Friday, December 23, 2011

Logos Catholic Bible Software Provides Quick, Searchable Access to the Riches of Scriptural and Traditional Resources

For years I have been noting (and utilizing in my own work) the exciting potential of the Internet and particularly links-technology, for the purposes of making comprehensible in a convenient fashion, the inherent "interconnectedness" of  the Catholic faith. It's all tied together, and should be understood and studied as such. But only in the last twenty years have all of these treasures been so easily accessed. On my website I have delighted in trying my best to present Catholic Christianity and help make it easier to conceptualize in its totality, by means of links and overall categorization.

Logos Catholic Bible Software now makes these tasks far easier still, since dazzling state of the art technology allows the user or researcher to search and peruse (in just seconds) many hundreds of relevant documents: theological, spiritual, historical, linguistic, magisterial, and apologetics resources. The technology combines them all together, with search and integrative capabilities not even imagined fifteen or even ten years ago, wrapped together in an intuitive and user-friendly interface.

Catholic Scholar's Library is the most extensive package available, with nearly 400 works included. It's a bit pricey, but well worth it (90% less cost than all of the same resources in hardcover and paperback), and payment plans are available. Logos offers less extensive packages, too, such as Catholic Scripture Study Library. It supplies 300 resources at about 60% of the cost of the larger program, or the smaller-yet Catholic Library Builder. In early December 2011, just as I was writing this review, Logos added the new, lowest-cost product, Catholic Foundations Library (150 resources). Priests, Bible scholars, teachers, catechists,  RCIA instructors, apologists (like myself), and indeed anyone who is interested in learning more about their faith, the Bible, and Catholic theological and spiritual tradition, will greatly benefit from these wonderful tools.

Follow the links in the previous paragraph (especially Catholic Scholar's Library) for detailed descriptions of all the different aspects and tools:  many Bible translations, commentaries, Greek and Hebrew lexicons, biblical culture and maps, ancient Jewish and Church history (e.g., the complete 38-volume set of the Church fathers), theological aids (e.g., the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas; many works by G. K. Chesterton and Cardinal Newman). Just about anything any inquirer would need to shed light on a biblical text or particular Christian doctrine or spiritual matter to be explored, is included.

Logos has provided the best electronic Bible study tools for years. Now it has, thankfully, expanded its efforts to include specifically Catholic products. Catholic Products Manager Andrew Jones gives a brief overview in the following video:

Jones sounds the same "interconnectedness" theme that I highlighted above:

The rich Catholic tradition, with its intricate interplay of Scripture, liturgy, law and theology, is profoundly suited for study on the Logos platform. . . . Catholic Scripture study requires both serious textual and historical criticism of the biblical text itself, and it requires that the insights gained from this study be situated within the Church’s tradition. . . . print has required that each work be essentially isolated from all others, physically and conceptually. The digital age is changing this. Logos is extremely flexible and adaptable to many styles of Bible study, but it is especially well suited to the Catholic approach, because it allows the biblical text to be studied literally surrounded with the Tradition — really in constant dialogue with the tradition.

Amen! To get an idea of the marvelous nature of this software, note, for example, how it searches (or, more accurately, finds materials), Jones explains that "it is not a normal search engine like Google or something like that. Logos doesn’t just search for keywords. Rather, we’ve put human intelligence into the tagging of the books. So, for example, if you search for 'Eucharist' the software will return references to the 'Lord’s Supper,' 'Communion,' and so on."

It also provides the Greek or Hebrew word for any given English translation (what is called the "word wheel"), and searches that word, in order to provide all the various translated words in English for each term. I have done the same thing with my Englishman's Greek Concordance for years, but it is a much more tedious and time-consuming process that is now made possible in about five seconds. One can save a lot of time and eye strain!

As a veteran of many individual word searches, both the old-fashioned way (Strong's Concordance or Treasury of Scripture Knowledge or Nave's Topical Bible), and even on faster Internet Bible sites, I can testify that this is a huge benefit. Concepts in the Bible are rarely contained in just one word: whether in English, or Hebrew and Greek. These three reference works are included in Logos Catholic Bible Software: but integrated together with many others for "super-search" capabilities. The software offers English-Greek and English-Hebrew reverse interlinear versions, synopses, parallel Gospels and harmonies, among many other tools.

I know full well, from my own personal work of thirty years of apologetics -- thumbing through hundreds of books --, how very useful this software is. In a large sense, those who have done theological research "the old way" probably appreciate the "new way" the most. Perhaps in a generation, the old methods will become almost obsolete.

All of the fabulous integrated search technology of Catholic Scholar's Library and other Logos packages make one appreciate all the more, the labors of the thousands of scholars throughout history.  Their work is made readily available to anyone (conventional books often don't have an index, or have an inadequate index: again, I can amply testify, again). The capacity for learning and spiritual growth is endless. Andrew Jones comments: “One of the things that historians do is organize vast amounts of information, hundreds or thousands of sources all focused on a single concept or event, and that is precisely what Logos does.”

Catholic apologist and author Brandon Vogt, in his review, gave a great description of how it "feels" to use Logos software:

What really sets it apart, though, is that when you use the program you feel like you’re working with a librarian rather than a lifeless computer program. It acquires, catalogs, and organizes your resources, and helps you, the digital patron, find the information you’re looking for, quickly and easily.

