Decisions: A discussion between Bart Ehrman & Mike Licona


Logos Bible Software

 In Blog

There are a lot of free Bible study apps available today. For many, this is all they need. But some want the ability to go deeper—much deeper.  These need a robust software package and there are three companies that have offerings of the highest quality: BibleWorks, Accordance, and Logos. I have all three and find them to be excellent products. But if I had to select one that can be tailored to meet the needs of the person in the pew who wants to be able to do a little more than the free apps allow, the Sunday School teacher or the layperson who is a serious student of the Bible, the chaplain, the pastor, the professor, and authors, all tailored according to one’s needs and budget, there is only one company that can meet the task: Logos.

I have used Logos for about 15 years. I was initially given a complimentary package of the software in return for an endorsement if I was truly impressed with it. I was then. And I’m even more so now. I used to think Logos was incapable of doing the type of searches in the ancient literature BibleWorks and Accordance are known for. But one day I was visiting my friend Peter Davids who uses Logos exclusively and he was able to do many of the searches I’m accustomed to. In fact, Logos will do just about everything BibleWorks and Accordance does and even more. Honestly, Logos does far more than I’ll ever need and it has many interesting functions I will never use.

As good as Logos is, I still use BibleWorks as often if not more than I use Logos; not because I can’t do the same things with Logos, but because I’ve been using BibleWorks a couple of years longer than I’ve been using Logos. So, I’m very comfortable with it, find it very useful, and I’m not motivated enough at this time to become proficient doing similar searches using Logos. I use Accordance less often only because I’m even less familiar with the program, although I have used it enough to be very impressed with it. All three programs have their sweet spots and should be considered. And all three have versions for PC and Mac. But there are more options available with Logos, which can be tailored to meet the needs of just about everyone.

Logos provides what seems like an unlimited number of resources. For me, this means I can take a huge library with me when I’m on the road, which is about 25 percent of the time. While engaged in my doctoral research, I used Logos to consult numerous commentaries and lexicons of the highest quality, search the Biblical texts and a slew of ancient texts such as Josephus, Philo, the Apostolic Fathers, all available in their original languages and their English translations. And I did this while in airports, hotel room, on planes, and in my office. I have used Logos almost daily for several years while reading Plutarch’s Lives, since I have all of them, both Greek and English texts in my Logos. In fact, I have the entire Perseus Project in Logos, which includes volumes and volumes of Greco-Roman literature in English and their original Greek and Latin texts, all of which have been morphologically tagged. And the Perseus Project is absolutely free to Logos users! I can search words and strings of words in their original language for almost all of the Greek and Latin works of classical through late antiquity. Much of the research conducted for my next book has been done using Logos.

I wrote most of this review on a Friday evening from my hotel room in Bellingham, WA after spending an intense week at Logos. (By the way, the Logos Bible Software company began doing more than just software a few years ago. So, they renamed the company “Faithlife.” However, the software is still named Logos.) That week I worked closely with the Mobile Education division (or Mobile Ed) recording two courses they will be offering to their Logos customers in the future. Mobile Ed is for anyone who desires to continue growing in their knowledge of the Bible but are not interested in working toward a degree. If you’re familiar with “The Teaching Company,” think of something similar but on steroids. Mobile Ed brings in some of the finest teachers on a topic and provides high quality video of those teachers on various course topics. Each course lasts anywhere between four and fifteen hours.  Those who purchase Mobile Ed courses will often receive teaching similar to what they would receive if they sat in a seminary or graduate level course taught by that instructor, yet without the hassle of driving to and from campus, parking, registration, etc. There are no exams and no papers to write. Instead, course owners learn at their own convenience and pace. High quality video, transcripts of the entire course, recommended reading, and optional quizzes all provide a quality educational experience. When I looked through Mobile Ed’s present offerings, those offerings in the process, and those planned for the future, I saw several courses that I will be getting, since I, too, desire to continue learning. The convenience Mobile Ed offers is wonderful. I’m very grateful to my friend Greg Monette who works at Logos for introducing me to Mobile Ed, since I was unaware of it until then.

I enjoyed my week at Faithlife. While here, I had dinner with Faithlife’s president Bob Pritchett. What an impressive man, and only 43 years old! Bob is a success story. He never graduated from high school but taught himself code and went to work for Microsoft. During his off hours, he worked on creating Bible software. 24 years ago he and a business partner started Logos Bible Software out of his kitchen and it has become today’s most robust Bible software. There are presently 450 employees at Faithlife. I found them to be very professional and I had a lot of fun working with them.

There are a few occasions when I have called their technical support and have found them to be professional and helpful. I only have two criticisms of Logos Bible software. First, because updates are constant, whenever they download, the software performs an indexing to assist with accurate and fast searches. But the indexing process slows my computer noticeably. That said, I’m told I can set how often my Logos will search for updates and avoid the hassle I experience with frequent downloads and reindexing. So, that complaint can be eliminated. My second complaint is Logos owners must invest in upgrading their present Logos software every few years. And that will cost you around $200 a pop. Logos is not cheap. And adding on sources such as scholarly commentaries for very serious students of the Bible (e.g., pastors and professors) can get very expensive. But you can start with a package that is a balance between meeting your needs and your budget. You can then upgrade to a more robust package as you desire. Logos is also working on a subscription option that will give you access to resources without having to purchase software.

For more information on Logos Bible Software, visit their web site or call them at 800.875.6467. Students and professors are eligible to receive substantial discounts on their software.

Mike Licona (August 1, 2015)

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