How to Incorporate Extrabiblical Texts into Your Exegesis

ancient-literature-example-featureGood exegesis starts with the text. But it doesn’t end there. You rightly examine lexicons, commentaries, and all sorts of other references as you wrestle with a text.

But what did the ancients say about the text you’re wrestling with? How was this verse used or understood by the Rabbis? By the Church Fathers? What about Philo and Josephus? Are there topics or ideas in this verse that were used in other ancient literature?

Standard secondary sources such as these have been available for Logos Bible Software for a while. But there are a lot of them (no, really, see the list at the end of this post!). And you have to know how to search, then you have to be able to evaluate the usages. And that doesn’t even take into account when commentaries refer to ancient literature (which happens frequently).

In Logos 6, it is as simple as looking in the Passage Guide report you probably already ran on the verse. The Passage Guide sports a brand-new section called Ancient Literature. The section provides information on how your passage is used in all sorts of ancient literature. Not only that, but it also classifies the relationship of the reference in ancient literature with the biblical reference you’re examining. It uses simple and general categories like citation, quotation, allusion, echo, topical, lexical, phrase, and historical.

An example—the one that actually prompted us to start assembling the extensive underlying dataset used by this tool—will probably help explain.

Isaiah 54: The Barren Woman

Here’s the text of Isaiah 54:1 from the Lexham English Bible (LEB):

“Sing for joy, barren woman; who has not borne!

Burst forth into rejoicing and rejoice, she who has not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate woman are more than the children of the married woman,” says Yahweh.

Why would a barren woman rejoice? Once you’ve done your initial work within the passage and within the canonical text, it might help to look at how the passage is understood and referred to in other ancient literature, and whether its relation is intertextual or topical in nature. Understanding how ancient literature interacts at either an intertextual or topical level with this passage can give us better insight into how the cultures contemporary with the Bible viewed barren women, their role in society, and why it would be strange for them to be rejoicing.

This is exactly what the Ancient Literature tool gives you. It points you to relevant portions of ancient literature, classifying the relationship so you can determine if the reference is something you’d like to examine further:

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Ancient Near Eastern literature

Literature in this category does not directly interact with the text of the Bible, but it is from the same milieu and can give us insight into how cultures contemporary with ancient Israel viewed similar concepts and topics.

One document, known as “Enki and Ninmah” (Context of Scripture 1.159) uses the concept of a barren woman. It also shows the cultural notion that a woman unable to give birth was deemed as somehow defective (the larger context of COS 1.159 is a contest between Enki and Ninmah, where Ninmah is creating defective humans and challenging Enki to somehow redeem them or make them useful):

Fifth—she fashioned from it a woman

who could not give birth.

Enki—upon seeing the woman

who could not give birth,

Decreed her fate, he assigned her

to do work in the Women’s Quarter.1

Here, all that Enki could do with the barren woman was to give her work in the women’s quarter. Understanding the cultural necessity of the ability to procreate and the following derision heaped upon those unable to do so is important for understanding the craziness of commanding Isaiah 54:1’s barren woman to rejoice. She has nothing to rejoice over and is well aware of it.

Apostolic Fathers

In Second Clement, one of the earliest available Christian sermons outside of the New Testament, typically dated AD 100–150, the homilist begins (§2.1–3) by quoting from Isaiah 54 and then explaining what he thinks it means. If you’re looking at Isaiah 54, this is good stuff:

2.1Rejoice, O barren woman who has not given birth, break forth and shout, you who has no birth pains, for many are the children of the deserted woman, more than she who has a husband.  The one who says, “Rejoice, O barren woman who has not given birth,” speaks to us, for our church was barren before children were given to her. 2 And the one who says “Shout you who has no birth pains,” means this: offer up our prayers sincerely to God, we should not grow weary like women in labor.  3 And the one who says, “For many are the children of the deserted woman, more than she who has a husband,” since our people seem to be deserted by God, but now we who have believed have become many more than those who seemed to have God.2

In Second Clement, the barren woman is identified as the church, and the growth of the church is identified as the children of the barren woman—pretty interesting.

Judiaca

In the Babylonian Talmud, b.Ber. I.8 mentions Isaiah 54:1. Beruriah is the wife of Rabbi Meir; here she is fielding a question about barren women, specifically referencing Isaiah 54:1:

I.8 A. A certain min said to Beruriah, “It is written, ‘Sing, O barren woman, who has not born . . .’ (Is. 54:1).

