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Which Commentary is Best?

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Steve Runge, a scholar-in-residence at Logos Bible Software and author of the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament, Lexham High Definition New Testament, and the forthcoming Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis.

I get asked this question a lot, a people seems somewhat disappointed by my response of “It depends on what you’re doing.” It’s like being asked what the best tool is in my garage: the answer will always be “the tool best suited to my task,” depending on what I’m doing. Here’s what I mean.

When tackling a tough passage I’ll typically consult scholarly commentaries like the Anchor-Yale Bible or International Critical Commentary volumes, and even from the forthcoming Continental Commentary Series among others. I can guess your first question: “Why in the world would I want to read Claus Westermann on Genesis or Hans-Joachim Kraus on the Psalms, aren’t these guys pioneers in source and form criticism?” Why yes, as a matter of fact they are. But they also knew their Hebrew better than most folks alive today, and they have spent most of their lives studying these books in far greater detail than I ever will. I may not share their presuppositions about Scripture, but there is much to commend their exegesis.

One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome in seminary was being willing to learn from someone with whom I disagreed with on certain issues. I learned to read past differences in order to learn from their expertise. In a previous post I mentioned the value of older commentaries, noting that many times you will find a more robust engagement of the text on works by Godet, Olshausen and Alford, who were not distracted by the modern issues that can preoccupy new commentators. But this is not to say there is never a time to interact with critical scholars. Like any tool, each one has its strengths and weaknesses, each contributes something to the process.

Before you get the wrong impression, you need to know that I also make regular use of more devotional commentaries. The Focus on the Bible Commentaries and Christian Focus Biblical Studies Collection are great examples. Getting the difficult exegetical questions answered is not all there is to studying a passage, you also need to be able to clearly and relevantly communicate what you have learned. If you like the academic side of things like me, you too may struggle with seeing the bigger picture of a passage: the theme, flow or theology of a passage or book. I can have all the greatest information in the world, but it is useless to the congregation if I cannot present it in a way that they can understand.

Most often the more technical issues never get mentioned in the sermon, but are more about me feeling like I have handled them. Less-academically oriented commentaries—yes, even the warm fuzzy ones—are a great safeguard against missing the “forest” because of looking too closely at a piece of bark on a single “tree”. I read devotional commentaries just a critically as I do the scholarly ones, sifting wheat from chaff.

So which commentaries are best? The ones that you need for what you are working on. Just like I use my hand saw for some applications and an axe for another, building a diverse collection of commentaries can be a great boon to your study. The academically-oriented volumes can address specific questions, whereas the “lighter” ones can provide great ideas for how best to present what you have found.

For a helpful guide to multi-volume commentaries available for Logos, see our Commentary Product Guide.

100,000 Downloads of the Logos Bible Software iPhone App

iphoneee.pngWe hit a major milestone this week when our iPhone Bible app was downloaded for the 100,000th time. Launched only four months ago, the Logos Bible Software app has received praise from The Unofficial Apple Weblog, The Apple Blog, AppShouter, and countless individuals who have left comments and feedback in the app store. Which reminds me, If you currently use the app and have never rated the app in the app store, please take a moment and do so. Let us, and others, know what you think of the app.

With 100,000 downloads in just four months, we’re thrilled that so many people are taking advantage of this free download to enhance the study of God’s Word. If you haven’t grabbed the free iPhone Bible app, what are you waiting for? Perhaps you’re someone who got the app a couple months ago, but hasn’t looked at it since. If that’s you, give it another look. Make sure you’ve got the latest version as there are some great new features we’ve added, like offline reading.

Continue Reading…

10 Reasons I Love Working at Logos

It was recently announced that Logos is included on BCWI’s 2010 Best Christian Workplaces list. As I was writing the press release about the news, I couldn’t help but think about how grateful I am to work at such an amazing company. Logos truly is a great place to work. In particular, here are 10 reasons I love working at Logos:
Note: If after reading this post you think you’d love working here too, then you’ll be happy to know we’re hiring!

