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The Case for an E-Library

The forthcoming issue of Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal includes an extensive (3,400+ word!) review of Scholar’s Library: Gold – Logos Bible Software 3. We received permission to post the review at Logos.com in advance of publication, so you can read the whole thing and even download the PDF.

Every reviewer puts a unique spin on his analysis. This reviewer, Andrew Naselli—who is at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School working on his second Ph.D.—does a great job of answering tough questions that a prospective buyer might ask before deciding to build an electronic library. These are questions Naselli struggled with before deciding to invest in Logos, so his responses are thoughtful and genuine.

  • Should I Buy E-Books From Only One or Multiple Software Companies?
  • Will New Technology Make Current E-Books Obsolete?
  • What if the Software Company Goes Out of Business?
  • Are E-Books Riskier Than Print Books?
  • How Is an E-Library Superior to a Print Library?
  • How does Scholar’s Library: Gold Compare to Other Products?

I’ll conclude with one of my favorite quotations from the review just to pique your interest. To the question of whether owning electronic books is “risky,” Naselli responds:

Some think that print books are safer investments than e-books. However, building any kind of library— whether print or electronic—involves some degree of risk. Print books are arguably a more risky investment than some e-books since print books are in danger of theft, natural disasters, and wear and tear from usage. A few years ago one pastor loaded up all of his earthly possessions, including his print library, into a moving truck, which was stolen the very next day. If that pastor had an e-library of Logos Bible Software, he would have received his entire e-library back for free.

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Logos Bible Software as a “Dialogical Study Bible”

One of theSBL sessions in November was entitled “Biblical Studies and Study Bibles” and looked at the issues surrounding study Bibles. You know, the printed Bibles that include study notes next to the biblical text and are often marketed to a particular audience, e.g., men, women, students, skaters, etc.

One of the professors involved in the session—Carol Newsom from the Candler School of Theology—wrote an article about study Bibles for the SBL Forum in advance of the society’s annual conference.

Newsom, who haswritten for and edited study Bibles,believes there’s a place for them:

The biblical text is not self interpreting, and there are all kinds of things that readers need help with. Who or what is “Hepzibah?” or “Mene, mene, tekel, u-parsin”?

But she worries about the trend toward niche marketing and the lack of varying perspectives in a highly targeted study Bible. Her solution?

If I were to envision the “best practices” that might evolve from the phenomenon of diverse study bibles, it would be something that our new internet technologies might make possible-a kind of high tech, inter-religious “miqra’ot gedalot.” I would love to assemble for my students a biblical text surrounded by (at least) four kinds of commentary — mainline protestant, evangelical protestant, Catholic, and Jewish. Or one could construct a similar dialogical volume constructed around North American, Eastern Orthodox, Latin American, African, and Asian Christian perspectives. A Jewish seminary might construct a quite different assemblage of traditional and contemporary Jewish annotations. As one can imagine, the possibilities are truly endless.

I read this and thought to myself, “She’s describing the Libronix DLS!”A few minutes later, I’d slapped together a workspace all set up to study the “Mene, mene, tekel, u-parsin” passage in Daniel 5.

If you click the thumbnail image above, you’ll see a “dialogical studydesk” that I’ve created using only books that are available today. Starting at the top left…the Bible version is Tanakh (it’s the one Newsom has her students use), with the NRSV on a tab as an alternate. Surrounding that are commentaries in the categories Newsom suggests: mainline protestant (Hermeneia), evangelical protestant (New American), and Catholic (Collegeville). Our “JPS Bible and Torah Commentary Collection” is still under development but I’d expect it to be released sometime in 2007.

At the far right side of the screen, I’ve got open a few select referencevolumes:the IVP Bible Background Commentary and Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, with A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature and Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament on tabs.

Various other titles could be substituted for the ones I chose here. (See, for example,our commentary guideand list of Bible dictionaries.)

And, of course, a workspace like this includes all the little conveniences you’ve come to expect from Logos Bible Software: resources that scroll together, dynamic linking to instantly and effortlessly look up an unfamiliarword in any language, Bible reference expansion upon hover, automatic footnoting, and so on.

But I think you get the point…

“Professor Newsom, the futureis now!”

Building Our Team

It is always interesting to read about how other people are applying information technology to Bible study.

