Archive by Author

Mountain Climbing: The Challenge of Learning Original Languages

In this blog post Dale Pritchett will extend the metaphor begun in his earlier blog entry and respond to some of the issues raised.

One summer my wife talked me into climbing a mountain. She explained in glowing terms all the benefits to body mind and spirit. She even extolled the value of the pain we could anticipate. The mountain had well marked trails and many had gone before. She didn’t tell me about the bodies.

Less than one hour into the hike we began to see a series of small monuments along the trail. These were dedicated to the memory of individuals who had died at that exact spot in a snow storm or a rock slide or suffered a heart attack, stroke, or whatever. I kept thinking, “I just want to see the view from the top. I don’t want to become a statistic.” The next time, I visited the mountain; I took a tram to the top. The view was the same. I observe that a lot more people want to enjoy the view than want to climb the mountain. I noticed also that enjoying the view killed a lot less people than climbing the mountain.

I understand that the person who climbs to the top has a different level of knowledge of the mountain, but it is also possible to climb the mountain the hard way and still miss the view. Each person has differing skills, abilities and gifts. The point is to capture as much perspective as you can and share the view with others, not the pain.

Original language study needs to be a reasonable amount of work for a skill you will use all your life.

I am not in any way attempting to minimize the value of traditional study in biblical languages. I am merely pointing out that the benefits accrue to only a few while the need exists for the many.

I am also not attempting to suggest that an ESV Reverse Interlinear in Logos Bible software is fully equivalent to the study of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. It is not. It is a major advancement over previous tools like Strong’s numbers.

I am pointing out the reality is precious few people master biblical languages in comparison to those who make the attempt or those who never make the attempt. I am expressing my opinion that the church is better served by people who make the effort to examine the original language text.

I am saying that exegetical fallacies are equally fallacious in any language. We need to be taught how to be responsible with whatever knowledge we hold. Software is not a substitute for instruction. For the English Bible student quality instruction in original language grammar and syntax was not possible with the limited resources in Strong’s numbers, the main link between English Bibles and original languages. Now with the expanded data available in a reverse interlinear, it is possible to expand the range of instruction significantly. It will take good instruction.

I am saying we need great instruction from great teachers which will develop the students to their potential regardless of whether it is based on a reverse interlinear or an biblical language text. I am saying that the reverse interlinear is a significant tool that can take an English Bible student further than ever possible before. And let’s face it; the reverse interlinear also serves a remedial function for those who have forgotten everything they ever learned in a traditional language course. The student is interacting with the text in a more intimate fashion sure to improve general exegesis. I am saying this is good!

My final analogy. Many people would love to be singers. Only a few become professionals. Do we forbid everybody else to sing? Do we cut out the tongues of those who don’t sing well to insure that we will not suffer from their impure tones? I am suggesting that it is very easy to fall into the trap of not developing the abilities we have, whatever they may be. We need to be reminded that we can teach students how to be responsible and stay within the boundaries of their range or ability.

Original Language Study: A Boutique Specialty

Today’s Guest Blogger is Dale Pritchett, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Logos. Also be sure to read Dale’s follow-up article Mountain Climbing: The Challenge of Learning Original Languages.


Greek and Hebrew professors are fast becoming an endangered species. Some contemporary people in “ministry” refer to Greek and Hebrew instructors as “traditionalists” when they are being kind, and “relics” when they are being critical. Language study has been labeled as elitist, impractical and unnecessary.

As VP of sales and marketing at Logos I enjoy a unique vantage point over churches, denominations and educational institutions. Because we deal with virtually every segment of Christendom, it is easy to spot common trends.

One of the easiest-to-spot trends over the past two decades has been the spiraling decline in original language requirements in seminaries and Bible schools. With two decades of momentum, this trend is now so well established it has migrated from the classroom to the pulpit. We now have pastors all over the world who lack the ability to consult or teach from original language texts common to prior generations. An unintended consequence of less rigorous study is the general lack of encouragement and emphasis on Bible study and Bible study methods courses for lay people. If a pastor does not demonstrate original language skills, there is little motivation for lay people to explore beyond the reach of their teacher.

As a result, it is now easier to find an original language Bible study methods course outside the church than inside the church.

Today we have prospective Bible college and seminary students who have grown up in churches totally devoid of original language informed teaching. These prospective students now evaluate the relevance of a seminary program on the basis of their own exposure to preaching and Bible teaching. It should come as no surprise that the most attractive seminary programs are marketed with compelling phrases like, “does not require study of the biblical languages for graduation.”