  1. Passion – The people at Logos are a passionate bunch. From syntax to source code, design to delivery, there is likely someone at Logos who is passionate about that area and working to deliver the very best to our customers.
  2. Software – This is a pretty selfish one, but if you’re a Logos user you’ll know where I’m coming from. I love our software and I love building my digital library. While I’m not giving you the exact details, let’s just say that the software perks for employees is very nice.
  3. Challenges – Logos isn’t interested in the status quo. It is great to work in a place that has fun, but at the same time drives you to deliver the very best.
  4. Fun – The first snow day of every year Bob buys everyone soup. Every summer we have a huge company picnic, complete with bouncy house, climbing wall, and amazing food. Five times a year we have a company wide cook-off. We have a bike shop in the office. Free childcare during the Christmas party. The occasional company outing to see a Bells game. Ping-pong table, scooters, free coffee and snacks, the list goes on and on. We work hard around here, but there is also a lot of fun to be had.
  5. EntrepreneurshipBob Pritchett, Logos’ president, is an entrepreneur and that spirit seeps down into every department in Logos. Forging new ground and pushing the envelope of possibility means there is rarely a dull moment around here.
  6. Vision – The saying goes, “Go big or go home.” I love being in a place that has an enormous vision for the future. More than that, it is having the courage and wisdom to actually seize that vision. Being in that environment is pretty inspiring.
  7. People – There are a lot of great people at Logos. Not only that, there are a lot of brilliant people at Logos. Whether you need an expert in Semitic Languages, data systems, literature, programming, or even UFOs, there is probably one right around the corner. And, yes, we really do have a expert on UFOs here.
  8. Benefits – As we say on our jobs page, we offer competitive compensation and a comprehensive benefits package including healthcare, dental care, and 401(k). Gotta love that.
  9. Innovation – eBooks are a hot topic these days. But Logos has been in the digital publishing industry for over 18 years now. While everyone seems to be oohing and aahing over basic eReaders, Logos is constantly pushing the envelope of what can be done with a digital library. We’re pushing into new platforms, delivering content on the web, mobile devices, Macs, PCs, iPhone. This isn’t just about digital books. Logos is leading the way in digital library systems and research.
  10. Customers – I absolutely love hearing about how Logos has helped our customers get more from their time studying God’s Word. Every day I see things on Twitter, Facebook, the blog, and elsewhere about how much Logos means to our customers. For me, this is a huge reason I love working here. I love knowing that I work on a product that truly helps people study the Bible.

I guess I share all this not to toot-our-own-horn, but to let you know that while you love using Logos Bible Software to study God’s Word, we love creating it for you. Logos is a great company that is committed to delivering the best Bible study software in the world. Logos loves its customers and it loves its employees. That’s a pretty good combination if you ask me.
And don’t forget, we’re hiring!

You should follow us on Twitter here.

A Few of My Favorite Things

I was talking to my pastor the other day about what books he was using in preparation for his sermon series going through the book of Acts. It got me thinking about go-to resources. There are several resources that are the first ones I reference when I have a question or need further insight on the Scriptures. So, I decided to share with you some of my go-to resources, and I hope you will do the same and share your go-to resources in the comment section.
Calvin’s Commentaries
You don’t have to be a Calvinist to appreciate Calvin’s handling of the Scriptures. Arminius himself recognized Calvin’s skill when he said, “…he (Calvin) excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture…”. I find that Calvin’s Commentaries are approachable, easy to understand, thorough, and applicable. I always appreciate hearing what he has to say.
Most anything by John Piper
Ever since being introduced to John Piper’s ministry, I’ve truly appreciated his insights into the application of Scripture to life. While I like referring to Piper in my studies, there is one title that truly changed my life in a tangible way and I include it among the most influential books in my life. The Supremacy of God in Preaching, fundamentally changed how I approached the ministry of preaching. Even though years have passed since I last picked it up, I often meditate on this quote from page 24:

“The true usefulness of our preaching will not be known to us until all the fruit on all the branches on all the trees that have sprung up from all the seeds we’ve ever sown has fully ripened in the sunshine of eternity”

NICOT/NICNT
I was first introduced to this series when the church I attended in Richmond, VA, was going through 1 Corinthians and the pastors, among other resources, were reading together through Fee’s commentary. I later encountered the NICNT when I was taking a course on the book of Hebrews, taught by Simon Kistemaker. He assigned FF Bruce’s commentary from the collection. Since adding the series to Logos I’ve enjoyed having access to the entire collection. It is scholarly, without being overwhelming, and provides commentary on every verse… something Calvin doesn’t always give me.
Horae Homileticae
Prior to working at Logos, I had never even heard of Charles Simeon. Boy was I missing out! If Simeon was alive today, I’d certainly subscribe to his podcast. I thoroughly enjoy both the content and format of Homileticae, and find that I go to Simeon when I want a more bird’s eye view of a passage.
Your turn
Sure, there are other titles that I love and use often… but the above four are probably the ones I go-to most often. So, what about you? What are your go-to resources? Leave them in the comment section below (and provide a link to them on Logos.com so people can find them and have a look!).

