If you go to conferences for pastors, the chances are pretty good you know about Logos Bible Software. Even if you don’t, the chances are actually still pretty good. For the better part of the last decade they’ve been working to carve out an identity for themselves as the premier Bible study tool. The must-have resource for pastors, authors, and students.
And they’ve done a pretty good job with that, I think.
I’ve been using Logos for several years and through several iterations. With a vast library and more tools than I know what to do with, it’s more than met my needs. Now, Logos 7 is here. Even better, the fine people at Faithlife (makers of the software) have given me an opportunity to try out the latest edition, which I’ve been doing for a few days now (though in all honesty, probably not as much as I would have preferred).
After a bit of time in the program, what do I think? Let’s talk about Logos 7 from four perspectives:
- What’s familiar;
- What’s new;
- What’s not so hot; and
- What’s my favorite new feature.
What’s familiar in Logos 7?
Users of Logos 7 will notice that there are a few minor (but welcome) design updates. The homepage has a few minor tweaks, notably thinning out the rules between blocks, and continuing to embrace “flat” design. The same can be said of the tool panels themselves. It’s all very minor. Given that the primary function of these is to, well, function, so I’m not terribly surprised.
Similarly, if you had any doubt, this is a program that is best enjoyed on a large monitor. You want your workspace to breathe, and if you’re working on an itty-bitty monitor like me 90 percent of the time, you’re going to find it a bit cramped.
And, as in past editions, your base package really does make a difference. If you’re just doing some basic to intermediate level study, you’re probably fine not going beyond Bronze or Silver if your budget can handle it. But if you’re a pastor, an academic or author, you’re going to want to go as far as your budget will allow. Platinum or Diamond is a good place to shoot for if you can swing it, in my opinion. You get the advance or optimal level data sets and tools, which means you’re going to be able to plumb the depths of the passages you’re studying with greater efficiency.
But all of this should be familiar about Logos. It’s what you’ve come to expect. But in the new version, there is some pretty cool stuff worth considering.
Logos 7 definitely builds upon the improvements brought in version six, while also adding in a number of great new features. Brand new to this edition, you’ll find no less than eight new tools:
- The Sermon Editor
- The Concordance Tool
- The Courses Tool
- New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- Updated and improved Systematic Theologies
- Biblical Theology tools
- Confessional Document
- Lexicon linking
I don’t have the space to go into all of these tools because I doubt you’d read it, but one that I really enjoy is the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. This is important to be because the Old Testament is often neglected by many Christians, but also because it was the Bible of Jesus during his earthly life and ministry, and of the Apostles. And one of the coolest things to see is how steeped so many books are in Old Testament books (as well as the deuterocanonical books).
Imagine the insights you might gain from a book like, say, Revelation, when you better grasp the texts he was recalling. After all, in this book alone, we find 40 echoes, allusions or direct quotes of the Old Testament and apocrypha, the majority of which come from Sirach and the Psalms. What does it change? Honestly, right now not a lot. I’ve not been able to really dig into it much beyond seeing the connections. But the fact that connections do exist helps greatly. It gives me confidence, at any rate, that it’s possible to make sense of the apocalyptic language of this book—to get past the silliness that sometimes comes up and see the book afresh for what it is.
What’s my (potential) favorite feature?
By far my (potential) favorite new feature in Logos 7 is the Sermon Editor tool. In the past, I would do all my work in Logos, finding what I need and copying quotes and other bits of information into my Word Doc.[1. Properly attributed, of course.] Now, I can actually build my entire sermon right in Logos as I go—including slides, handouts, and small group questions.
I can only imagine how much time this new tool might save pastors and lay preachers as they prepare their messages. Testing it out with a sermon I prepared about a year ago, I found it quite easy to use as far as the formatting and slide development tools were concerned. When I’ve preached, I’ve avoided making slides because it takes me so long. So this definitely makes life a lot easier. And you can edit the slides themselves, changing backgrounds, styles and anything else you need to.
What’s not so hot?
Since the first time I opened a copy of Logos, I’ve found the user interface to be less than intuitive. I have to do a lot of hunting around to find what I’m looking for. I mentioned this in my assessment of the previous version, and it hasn’t changed with this one. It’s not enough to make me not want to use the software, mind you. But I long for the day when I can find everything I need within one or two clicks. Perhaps I’ll see something new on this front in version 8?
So what do I really think?
So that’s a super-quick look at Logos 7. Do I like it? Despite my minor complaint above, very much. Longtime Logos users will definitely appreciate the improvements the Faithlife team has made in this edition. New users won’t be put off by the bit of additional work they’ve got to do learning the system, and Faithlife does make training videos available to help you get used to the system. Regardless, if you’re serious about your Bible study, I’d strongly consider purchasing the latest edition of Logos in whatever base package makes sense for your needs. It won’t take away the work you need to do, but it will make it go a lot smoother.