I don’t take my Bible to church any more …

The ink-on-pressed-tree-pulp-wrapped-in-calfskin one, that is. Nowadays, I take my laptop with Logos Bible Software 3 instead. Sure, I raise a few eyebrows, but most everyone at church knows I work for Logos, and so they know (I hope) that I’m not surfing the internet or playing a first-person shooter game during the sermon. I do have to remember to turn the mute button on, though. The Libronix startup sound is nice enough, but not during the opening prayer.

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t turn my dead-tree version fast enough to find Scripture citations when they come fast and furious from the pulpit. If the sermon jumps around a lot, I’m lost pretty quickly. I find myself singing the Bible books song to myself to remember where the books are. Even then it’s tough, because I usually work on original language versions of the Old Testament, so I get messed up by the differences between the “English” and the Hebrew ordering of the Tanakh. (Ruth isn’t after Judges, it’s after Proverbs, which is closer to the end than it is to the middle. And the last book isn’t Malachi, it’s 1 and 2 Chronicles, which are after Ezra and Nehemiah … well, you get the picture.)

But with Logos on my lap, I can keep up pretty well. I can better than just keep up, in fact.

First of all, I use the bookmarks feature a lot. With a dead-tree version, you’ve only got your two thumbs and those ribbon things to help you keep your place. But with Logos, if I know (or suspect) that the pastor is going to be coming back to a given passage, I make a bookmark. CTRL + SHIFT + 1 makes the first bookmark, CTRL + SHIFT + 2 another, and so on. When I want to recall any of those passages quickly, I use CTRL + 1, or CTRL + 2, or whichever one I want to get back to. That’s a little faster than typing, say, “Jn 3.16” into the verse box on my preferred Bible — and so much faster than turning pages. Of course, I have to remember which verse is under bookmark #1 and which are under 2, 3, and 4 — but I had to do that with the dead-tree version, too. And electronic bookmarks don’t get sweaty or fall asleep if they’re left in too long, like thumbs do.

Now, In 2.1-land, I always had a lot of windows open. I had an English language Bible — usually the ESV, since that’s what my pastor preaches from primarily — linked to a Greek or Hebrew interlinear. I can’t sight-read Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic at all. I can sound out the words, but I only know what a very few of them mean. With an interlinear, though … well, let’s just say that I know enough to be dangerous. I’d also have a lexicon and probably a Bible Search Results window open.

My “Church” Workspace, circa LDLS 2.1

As you can see in the screenshot, I have two copies of the ESV — one linked to the OT interlinear, and one linked to the NT. Why? Because if I type an Old Testament reference into a New Testament interlinear (which doesn’t have OT verses, duh), LDLS will try to figure out what I meant. I’m in a Greek NT, so maybe I want … the LXX, the Greek translation of the OT. Well, it’s a good guess, but that’s not actually what I wanted. I know. I could hack the resource association files that govern such automatic lookups — but usually that’s a very useful feature.

But sitting in the pew — or a folding metal chair, in my case — that’s a lot of windows to mess with and keep straight. While I’m spending time fussing with the on-screen setup, I might miss something important.

With 3.0, my life just got a lot easier. Two words: Reverse. Interlinear.

You’re probably familiar by now with the concept of an interlinear Bible. On the top line you have the words of scripture in the original languages, and then beneath each Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic word you have information about that word: the lexical form (lemma), maybe a morph code, and a (very wooden) English translation. How wooden? Here’s Matthew 5:34 from the Nestle-Aland 27th with McReynold’s Interlinear: “I but say to you not to take oath wholly, and not in the heaven because throne it is of the God.” And here’s part of Ecclesiastes 12:12 from the Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible: “And more than from these son my you must beware; to make books many there is no end and study much [is] weariness of [the] flesh.”

The Nestle-Aland 27th Edition Greek New Testament with McReynold’s Interlinear
, Matt 5:34

The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible
, Eccles 12:12

You can probably get the gist of it, but following along with a sermon? Not me, thanks.

The ESV Reverse Interlinear Bibles are available in the Logos Bible Software 3 Scholar’s Library, Scholar’s Library: Silver, and Scholar’s Library: Gold. What are you waiting for? Upgrade now!

