Bible Software and Sermon Prep

This post isn’t a fair comparison of Bible software, but it is a suggestion that you look into the value of something beyond the free options.  I shared a free option on Monday, and others have followed in the comments.  If you are in a position to invest financially in software, then Bible software is well worth considering.

There are three “big boys” that I’ll mention.  Feel free to add your experience with any of these, or others you’d care to mention too.

 Available on PC and Mac, Logos offers an impressive array of content.  I’ll be honest, I’m still getting used to the pure Bible functions of Logos, as I have been a Bibleworks user for so long (and still reach for it on my netbook at times).  But it seems to me that Logos is improving and at least catching up in terms of exegetical function.  Where Logos seems to stand alone is in the array of commentaries and research materials you can get on it.  My suggestion is to prioritize the quality commentaries and resources so that they are the ones that you automatically go to when you are looking at a passage (i.e. there are plenty of resources on Logos that you shouldn’t feel bad about ignoring – it’s still worth the price for the quality ones!)

 In simplistic terms, if you want lots of books, go to Logos.  If you want to work with the text itself rather than commentaries, especially in the original languages, then Bibleworks is fantastic.  It is a PC based software (although some do run it on an emulator on the Mac, I haven’t gone down that route).  Truth is that Bibleworks is probably capable of much that you will never use.  I would say that people with any original language knowledge probably need something beyond the free options, and this is definitely one to consider for PC folks.  If you don’t use Greek and Hebrew, then Bibleworks will still prove very helpful, but you may find the cost prohibitive (as with all three).

 I can’t speak for this one as I haven’t gone there.  Accordance is the Mac based Bible software.  Users I know seem to delight in it, primarily for its intuitive Bible-handling interface, but it also has Logos-like collections of resources that can be added at a cost.  I suppose Accordance would argue: what is the point of emulating a PC on a Mac?  If you have a Mac, you know how it works, and so do the Accordance folks as they’ve always designed their software for this platform.

For many, these software options represent a luxury that is simply out of reach financially.  For that reason I am thankful that the gap between free and expensive is not as big a gulf as it would be in most purchases.  For those who have experience of any of these, I’m sure others would appreciate your comments.

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27 thoughts on “Bible Software and Sermon Prep

  1. I’ve just started my ministry training and theological studies (church-based seminary-alternative), headed toward pastoral ministry. I have no budget for this expensive software.

    can anyone tell me the advantages of these tools over the multitude of free/cheap resources online? so far I’ve primarily used the ESVBible.org site, with study bible features and GreekTools (cheap! powerful!). I hope ESV does HebrewTools online sometime too, but there are also sites like net.bible.org.

    From my brief research, Logos appears to have tons and tons of resources that I would never use (aka clutter), and some public-domain commentaries and Bible translations, etc are freely available online. I’m sure there are other commentaries in there that would be useful though. BibleWorks has less clutter, but similarly, why would I need all the manuscripts, translations, etc on a regular basis (if ever)? Perhaps the lexical/grammatical references would be useful? I’m not a mac guy, so I don’t care about accordance much (although their atlas looks cool).

    any thoughts? thanks!

    • Bob, if you have no budget for these three, don’t get them. As you are starting your training, just make best use of what you have for free and then if the need arises later, perhaps the Lord will provide for you. It would be unfair to describe Logos as clutter and public domain materials primarily. There are some really quality materials on Logos, but it isn’t cheap. Bibleworks will have lots that you would never use, but if you ever get into biblical languages seriously, then you’d see the value of what it offers.

      Hope the training goes well, Peter

  2. As I consider the topic of Bible programs, and having been a user for around 15 years or so, I have to say that Logos has become a very useful tool with some incredibly valuable resources that allow me to access information quickly and to study a topic or passage thoroughly. I was a Bible Works user for years but for the past 6 years have been a Logos user and have watched Logos steadily improve performance in the original languages to where they are my first choice even over Bible Works. I have to say that Logos is a huge blessing and time saver as well as giving me access to helpful information, such as scholarly articles from the Theological Journals from Galaxie Software.

