Bible Study Software: Updates

logosBibleWorks2accordanceI’m badly spoiled and ridiculously privileged, being able to do Bible research with each of the BibleWorks, Accordance, and Logos software packages.

I received all three for free to allow me to post reviews, but since receiving them, I’ve bought upgrades and additional resources for all three. And I keep learning more about how to best use each one.

For example —

Logos

Going faster

Logos is the biggest program. It has the most features, bells, and whistles. But it is a huge resource hog on computers. It can run very slowly.

I recently joined a number of Facebook groups dedicated to digital Bible study, and I quickly learned that even the experts insist that you should run Logos on a solid-state drive (SSD), to get reasonable performance.

Image result for usb 3.0I have an all-in-one Dell, meaning my computer and monitor are the same box. Less wires. Fewer complaints from my wife. But really hard to do a hard disk transplant.

And so I bought a Samsung Portable SSD with 250 GB of storage, and I connected it to my computer via a USB 3.0 port. The USB 3.0 port is essential. A USB 2.0 port is WAY too slow to help.

I uninstalled Logos from my computer and then reinstalled it by logging into the Logos website and downloading it fresh to a directory on the portable SSD. And the result was a DRAMATIC increase in speed. It’s not as fast as if I had as internal SSD boot drive, but still much better. And as a result, I find myself using my Logos resources much more often.

Buying and selling resources

There’s a Facebook group for those who wish to buy or sell Logos resources. You pay Logos a $20 transfer fee and otherwise just negotiate your best deal with the people on Facebook. Some real bargains on excellent resources often pop up.

To my knowledge, Logos is the only Bible software that allows you to sell your books, which is a great feature.

Logos continues to have by far the largest library of resources to buy.

LogosScreenShot

Logos training

The Digital Biblical Facebook group provides links to training videos put together by the members. You could probably do nearly as well search YouTube for Logos training videos.

Logos does so many things, it’s really helpful to spend time going through videos in areas of interest.

Accordance

I just added the New Interpreter’s Bible commentary to my collection — and, yes, you should be very jealous. Accordance is expanding their collection of materials that can be bought, and they are running a 20% off sale on top of many discounts already available. It was time to buy. (And that’s the last commentary set I really, really wanted. Happy Birthday to me — two months early.)

AccordanceScreenShot

Here’s as screenshot of how I have Accordance set up. The left panel shows the available resources: commentaries, dictionaries, etc. At the top, is the text of Matthew 6 in the ESV. To its right is the text in Greek with interlinear English transliteration, Strong’s number, and speech part.

Below are five commentaries in parallel, including Scot McKnight’s new book on the Sermon on the Mount and the Interpreter’s Bible commentary. The window at the very bottom is called “Instant Details.” I can highlight a word in the ESV text and Instant Details will provide the Greek word and English definition.

I can highlight any word and then search in any resources — open or not — for that word.

All very cool, and I’m finding myself digging more and more into the commentaries and the dictionaries.

BibleWorks

BibleWorks is the least expensive and the fastest of the programs, and it has the smallest store of materials to buy. But what it lacks in scope in makes up for in simplicity. It’s just stupidly easy to learn and to use — and it’s where I usually start if I’m not looking for secondary materials (commentaries, encyclopedias, etc.). If I want to dig into the Greek or to find parallels in the Septuagint, this is my go-to software. I can do those things in the others, but not as fast and easy as in BibleWorks.

BibleWorksScreenShot

The programmers continue to work out the bugs, and the software is much improved from when I received my first copy.

And BibleWorks has just begun a project of providing the original manuscripts of the the ancients texts, such as Codex Sinaiticus. The good people at BibleWorks are evidently trying to be the program of choice for critical studies. I can read the Greek New Testament directly from the pages of Codex Sinaiticus with transcriptions notes right there.

That’s not really what I do, but it’s beyond cool that could do it if I wanted to. There’s just something special about seeing the actual brush strokes on the vellum.

And there are websites that provide free public domain resources for use in BibleWorks.

Summary

If you would be satisfied with a concordance and public domain materials, e-Sword is very popular among many readers. And it’s free. It’s not enough for what I do, but for many Bible students, it’s more than enough.

I’m increasingly a fan of commentaries. For a long time, I didn’t much use them, but now that I have access to so many modern commentaries, I find real insights there. Maybe two out of three are a waste of time on a given passage, but sometimes there is real wisdom in one or two. It really helps to have several sets that can be quickly compared electronically. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive, and so I shop the sales, secondhand copies, and bundles. I’ve put together an extraordinary library on the cheap. You just have to be patient and wait for the price to get right — and only buy what you will really use.

Lately I’ve found Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias very helpful for topical studies. Again, they are very hit or miss, but having several different ones allows me to search out the information I need very quickly. Both Logos and Accordance offer bundles with a wide range of Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias. And I’ve been surprised at how helpful they’ve been to my studies.

