I am a big fan of Logos Bible Software. I was first introduced to this study tool at a conference in 2010, where a representative took it on a test drive and wowed his audience of pastors, students, and Bible study geeks. But I didn’t purchase it right away. I saw the tool on display at most every major conference I attended since and, in that time, built an impressive collection of business cards from sales reps, all waiting for me to pull the trigger and make the purchase.
Three years after my first experience with Logos, after scrimping and saving—not because it’s crazy expensive, but because I was crazy broke—I purchased my first package, Logos 5 (the Bronze edition, I believe), which rocked my socks. And now, Logos 6 is here.
I had the opportunity to play around with it for a little while before it was released to the public. I took it on a pretty serious test drive, using it while working on a few blog posts and a worldview course I’m writing for the teens and tweens. So what did I think?
Here are three quick(ish) thoughts:
The interface. Most users won’t notice a major difference between Logos 5 and 6 in terms of the look and feel, beyond the homepage. The new design, which reverts back to a more traditional up-down scroll from 5’s right-left, is clean, pretty and very easy to read, as you can see here:
This is the most significant cosmetic change you’ll find in Logos 6 (or at least the most significant one I’ve noticed so far). The user interface and, therefore, experience are more or less the same. All the commands are in the same place, so you don’t have to relearn anything, and your search panels all appear as you’d expect them to. Which is to say, it’s designed to function best on a large second monitor… like say, my living room television:
In fact, if there’s any part of Logos 6 that’s a disappointment it’s actually the consistency of the look and feel of the interface. It’s functional, certainly, but it could use a little more love. I’d really love to see a really solid UI designer take a crack at it because it could be absolutely amazing. (Logos 7, maybe?)
The new features. Where Logos 6 really shines is in its new features. The team has done a fantastic job of doing some really cool new things to enhance your study experience. A couple of favorites of mine include the Ancient Literature tab and the Factbook. These functions give so much additional context to assist you in your study.
I’m working on a course for teens and tweens, one to help them understand the foundations of worldview. Romans 1:18-32 is a key passage for this study with Paul’s declaration that in our sin, God has given us up to depraved minds as we worship and serve created things rather than our Creator. From this flows all sorts of actions and attitudes that are declared unholy, from homosexuality to disobedience to parents. Without a doubt, this is one of the most provocative passages in the entire Bible. And this is why you want to be very thoughtful in studying it.
The Ancient Literature tab (which is only available with Logos 6 Silver and higher packages) lets you see where quotations, allusions, echoes and similar topics appear in the works of the church fathers, the works of Josephus, Philo, and other ancient writings. Being able to reference these writings gives you a better sense of how the passage was understood throughout history, as well as how it compares to other works in its cultural context.
Likewise, the Factbook makes puts a large amount of material at your fingertips. On the issue of homosexuality alone, it quickly showed me all of the key passages, plus several additional relevant ones, eleven different references found in Bible dictionaries, plus dozens of references throughout my library, including in the works of Josephus. Manually searching for all of this would take hours. But these features give you the information you need in a matter of moments, leaving you more time to sit with the text and do the hard work of interpretation.
Which brings me to my final thought…
The real power of Logos. The thing about a program like Logos in general, and Logos 6 in particular, is it’s only as useful as your library is extensive. The more you have, the better your experience will be. While I realize that not everyone can afford the premium packages, it’s worth investing your time and, yes, money into building your library as you can. If you can’t afford a premium package, start how I did with my first Logos package: get the Bronze edition and build on it. Add books that interest you. Add ancient texts. Take advantage of the free and cheap-like-free books that come up every month. The new features in Logos 6 are great, but if you don’t have the library to really support them, you won’t experience the full capability of your software.