The New Logos 5 [Product Review]

Logos5

Recently Logos Bible Software unleashed the hotly anticipated version 5 of their critically-acclaimed Bible study software.  And of course, it’s just in time for the holidays!

Whether you’re a pastor, Bible study teacher/leader, or a dedicated Christian, Logos Bible Software deserves a second look.  Considered by many to be the Cadillac of electronic Bible study tools, Logos offers a diverse library and a powerful software engine to back it up.  With the new Logos 5, the program is even more powerful.

I’ve been a user of Logos 4 for a few years now, and have loved it.  It had its quirks and issues to be sure, but it has brought my research to a new level, which is why upgrading to version 5 was an easy choice for me.  Stay tuned after the break for a complete review of the new package.

Logos Bible Software: A Brief History

If you’ve never used Logos Bible Software, let me take you through a brief history of the product and what it has evolved into.  Then we’ll get to the good stuff – what is new in Logos 5.

Logos began as a product by a different name: Libronix.  You can still find software packages that use the old Libronix format on retail shelves and in the back of older textbooks.  My first introduction to the program came in this way.  My intro-level Old Testament textbook in seminary was “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible” by John Collins, copyright 2004.  It seemed like a mammoth volume at the time, and I was intrigued by the fact that the entire book came in both print and digital form.  (Now I know that it’s a pretty high overview of the Old Testament, and pales in comparison to my other commentaries … but that’s another story for another time!).  At that time, they were up to version 3 of their software.

Libronix 3 was really good for its time.  It allowed you to search for key words or phrases throughout the book, and had hot links to the Biblical text  (I think it came with the KJV for free).  It was Windows only back then, which suited me just fine.  I couldn’t afford those Macintosh computers anyway.

As luck would have it, I found out how to use my student loans for computer hardware and software just in time for the new version 4 to come out – and with it, a new name.  Libronix was now Logos.  I was welcomed into the world of powerful Bible software.  The features were incredible.  They included things like: Zoomable visualizations; Adaptive Layouts; Visual Filters; Infographics; Book Tagging; Reverse Interlinears; Transliteration Tools; Biblical Maps; Text Comparisons; and much more.  Perhaps the best feature: it was cross-platform.  Whether you were on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android device or more, you had instant access to your digital library and could perform word studies like never before.

Logos 5: What’s New

If you’ve used Logos 4, you’ve gotten used to all of the above.  It’s time to look at what’s new.  With Logos 5, the base packages are completely redone.  You have the option of choosing between Starter, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, or Portfolio.  The prices range from $250 for the Starter Package all the way up to $4,232 for the Portfolio.  But don’t worry – if you’ve purchased any books or packages under the previous versions of Logos/Libronix, those books come with you and count against the price you would pay for the Logos 5 packages.

That brings us to the first new feature: An all-new customized pricing calculator.  Now, when you go to the Logos webpage and look at the upgrade page, you are given a customized price based on what’s in your library.  Before, this existed to a lesser-extent.  If you had purchased a resource using the Logos.com website, it would reduce the price of base package upgrades.  But now, you can see exactly what resources you’ll be getting that are new, and what your price savings will be – regardless of how you acquired the book.  For instance, part of my library came from Libronix resources and ebay purchases.  Those are now reflected in the new discount calculator.

Timeline

So far, this is one of my favorite new features.  Research a topic or passage and instantly find out about other events going on at the same time in history.  Just yesterday I was doing some initial prep for an upcoming sermon on Luke 2:41-52 (the boy Jesus visits the temple).  I decided to see what the timeline might show me.  Scholars estimate that Jesus visited the temple around 7 CE at the time of Passover.  As it turns out, this is one year after the Samaritans desecrated the temple.  In 6 CE, at the time of Passover, a group of Samaritans snuck into the temple after dark and scattered the bones of human corpses all over the place.  Security was placed on high alert after that event, and Samaritans were no longer allowed in the Temple courts.  It is in this environment of heightened tension and security that Jesus became separated from Mary and Joseph.  Here’s what I mean:

Clause Search

In previous versions of Logos, you could perform searches across the Biblical text … if you knew what you were looking for.  A search for “Peter” would bring up any instance of the word “Peter”.  Pretty standard stuff.  But in Logos 5, searching is intelligent.  Searching for “Peter” will now bring up all places where Peter is referenced – whether he’s called “Peter”, “Simon”, or even a “fisherman”.  You get an instant comparison of the Greek/Hebrew and English texts, allowing you to do all the word studies you could possibly need.