  3. I bought the Logos 4 Languages base package three weeks ago and have found it to be very helpful for getting insights in to the text. I like being able to get past my first year Greek and into the grammer where the real sermon gold is found. I also bought the Learn to Use Greek and Learn to Use Hebrew with Logos software DVD’s. They have helped me get more out of the software then I would have ever gotten on my own. To me, the bible program is to Biblical languages what a calculator is to an accountant. But if you have no understanding of the languages it would be frustrating and intimidating- probably not a good investment. It won’t teach you Greek and Hebrew. You need a trraditional classroom learing experience to get a feel for the languages before using it. Prioritizing your books saves time. The tools I found the most helpful were the Lexham books and the Louw Nida lexicon. I still like books and use my free E-sword for supplements. But anytime I can spend more time in the text and forming the sermon instead of remembering in what book on the shelf has what I need I think is good trade off.

    • Lonnie, something you said here caught my attention. You talked about “remembering in what book,” and I wondered what you meant. Does Logos give you the capability to type in a quote you remember and search across all of its resources to find it? That would be very useful….

  4. As what you mentioned and rightly pointed out, the strength and main draw is the commentaries and resources for Logos, and the exegetical, linguistic tools for BibleWorks. I’ve been in full-time ministry for about 10 years, and spent 3 years in seminary.

    Whilst in seminary, doing an M.Div in pastoral ministries, we mainly used BibleWorks, especially for my Greek and Hebrew language and exegesis modules, also a little for Homiletics for preparation. It’s very technical, and I would say, it would be very helpful if you already have a working knowledge or skills in working with the original languages. Parsing, inflections, mood, person, exegetical structure, those who know it understand what I mean.

    Since graduating 4.5 years back, and being in pastoral ministry, with occasional (not regular) preaching, teaching responsibilities, our church uses Logos, previously Logos 3 (Libronix, or LDS) and just this year, we’ve been upgraded with a church subsidy for Logos 4 (specifically the Scholar’s Edition). Apart from the original language tools (which might be slightly less impressive or extensive than BibleWorks), there are loads of background tools, commentaries, dictionaries, sermons, outlines, illustrations, printable atlases/maps, etc. This I find, whether as a pro or con, cuts down my preparation time and aids me when I need to work on something quickly, with lots of available resources. Also, and this will probably be a plus for millenials or younger generations, Logos 4 is now Mac and Android-friendly, with free apps to load onto your Iphone, Ipad or Android device (for me, HTC) to access Logos on the go. Friend of mine says he even knows how to adapt Logos books onto his Kindle. 😉

    So depends on your needs and requirements. If you need or prefer to wrestle with the original texts, perhaps as a academician, linguist, translator, regular expository preacher, then BibleWorks is for you. If you enjoy studying extensively beyond the text, and want something powerful enough at your fingertips to last a lifetime, then Logos is your best bet.

    If budget-constrained, besides using free stuff on the web, best advice is: pay for an annual membership at your local seminary library. I still fall back on this when I can’t get what I need (or can’t afford to pay) for additional resources e.g. NICOT/NICNT costs US$1,600!

  5. I’m blessed in that I could find the funds to buy one of these if it were worth it to me. Unfortunately, I’m not blessed with time, being one of those “alarm clock” guys that Peter mentioned a couple of days ago. So while I could probably come up with the funds, I’m not sure I could come up with the time to actually benefit from the extra resources.

    So here’s my question for those who have these packages. What specifically would make it worth it to me? I could use the money on books for the best resources, after all, so this package had better have quite a few things I would use to be worth it.

    Can you list for me 3 resources in the package that you use once a month or more, or 10 things that you use at least once a year, that I can’t get in a free package? If I saw your list, that would let me know whether A) I already have the books anyway and B) they are things that I also would use.

    I also have a question about integration of resources. Let me give an example to illustrate what I mean. I love Edersheim’s “Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.” If I’m looking at a passage in the Gospels, and I want to see what Edersheim said about it, I have to either open my electronic version or my paper copy, and dig around and find where he talks about that passage. Does Logos automate that process at all? If I were looking at the passage in Logos, could I click on Edersheim and have it take me to the place he discusses it? Or does it have a clickable Scripture index of books like Edersheim’s (which would be almost as good)? This kind of integration would also be extremely valuable with the various Systematic Theologies, where you could automatically see how Strong, or Berkhof, or Hodge, or Erickson used a particular passage.