SemanticBible.org is the home of a variety of interesting projects, and earlier this year it occurred to me that whoever was behind it must be the kind of person who is interested in many of the same things we are.

And he is.

I am very happy that Sean Boisen has accepted our invitation to join Logos Bible Software as a Senior Information Architect, and I am looking forward to working with him on increasingly powerful (and interesting!) ways of using technology to facilitate Bible study.

You may find Sean’s blog post interesting, and poking around SemanticBible.org is always thought-provoking.

Christmas Cheer and Festivities

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All work and no play makes for a gloomy office…especially around Christmas. So here are some highlights of our play during the past few weeks.

This year’s office decorating contest was a battle of the grinches with two departments independently hitting upon a “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” theme.

The text developers ultimately triumphed (they not only decorated but also put on a performance for the judges, complete with a 6 or 8 member choir).Andthere was a strong showing from a number of other departments and individuals as well. (See more photos...)

Of course there were some scrooges who didn’t decorate at all.

The annual bake-off was a sweet success, with nearly a dozen entries to spoil our collective appetite for lunch. For some of us, the baked treatswere lunch.

First place went to Ryan Husser,Logos book designer, with his Magic Cookie Bars. Second and third place went to Kelsey Sebens’ peanut butter bars and James VanNoord’s “O Little Mint of Bellingham” bars, respectively. Two of the recipes are below.

The Logos Christmas Party was a great chance to fellowship with one another, meet spouses and “significant others”, and even meet some co-workers for the first time.

Bob told us the story of the first ever company Christmas party, held in a stairwell at the Oak Harbor office,with a menu that included Oscar Meyer cold cut and Wonder Bread sandwiches. It was pretty amazing to look around atthe largest Logos Christmas party to dateand be thankful for the ways God has blessed this company.

We hope you have a merry Christmas and look forward to serving you in the New Year!


Magic Cookies Bars

Ingredients: 1 stick (½ cup) butter 1 ½ cup crushed graham crackers (sandwiching between two pieces of waxed paper works best for me) 1 can sweetened condensed milk 1 cup (6 oz) chocolate chips 1 cup (6 oz) butterscotch chips 1 1/3 cup coconut flakes 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350° Melt butter in 13 x 9 inch pan Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs onto butter, shake pan gently to disperse evenly Drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly over butter/graham cracker crumbs Sprinkle chocolate chips, then butterscotch chips, then coconut, then walnuts (if desired) over sweetened condensed milk Bake for 25 minutes Let cool and cut into pieces

O Little Mint of Bellingham(Creamy Mint Bars )

Recipe from Genny Gerrits; Holland, MI; April 1996Grease 9×13 pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Base/Crust:1 Chocolate Mint Pillsbury Cake mixor 1 double chocolate pudding cake mix plus 1 teaspoon mint extract 1/3 cup softened margarine1 egg1/4 cup waterCombine all ingredients and mix at low speed. Press into greased pan and bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow to cool.

Filling:1 envelope unflavored Knox gelatin. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup cold water and heat according to package directions to dissolve gelatin. 4 cups powdered sugar, divided1/2 cup margarine1/2 cup Crisco or butter flavored shortening1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract2 to 5 drops green food coloringAfter gelatin is dissolved, allow to cool. Mix soft gelatin with 2 cups of powdered sugar, margarine, shortening, flavoring and coloring. Beat one minute at medium speed or until creamy. Blend in balance of sugar. Spread over crust.

Frosting:6 oz milk chocolate chips3 T shorteningMelt chips and shortening and drizzle over filling. Refrigerate.

Notes:– The base/crust is very thick and sticky. It will probably take longer than 10 minutes to be done.– I doubled this recipe for the bake-off and used a 18×13 half sheet pan– I substituted butter one-for-one in place of margarine.

Logos Culinary Secrets Revealed!

As Bob has mentioned and as regular blog readers know, from time to time we love to do some cookin’ here at Logos.


Bradley Grainger preparing some condimentsfor his 2006 Curry Cook-off entry

When we have cookoffs, we usually post winning recipes on this blog.

If you’re interested in some of the winners, try searching the blog using the search box on the sidebar for the word recipe. Or just click this link.