Bible Facts

With Bible Facts, its easy to look up a person, place, thing or event.  The tool shows you stunning images to illustrate the topic, and easy navigation to get from one fact to another.  Here’s a brief video overview:

Sermon Starter Guide

With the Sermon Starter Guide tool, you can save time and come up with creative new ideas for preaching.  When I entered that same passage above (Luke 2:41-52) into this tool, I was given suggested topics and themes to use to get me started.  Clicking on, “Amazement”, for example, gave me a list of several places in the New Testament that related to amazement – a great way to illustrate my sermon.  Not only that, but I also was given a host of media images that could be used for bulletin covers or background slides for a Powerpoint.

There’s also a lot more, but I’m way past my word quota for the day!  Here’s a sampling of what else you’ll find:  Topic guide; Bible sense lexicon; Bibliography builder; Search suggestions; Scripture memory tool.

If you’re looking for a high-level overview of what Logos 5 has to offer, then check this video out:

All in all, I’m happy with my upgrade.  The layout is familiar enough to know what I’m doing, but the new features have already proven insightful.  Have you upgraded yet?  If so, what do you think of Logos 5?  Leave a comment and let us know.

[Image via Logos]

17 SHARES

Chris Ruddell

I'm an Associate Pastor in the United Methodist Church and I serve as a trustee for Saint Paul School of Theology, with campuses in Kansas City, MO and Oklahoma City, OK. I'm also the author and creator of Church Tech Blog, at www.churchtechblog.org and the founder of Church Phone Apps at www.churchphoneapps.com

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  1. says

    the database driving Clause Search, in my opinion, is the biggest achievement in this version. It can lay the groundwork for some amazing things in future versions if they capitalize on it.

    • says

      A huge chunk of my website is dedicated to answering the question of what to do with that kind of data, but in a nutshell it offers a real chance for quantitative analysis. Now, before anyone throws the hermeneutical book at me, here’s what that means.

      We often hear in a sermon that such-and-such passage speaks of some person or place “x” number of times. This is meant to support the idea that this person/place/thing is a major or minor focus of said passage. Unfortunately, most of the time it’s based on a simple word search which we know doesn’t give the right number.

      I can think of tons more like that and ways to visualize connections among people, places, things, etc. I think their new data could allow for a lot more advanced means of discovering connections we didn’t notice before, not to mention the implications for search in general.

  2. says

    Great insight! I agree – search in the Google era tends to be too linear. We need a more contextual approach. The new search feature in Logos 5 is a big step in that direction.

  3. Harry says

    I have Logos 4 with tons of books. I understand that Logos 5 requires buyers to purchase books? I know Logos is a business and I don’t want to be critical, but the packages are not cheap. I guess I expected the platform to change free of charge, then Logos would continue to sell their books etc, which I would have done. Not really a happy camper!

  4. Chris says

    Harry – thanks for the comment! They do have an upgrade option that gives you all the features in the new Logos 5 without buying any new books. It still costs a nominal fee, but might be better than spending money on the new base packages.

    I think it’s probably naive to expect any major software platform to come out with a major new version and not charge a fee to upgrade. There’s a few exceptions out there, but not many. You have to think about it as not simply paying for digital books – you’re paying for a piece of software … and books. You already have the books – now you get to decide whether to upgrade the software.

  5. Patrick says

    What about the performance? Is there a noticeable increase? I have the portfolio package running on my MacBook Pro, and while there are tons of resources I find myself not using it as frequently as I’d like because the program is slower than malasis! If the new Logos is faster than I might look into it more. If it has great new features but still runs slow than I’ll probably just pass.

    • says

      Patrick – the performance seems to be improved somewhat, but probably not what many people would like. It seems to do a better job of displaying your layout right away while it searches in the background for additional resources. But if it was slow to open resources up before, that doesn’t seem to have improved any.

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