Product Guide to Multi-Volume Commentaries

Inspired by Vincent’s work on product guides introducing the dozens of Logos products related to biblical languages, I decided to write a product guide on commentaries available for Logos Bible Software. We offer a lot of commentaries, it’s a category of book that appeals to almost every user, and it seems like an area in which people would appreciate some guidance…
It soon became clear that I was sticking my arm into a hornet’s nest.

In the first draft, I classified each commentary series in the areas of technicality, theology, and methodology. So a series might bear the labels “Semi-technical, Expositional, Evangelical,” for example.

As it turns out, it’s difficult if not impossible to come up with labels that are sufficiently descriptive yet accurate…and inoffensive. Labeling commentaries is always a subjective exercise and no matter what labels you choose someone will disagree.

This I quickly learned.

I took some time away from the project and during that time re-visited a website put together by Tyler F. Williams, an OT professor at Taylor University College in Alberta. Williams offers an Old Testament Commentary Survey that seemed to me to strike the right balance of non-intrusive assistance. Its primary classification is by intended audience, with category descriptions that are somewhat elastic but still helpful.

Professor Williams graciously agreed to let us use his classification scheme, and the result is the Product Guide to Multi-Volume Commentaries.

The guide introduces more than 30 multi-volume commentaries available for Logos Bible Software, providing basic information about each one such as publisher, which Bible version is followed, how much Greek or Hebrew text to expect, and more. The accompanying brief descriptions come from each publisher, which lets the series “speak for itself” in terms of intended aim or purpose.

If you desire even more guidance in selecting and using commentaries and other reference works, you might be interested in F. W. Danker’s Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study (a Logos resource) or print resources such as John Glynn’s Commentary and Reference Survey or D. A. Carson’s New Testament Commentary Survey.

Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary in Logos Bible Software

Way back in the late ’90s (I honestly don’t recall which year … 1996 or 1997?) Logos released the first electronic edition of the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. This was a massive project, I can remember working on it at the end of the development cycle. It was one of the first large reference volumes we released outside of the main Logos Bible Software collections. And it has consistently been a popular volume for reference.

The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary is one of the most widely accepted, widely used modern published reference dictionaries. In print, it is six massive volumes (each volume is at least two inches thick, as I recall). Thousands of pages. But, of course, the print edition has no concordance, no topic index, and no Scripture index. And no index for references to the Works of Josephus or the Works of Philo. All of those things are tagged in the Logos Bible Software edition.

If you’re looking for a solid, relatively recent Bible dictionary to supplement one of the Logos Bible Software collections, you should seriously consider the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. I’m not saying you’ll agree with everything inside of it; you’ll likely take issue somewhere with something. But it is a good reflection of the state of modern scholarship and very informative as a result.

As usual, the product page on the main Logos web site has much more information. Be sure to check it out!

Theologies Boom

Two major, contemporary, theological works hit the prepub page yesterday: Berkouwer’s Studies in Dogmatics (14 vols) and Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology (3 vols).

You might be asking, “Are theologies really the kind of book that benefits from an electronic edition?” Absolutely.

Theologies are chock full of scriptural references, and as a Logos Bible Software book all those references get turned into hotspots…even if they’re buried in a footnote. This overcomes a number of limitations of the print:

  • It now takes zero effort to look up Bible references to confirm the author’s interpretation.
  • We effectively create a Scripture index for the entire series of books, not just each volume…no page-flipping needed.
  • By creating a defined collection of books and adding it to the Passage Guide report [learn how], the software will remember to search your theologies for references to whatever passage you’re studying…without you having to think about it!

That’s just a few of the benefits of owning theologies in electronic editions. I could go on and on about searchability, links to other works, the ability to copy and paste, automatic footnoting…but instead I hope you’ll check it out for yourself by pre-ordering Berkouwer or Pannenberg or both.

There’s only one question left, and that’s the inevitable…”Awesome…now how about Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics?” Which provokes our usual response…”Yes, we’d love to do that, too.”

Chafer’s Systematic Theology in Logos Format

We’ve had a lot of folks ask us about Lewis Sperry Chafer’s magnum opus Systematic Theology.

Logos has recently completed work on Chafer’s most popular work and you can even purchase it today. Right now, even, through the wonders of that thing called “the internet”.

And you might want to purchase it today. Logos has a special arrangement with the publisher and we are only licensed to sell a specific number of copies. That is, the Logos Bible Software version is a limited edition (no, I don’t know how many we have, how many we’ve sold, or how close we are to the limit). But when we reach that limited amount, you won’t be able to purchase it anymore. Our product page for Chafer’s Systematic Theology describes it this way:

Many users over the years have asked for an electronic edition of this estimable work, but we were never able to secure a license to it. Now, for the first time, the publisher has agreed to a contract that enables us to bring you this resource, though in a limited quantity. When we sell out of our limited run, this title will be removed and we will be unable to take any more orders. We have no reason to believe that this title will ever be made available again electronically once all available copies are sold. We encourage you to place your order while you still can!

So if you’re into Chafer, or find electronic access to systematic theologies valuable, you may want to check it out.

Syntax: Glossaries of Terminology

I know, I know, I said I’d blog about searching the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament. And I will. Really, I will. But not today.

I’ve been working on a different aspect of the Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament project recently: adding glossary information to just about everywhere a clause type or syntactic force note occurs. And wow, is it cool. Really.

Because syntactic terminology is at times confusing, and because different grammars and guides sometimes use the same terminology to describe different things and different terminology to describe similar things (got that?) we knew we’d need to include glossaries with our syntactic databases. And we also knew we’d need to provide links to further discussions of terms in standard grammar and syntactic references, so we’ve included (where appropriate) links to BDF, Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and Smyth’s Greek Grammar (a classical grammar not yet in LDLS format … but give us time!).