It is easy to fault the spirit of anti-intellectualism in the church today. It is easy to say there is little immediate payoff for all the hard work, and perhaps easiest of all to say, “Original language study is a lot of work for something I will never use.” Unfortunately, the preceding statement may be proven quite true in the reality of today’s church.

Original language study needs to be a reasonable amount of work for a skill you will use all your life. I believe this can be accomplished with automated tools.

I know seminaries would like to see more students take an interest in original languages but they are faced with a trend they don’t expect to see reversed any time soon. While they lament the state of Bible literacy, their first priority is student enrolment. Schools are competing for tuition dollars and they often find they must deliver the programs demanded by the market as opposed to programs designed by the institution. I believe this can be changed. This is where the cycle can be broken.

If a seminary really wants its students to work with original languages it needs to adopt methods which can make this happen. Original language study needs to become a pleasant and profitable experience for all students, not just the linguistically gifted or the doggedly determined. Let me make a couple of analogies. If you want to get a lot of people to a mountain top, you can hang a climbing rope, mark a trail, install a tram, build a road or install an elevator. Each successive technology will empower more people to get to the top. If we want everybody to get across the river we can offer swimming lessons, put a rope and pulley across the river, build a raft, operate a ferry or build a bridge. Each successive technology will empower more people to get to cross the river. If we want every student to learn to use original languages we need to build a bridge that gets everybody to the destination. This is the purpose of the Reverse Interlinear texts in Logos Bible Software.

I will say it again. Original language study needs to become a pleasant and profitable experience for all students. There needs to be a formal course of instruction to achieve this end. An English language Bible student can go a long way in Greek and Hebrew with the aid of our reverse interlinears but the benefits are best realized with first class, formal instruction in grammar and hermeneutics. If the very best Greek, Hebrew and Hermeneutics professors adopted the best computer based reverse interlinear technology, the following benefits would be realized.

  1. All students would be able to study original language concepts.

  2. Original language exegesis would take place earlier in the educational process.
  3. There would be a larger potential pool of students motivated to go on in original language studies.
  4. Language skill retention would improve dramatically because. . .
  5. Students would have a permanent and familiar tool for ongoing ministry.

The gifted students will still be gifted students. There will only be more of them because the original language student pool will be larger. The gifted students will move on to traditional courses and become future faculty. The average students will be functional but always dependent on the tools. But this is the key point! All students will use original languages the rest of their lives. The tide of biblical literacy will rise and the entire church will benefit.

And finally, Greek and Hebrew faculty would have secure, full, long term employment. They are the people who can generate the most value from the new tools. Powerful tools are best used by powerful teachers.

Introducing the Englishman’s Concordance

Today’s Guest Blogger is Logos’ Director of Marketing, Dan Pritchett
One of my favorite features in Logos Bible Software is “Englishman’s Concordance”. Since I really don’t know Greek or Hebrew, it is one of the best ways for me to get the full flavor for any particular word I am trying to understand better in English. The “Englishman’s Concordance” feature shows me every time the underlying Greek or Hebrew word was used in the original languages and which word it was translated to in English.
So today, I stumbled upon an article written by John Piper called “Did Moses Marry a Black Woman?” where Piper states the following:

We learn in Numbers that “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman” (Num. 12:1). A Cushite is from Cush, a region south of Ethiopia, where the people are known for their black skin. We know this because of Jeremiah 13:23: “Can the Ethiopian [the same Hebrew word translated "Cushite" in Numbers 12:1] change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” Attention is drawn to the difference of the skin of the Cushite people.

As I read that paragraph I wondered how many times the actual word in Hebrew that Piper is referencing was translated “Cushite” and how many times it was translated “Ethiopian” and how many times it was translated something else. So I fired up my Logos Bible Software and went straight to Numbers 12:1 and took a look at it in the ESV English-Hebrew Reverse Interlinear Old Testament, right-clicked on “Cushite” and executed “Englishman’s Concordance”.

As you can see in the screenshot כושׁי appears 25 times in the Old Testament and is translated “Cushite” or “Cushites” 13 times, “Ethiopian” or “Ethiopians” 12 times.
I went on to study the subject in many more ways thanks to the Topic Study, Word Study, and more, but it just reminded me how useful the “Englishman’s Concordance” can be for quickly seeing how the exact same word in the original text can be translated into different words in English. It is a blessing to be able to read multiple translations of God’s Word in my native tongue, but a reminder to me that there is no substitute for the original language of the text.