Who knows, you could find something you’d like to make for dinner next week!

Eliminating Bible Study Obstacles

Tools like the Passage Guide, Exegetical Guide, and Bible Word Study Guide search a huge digital library and return neatly organized reports that kick-start your Bible study. From nothing more than a verse, or the name of a Bible story, or a single word, these reports generate both visual and textual overviews that link deeply into your Bible reference library.

These reports eliminate obstacles to Bible study because they are more than just simple search tools. They not only save time, they answer the question “Where do I start?” Each report is designed to facilitate a specific step in Bible study, and it has embedded in it specialized knowledge about the process and books involved.

Logos Bible Software also features specialized tools like a Bible Reading Scheduler and a Prayer List manager. Like the automated reports, these tools are time savers that eliminate paper handling and help users get into the Word.

The sheer bulk and weight of paper Bible reference books is another paper handling obstacle. It can keep people from following a cross reference, checking a source, or digging a little deeper on a topic.

I have visited many pastors and professors in their offices, and the one thing found in every office is a lot of books. It is fascinating to see the breadth and depth of many of these collections, often neatly organized and cataloged. But it is also interesting to see that within nearly all of these large collections there is a much smaller collection: “books I use all the time”. This handful of books can usually be found on the shelf directly behind the chair, just below sitting eye-height. (If those books aren’t already strewn across the desk.)

Because no matter the breadth or depth of interest or scholarship, very few people have the time to regularly find and consult even the hand-picked books in their personal library. And even less time to visit a bookstore or physical library for the obscure titles they find referenced in every footnote and bibliography they encounter during their study, no matter how useful they might be.

Electronic resources are easier to use. And when resources are easier to use, they get used more often. We want to free our users to consult their whole library regularly – not just the books they can reach from their chair.

We also want to make available as much source material as possible. Everyone may not want to check textual readings in the papyri, consult Josephus in the Greek, or search for parallels in the Ugaritic literature. But having access to the early sources (in the original languages and scripts, as well as in transliteration and translation) is necessary in order to do so. Ready access to these sources is useful for less scholarly users as well. It allows them to check citations, to read and explore on their own, and to gain confidence in the integrity of our historical understanding.

Logos Bible Software offers a massive digital library. But we aren’t adding titles to win some book count competition. We simply want to make the books in your library easier to use. We want to make it easier for everyone to consult source material. And in doing so, we eliminate even more obstacles to better, deeper Bible study.

What is Logos Bible Software?

I recently returned from the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature. Once again I had a great time meeting and talking with so many of our users as well as many students, pastors, scholars (and pastor-scholars!) who are looking for new resources.

It was interesting to see how different people have different impressions of Logos Bible Software. Some only know it as the software they use to access a single electronic book, like the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. Some see it as a specialized Bible search engine, particularly if they only discovered it in the context of our new Hebrew and Greek syntax databases. Others see Logos as nothing more than a huge bucket-o-books, an overstuffed electronic library with a search feature.

The Libronix Digital Library System, the technology underneath Logos Bible Software, is not a single piece of software. It is more like a box of software parts that can be assembled in various ways – like digital Lego bricks, if you will. It can function as a search-and-display tool for a single book or as host for multiple document editors and specialized search engines. This modularity lets us deliver exactly the right tool for many different users. It is the right tool for the devotional user who wants just a Bible and commentary. And it is the right tool for the scholar who only wants to run complex queries on ancient language texts.

The modular architecture is a great asset. But it can make it hard to see the big picture of what Logos Bible Software really is.

Logos Bible Software is an obstacle eliminator for Bible study. It is a combination of technology and resources designed to eliminate every bit of time-consuming paper handling that could get in the way of Bible study.

The Bible is the Word of God. We believe that it should be at the center of every Christian’s walk, and that it speaks powerfully to the hearts and minds of unbelievers. But we can’t make people study it. We can take away excuses for not studying it, though. We can make Bible study easier to begin. We can remove every impediment of page turning and paper handling. We can make digging deeper irresistibly easy.

Back in 1991, the very first Logos t-shirt design consisted of our logo and the phrase “Get into the Word!” in large, red type. Fifteen years later we are still building tools to help you do just that.

What’s with all the crock-pot photos?