B.“Because the woman is barren, should she rejoice?”

      1. She said to him, “Idiot, look at the end of the same verse of Scripture, for it is written, ‘For the children of the desolate shall be more than the children of the married woman, says the Lord’ (Is. 54:1).
      2. “What then is the sense of, ‘Barren woman, who has not born’?

E.“Rejoice, O congregation of Israel, which is like a barren woman [that is,] who has not born children destined for Gehenna such as yourself.”3

Beruriah’s scorn for the lazy exegesis of the Isaiah passage by the one consulting her is evident in her response in ‘B’, labeling him an idiot for not reading the rest of the verse, and then in ‘E’ by her declaration that he is destined for Gehenna as well.

Other references

And there is so much more. Philo, On Rewards §§158–161 cites Isaiah 54:1 and then provides an allegorical interpretation of it. The Sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q265 Fragment 2) allude to it so we know the passage was used among the Qumran community. There are references in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 Baruch 10.14; Apocalypse of Elijah 2.38; and more). There are several references in the writings of the Church Fathers.

Get started with Ancient Literature

In the past, users with all of these resources may not have found these references unless they were serious power users with serious search skills. Even then, the references would not have been classified.

Ancient Literature gives you an entry point into all sorts of ancient writings related to the Bible in one way or another. And it provides you with information relevant to the section of Scripture you are studying. It helps you to see how the ancients—rightly or wrongly—used the passage you’re studying. And that could be just the piece you need to better understand your text.

Literature areas and resources for exploration

As you study with the Ancient Literature tool, you can pull from several different resource categories in your library, including:

* * *

Check out Ancient Literature in action and see how to use this tool step by step.

Logos 6’s Ancient Literature tool is available in Silver and higher: explore all of your base-package options, or see which package we recommend for you.

  1. William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger, The Context of Scripture (Leiden: Brill, 1997–), 518. []
  2. Rick Brannan, trans., The Apostolic Fathers in English (Logos Bible Software, 2012). []
  3. Jacob Neusner, The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2011), 56–57. []

Get an Academic Advantage with Logos 6

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Logos 6 equips you with cutting-edge tools for intense academic work. Enter any passage and consult up-to-date journal articles, investigate textual variants, see cross-references in ancient literature, and connect cultural concepts across your Bible. As you study, keep track of your findings with built-in notes and highlights, and enter this information into your lesson or paper with the new text converter and automatic citations.

Check out some of Logos 6’s tools that will help you engage the text at any level:

Textual Variants

Enter any passage or verse and explore the textual differences in all of your critical resources. No more complex layouts or time-consuming library searches—the new Textual Variants tool lets you investigate textual differences, consult textual commentaries, compare ancient versions and manuscripts, and view extant manuscripts online—all within a single guide report.

See the Textual Variants tool in action:

Ancient Literature

Interact with the Bible like never before with the new Ancient Literature tool. This powerful tool exposes thousands of biblical quotes, allusions, and echoes in ancient texts. See the comparative literature that surrounded the Bible and discover how a passage was interpreted by later Jewish and Christian traditions.

See the Ancient Literature tool in action:

Cultural Concepts

Gain a better understanding of the biblical world with the new Cultural Concepts tool. With just one click, you can search your entire Bible for a cultural concept, then access references to the same concept in ancient texts.

See the Cultural Concepts tool in action:

Propositional Flow Outline

See the flow of Paul’s writings and the intent of every line of text with the new Propositional Flow Outline. This new graphic layout applies to your morphological tagged English and Greek texts.

See the Propositional Flow Outline in action:

Text Converter

Streamline your workflow with new research tools like the Text Converter. Quickly convert Greek and Hebrew texts into a number of transliteration schemes, then input them into your research paper or notes.

See the Text Converter in action:

Notes

Keep track of your findings as you study with notes. Logos’ updated notes tool lets you create notes in any resource, attach notes to multiple references, and share them with your class or study group.

See notes in action:

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Discover more ways you can enhance your academic studies with Logos 6: get it today!

Logos 6: Study a Topic with the Sense Section

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

As the celebration of our Lord’s birth approaches, let’s imagine we want to execute a topical study on angels, who appeared frequently during the early pages of the Gospels. A significant part of this topical study can originate with the new Logos 6 Sense Section found in the Bible Word Study tool. (Please note that not all base packages include this feature.)