Logos in Guatemala

Guillermo Powell, Logos’ International Director for Spanish Products,recently returned from Guatemala, where he spent an entire week presenting Logos in several seminaries, including radio and TV interviews. Latin American countries are quickly catching up with technology, and as economies improve, even pastors and some students can afford our libraries. Logos’ Spanish Department has been working hard to spread the word about our ground-breaking new products – created specifically for the Spanish speaking Bible student.

In February of this year Logos introduced three brand new versions of the program. This releasemore than quadrupled the number of Spanish books available in Libronix format. The Biblioteca Pastoral represents a huge step for the Spanish world. The number of resources included in the collection has recently jumped from 40 to 143. This is pretty amazing when you consider that NO other Bible software company has more than a few Spanish books. Just take one look at the impressive resource list and you don’t have to speak Spanish to realize that this collection was just given a major overhaul.

Of the 110 new books in the Biblioteca Pastoral, the standout resource is undoubtedly the new Spanish-Greek and Spanish-Hebrew Reverse Interlinears. Spanish speakers can now do the same type of research into the original languages that English pastors have been able to do since the release of Logos Bible Software 3.

One of the other newly revised collections is the Biblioteca Académica Bilingüe, which was expanded from 70 to more than210 books. The exciting aspect of this library is that, for the first time, many Spanish pastors can afford a digital library that is larger than their current print library.

The third of these new Spanish collections is completely dedicated to missions. La Biblioteca Digital de la Misión has 40 titles that focus on missions (both foreign and local), church planting, and support for missionaries. All this is done from a uniquely Latin American perspective.

English speaking readers might be thinking, “This is all exciting stuff, but how doesit affect me?” Guillermoencourages, “American churches that support missionaries in Spanish speaking countries should consider giving their missionaries these unique libraries. Just the savings in shipping books, pays forthe Bilingual library!”

The Lost Tomb of King David

What have archaeologists and biblical scholars recently learned about the location of King David’s tomb? What are some misconceptions about the tomb’s whereabouts? What implications would a discovery of such magnitude have on the Christian faith?

David Sielaff will be driving up to Bellingham from Portland, Oregon to address those questions in tonight’s lecture The Lost Tomb of King David. David Sielaff has been the Director of the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge since 2002. The mission of ASK is to strengthen the faith of Bible believers through education and improved understanding of biblical themes. Much like Logos, ASK places special emphasis on studying original documents and primary sources.

Tonight’s event will be the seventh lecture in Logos’ continuing Lecture Series. The lecture will begin at 7:00 PM at Mount Baker Theatre. As with each previous event, The Lost Tomb of King David is free to attend and open to the public.

For those who are not able to attend the lecture, an extended version of it can be found in MP3 format at the Associates for Scriptural Knowledge website. In addition to this lecture, the ASK website has dozens more audio presentations, articles and commentaries. This is one website that should definitely be bookmarked by every pastor and student of the Bible.

For those who live within driving distance of Bellingham, we hope to see you there!

Happy Trails, Daniel Foster

A key member of the Logos Blog team has packed up his keyboard and headed east, to live near family. Daniel Foster was a regular contributor to this blog and his wide variety of posts displayed extraordinary versatility and knowledge of biblical studies and technology.

Two years ago Daniel introduced himself to the blogosphere and since then he has contributed an amazing 241 posts. For those who wonder what he’ll be doing with his newfound spare time after his retirement from blogging, much of it will be filled taking care of his soon-to-be-born third daughter (also known as Foster 3.0 around the office).

Daniel was always a stickler for quality and grammatical correctness, but here are a few of his more memorable posts:

If you are interested in filling Daniel’s shoes check out www.logos.com/jobs and fill out the ‘application’.

Also, feel free to comment on this blog article to show your appreciation for Daniel’s hard work on the Logos Blog.

Taking One for the Team

This past Saturday, August 4, eight stalwart Logos employees journeyed to Lynden, Washington (25 minutes north of our offices in Bellingham) to participate in the 2007 Mushball tournament. The tournament was a fundraiser for the Lynden Firefighters Association. Mushball is essentially volleyball, but instead of playing on a court or a sunny beach we trudged around in a slurry of soft mud and water for three hours. Sound gross? We thought so too but boy was it ever fun!

Becoming one with the mush

Yours truly getting a faceful of mushPhoto courtesy of Sarah Richardson

“Go time” for Team Logos

Eliminated!