Crock Pot

There is a hidden message in all the photos of crock-pots you see on the Logos Blog.

Everyone understands why we post about product features and special sales and Greek syntax, and even the design of a Ugaritic font. But maybe the pictures of cook-offs and frisbees and coffee and decorations are too subtle.

There is a reason we post all that Fun Stuff:
It’s fun.

Okay, there’s another reason, too: We want everyone to see what a great place Logos is to work. We know that before an interview every (smart) job candidate pokes around our web site and blog. We want them to discover that we’re a place they really want to work.

We also want you, our regular blog reader, to (when you’re not thinking about Greek syntax searching) take a moment to think, “Those folks at Logos must be having a blast! And they eat well! I need to take a look at www.logos.com/jobs and forward the link to the smartest people I know.”

Finding and attracting great people continues to be the key to our success. If “we” are going to keep building great Bible software for you, “we” needs to get bigger and better. Maybe you should think about joining us? Maybe you have a gifted friend or relative who is looking for something new? Maybe they just need to know about a fun, growing company where a bunch of great people are working together to build tools to help you study the Word?

Let them know about www.logos.com/jobs. (Especially if they can cook.)

Christmas Specials!

If you’ve been to Logos.com recently you’ve seen that we’re offering Free Shipping on web orders through the end of December. But we’ve also created a special edition, Christmas 2006-only collection of books called Library Builder: Volumes 1-3.

Together, the three discs will get you more than 330 books, worth some $4,500.00 in print editions, at 90% off list prices for the equivalent print editions. So essentially it’s the “base collection discount” on books that are (largely) not in the base collections. As you might guess from the ribbons and bows…this is our Christmas present to you!

In fact, the 19-volume College Press NIV Commentary Series: New Testament (current sale price: $349.95), the 18-volume IVP New Testament Commentary Series (current sale price: $269.95), plus 16 volumes of Warren Wiersbe’s Old Testament “Be” Series of commentary—all of which are included in the 3-disc Library Builder set—alone make the Library Builder an incredible bargain!

Big Discount on Theological Journals Bundle!
I also want to draw attention to the new Complete Theological Journal Library Bundle.

This bundle represents the best discount ever offered on the Theological Journal Library products from Galaxie. With more than 450 years’ worth of journals that would cost something like $15,000 in print, you could think of it as a scholarly booster pack for your digital library.

Merry Christmas from your friends at Logos!

The Dangers of Dabbling in Greek

Some say you must learn Greek and Hebrew before you can truly read the Bible as it was intended to be read. Others warn that a little knowledge can be dangerous…better to trust the opinions of others than dabble in the languages oneself.

Here at Logos, we’ve always been pretty open about our intentions to help regular, everyday Christians study the Bible at a deeper level. And that meansletting even “untrained” folksget their hands on Greek and Hebrew resources.

We’ve built tools like the Bible Word Study report, Exegetical Guide, and Reverse Interlinear Bibles that make Greek and Hebrew more accessible to the layperson. We include high-end, seminary level texts and tools in our most popular packages, which helps move such resources and knowledge beyond the seminary walls and directly into the pulpit and pew.

Are we guilty of helping spread to the masses those resources once reserved for the elite few?

Let’s just say Logos once had t-shirts printed up with the famous quote from Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type: “Religious truth is captive in a small number of little manuscripts which guard the common treasures, instead of expanding them.Let us break the seal which binds these holy things…”

In Defense of Dabbling

In the preface to the print edition of the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear, editor John Schwandt includes an insightful discussion that covers the purpose and benefits of a reverse interlinear but also has a section entitled “Overcoming the Objection of the Dangers of Dabbling in Greek.”

John seriously and thoughtfully addresses the dangers of dabbling in the languages, particularly when it comes to wrong or ill considered motives such as an attempt to unlock the “true meaning of the text” that has been lost in English translations.

He also enumerates some of the very practical and real benefits to be gained by the student who is willing to work at learning the languages. Even dabblers canlearn to observe”structural patterns and word play,” and repetitions in tense, voice, or mood, he says.

John’s essay is well worth the read, and I hope it encourages you to ignore the cynics and go right on dabbling. Who knows, you might evenget a taste for Greek or Hebrew and go on to proficiency!

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