    • (More than) 3 things I use once a month or more, and no hunting for pages:

      Metzger’s Textual Commentary on the Greek NT
      NIGTC Commentaries
      Pillars NT Commentaries
      WBC Commentaries
      NAC Commentaries
      EBC Commentaries
      UBS Handbooks
      IVP Reference Collection
      Lexham Tools (such as High Def NT, etc.)
      Theological Journals Library (Galaxie Software)
      All rapidly searchable, not to mention Bibles including ESV reverse-interlinear, etc.

      • OK, I’m looking at this list and comparing it to the Logos site to figure out which of their packages I would want. It looks to me like WBC and EBC and the IVP Reference Collection are not part of any of their base packages, and need to be purchased as an add-on. Is that right?

        I’m assuming that if you buy an add-on, it would be fully integrated….

      • Add ons are more fully integrated than you can imagine. This week I’ve learned about forming collections within Logos, about searching for Bible references in specific books, some really helpful word study aspects to Logos and that I can even have it read books to me (not brilliant in Greek grammar texts with lots of abbreviations, but otherwise a great feature). My suggestion would be to get the best and most suitable base package, and then add as and when you are able (and look out for their sales too – you just missed a good one, but there’ll be more on sale soon I’m sure). If you get the chance to buy Camp Logos or go to one, it is well worth it.

      • It’s not worth debt or starving your loved ones, but if you are serious about Bible study and ministry, I’d say it is an investment worth making if you are able to do so!

  6. I have used QuickVerse for many years. I’ve compared the list of books between the version of QV that I have and the middle-range versions of Logos. They are very similar. Does anyone have experience with both and can you answer the question about the advantage of Logos over QV (if there is one)? Thanks much. I’m considering “upgrading to Logos, but not sure I’d get enough additional value to make it worthwhile. Thanks much.

    • Be interesting to hear from someone who has used QV. A quick glance at the website didn’t reveal any of the commentaries I look at as a matter of course, or the reference tools. While most of the QV ones will be in a Logos package, there is a reason a lot of people pay for something like Baker Exegetical, Pillar, Word Biblical, NIGTC, NICNT/NICOT, EBC, etc. (best to try before you invest in a whole series like these – some are not cheap).

  7. I have found the same resources to be the case for me as well but will add a couple others. The NIV Application Commentary, and The New Testament Use of the Old Testament by Carson and Beale. I also use the ESV Interlinear and the Lexham tools as they are my regular companions in study and allow me to save significant time while doing language study. Another benefit is to be able to organize my books into searchable collections that is specifically aimed at a topic such as Theology or History which then gives access to helpful information. Just to say again that one of my most valuable resource are the Theological journals which I have made into a collection which lead me to the resources that the scholars who write these articles are quoting and reading. Logos 4 has become an indispensable tool for study allowing me much more time to soak in the text. While the commentaries are very nice to have quick access to see what others think about the passage. The real blessing is to be able to dig deeply in the original languages then have longer to soak in the text in its context. I just have to say a huge Thank you to my friends at Logos.

  8. Me also Peter. I don’t know if they are accessible anywhere else for those who might not have the resources to purchase them do you know of any place they are?

  9. I am fortunate enough have both Logos and Bibleworks, and like you I use Logos for commentaries and book and BW for straight language stuff — it is way easier to look up and search for a word in BW.

    The most useful commentaries for me in Logos are (in order): NAC (nice balance between critical scholarship and commitment to Scripture, as well as addressing pastoral concerns), WBC, and IVP’s “Dictionary” series.

  10. One of my favorite things about Logos is how helpful the staff are. When trying to decide the most economical way to add the resources I need, they do the comparisons for me. And they have discounts that are pretty significant for those currently in seminary (not published on web site). It’s been an invaluable time saver, both in my school work and in my teaching prep.

  11. I have found the best Bible program that is free is Online Bible which can be found at http://onlinebible.net/. I have also just downloaded Bible Analyzer 4 which is at http://www.bibleanalyzer.com/. With Online Bible you can add tons of moduals that give you great ability to study the Word. Bible Analyzer has a notepad that I think is good for gathering notes or for writing sermons. I think anyone would benefit from these two programs.

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