02 May 2008

Logos Bible Software

image Well, I came up with my 3.2 nanoseconds of fame. Logos Bible Software mentioned my blog on their their blog (here). Of course, I was mentioned because they asked people who have Logos Bible Software listed on their blogroll or website to email them and let them know. 

I use the Logos software on a regular basis for sermon and lesson preparation, and the software gives me a lot flexibility without my desk crashing from the weight of all those open books.  There is also the reality that I can take this software on my computer when I go to meetings and other venues, and not have to haul several bibles and what-not with me.  But one of the best reasons why I use it is that when we moved to France from Chicago, IL, I didn't have to pay to have several hundred pounds of books shipped as well.

The software is really quite easy to use, and for language and foundational studies for a sermon, such as vocabulary,structure, grammar, history of the pericope in question, and so forth (i.e., what did the text meant to those who first heard it), it is very useful.

If there is a weakness, it is the lack of what some commentaries refer to as the "bridging context." 

Let me try to explain. We have the original or historical context of the text, i.e., the original hearers and participants in that context. Then there is my context, where I am here and now. The question in hermeneutics and interpretation is how do I make the leap from the context of first century Palestine or 9th century Judah to where I live today?

One approach is to place bridges between the different contexts, i.e., obtain information that is similar to my situation, and from there, as I determine how God worked in their context, I can see how he might work in mine. 

Basically it is a concept borrowed from Computer Management Systems. For a computer network, these bridges enable applications to obtain context and information from different computers and such, and make use of it.

To me, this is the one area where Logos is not as strong. Probably because Logos focuses on historical and grammatical aids, while a sermon ultimately draws on the philosophy and theological matrix of our existential existence, and tries to make sense of our situation in light of the bridges we have to the the original context. Sometimes we are trying find light in a narrative from people for whom the truth was unintelligible (compare the situation of Isaiah or Jeremiah).

For someone like me, who stands more in the emergent and postmodern stream of Christianity, application sections in many of the commentaries are often of little value, especially some of the stuff that is 50 or 100 years old.

Be that as it may, the software is still very useful, though it does represent a sizeable investment. Most of the modules you can purchase cost as much as the actual print and paper book. But there are advantages to an electronic version of the book, of course. Just be prepared to take a hit when you start looking for modules/books to purchase.

Is Logos the best? Here is a blog that did a study of different bible study software, and tried to give the strengths and weaknesses of each program. Logos actually came out #5 in the list, but I think that is simply based on his criteria.  I think the categories are good, but they will obviously weigh in differently for each person.

For example, interface as high on my list, as well as searching. But Logos rates high in interface (4 out of 5), but mediocre in searching (3 out of 5). I would agree ostensible with that, because the Logos search is tough to get a handle on.

It's worth looking into it.

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