[Read more...]

Commentaries Alone or in a Set?

We received this comment from a blog reader back in December and I thought it deserved a little longer response than I could give it in the comments:

It would be helpful in this series of articles to explain the justification for making certain books available only as a part of the set (i.e., ICC commentaries) and not separately. Thanks for the great work you are doing! —Paul

Paul, that’s a fair question. Typically, you’ll see new commentaries made available first as a series and only later will they be broken up into individual volumes.

Often, this is due to licensing issues but it can also be the result of the way the prepub program works (we want to digitize the entire series, not just individual volumes). The deep prepub discount makes up for the fact that you may be getting volumes you wouldn’t buy otherwise.

A couple of years after publication, we often go back and split out the volumes for individual sale, if the contract allows. Many commentary sets are currently available as individual volumes, including Crossway Classic Commentary Series, College Press NIV Commentary Series, MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series, The Preacher’s Commentary Series, and Word Biblical Commentary Series.

Of course, you’ll always save money by buying the whole series instead of acquiring it piece by piece. But if you’re focusing on a particular book of the Bible or want to own a volume that has garnered special acclaim, buying one volume at a time may be the way to go.

Of the Making of Books (Part 5)

Today’s guest blogger is Ken Smith, General Manager of Electronic Publishing Services at Logos.
(This is the next installment in a series of articles about our nearly 60 publishing partners who market their own electronic products using our technology.)

Biblical Archaeology Society

From as far back as I can remember, customers were asking about making back issues of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) part of our electronic library offerings. We tried unsuccessfully for quite some time to license BAR from the Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS), but to no avail. (I guess they knew they had a good thing and wanted to do it themselves!)

Since we couldn’t get BAR, we pursued other content from BAS, including a Biblical Archaeology Slide Set. That project never came to fruition and I think we’ve still got a box of several hundred slides gathering dust in our basement somewhere (which may be an interesting find for some 23rd century archaeologist).

After several years of discussion, BAS decided the time was right for them to enter the electronic publishing arena. In October of 2002, that same dust-gathering slide set was released as The Biblical World in Pictures CD-ROM, fully integrated into the Libronix Digital Library System.

BWP

Those customers who had been asking for BAR in Libronix format didn’t have to wait long. In March of 2003, BAS published the first edition of The Biblical Archaeology Review Archive, containing every issue of BAR from 1975 to 2001. It has since been updated to include all of 2002 and 2003 as well.

We’re happy to say that BAS has continued to expand their electronic offerings for the Libronix Digital Library System. In 2004, they released two additional collections of magazine back issues. The Archaeology Odyssey Archive and The Bible Review Archive make the BAS family of electronic products a compelling set.

If you have a particular author, book, magazine, or any other content you’d like to have as part of your electronic library, we want to know! Send an e-mail to suggest@logos.com. No guarantees, but we’ll certainly consider any and all of your suggestions.

Next: Standard Publishing

Community Pricing titles closing in!

At the end of December, we put 10 new titles into our Community Pricing System. It’s fun to see which ones people latch on to and how fast (and how cheap they end up being)!

There are a few titles that are set to close today (Friday, January 6, 2006) at noon Pacific Time. Check ‘em out to see if you want to get in on them at their cheapest:

History of Interpretation by F.W. Farrar just crossed the line yesterday and will move to prepublication next Friday.
There are some other titles that are getting close to the line:

Check out these (and all of the other titles we’re considering) and place a bid if you’d like us to do them.

Review of the Library of Christian Worship

Even though I work at Logos, I like to check out the reviews that our products recieve. I just noticed a new review from the magazine Worship Leader. This review is a little different because it isn’t a review of Scholar’s Library or Scholar’s Silver, it is a review of The Library of Christian Worship on CD-ROM.

I remember when we did the work on this set of books. I was impressed with the attention to detail in the printed editions and with the encompassing scope of coverage, both from a historical and theological perspective. The books aren’t just about music, they’re about worship. They’re not about contemporary vs. traditional vs. “mixed” vs. whatever; they’re about worship. As such, the series is a valuable resource to consult when considering issues of worship and praise in the church today.

The Logos web site product description has much more information, with descriptions and tables of contents for each of the eight books (seven volumes; vol. 4 was published in two parts).

ICC: A big job but somebody had to do it

Nearly two years after the initial prepublication announcement, the complete International Critical Commentary Series (ICC) is finished… The commentary series that took more than 100 years to write (and counting) has been digitized in just over 2.

As you can see, this is one big set of books. Fifty-three bound volumes to be exact. When we posted the prepub page on December 12, 2003, we had no idea how many people would pony up $1,000 for the set. But we knew the value of the series for biblical study and knew that of any electronic publisher we were in the best position to get it done.

The books were shipped off to the data keying center and came back needing lots of correction. In particular, the ancient language text (like Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic and Greek) required a team of developers to go through it word by word, correcting the files as they went. This turned out to be such a headache that we devised a new tool (dubbed Shibboleth and mentioned briefly by Bob on his own blog) to speed up the process.

The specifics about the ways Shibboleth speeds up and improves the process is fodder for another post, probably by someone who knows more about it than I do. But I can say that “there was much rejoicing” in the text development department the day the final volume was completed, ship-checked and ready to head off to replication.

And now, just over two years after announcing the start of this massive project, it is being delivered to users so that these important volumes can be utilized by seminary professors and students, preachers, teachers and other folks studying the Bible.