BibleWorks is $359 — which is a deal. There are limited upgrade options, but it’s very functional as is. The only things I’ve added to mine are the BDAG/HALOT New Testament and Old Testament lexicons and some public domain materials.

Accordance offers a free download that is actually quite a nice program in its own right. Most start by buying a Collection from $199 to $1,999. You’ll get lots of stuff you don’t need, lots of stuff you need but don’t know it, and volume savings. And you can always upgrade later as your needs and budget change.

Logos collection pricing goes from $294.95 to $10,799.95. As you can see, Logos has, by far, the highest top end. It just has the most resources licensed for resale. They’ve done a great job of acquiring rights to a vast array of Bible resources.

They also offer base packages targeted to various theological traditions. Anglicans can buy packages that include their confessions, the Book of Common Prayer, and such. But there is no collection for those of us in the Restoration Movement. I offered to help them design an attractive package, but no luck so far.

PS — Readers have asked for my thoughts on QuickVerse and PC Study Bible. I’ve emailed both to request a review copy, but neither has even bothered to reply.

PPS — Both Logos and Accordance have free iOS applications that let you do some pretty serious research. You can download the same resources you have on your home computer. Both are surprisingly powerful and well crafted. Unfortunately, BibleWorks has not yet caught up with the smartphone market.

PPPS — All three allow you to download multiple copies of your software and book collections. You could keep your entire collections on your office and home computers as well as your laptop or Surface.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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11 Responses to Bible Study Software: Updates

  1. James says:

    I’ll second the SSD recommendation for Logos. I’ve got Logos 6, and ended up installing a Hybrid SSD in my Macbook Pro to speed things up (benefits of the SSD’s speed, and the old style drive’s storage space). It did make a marked improvement. I also really appreciate the extensive cloud integration so that I have my Logos resources (and notes, highlights, etc.) available on my phone & tablet, making them available on the fly. The “visual copy” is also helpful if you find yourself exporting text to presentation software quite often.

  2. John F says:

    I have Logos also, but have been pleased with PC Study Bible (Professional Version). Good Greek morphology and a wide range commentaries, general books, etc. They have been good to work with for quantity mission discounts, etc.

  3. John F says:

    I should have stated the PC Study Bible is in dire need of an operational update — mobile apps, etc. Not sure why the delay, but it have an authoring package and tons of open sourced materials — Schaff, Edersheim, Josephus, ECF, etc.

  4. Manfred says:

    I was given a copy of Logos 6 basic and can barely stand to use it, running on my mechanical hard drive. I use Wordsearch and have been considering buying BibleWorks for several years. Glad to read it’s simple, competent, and fast.

  5. Jay Guin says:

    Manfred,

    I find Logos runs much better on Windows 10 than 7 or 8. If you’ve not upgraded, you might try it. Logos does a lot of things BW does not (although I use BW every single night), and I found the conversion from Windows 7 to 10 painless. In fact, I run the Logos package on my laptop, which has a mechanical drive, but it was only acceptable after I upgraded to Windows 10.

    If you run an Apple product, I know nothing.

  6. Manfred says:

    I have Windows 10 on my PC, which 2GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It takes 5 minutes to load and is slow as anything .

  7. Jay Guin says:

    My guess is there’s not enough RAM.
    I run 8 GB on my laptop and it runs fine.

  8. Manfred says:

    Thanks, Jay. My PC meets or exceeds those standards. I find Logos almost unworkable, it is so slow to load the desktop and slow to respond to menu choices – regardless of what else is running on my PC. I simply don’t see it worth while.

  9. Jay Guin says:

    Manfred,

    The comments at the link note that Logos does NOT run well at the published minimum requirement and criticize Logos for publishing such low minimums. They particularly challenge Logos’ claim that it run well with only 2 GB of RAM. The readers recommend 6 or 8 GB. I just know that my laptop and desktop both have 8 GB and run fine.

    My desktop has a SSD and runs licketysplit — but my laptop has a mechanical hard disk and yet runs very well.

    I also have run Logos on my wife’s desktop, which has a mechanical hard disk but, I believe, 8 GB of RAM. So I think in Windows 10, Logos has WAY under-speced the RAM required. I just ran task manager, and Logos is taking up 622 MB of RAM and could easily take up twice that depending on the tasks I’m running. There’s no chance of good operations at 2 GB, even if you upgraded to a SSD.

    (BibleWorks is at 1.6 MB — and would run on just about anything, I imagine)

  10. Kevin says:

    Logos works quite well on my Apple iMac Desktop and MacBook Pro laptop. Also works well on my iPad and iPhone. I Love it. No doubt it is a memory hog though. I have a 3.4 GHz Intel i5 with 8GB of RAM on the iMac…no issues. However, when starting Logos, I do have to wait for it to load. After loading (about 60 sec or so), it is good to go. Couldn’t be happier with the software.

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