Results tagged “Logos” from Reformation21 Blog

Wisdom Christology in the Gospel of John: The Prologue

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Having grown up in traditional Black churches, I have learned that being Reformed is more than simply assenting to a number of important doctrines (e.g. the doctrine of grace, the regulative principle of worship, covenant theology, etc.). By sitting under Reformed preaching and probing the mind of godly men, I have come to discover that the mode of Christian spirituality as expressed within the Reformed tradition is quite different than my own upbringing. In particular, I believe that wisdom theology has profoundly shaped the thinking of many of the fathers of the Reformed faith (especially John Calvin) and the temper of Reformed piety in general.

Calvin's greatest appreciation of biblical wisdom theology is discovered in his commentaries on the Johannine literature--in which Old Testament wisdom concepts are put into Christian form and developed into the Logos theology of the early church. According to Calvin's commentary on the Gospel of John, the Apostle calls the Son "the Word" because "He is the eternal wisdom and will of God, and secondly because He is the express image of His purpose." Throughout the remainder of his commentary on the prologue of John, the word "Wisdom" is used as a synonym of "Word". This is a crucial insight because (as Calvin understands it) when the apostle John was speaking about the Word, he had in mind the divine Wisdom.

In the first book of the Institutes where Calvin is developing his doctrine of the incarnation, Calvin calls attention to the logos theology of the prologue to the Gospel of John. Calvin states:

"Word' means the everlasting Wisdom, residing with God, from which both all oracles and prophesies go forth. For, as Peter testifies, the ancient prophets spoke by the Spirit of Christ just as must as the apostles did [1 Peter 1:10-11; 2 Peter 1:21], and all who thereafter ministered the heavenly doctrine... And Moses clearly teaches this in the creation of the universe, setting forth this Word as intermediary. For why does he expressly tell us that God in his individual acts of creation spoke, Let this or that be done [Genesis 1] unless so that the unsearchable glory of God may shine forth in his image?... And indeed, sane and modest men do not find obscure Solomon's statement, where he introduces wisdom as having been begotten of God before time [Ecclesiasticus 24:14], and presiding over the creation of things and all God's works [Proverbs 8:22]... But John spoke most clearly of all when He declared that that Word, God from the beginning with God, was at the same time the cause of all things, together with God the Father [John 1:1-3]. For John at once attributes to the Word a solid and abiding essence, and ascribes something uniquely His own, and clearly shows how God, by speaking, was Creator of the universe. Therefore, inasmuch as all divinely uttered revelations are correctly designated by the term 'Word of God,' so this substantial Word is properly placed at the highest level, as the wellspring of all oracles. Unchangeable, the Word abides everlastingly one and the same with God, and is God himself." Institutes of Christian Religion, I, xiii, 7.

In this excerpt, Calvin explicitly states that "Word" basically means Wisdom. What is even more interesting is that he draws this idea out of two very important passages of the wisdom literature - Proverbs 8 and Ecclesiasticus 24. At this point in the Institutes, the wisdom theology is primarily of interest to Calvin because it helps him understand John's Christology. According to Calvin, understanding Christ as the Wisdom of God aids in understanding how the Father has a priority to the Son while simultaneously being co-eternal with the Son (since there was never a time when God was without wisdom).

However, the chief point that Calvin emphasizes in his exposition of the prologue of John is that the Word of God is the source of life and light. It is the Word - the divine Wisdom of Proverbs 8 - who was with God from the beginning, whom the Gospel of John proclaims to be incarnate in the flesh of Jesus. This Jesus, as the only begotten Son of the Father, is Savior of the world. He is the divine Wisdom who empowers, enlightens, and animates those who receive Him by faith. Christ is the divine Wisdom who imparts wisdom; because of His Word - the Word of grace and truth - believers are brought from darkness to light. From Calvin's commentary on the prologue to the Gospel of John, we gather that Calvin understands in that crucial passage the main wisdom themes of the fourth Gospel.