One Last Time

last-chance-end.pngI know it seems like we’ve been beating the same drum on the blog this week, encouraging everyone to take advantage of the introductory pricing for Logos 4 that expires on Sunday at midnight, but the truth is there are still people who haven’t heard and we really don’t want them to miss out.
Here’s some proof. Yesterday afternoon I saw a tweet from someone saying how much they loved Logos Bible Software. I replied to the person, and we had a few back and forth messages. Come to find out, she didn’t even know Logos 4 existed! THIS WAS YESTERDAY! This person is one of our users. This person loves Logos. And yet she has managed to miss Logos 4 up to this point. I sent her a link to the Logos 4 demo, and she was blown away and said she couldn’t wait to get it on her computer.
That’s why we’ve been pushing the last chance offer so much this week. We don’t want anyone to miss out. The deals really are going away on Monday morning and we simply don’t want to have to break the bad news to anyone that they missed these amazing prices.
So, this is the last “last chance for introductory pricing” blog post you’ll see.
But can you do me one favor?
If you know anyone who is a Logos user or who has been thinking about becoming one, please send them the link to http://www.logos.com/lastchance and let them know that this is the best deal they’ll see on Logos 4. Write a quick blog post, share on your Facebook wall, tweet it up on Twitter.
The introductory pricing will be gone on Monday. Tell a friend!

A Library on the Bus, Part II

Screen shot 2010-01-12 at 11.49.13 AM.pngAbout a month after I started working at Logos, I wrote a blog post titled, “A Library on the Bus.” In the post I recounted the epiphany I had about how amazing it was to have access to a theological library on my laptop as I rode the bus to work. Last week I had a bit of déjà vu on my way into work.
The church I attend is currently going through the book of Acts and I’m trying to integrate Acts into my own personal study time. So, the other day I decided to use my bus ride in to work as a time to read through the sections of Acts we studied the previous week and the section we’ll be studying in the coming week. Unlike my first “Library on the Bus” post, this time I didn’t even have to go through the hassle of getting out and firing up my laptop. Instead, I simply reached into my pocket and turned on my iPhone. A couple taps of the screen and I was reading Acts in Logos’ free iPhone Bible app.
We just started our study a couple weeks ago, so I was reading in Acts 1, and I got to Peter’s quotations of Psalms 69:25 and Psalms 109:8 in regards to Judas and wanted to dig a little deeper. I swiped up and ran a quick Passage Guide.
Since one of my prioritized resources in Logos 4 is Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, it appeared in the top of my commentary list. With just a tap I was reading about the verses Peter was quoting, gaining valuable insight into their use in Acts 1:20. With a couple more taps I returned to my Bible, right were I left off, and continued my reading.
I heard the ding of someone requesting a stop, looked up, and saw that it was mine. I hit the power button and tossed the iPhone back in my pocket. I simply find it amazing how easily I can open multiple books, run Passage Guides, and dig deeper into Bible study all with my iPhone. A year ago I was amazed that I could access a library with my laptop. Having the access on my iPhone is even more convenient and amazing.
If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch and haven’t installed our free iPhone Bible app, get it today and take your Bible study on the go.
NOTES: To have access to your library on the iPhone or iPod touch you need to own a Logos 4 base package. Additionally, not all titles you own are currently compatible with the app. For more information visit our iPhone Bible app support page. If you own another mobile device and are wondering “when will Logos be building an app for (insert your mobile platform)?” then check out http://library.logos.com on your mobile device and visit our Logos Mobile Web forum for more help and information.