Team Logos dominated its first game thanks to some hot serving from Mark French (Technical Support) and Heidie Godfrey (Accounting). However, we didn’t last long in the winner’s bracket – losing our next two games and being quickly ousted from the tourney. Despite a few bruised knees and a lingering feeling of griminess we all had a great time and were able to help the firefighters raise thousands of dollars for some upcoming projects.

Logos Is Listening – Tell Us What You Want

What is the one book or series that you want Logos to release? What is the one feature that doesn’t yet exist but would take your research to the next level?

We want you to tell us the answer to those questions by sending an email to Suggest@logos.com. Don’t just limit yourself to one book or feature. If your mind is overflowing with golden nuggets of inspiration, we want to hear about it. We don’t just want you to feel involved in the creative process – you actually are instrumental in what we decide to release or produce.

The way we see it, technology should not only make Bible study better; it should make dialog with our customers better as well. Suggest@logos.com is one way that this is being done.

Through Suggest@logos.com we keep track of everything you ask for and if it is possible and feasible, we look for a way to make it happen. We place all requests into one of three categories: process, functionality, and content.

  • Process refers to how we do things like customer service, technical support, how information is displayed at our website and so on.
  • Functionality has to do directly with how Libronix operates and what features and add-ins are included.
  • Content of course has to do with what resources (Bibles, books, journals, image archives) we offer.

Logos processes, functionality and contenttoday are the result of almost 16 years of suggestions from Logos users and those suggestions continue to shape how we do things. Here’s a closer look at each area.

What happens when you write to Suggest@logos.com?

Your message goes right to the inbox of the publisher relations assistant, who then forwards it to the appropriate department at Logos. Lately the assistant has received between 5 and 10 suggestions per day and, yes, she reads every one. Typo notifications go straight to Electronic Text Development; website recommendations are sent to marketing; and software functionality suggestions end up in development. If you are requesting the addition of a specific book into the Logos digital library, the publisher relations assistant adds that title to an ever-growing list. When we have an opportunity to speak with the publisher of that title we request your book along with all of the others that have been requested.

By what criteria is a suggestion judged?

When our customers make suggestions regarding Logos processes – we pay very close attention. These requests usually warrant the quickest responses in terms of the time it takes to implement a recommendation. Do you think our ‘on-hold music’ is too loud? Was there insufficient information on a product page at the Logos website? Don’t just grin and bear it, let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

As far as Libronix functionality, we don’t have an unlimited budget to do anything we want so we place a relative value on each suggestion. We do this in terms of its ability to do the most good to the largest number of users and balance that with the cost. A suggestion might be very expensive, but if a high percentage of our users would be happy about it, that weighs in very heavy. If a suggestion is moderately expensive but would only cause a few to smile, that weighs in a bit less.

As mentioned above, the likelihood of whether or not we release suggested content depends mostly on the publisher’s stance toward electronic books. Many publishers have seen the proverbial light and are completely behind our efforts to digitize their content. On the other hand, some think that venturing in this direction would negatively affect sales of print books and as such have decided to avoid electronic publishing altogether (until they absolutely have to release a title in electronic format). Other publishers arewillingto do no more than just dip their toe in and license a few books at a time. But each year more and more publishers are catching on that the Libronix user base exists in its own parallel universe to the print world and that the electronic editions of their books will be used in a way that print cannot be.

So what does all that mean? It means that even if every Libronix user suggested a particular title we’ve been unable to license, there is very little Logos can do about it besides keep working to convince the publisher that it would be in their best interest to digitize their content.

That being said, you need to request your favorite books (a quick e-mail to suggest@logos.com is the most direct route) because if we don’t know about it, it may not show up on our book radar.

One great example of how a suggestion came to fruition is the Charles Simeon Horae Homileticae Commentary (21 Volumes). The story of how that product was created can be found at the Logos blog. To sum up the story, it all started with a suggestion made via email from blogger Adrian Warnock. This product ended up being extremely popular, but we might never have released itwere it not forAdrian’s recommendation.

Help us improve!

We want to know what you love about Logos and what you want changed. It seems odd, but we would actually prefer to hear the latter. Your suggestion might raise an issue that we’ve never considered before.

So when you’re using Logos Bible Software always keep an open mind for how the software, the Logos website or our book selection could be tweaked. You could also tell us which features should never change because they are exactly what you need. When the inspiration hits, make sure you let us know by sending an email to suggest@logos.com.

Page 3 of 3«123