A question that arises is how does this approach to the gospel of John affect one's view of Christian spirituality and discipleship? Because wisdom theology is characterized by its emphasis on the Word as divine wisdom, this sapiential approach to piety places a high value on teaching and preaching in the life of devotion. The Judaism in which Jesus was brought up gave a tremendous amount of time to the study of the sacred text, the scholarly exposition of the Scriptures, and the hearing of sermons which applied this scholarly work to the life of the community. The "School of Wisdom" produced a scholarly bent to piety and practiced a very devout type of scholarship. The same was true of the early Christian church. Studying Scripture, memorizing it, meditating on it, and interpreting it were regarded as the most sacred of tasks and the most essential devotional disciplines. Therefore, the study of Scripture was understood as worship in its most profound sense. Calvin's view of Christian faith and life is particularly clear in his commentary on the prologue to the Gospel of John when he says:

"For the knowledge of God is the door by which we enter into the enjoyment of all blessings. Since, therefore, God reveals Himself to us by Christ alone, it follows that we should seek all things from Christ. This doctrinal sequence should be carefully observed. Nothing seems more obvious than that we each take what God offers us according to the measure of our faith. But only a few realize that the vessel of faith and of the knowledge of God has to be brought to draw with."

From this passage it should be clear how important the knowledge of the truth is to our salvation. This saving knowledge, received by faith, is very different than being saved by mere knowledge. For Calvin (consistent with the Wisdom School), the divine Wisdom is a rich and comprehensive wisdom. The divine Wisdom is filled with every blessing, with power and vitality, and with all the holiness and righteousness for which we hunger and thirst. According to wisdom theology, as we find it in the Gospel of John and as we find it in Calvin, the imparting of the divine Wisdom - in all its power, all its illumination, and all its vitality - is of the essence of God's saving work in Christ.

This approach to religious devotion had a profound influence on Calvin and other 16th century Reformers. In many ways, it encapsulates the mode of religious devotion that characterizes the Reformed faith.

Logos 6 arrives

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The friends at Faithlife were kind enough to send me an advance copy of Logos 6 to play around with. Current users of Logos will already have a pretty good notion of what they are dealing with. New or prospective users might consider the composite review of Logos 5 here, here and here for a basic overview, with thoughts on its utility here.

So, what's new in Logos 6? Of great relief might be the answer, "Not too much that's too obvious!" The overall appearance is similar, the home page has been redesigned, and there are a few new gizmos, but - while it's a smooth new look, and as attractive as ever - I do not spend much of my time on the front page. There, options to strip down some of the extraneous detail and advertising can be well-employed. It is in the meat and bones that the real benefits are found, and there are plenty of them. I may get round to putting some pictures up, but the Logos website has temporarily folded under pressure, and they are hard to bag! Until then, here's a video.

I confess that there are some interesting perspectives that lie behind the intended use of some of the tools provided. For example, I am not sure in what way Logos 6 will enable a pastor to 'take back his Friday,' as the press releases encourage us to believe. From what, I ask, and for whom or what, and to what ends? It strikes me as a somewhat empty statement that betrays a rather narrow perspective on the world of re pastoral labour. Means are provided to jazz up your presentations - there is a danger that the preacher might be envisioned as an unpleasant amalgam of a busy CEO, a cheesy marketer, and a third-rate motivational speaker. Sermon preparation or even effective Bible teaching is not just a matter of efficient collection and slick communication of data. No user of Logos can ever afford to forget that. It is, perhaps, a more minor gripe, and a shame, because Logos really markets itself without much need for that kind of guff.

So, if you get away from such perspectives and assertions, there is much to appreciate and enjoy - truth made readily available to soak in, that it might soak into you, with a view to its accurate and earnest and prayerful communication. As I go on using Logos, I am increasingly impressed by some of the technical tools available to me, tools that I am still discovering. These add, if not vast swathes of usefulness to my study processes, at least some real and helpful insights and nuances. On principle, I almost never use audio-video aids in a sermon. Even so, some of the materials available for Bible study and lectures are breathtaking in their scope and facility, and a real aid to preachers in quickly discerning helpful historical or technical or geographical detail during the preparation process. In addition, there are no end of forums in which such aids might be appropriate and helpful, such as Sunday School classes, Bible studies or academic lectures. For those who never had or who have lost some of the more technical skills of scriptural exploration, Logos goes some way to making up the lack.

