, you get more than just value and volume: you get the ability to search your entire library for a single topic in a moment’s time. And all of the content is delivered to you right there on your monitor to customize and organize in the manner that works best for you. Sir Thomas Browne would have marveled at the ability to search across his entire library in the blink of an eye to compile information on one specific topic.

With the Scholar’s Library: Platinum package you immediately get nearly 1,250 volumes. From there you can pick and choose, from over 10,000 resources available to tailor your library to your personal needs. This adds to more than just the number of books you have at your disposal, but also increases the depth and breadth of your topical and scriptural searches.

Another great thing about digital libraries is your ability to secure important but less mainstream resources, like The Complete Works of Thomas Manton (22 Vols.) now on Pre-Pub. Here is a 18th century Puritan who is responsible for writing over 10,000 pages of such high caliber Christian reflection that J.C. Ryle said, “I regard Manton with unmingled admiration.” And yet Manton gets obscured by contemporaries like Richard Baxter or John Owen. Although Manton was as prolific, if not more prolific, than his associates, until recently securing copies of his work was difficult. Now you can get all of his works fairly easily, and in a format that makes using his works easier than he could have ever imagined.

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