Let’s walk through a practical example of using this helpful tool:

  • Open a Bible, such as the ESV, to Luke 2:8, which begins the pericope of an angel visiting the shepherds (A)
  • Right click the word angel in verse 9 (B)
  • Select the lemma ἄγγελος‚ angelos (C)
  • Select Bible Word Study (D)

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  • Navigate to the Sense Section, which houses the senses ring (E)
  • Notice the lemma in the center of the ring and the two senses (or meanings) of this word, angel and messenger, as assigned in the Biblical Word Senses dataset (F)
  • Observe the listing of the same two meanings (G) underneath the ring (H)
  • Here’s how to read the different sets of numbers:
    • The numbers to the immediate right of a meaning represent the number of times that meaning occurs in relationship to the total number of occurrences of the lemma (H). For example, ἄγγελος‚ angelos occurs 175 times in the ESV New Testament and 164 times it has the sense angel.
    • The numbers to the far right of a meaning represent the number of times that lemma occurs with that meaning in relationship to the total number of occurrences of that meaning throughout Scripture (I)

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  • For example, ἄγγελος, angelos with the sense messenger occurs seven times in the Bible, but the meaning messenger occurs 92 times, which means in the other 85 occurrences other Hebrew and/or Greek lemmas have the meaning messenger
  • Click the arrow to the left of a meaning like messenger (J) to reveal:
    • An expanded explanation of the sense (K)
    • The verses where the lemma ἄγγελος‚ angelos has the meaning messenger (L)
    • Other lemmas tagged with the same sense messenger (M)
  • Click a lemma in the expanded section to generate a Bible Word Study report for that specific Hebrew or Greek word (N)

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By generating and studying Bible Word Study reports for the various Hebrew and Greek lemmas translated angel, you’ll be well on your way to a biblical understanding of the subject angels! Of course, you can perform the same type of study for any topic you like, such as worshipjoy, or grace.

For complete written instructions on all the new Logos 6 features, check out the Logos 6: What’s New? Manual or attend our in-depth Camp Logos in Tampa and Houston.

Logos 6: Wikipedia

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

One of the most popular websites on the Internet is Wikipedia, which is a free, user-edited online encyclopedia. This storehouse of information continues to grow in popularity and accuracy. If you’re like me, you’re constantly checking it for quick facts about almost any subject under the sun, even while studying the Bible.

Logos’ software developers recognized Wikipedia’s widespread influence among users and therefore decided to bring the information from the site right into Logos itself. As a utility, Wikipedia can be opened directly from the tools menu:

  • Choose Tools | Wikipedia
  • Type a subject in the reference box (A)
  • Press the Enter key to generate the retrieval
  • Notice Logos searches the Wikipedia site for your article and places it within its own Logos panel (B)

morris-proctor-wikipedia-71.1 As a shortcut, open Wikipedia from the context menu within any resource or guide:

  • Right click a word within a resource (A) or a hyperlink in a guide (B)
  • Select your text selection (C)
  • Select Wikipedia (D)
  • Notice the Wikipedia article is generated automatically within its own panel

morris-proctor-wikipedia-71.3 morris-proctor-wikipedia-71.4

For complete written instructions on all the new Logos 6 features, check out the Logos 6: What’s New? Manual or attend our in-depth Camp Logos in Tennessee.

Logos 6: Passage Links in Guides

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

Looking up biblical cross-references in print books is tedious and time consuming—having to turn page after page after page. With Logos, cross-reference work has always been a breeze. Click a link, and Logos looks up the verse in your preferred Bible. And in Logos 6, cross-reference work just got even easier. Scattered throughout various guides are individual sections with biblical cross-references, such as:

  • Passage Guide | Cross References
  • Sermon Starter Guide | Passages
  • Topic Guide | Related Verses (A)

morris-proctor-passage-links-in-guides-5.1

Now at the bottom of such sections, you’ll see two links:

  • Save as Passage List, which places all the cross-references in a new Passage List document (B)
  • Open passages in your preferred Bible (C), which places these verses in a temporary filter in your preferred Bible’s panel (much like an Inline Search(D); click the Remove filter link in the Bible to return it to a normal view (E
     
    morris-proctor-passage-links-in-guides-5.2

For complete written instructions on all the new Logos 6 features, check out the Logos 6: What’s New? Manual or attend our in-depth Camp Logos in Arizona or Tennessee.