Interlinear translations sound weird, owing to the fact that they are word-for-word translations of the original text. They follow the exact word order and grammar of the original language with little (if any) concession to the rules of English grammar or style. I find them useful, though, because when a preacher says “The Greek word in this verse is X, which means Y,” I like to see it for myself. (Maybe I have trust issues, but I prefer to think of it as studiousness.)

reverse interlinear, on the other hand, has the best of both worlds: The top line is a familiar English translation, and beneath each English word, there are links to the original language words that “inspired” the translation. Now I can read along with the pastor, and see the original language words at the same time. The original language words are sometimes out of order, of course, because in a reverse interlinear, it’s the English line that does the driving, so to speak; everything else falls in beneath that.

The ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament
, Matt 5:34

The ESV English-Hebrew Reverse Interlinear Old Testament
, Eccles 12:12

Even better, because I get the English translation I want and the original language words in one window, I can dispense with all of the complicated link sets and multiple versions. True, the ESV New Testament and Old Testament reverse interlinears are separate resources in the LDLS, but here the resource associations are working for me, not against me: Because the two are “associated” resources, if I type an NT reference into the OT reverse interlinear, LDLS “knows what I meant” and opens the right resource to the passage I typed in. Now I can swap back and forth between OT and NT transparently.

My “Church” Workspace, 3.0-style

What was four windows on my desktop becomes one. My new “Church” workspace is down to two windows: The ESV Reverse Interlinear(s) on one side, and the Bible Speed Search set up to the ESV on the other. Fewer windows. More room to read. Less hassle.

Life is good.


  1. Even though it might be improper for me, in my context, to bring a laptop to a church service, it is certainly useful to use Logos as you described while listening to sermon MP3s. Bravo on writing this outstanding post; I enjoy ones that demonstrate practical uses for Logos Bible Software.

  2. Steve Maling says

    Good morning, Eli,
    Thanks for a preview as I eagerly wait for my Logos 3 Original Languages Library to be delivered.
    BTW, the OLL is advertised as including the ESV Reverse Interlinear, as are the Scholors, Scholars Silver, and Scholars Gold which you note.
    May each and all of you continue to be strengthened in the great work you do.

  3. I could not agree more about taking Logos to church! Except, i use a Tablet-PC. It fits right in my hands. Can’t use the bookmark feature that easily, but with a few clicks of the pen, i am where i want to be. I hope more Logos users see the value of Tablet PC’s with LDLS loaded; and maybe get enough people so that Logos looks at being more pen friendly – especially with the notes. Thanks for all you guys do!

  4. Good idea Eli. Now what would happen if the Pastor left his Bible home, and just used his notebook when he preached the sermon? Something to think about.

  5. Tim Lord says

    The title of this blog caught my attention. I stopped taking my bible to church over a year ago for a couple of reasons. First, our church hands out sermon outlines with “fill in the blanks”. After collecting a few three-ring binders full of these over the years, I decided that an electronic copy was more useful for review and reference. So, why not take my notes on my laptop PC right during the service itself so that I do not have to transcribe later? Plus, with Logos Bible Software running at the same time, it became SO EASY to copy and paste the Bible passage references in full right into the text of the outline. Now, whenever our Small Group happens to study a sermon series, I have all I need without refering to paper, and much more because of Logos Bible Software. Yes, I also take my laptop PC to my Small Group meetings, and I could never be without it now since quick look-ups are so convenient to do (good commentaries help answer questions about difficult Bible passages). Once in a while one of our pastors has the congreagation stand up to read Scripture. That is a bit awkward to do with a laptop PC since the screen must flip out to read it, but that would not be a problem at all with a tablet PC. I think the day is coming when people will begin bringing things like tablet PCs in lieu of a Bible to church once price and form/factor make it worthwhile. And when people seeing me using my laptop PC haoppen to ask about it, I often get to introduce them to what Logos Bible Software is.

  6. Pastor Michael says

    I am the pastor of a small, older church. I am trying to figure out a way to put the laptop on the lecturn and use it instead of turning pages. I brought it to a Bible study that I taught once, and everyone asked why I did not bring my Bible. I tried to show them, but no one got it.
    I do love the fact that I can quickly copy and past scripture from Logos into PowerPoint and use it Sunday Morning for our selected passages, but using the laptop during the service, while in front of everyone is still a generation away, I think.

  7. This isn’t Logos software, but I found this article interesting http://www.olivetree.com/press/releases/paperless_pulpit.php. It is a pastor who uses a PDA instead of a traditional Bible while preaching.