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Soup Cook-off Winner

soup-winners.jpgIf you’ve followed our company for any length of time, you probably know that cook-offs are a regular part life at Logos (view our cook-off archive). A few weeks ago, we started off the 2010 cook-off calendar with our annual Soup Cook-off. We had a strong field of 12 this year and as one developer (who shall remain anonymous) put it, “They were really good this year. There wasn’t a single one that I wanted to spit out.”
With that said, here are the 2010 entrants:
Deborah Mickens — Captain Awesome’s Potato, Onion & Bacon Soup
Kat Hutchinson — Southwest Chicken and Black Bean Stew
Paul Williams — Gluten Free Yammy ‘tato Jubilee
Jana Gering — African Peanut Soup
Yuri Pineda — Lentil and Bacon soup
Sarah Wilson — Cheddar Ham Chowder
Rebekah Richoux — Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Ryan Husser — Chicken on Your Noodle Soup
Hayley Price — Vegetable Cheddar Chowder
Peter Venable — Thai tom ka gai
Darren Wright — Crab Bisque
Kyle Anderson — Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
Like all our cook-offs, everyone in the office was invited to come and taste the entries. Then, each person voted for their top 3 choices. Votes were then tallied and the winners announced via email.
This year’s winners are (pictured above):
1. Kat Hutchinson — Southwest Chicken and Black Bean Stew
2. Pete Venable — Thai tom ka gai
3. Yuri Pineda — Lentil and Bacon Soup
Kat was kind enough to share the winning recipe:
Southwest Chicken and Black Bean Stew
(from the kitchen of SaraAnn Evans)
Yield: A little over 1 ½ gallons of soup (approx. 30 1 c. servings)
Ingredients:
· ½ lb. thick sliced bacon
· 1 ½ lbs. boneless chicken meat
· Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
· 1 lg. yellow sweet onion, diced
· 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
· 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
· 2 tsp. chili powder
· 1 tsp. fresh ground cumin
· ¾ c. dark beer (I used Old Rasputin) – the stew will have a lighter, fresher taste if you omit this. (and it will be gluten-free)
· 2 (8 oz.) cans of black beans, drained
· 1 chipotle pepper, dried – omit for lighter, fresher taste
· 3 c. low sodium chicken broth
· 3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
· 2 limes
Extra addins to try– cooked rice, lime wedges, sour cream, grated cheese, tortilla chips
Directions:
1. In large pot, cook bacon over medium high heat until slightly crisp. Drain bacon and coarsely chop, then set aside. Reserve grease in pot.
2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook in bacon grease until browned. Remove and set aside
3. In remaining fat in pan, sauté onions, jalapeño and red pepper. Stir often and continue cooking until onions turn translucent and begin to caramelize.
4. Raise the heat to high and add chili powder and cumin. Cook 1 – 2 minutes.
5. Add beer and cook until reduced and liquid is nearly gone (about 4 minutes)
6. Add beans, chipotle pepper and chicken broth. Let mixture come to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes.
7. Add the chicken and bacon to the stew and take the chipotle pepper out.
*At this point you can do one of two things. You can throw everything in a Crock pot and wait a day for the flavors to get richer and smokier, or you can move ahead. I recommend the Crock pot. However, if you’re in a hurry, you can just move on and the flavors will be somewhat fresher.
8. Juice 1 lime and add to stew.
9. Add cilantro or other addins, and you’re ready to eat. Enjoy!
Notes: At step #6, for thicker stew, you can remove 2 cups of mixture (not the chipotle pepper) and puree in a blender, then mix back into the pot.
We’re Hiring
If you like the idea of working for a company that knows how to work hard and have fun, visit our jobs page. It might just be your recipe we share next time.

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Seminary Scholarship Winner

Logos is happy to announce the winner of our second Seminary Scholarship award, Justin Hoke. Justin is currently working to finish his MDiv through the distance education program at Reformed Baptist Seminary.
As the winner of the Seminary Scholarship, Justin received a $1,000.00 tuition scholarship and a copy of the Logos 4 Scholar’s Library.
Next Scholarship to be Awarded May 10th
If you’re a seminarian (whether you’re full time, part time, distance, or residential) and you’re interested in applying for a $1,000.00 scholarship for tuition and a copy of Logos 4 Scholar’s Library, then visit www.SeminaryScholarship.com and apply today.
Not a seminarian? Well, it is likely that you know one. Please take a moment and send them an email, tweet, Facebook message, or even an old fashioned letter letting them know about this great opportunity.

You should follow us on Twitter here.