Logos 6: Factbook

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

Just like the CIA publishes The World Factbook with facts and figures about the countries of the world, Logos 6 presents the Factbook (replacing Bible Facts in Logos 5), which produces reports about biblical people, places, things, and events, as well as a host of other subjects. In addition to being opened from numerous hyperlinks throughout the program and the Context menu, the Factbook is housed and accessed from the Tools menu.

Try this:

  • Choose Tools | Factbook
  • Type a subject in the box (A), such as a:
    • Biblical book, like Ephesians
    • Biblical person, like Moses
    • Biblical place, like Jericho
    • Biblical thing, like sandal
    • Biblical event, like feed 5000
    • Biographical person, like John Wesley
    • Topic, like baptism
    • Cultural concept, like marriage
    • Preaching theme, like mercy
  • Select your desired item from the drop-down list (or press the Enter key if your item is already highlighted in the list) (B)

morris-proctor-factbook-1 
The various sections in a report differ depending on the subject under study, but expect to see information types like:

  • Media
  • Dictionary articles
  • Search results from your library
  • Referent dataset
  • Community tags
  • Miscellaneous links to Wikipedia and searches

For quick access to the Factbook, right click a word in a Bible and open the Factbook from the Context menu! The more you use it, the more you’ll be impressed with this goldmine of information neatly organized in a hyperlinked article for almost any subject related to biblical studies.

For complete written instructions on all the new Logos 6 features, check out the Logos 6: What’s New? Manual or attend our in-depth Camp Logos in Arizona or Tennessee.

Faithlife Groups’ Collaborative Power Has Come to Logos 6

Faithlife-logoFaithlife Groups serve as the digital home for your faith community. They offer tremendous collaborative power, including document sharing, prayer listsnewsletters, and more!

With Logos 6, that power is now available directly inside the software through the Groups Tool.

You can find it in the tools menu alongside the other social tools. Just like any other tool in the menu, you can click to open or click, hold, and drag to a specific location in your workspace.

groupstool

With the Groups Tool, you can easily interact with all of your groups. Just use the drop-down menu to quickly switch between groups. Inside each group, navigate between three view options: news, Community Notes, and documents. Reply to existing posts inline, or create a new post using the pencil in the top right corner.

groupstool2

The documents menu has long held the power to create useful Bible study documents. Faithlife Groups makes those documents collaborative. And now, thanks to the Groups Tool in Logos 6, that collaboration is possible without ever leaving your software.

And Faithlife Groups is chock-full of groups studying the Word together using Logos 6. You can join in with one of them or start a new one.

Let us recommend a Logos 6 base package to meet your study needs, then collaborate with your Faithlife Groups from within the software using the Groups Tool.

Studying Scripture in Context: Why It Matters and How to Do It

studying-scripture-in-context-logos-6Regardless of where you are in your Bible study—from eager novice to sophisticated scholar—you’ve no doubt come across an obscure or confusing passage, word, image, or practice.

The Bible is filled with images and cultural references that meant a lot to the ancient Eastern mind, but are flat-out dumbfounding today, which—unfortunately for us—means a lot of Scripture’s messages and practices get lost in translation.

Let’s look at the big picture: the Bible was written over a period of about 2,000 years, by about 40 authors with vastly different personalities and cultural backgrounds, and in three different languages—Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.

Every biblical author is writing from a different cultural perspective, so in order to truly understand what the Bible’s saying, you need to understand where the biblical author is coming from—you need to have a basic understanding of their culture and language, or else you won’t fully comprehend the underlying message.

The good news is that Logos 6 comes with the best contextual tools available, so even eager novices like myself (or all the sophisticated scholars whom I work with) can make amazing new discoveries.

Here are a few ways you can better understand the biblical world with Logos 6:

1. Explore ancient interpretations of Scripture

No other text has had a greater influence on Western thought than the Bible. So what better way to dig into the Bible’s culture than to explore its literary contemporaries? The new Ancient Literature tool connects Bible passages to ancient literature based on shared references, themes, and historical periods, and even goes so far as to make these connections based on allusions.

For example, say you’re studying Psalm 23 and you want a better understanding of what “God as shepherd” means. If you start with the Sense Section in your Factbook, you’ll see all the varying meanings of this title. And although you may imagine a shepherd as someone gentle, kind, and quiet, the Sense Section reveals a different perspective: in biblical times, “shepherd” meant citizenry, or a united entity or nation. It meant to lead, and it meant to rule and tend to your flock. The shepherd was a strong, formidable leader—not a meek guide.

