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 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.
I 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.
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.
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.)
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 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.
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.
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.