Logos products are multi-platform and will work on PC and Mac (see system requirements): including an iPhone Bible app and an iPad Bible app. Video tutorials for many different aspects make learning to use this great resource fun and fairly easy.

I myself am a relative newcomer to the "scene" but recommendations of this software from prominent figures and friends of mine in the Catholic apologetics community who have been longtime users, are glowing:

Patrick Madrid: "I’ve been a happy and satisfied Logos customer and cheerleader for over 15 years . . . I’m very excited about Catholic base packages and  whole-heartedly recommend them."

Steve Ray (user of Logos software since 1990!): "Its customer support and training are unsurpassed. . . . it has always been powerful and easy-to-use and keeps getting better. . . . As a Catholic convert I am very excited about these new resources." 

Jimmy Akin: "Logos Bible Software gives you the ability to instantly and effortlessly make discoveries in the Bible that would have taken scholars endless hours of labor in the past. . . . [it includes] Church Fathers, Church councils, and the great saints and doctors of the Church. I use Logos Bible Software constantly, and I enthusiastically recommend it to others."

Mike Aquilina: "It's a respectable theological library that fits easily onto an iPad and goes everywhere you might have to go. In some ways it's better than the bookshelves of a theological library, since it's searchable."

Purchase Logos Catholic Bible Software today! You'll never regret it. For additional 15% savings, use the coupon code ADVENT at checkout.

Other Reviews:

First Things (Dr. Steve Smith)
Jeff Miller (at The Curt Jester blog)
Michael Barber (Sacred Page podcast with Andrew Jones)
Taylor Marshall (includes an interview with Andrew Jones)
Thomas McDonald (at National Catholic Register)
Brandon Vogt (The Thin Veil website) 
Dan Burke (Catholic Spiritual Direction website)

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Martin said...

Hi Dave,

I listened to a long and thorough podcast on Logos on Jimmy's podcast. I've seen some of the other Catholic apologists promote it and now on your webpage. I hope you are compensated for your recommendation but also, if compensated, I'd look for acknowledgment of such.

Dave Armstrong said...

I received a review copy: one of the rare perks in my line of work (I had to have it, anyway, in order to review it, just as with a book or album). In return, Logos gets a lot of advertising from me on three sites (3300 Facebook friends, 750 followers on Twitter, 900 hits a day on this blog, etc.), and I have good name recognition in the apologetics community, which works for recommendations. So it is not just a one-way thing. That's how advertising works.

Being compensated doesn't change the fact that I think it is a superb product, just as I stated in the review. A lot of my work is done for free (2650 posts on this blog are available free), so it is nice for a change to receive something this wonderful.

I think I've earned it through all my hard work for 15 years online: writing constantly the entire time. That's why I am published and known, and in turn why I was asked to write a review.

And they were kind enough at Logos to recognize that I would use this tool quite a bit in my work and hence spread the fruits of the fabulous research possibilities with others in my writings. Thus, it is a win-win-win situation (Logos, myself, and my readers).

Martin said...

Dave, when I heard Jimmy's podcast my first thought was the hope that logos would contact you, I am thrilled. I look forward to seeing what new vistas open for you. My only tiny quibble with all the apologists is the lack of the obligatory disclaimer in small print, " paid advertisement" .

Oh, and when I went to look at the Logos webpage and gasp at the cost. After you've used out a while I'd be interested in what you think are the most essential parts of the program. It streams one could purchase smaller packages to save cost.

God bless

Dave Armstrong said...

Well, a lot of it is online already. I've been using online resources for years: even designing books around such materials: Calvin's Institutes, The Quotable Newman, The Wisdom of Mr. Chesterton [virtually all of Newman and Chesterton are online], and my upcoming one: Classic Catholic Biblical Apologetics: 1525-1925.

The Church fathers are all online; so is Thomas Aquinas and Denzinger, and, of course, the Catechism. Lots of Bibles and commentaries, too (though the latter are mostly Protestant). To some extent one can access lexicons like Thayer and Gesenius.

Therefore, there is a significant level of access to useful sources with no cost at all. The advantage of Logos is instant searchability and having everything covered under the same search engine. That's a big advantage, but without means, at least a lot of the material is accessible on the web.

Adam D Jones said...

It says you posted this on December 31st, 2011! How did you travel to the future?

Dave Armstrong said...

LOL This is a way (in Blogger) to pin posts at the top so that they don't get bumped down with the next post. You go and change the date after the initial post is put up.

catholicview said...

I've been looking longingly at the long-awaited Logos goodies for Catholics, too. Glad to find your review. (And I use the word review and not paid advertisement because there is a difference between the two and because what you wrote was not advertising copy but a review.)

Thank you for all the amazing work you share with the world, Dave. Peace be with you.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks much. I appreciate the kind words. God bless you!

The Ubiquitous said...

Dave: Is there a link Amazon-like which gets you a cut of the profits from a Verbum purchase? (Yes, yes --- they rebranded.)

The Ubiquitous said...

(I'm in the market, and, as I recall, you could always use a cut.)

Dave Armstrong said...

Not sure what you are asking (???). Here is the link to my books at Logos:

The Ubiquitous said...

Ah. Well, with Amazon, using certain links gives the link-giver a cut of the profit. I thought maybe Logos/Verbum had something similar.