You’ll also see several links to works by the Apostolic Fathers in the Ancient Literature section. If you open these works, you’ll see that for Clement of Alexandria, the flock’s relationship to the shepherd was all about humility, and not exalting yourself above others.

For Ignatius of Antioch, God as shepherd was about unity and truth: “Where the shepherd is, there follow like sheep. For many seemingly trustworthy wolves attempt, by means of wicked pleasure, to take captive the runners in God’s race; but in your unity they will find no opportunity.”

And for Hermas, God as shepherd represented a graceful man—someone who personally greeted him and sat down beside him clothed in white.

Do you see how much this fleshes out your understanding? You could just bypass a word like “shepherd,” not knowing the significance and intensity this figure represents—or, with Logos 6, you can get a fuller, richer perspective of its biblical meaning.

2. Understand the real meaning of biblical words

As we all know, words can have myriad meanings. You can explore a cave and you can cave in; you can go dancing at a club and hit a golf ball with a club; you could even eat a chip or get a chip in your windshield.

Alternate word meanings are not unique to modern languages, which is why Logos 6 includes the Sense Section—a new section in your Bible Word Study guide that shows every alternate meaning, or “sense,” of a Greek or Hebrew word, as well as where it occurs.

For example, the Greek and Hebrew word for “house,” can mean a physical house, a family, a people, a group, or a temple. With the Sense Section, you can see all these meanings and go straight to where they occur.

Let’s say you look up “light” in your Factbook—the Sense Section shows that the absence of light represents an “evil realm,” or “darkness.” So when God commands, “Let there be light,” he’s not just flipping the light switch—he’s casting hope in the darkness, he’s creating an oasis from sinfulness, and he’s doing away with ignorance of God; his presence rescues people from an evil realm.

Explore the biblical world with Logos 6

All these awesome tools amount to one awesome goal: better understanding the Word.

Dig into the biblical world and see how you can do more powerful Bible study: get 15% off Logos 6 today!

Logos 6: Weights and Measures Converter

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

Sometimes biblical passages refer to measurements we just don’t use much, if ever, today. For example, in Genesis 6:15, the Lord instructed Noah to make the ark 300 cubits long. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever refer to “cubits” in my normal conversations. So how long was the ark to be? The answer to the question is very easy to discover with Logos 6’s new interactive Weights and Measures Converter.

Try this:

  • Choose Tools | Weights and Measures Converter
  • Type in the Convert box the number of units to convert followed by the name of the unit of measurement, such as 300 cubits (A)
  • Select the desired item from the drop-down list (B)

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  • Notice that Logos displays various equivalents in words (C)

Since, however, a picture is worth 1,000 words, notice that this resource also portrays the equivalent in pictures! (D

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300 cubits is the equivalent of:

  • 12 city buses
  • 10 humpback whales
  • 7 semitrucks
  • 3 757 airliners

For written instructions on all the new Logos 6 features, check out the Logos 6: What’s New? Manual. or attend our in-depth Camp Logos in Arizona or Tennessee.

Logos 6: Bible Text Only

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

Have you ever been reading a print Bible and thought to yourself, it sure would be nice to temporarily:

  • Hide the chapter and verse numbers
  • Arrange the text in list form rather than paragraph form
  • Remove the red letters

You can do all of that and more in Logos 6 with a visual filter called Bible Text Only. This tool has been in Logos for a long time, but it has greatly expanded in Logos 6. The text in most Bibles comes from the publisher with various features, such as:

  • Paragraphs
  • Character formatting, like red letter, italics, etc.
  • Cross-references
  • Pericope headings
  • Chapter and verse numbers

All of this and more can be toggled on and off with the Bible Text Only visual filter. Here’s how to use it:

  • Open a Bible
  • Click the visual filters icon on the Bible’s toolbar (A)
  • Select the Resource box (B)
  • Select Bible text only (C)
  • Uncheck:
    • Bible text formatting to remove all character formatting, such as red letter, italics, bold, etc. (D)
    • Chapter/Verse numbers to remove those numbers (E)
    • Footnote indicators to remove embedded cross-references (F)
    • Non-Bible text to remove pericope titles (G)
    • One verse per line to leave the Bible in paragraph form as opposed to each verse starting on a separate line when this option is checked (H)

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For written instructions on all the new Logos 6 features, check out the Logos 6: What’s New? Manual.

Or, to be one of the first to receive live training for Logos 6, attend an upcoming Camp Logos in California or New York.