  8. James Walling says

    I have wanted to buy a Tablet PC for the sole purpose of using Logos and MS One Note. I bring my big Dell Inspiron to Sunday School at times, but I keep getting that weird look from everybody else. So, I feel uncomfortable and go back to paper. I believe a Tablet PC would be less intrusive.

  9. Pastor Michael says

    One last basic concept. 99.9% of all Bible paper is made of rice, not trees. Tree paper cannot get thin enough. Rice based paper is cheaper, can be made thinner and is tougher when made thinner. Thought I would just throw that in.

  10. Pastor Michael says

    I would love to go to a Tablet PC but there are two issues:
    1. Microsoft has stated in unofficial postings that they will not make a vista version of Windows Tablet. This tells industry pundets that the tablet OS may be dead.
    2. Tablet PC have always been very underpowered in relationship to their bigger brothers. My Toshiba Satellite is 3.2GHz P4 with an 80GB HDD and 1.5GB RAM. I can have everything open and move things around all day long. With the Intel DuoCore technology coming out, I would love to see a 4GHz DuoCore Mobile Table PC.
    Yet, in 2005, only 500,000 tablets were sold, compared to the 50+ million other laptops worldwide. Innovation and advancement need sales and Tablet PCs do not seem to have them. Oh well.

  11. Walter Marshall says

    I’m trying to figure out which Greek font Eli is using on the Reverse Interlinear. The fonts that I have aren’t near as clear when I use the Reverse Interlinear and I’ve gone through all of my fonts and I can’t seem to find one that clear. Eli, if you read this comment, could you let me know what Greek font that is?

  12. Loved the idea of taking your Bible to church. I am the Director of IT at my church and so I always sit in my office watching the service through our live stream. I do this so that I can man the live prayer chat. While I am watching the service, it is so nice to use Libronix during the sermon. It has really improved my ability to engage the teaching.

  13. How cool is that?! I’ve seen someone taking notes on a palmtop, but not using their online Bible? Great software tool!

  14. I take my laptop sometimes to service and do get lots of weird looks and even discovered that unless I sit in the last row, people behind me are distracted from the message because eyes are naturally drawn to my screen. Additionally, I am tempted to multitask and do word studies or check my commentaries to see how others have interpreted the same passages being preached. My Bible softwares contain so much information that it takes lots of discipline to not “go off on tangents.” So I am choosing to leave the thing at home… for now.
    Also, I did not see this mentioned in the previous posts but have you considered what the preacher may be thinking if you stare at your screen more than at him? First, this may be distracting for him because instead of getting a snoozing congregant, he gets one that he thinks may be playing Solitare . Second, I hope the preacher knows and does his homework, especially from the original languages. If not, those with the Bible softwares will know pretty quick since they’ll have it along with the commentaries right there. Third, and probably the most important, the Bible is intended to be heard with my full attention. How can I give it my full attention when staring at my screen?
    I know, I am probably the only one with these issues. I would love it though if someone could give me some suggestions on how I can reconcile the above.

  15. Hi, Khoi. I can see where you’re coming from. It all depends on your situation, I guess.
    My pastor is pretty laid-back and we’re good friends, so I know that it doesn’t bother him. And he knows me well enough that he knows I’m not playing Solitaire! There are about a half a dozen other Logos employees in the congregation … I’m surprised more of us don’t bring laptops, too. I’m still the only one.
    Anyway, the preacher (who has a really good sense of humor) likes to look over at me every now and then — especially when he says this Greek word or that Hebrew words means this or that — and he says, “Isn’t that right, Eli?” And I say, “Yep, that’s right!” He likes to tell people that I’m “keeping him on his toes” or “keeping him honest”.

  16. Yes, you’re right, communication is the key. I’ll let the pastor and those around me know what’s going on (though I’ll still be sitting in the back) and be more selective on what I search. Meanwhile, when the text is read for the first time, I’ll close my laptop and listen.
    Thank you, Eli!

  17. I was wondering if anyone knew any tricks for annotating books and bibles in Logos.
    Currently I copy and paste into word, then send to Microsoft Onenote2007 and annotate there.
    I would also be interested in any other Tablet PC tips and tricks to go along with Logos.

  18. David Brown says

    > 1. Microsoft has stated in unofficial postings that they will not make a vista version of Windows Tablet.
    Yes there will be no specific Vista tablet version, you will just run whatever version of Vista you want on your Tablet. The TabletPC is far from dead. I too would like to see Logos include more pen features.