Logos Mobile Education: The Digital Library Difference

LME LogoNext year will mark my 10th year of online seminary teaching. While my full-time job is with Logos as its academic editor, I’ve never completely said goodbye to being a professor, the job that I had while finishing graduate school. My transition to Logos gave me the chance to see what distance education (DE) was like, so I jumped in—I took some DE courses through the local community college to view the experience from a student perspective. My familiarity with both sides of the DE enterprise has helped shape the goals and strategy for Logos Mobile Education (Mobile Ed).

I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend in DE, particularly in seminary education: many DE seminary students do not have access to high-quality theological content appropriate to the level at which they are enrolled. That may surprise you, but it’s true. And it’s a key factor in explaining why the Logos library sets Mobile Ed apart from any other DE experience.

“I hope you live near a library”

One of the fundamental necessities for a quality, content-driven education in biblical studies is access to standard reference material. That’s why seminaries have libraries. Classroom lectures and required textbooks are where learning begins, not where it should end. Part of the discipline of doing genuine academic biblical study is learning to access scholarly material on your study topic. Traditionally, brick-and-mortar libraries have been the repositories for that material. This has largely changed in the DE model, in which accessible library resources are scarce. [Read more…]

Logos Mobile Education: Our Plan for Biblical Content Instruction

LME LogoLogos recently announced a new division: Logos Mobile Education (Mobile Ed). With Mobile Ed, we’re going beyond simply equipping users to do Bible study. Now we’re also providing instruction in biblical content. That announcement has generated a lot of discussion. How will we make this new goal a reality? What’s the plan?

What Mobile Ed is—and isn’t

We’re raising the bar for biblical instruction for the layperson who simply wants to learn more about the Bible and its world. Our programs will provide solid biblical training for anyone interested in local church ministry. The goal is not to create new digital books or more video tutorials for learning Logos Bible Software—Mobile Ed courseware presumes that students already have a working knowledge of Logos. Morris Proctor’s Logos Academic Training (LAT) is therefore highly recommended as a prerequisite to Mobile Ed courses.

The Mobile Ed curriculum

The focus of Mobile Ed courseware is first and foremost academic. Courses are not aimed at devotional study or small group discussion; course content extends beyond what you would encounter in adult Sunday School classes. In most cases, the content level ranges from undergraduate to seminary. [Read more…]

Why Use the Septuagint?

Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Michael Heiser, Academic Editor at Logos.
Logos recently announced the creation of the Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint on the Pre-Pub page. Many pastors, seminary students, and lay people devoted to Bible study might wonder about the value of the Septuagint for Bible study. The Septuagint, of course, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Septuagint was the Old Testament of the early Greek-speaking church, and it is by far the version of the Old Testament most frequently quoted by Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament. Rather than try to persuade you of the value of the Septuagint by means of these kinds of arguments, I thought it might be helpful to provide a practical example where the Septuagint explains what seems to be a New Testament theological blunder. I’m betting most of us are interested in that sort of thing!
Below is Deuteronomy 33:1-2 side-by-side in two translations. On the left is my literal rendering of the traditional Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the Masoretic text. On the right is an English translation of the Septuagint at this passage. I have boldfaced significant differences for some discussion.

Traditional Masoretic Hebrew Text
Septuagint
1 This is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Israelites before his death.
2 He said: Yahweh came from Sinai, and He shone upon them from Seir. He appeared in radiance from Mount Paran, and approached from Ribeboth-Kodesh, from his right lightning flashed at them.
3 Indeed, he loved the people, all his holy ones at your hand. And they followed at your feet; he bears your words,
4 the law which Moses commanded us, an inheritance for the assembly of Jacob.
1 This is the blessing with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the Israelites before his death.
2 He said: The LORD came from Sinai, and He shone to us from Seir; He made haste from Mount Paran with ten thousands of Kadesh, his angels with him.
3 And He had pity on his people, and all the holy ones were under your hands; and they were under you; and he received his words,
4 the law which Moses charged us, an inheritance to the assemblies of Jacob.


What Are We Looking At?
Some English translations (ESV, NIV, NASB) are close to the Septuagint or sound like a mixture of the two choices. As the traditional Hebrew text goes, the Hebrew phrase in verse 2 underlying “Ribeboth-Kodesh” is the same (except for spelling) as what occurs at Deut. 32:51 (“Meribath Kadesh”). This is why most scholars today consider the phrase to be a geographical place name, and I agree. The Septuagint, however, obviously has something else going on! While it is possible to get “ten thousands of Kadesh” from the Hebrew consonants of the traditional Masoretic text, the very common Hebrew word for angels (mal’akim) does not appear in the traditional Masoretic text. The Septuagint translation (aggeloi) came from a different Hebrew text.
One more observation: In verse 3 the Masoretic Text seems to equate “the people” with “all his holy ones.” Yahweh’s people, his holy people, are under his authority (“under your hand”). They follow at the LORD’s feet and receive the Law. Note that the singular pronoun “he” in “he bears your words” likely refers to Israel collectively (i.e., ISRAEL bears your words). Israel is often referred to as a singular entity in the Bible (“my son,” Exod. 4:21-23; “my servant,” Isa. 44:1). The Septuagint, however, gives the reader the feel that “his people” and “all the holy ones” are different groups. In the Septuagint, God pities his people and his holy ones–the angels referred to in the previous verse–are under his authority. Israel, of course, receives the law.
So What?
So who cares? Well, the Septuagint here helps us understand an oddity mentioned in several places in the New Testament-the idea that the Mosaic Law, given at Sinai, was actually given by angels. Check out these New Testament passages:

Acts 7:52-53
52 Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Hebrews 2:1-2a
1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
Galatians 3:19
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

Simply put, if you stick to the traditional Masoretic Hebrew text for your Old Testament, there is no place that the New Testament writers could have drawn such an idea. The closest you come to that is in Psalm 68:17. While that verse has a multitude of angelic beings at Sinai, it says zilch about the Law.
The point is that the New Testament references have provided fodder for biblical critics who want the New Testament to be guilty of either an outright error in thought, or just contriving a doctrinal point out of thin air. The Septuagint shows us that those perspectives are just simply incorrect. The New Testament writers weren’t nitwits or dishonest. They were using the Septuagint.