One More Chance to Win

Last June, Dan walked into my office and said, “I want to do a Bible giveaway… a huge Bible giveaway.” We talked through the details, called some of our publisher friends, and a few weeks later launched a six month promotion in which we gave away 78 ultra-premium Bibles, worth over $12,000.
The response to the promotion was overwhelming, with thousands of people participating. One of the highlights for me was contacting the winners every month. Numerous times I got to hear stories of people who were so very blessed by the promotion. One email I received was from a preacher who had won the NASB Large Print Bible. He wrote, “This Bible will go to good use as my vision is failing (even though I am only in my 30′s) and I have been struggling reading from my NASB as I preach.” It brought me such joy to send him his Bible.
While we only had 78 people selected as winners in the Great Bible Giveaway, in a way everyone is a winner. The whole purpose of the giveaway was to introduce people to our online Bible. During the promotion, we saw site traffic and usage of Bible.Logos.com increase by more than 20% and many people sent in emails thanking us for sponsoring the promotion because it was through the giveaway that they learned about the site.

One More Bible to Give Away

During the course of the giveaway, one of our winners sent his Bible back and asked that we give it away to another person. So, honoring his request, here’s one last chance to win. Leave a comment on this blog post with your favorite Bible verse. On Monday (Jan 18) we’ll select a winner at random from the comments.
NOTE: Our randomly selected winner is Billy Stevens. While you can no longer enter to win, please feel free to continue posting your favorite verses in the comments below.

December Winners

  • 1 ESV Study Bible, Black Calfskin (Retail $239.99) from Crossway (winner: E. Amerman)
  • 6 HCSB Legacy Bibles, Black Genuine Leather (Retail $100) from B&H Publishing (winners: J. Rozema, G. Stadler, R. Mills, A. Manning, M. Macaluso, and D. Mora)
  • 1 KJV Cambridge Premier Concord Reference, Black Goatskin (Retail $199.99) from Cambridge Bibles (winner: R. DuBois)
  • 1 NASB In Touch Ministries Wide Margin Edition, Burgundy Calfskin (Retail $149.99) from Lockman Foundation (winner: P. Robin)
  • 1 NASB Large Print Ultrathin Reference, Black Calfskin (Retail $149.99) from Lockman Foundation (winner: D. Buckham)
  • 1 NASB Side Column Reference Wide Margin Special Limited Edition, Black Calfskin (Retail $149.99) from Lockman Foundation (winner: J. Swain)
  • 1 NIV Archaeological Study Bible, Venetian Brown Renaissance Fine Leather (Retail $109.99) from Zondervan (winner: A. Beaver)
  • 1 NIV Study Bible, Black Renaissance Fine Leather (Retail $124.99) from Zondervan (winner: A. Bartlett)
  • 1 NIV Study Bible, Burgundy Goatskin ($229.99) from Cambridge Bibles (winner: E. Hernandez)
  • 1 NKJV UltraThin Bible Signature Series, Tan Calfskin (Retail $129.99) from Thomas Nelson (winner: A. Dobuss)
  • 2 NLTSB Tyndale Select, Black Calfskin (Retail Unavailable) from Tyndale (winners: J. Hoffman and D. Larson)
  • 1 TNIV, Black Renaissance Fine Leather ($99.99) from Zondervan (winner: R. Irvin)

Special Thanks!

A very special thanks to Crossway, Cambridge, Lockman Foundation, Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, and B&H Publishing for working with us to make your beautifully crafted Bibles available for this giveaway!

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Win a Free iPod Touch

iphone-small.pngOne of the cool features of our new Bible study iPhone app is that it can also be run on an iPod Touch. This means that you don’t have to change cell phone carriers or buy an expensive iPhone just to get this great Bible study tool. On top of that, we’ve recently added an offline reading mode that allows you to store some of your book on your device and read them without even being connected to WiFi or a mobile carrier.* Logos on the iPod Touch is even more useful than before.
We’re so excited about the advances our app is taking that we decided to buy some iPod Touches and give them away! In fact, if you follow Logos on Twitter you know that we’ve given two of these iPods away already. Our current iPod Touch giveaway is being run for all our Facebook fans. So, if you’re on Facebook, head over and see how you can enter to win.
If you like giveaways like this one, be sure to become a fan of Logos on Facebook and that you’re following Logos on Twitter. It is a great way to keep up to date with Logos and hear about cool things like iPod giveaways.

*Downloading a book to your iPod or iPhone for offline reading requires an internet connection via WiFi or through your cell phone provider.

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