Logos 5 has been on the market for a few months now. How is it holding up?
Since then I’ve been using the Gold base package, which I began to review here. If you’re new to Logos and/or this blog, reading through the posts above all apply in review of Logos Gold. To summarize a bit, Silver and Gold base packages both have:
- Features like Bible Facts, Passage Guide, Bible Word Study, Exegetical Guide, Sermon Starter Guide, Timeline, and more
- Clause Search–about which I wrote more here
- The New American Commentary set
- The Pulpit Commentary set
- Greek and English Apostolic Fathers
- A new English translation of the Septuagint, The Lexham English Septuagint
- A lot more
The Gold base package adds to Silver:
- The Bible Sense Lexicon
- The Old Testament and New Testament Handbooks by United Bible Societies (nearly 50 volumes–good especially for translation work)
- The Exegetical Summaries series by SIL International–24 volumes, with phrase-by-phrase summaries of how various interpreters have exegeted a given book
- Black’s New Testament Commentary series
- N.T. Wright’s Christian Origins and the Question of God series (3 volumes to date)
- Brill’s pricey 3-volume Context of Scripture
- Also a lot more
The full contents of Gold can be seen here, in comparison with the other packages.
In this concluding part of my Gold review, I want to look at some of the above features: one feature in-depth, and a couple others briefly.
Bible Sense Lexicon
The primary purpose of this feature is to present the range of possible meanings for Hebrew and Greek lemmas and then suggest precise contextual definitions for them as they appear in verses.
For example, the Bible Sense Lexicon shows that kosmos may have 12 different meanings, but in John 3:16 it refers to the world populace or people on the earth.
The BSL at the moment works just with nouns. There are several ways to access it. By right-clicking on kosmos (inflected as κόσμον) in John 3:16, the menu shows me that the “sense” is “world populace.” From there I can go directly to the BSL entry for this word, which gives its meaning (as determined by the team at Logos) in context. Here’s what the entry looks like (open in new tab or window to see larger):
The “sense” of kosmos is “world populace,” which is further defined at upper left: “people in general considered as a whole….” The number and bars underneath that show how that specific sense (not word) is distributed across books of the Bible. Mousing over it, one notes that “world populace” for kosmos occurs 22 times in John. The little bar graph is good for quick-reference, but it’s pretty small, and you can’t really click from it to any other information directly.
Proctor uses the image of “orchard with trees bearing branches” to describe the BSL. In this case, if you click on “group” in blue font (a “branch”), you are moved back to the “orchard” of “entity,” and its “tree” of “abstraction.” It is under entity | abstraction that the “branch” of group | people | world populace fits (to use Proctor’s analogy). As you move through various levels of the BSL in this way, the forward and back arrows at top right in the image above help you find your place.
In the branch system in the middle of the image, hovering over any word shows a pop-up with further information. Clicking on a filled-in blue circle expands the branch at that point.
One other way to use the Bible Sense Lexicon (which is properly called a “data set” in Logos) is to open it from the “Tools” menu in Logos. Doing that allows the user to look up any word, regardless of what passage may already be open. Typing in “g:kosmos” (“g” for “Greek”) shows the following 11 senses (as determined by Logos) in a drop-down menu:
One could more fully explore kosmos by going through each of the senses, one-by-one.
There’s more to the BSL than what I’ve highlighted here. Watch the video at this page (and read the rest of the page’s text) for a quick but substantive overview from Logos. There is a detailed and really helpful Logos wiki page on the BSL, too.
The Bible Sense Lexicon is comparable in some ways to Louw & Nida’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains. Context determines meaning of words, and the BSL works from that premise. There is right now no easy way to find a list of passages that use a word in the given sense you are looking at, as noted here. This and the fact that the BSL only has nouns for now are areas that need improvement. Louw & Nida, by contrast (also available in Logos), covers other parts of speech.
The Bible Sense Lexicon is available in the Gold package and up (or by using a crossgrade option).
This is a great commentary set for careful study of words, phrases, and verses. The Logos product page has this description: “The 24-volume Exegetical Summaries Series asks important exegetical and interpretive questions—phrase-by-phrase—and summarizes and organizes the content from every major Bible commentary and dozens of lexicons.”
A difficult phrase from Romans 1:17, for example, receives this treatment in the commentary (pdf), with lexical and exegetical options laid out. The pdf doesn’t show it, but in Logos the abbreviations and verses references are hyperlinked.
For sermon prep or research papers, the Exegetical Summaries Series could be a good starting point.
These handbooks (OT and NT) are geared specifically toward translators, though any serious Bible student will appreciate them. The handbooks often discuss the decisions that various translations made for a given Hebrew or Greek word. A note on “Bethlehem Ephrathah” in Micah 5:2, for example, reads as follows:
Ephrathah is a term added perhaps to distinguish David’s Bethlehem from other towns or villages bearing the same name. Probably Ephrathah is a name for the district in which Bethlehem was located. It comes from the name of Ephrath, one of the clans which made up the tribe of Judah (Ruth 1:2). David’s family were members of this clan (1 Sam 17:12). It is probably best to translate Bethlehem Ephrathah as the name of the town. If this seems too long for a name in some languages, then it is all right to translate as “Bethlehem in the region (or district) of Ephrathah” (see NEB).
Whether one knows biblical languages or not, the level of detail in these verse-by-verse handbooks helps the user to more fully understand what is going on in the biblical text at any juncture.
My personal experience with Logos 5 (which was also true of Logos 4) is that it handles and operates more smoothly on a PC than on a Mac. More often than I’ve liked, I’ve found myself waiting for the spinning rainbow pinwheel after entering a search query or scrolling down through a resource. The speed issue is not really present on a PC, though. Having fewer tabs open on a Mac makes for fluid operation, but Logos on PC is the way to go for complex, involved operations with multiple resources open at once.
One strength Logos currently has over any other Bible software is how it syncs across computers and devices. Everything I do and save in my PC version of Logos will be right as I left it when I open it up on a Mac. Its cloud capabilities are tops.
I’ve reviewed individual resources in Logos, as well. You can find many of those by going through Words on the Word, if you are so inclined. One of Logos’s strengths is in the massive resource library it makes available. Much as I love the printed book, the convenience of accessing multiple biblical texts and commentaries from just about anywhere feels like nothing short of a 21st century luxury.
Thanks to Logos for the gratis review copy of Gold, given me with the sole expectation that I review it honestly here on my blog. Kudos are due again to MP Seminars, whose “What’s New” manual helped me more quickly apprehend the Bible Sense Lexicon.