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Logos Bible Software Review

When most people are looking for Bible Software” they are looking for something that will help them understand the Bible. They want the ability to search the Bible for words and phrases, a few dictionaries, perhaps a few commentaries keyed to the passage, etc.

When people go hunting online for Bible software to buy, “Logos” always is at the top of the list b/c of its impressive features. I have owned Logos for about 12 years and have been using it for going on 20 years. I was using back in the Windows 3.1 days when I was in college at Moody Bible Institute.

Understanding the value of Logos for you first begins with understand what Logos is. I usually try to tell people that Logos is not really “Bible Software” like what they're thinking (as in my description above). It’s better viewed as an extremely sophisticated bookshelf. The price is high because you’re buying top-notch resources—the kinds of commentaries, dictionaries, journals that scholars use. You might spend $300 on a set of commentaries, Logos will sell those to you in a package with many others for $500, but you’re getting tons of other books too. The key question is: Do you want to study the Bible, or do you want a library about the Bible? If you're a pastor, or preparing to be a pastor, then you will very likely benefit from the power of a good library. If you're not a pastor (even if you're a very scholarly Bible class teacher) you may want to read this whole review to decide for yourself.

The fact is, that almost all the Bible Study that I (and most other people) want to do can be done better and quicker with something other than Logos. Logos is SLOW. Logos is CUMBERSOME. Frankly, for daily use, I don’t like it. As a nearly 20 year user, I’ve seen it degrade in functionality tremendously (it was awful back in the Windows 3.1 days but it began really humming along nicely during the “Libronix” days and now it’s slick but terribly slow again—just opening it up can take a few minutes and I have a brand-new computer). A pastor needs Bible software for more than just complex searches—we need it to glance at a word’s Greek root while in a theological discussion with a church member, we need it to find a verse during a counseling meeting, we need it to double check a verse address while preparing a sermon. For all of these needs (which are my primary day-to-day needs) Logos almost literally doesn’t work. Since it takes so long to open, I’ve had some many times where me and someone in my office are just staring at the computer waiting for it to load and I'll eventually just jump over to an online Bible study site and find what I’m looking for immediately. Consequently, because it is slow and cumbersome, for most of my basic Bible needs, I use BibleHub (http://biblehub.com/) and just recently started using Blue Letter Bible again (http://www.blueletterbible.org/index.cfm).

Logos can technically do anything you want, but it doesn't do it in a way that makes sense. I find that I have to literally watch their tutorial videos nearly any time I want to do something that extends beyond my normal usage. Moreover, I find their video format of “help” very unhelpful. If it their manual was simply written, I could just skim it to find to the part I’m looking for. Instead, I need to watch a 15 minute video to find the one key that was 5 seconds of content. Or I have to search one of their forums to find a dozen people trying to answer a similar question and wade through the helpful ideas, unhelpful ideas, opinions etc. Consequently, if I can’t figure it out right away, I tend not to even try. Thus, rather than being able to do “anything” I find that for me, Logos can do very little.

There’s also the issue of owning a product that automatically goes obsolete unless you keep up with the technology. It’s as if you own a book where the print fades every five years and you need to have it re-inked again just to read it. That’s very frustrating. It’s not exactly Logos’ fault—and they claim that you’ll never have to buy your resources again—but I find that in reality, I’m shelling out hundreds of dollars every few years. Consequently, over the last 10+ years, I have given them thousands of dollars. I have begun to regret that investment. I’m not sure I wouldn’t do it again, but I probably would have bought less packages. In fact, I have pretty much stopped buying Logos’ resources and returned to print for things like commentaries.

Another point is their mobile apps. IMHO, they barely work. I first got a smartphone specifically so that I could have my “library” in my pocket all the time. I figured it would be great to reference a greek word while in a conversation with someone. The reality is that all the slow, non-intuitive issues with their desktop software translates to their mobile apps too. I find that I rarely use it because it just takes too long. I'll be listening to a sermon and the preacher will say, “Now let’s look at Romans 10:9” and because the Logos app is so slow, by the time I’m actually at the verse, the preacher is way beyond it. I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S4—hardly a slow phone.

So the question again boils down to why a person would want to have Bible Software. If they are looking for a powerful way to access thousands of books—then Logos is the best. Having given this candid and somewhat negative review, I still would say that every pastor should own and use Logos every week. Even though I am frustrated with Logos, the fact is that when it comes to “opening books” I own, Logos is great. In fact, I would say that the level of scholarship I employ in a typical sermon-preparing-week probably surpasses what even scholars could do a generation ago. Logos enables me to hit this level of scholarship relatively easily. But that’s with the understanding, it’s not the “Bible study” elements that allow me to have such scholarship, but rather the ability to open up tons of books in seconds rather than hours. If you’re not the kind of person that wants to read a ½ dozen dictionaries on a word, or study Philo’s use of a word, then Logos’ primary (perhaps only?) strengths won’t mean much to you.

Those are my thoughts. Thanks for reading

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 17:16
Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...

Website: www.thegracetabernacle.org