Among the new tools, the new Atlas feature is great for checking out the precise locations and physical dynamics of certain events and episodes. The potential when considering the life of Christ, for example, is great. I am also hoping that we will soon be able to track the journeys of Paul (though that may be in another volume). Also fascinating are the before and after shots of locations, with sliders overlaying graphic representations of historical buildings on to the present-day environment. Other new features include the Factbook, a powerful collation of all the data relating to individuals, events or objects. Using this tool, you can follow any number of connections to develop or trace a full-orbed perspective on a person or place or thing. Again, there is a lot useful here in providing short-cuts to a fairly complete study. There is a new top-level search that, as far as I can tell, prioritizes results to give you an overview of a topic. Inline search of individual resources adds an extra dimension to grappling with a particular text or pursuing a particular phrase or section. There are new datasets within the programme itself (e.g. Cultural Concepts) and new collections, libraries and bundles readily available on the main Logos site. Some of them will feel delightful, others will take a little getting used to. Those who keep wishlists of material on the Logos site might need to do a little reviewing and assessing to see what's still current and what needs to be adapted.

Factbook.jpgWorking with a beta version, I had a few issues in the download, and a few rough spots with what was, perhaps is, a work in progress (e.g. copy and paste, smart tags), but I hope that these have been and will be ironed out. As ever, much helpful advice was available on the Logos forums and through the Logos technicians, for those with the technical expertise and time to faff around behind the scenes of our computer screens.

The connections woven into the text will always need carefully employment. Self-control is required to remain undistracted by the sheer wealth of information available. Logos is sufficiently extensive, especially with some of the bigger packages, that it can become a little like the web itself, with all kinds of enticements to draw you aside from your chosen track. It is important to be travelling and not merely wandering if you want to use your time and your energy wisely.

For committed Logos users, Logos 6 is, on one level, more of the same, and that will probably be exactly what they are after. On another level, it continues to add facility and flexibility, streamlining what already exists and providing more and more readily-accessed material produced to a high standard, with tools to handle it. It looks as clean as ever, and feels even slicker in performance. For me, Logos helps primarily in Bible study that is profitable and fascinating in itself, study that forms an element of sermon preparation. It is not, in and of itself, a complete sermon preparation tool, because it cannot supply the fruit of prayer and meditation. It also puts at my immediate disposal a vast range of material that I can read, search, copy and - most of all - appreciate, profiting from the labours of some of my most treasured friends, mainly past, but occasionally present. These are the things that lie back of any given sermon, the steady accumulation of truth and wisdom over time.

In sum, and taking into account all the pros and cons, profits and dangers of this kind of resource, this is as good a time as ever to plunge into Logos Bible Software with Logos 6. To be sure, there may be a few glitches to iron out as the whole thing beds down, but existing Logos users will doubtless be delighted with some new and effective tools, and new users will find much to instruct and assist as they get to grips with the Word of God. So long as the technical never overwhelms but rather informs the spiritual, it is likely to be of profit. Dive in to Logos 6, and I trust you will find and store up treasures galore.

Logos 5: thoughts on utility

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Looking at Logos 5, we have considered the underlying Logos 5 platform, and then considered the base packages available before surveying a specialist package. In the last part of this extended review, I want to ask the question, "Should you consider Logos, and - if so - for whom?"

I think that the answer is, essentially, a thoughtful and careful yes. There will always be lazy and shallow readers for whom a product like Logos becomes a route to the veneer of understanding, a sort of expensive rent-a-quote or short cut to Twitter profundity. For example, it is all very well to inform others that the venerable Sibbes suggests that "if the Scriptures be compared to a body, the Psalms may well be the heart, they are so full of sweet affections and passions." But why did he say that, and where, and to what end? Sure, it's a great quote about the Psalms, but ripped from its context it shines well while it warms little. (I did still put it on Twitter - sorry!) However, such abuses are not the fault of the software, but of the user. Caveat emptor!

So, who might use this well?

LogosLogoVTrans200x300.pngIt may be that some earnest pastor or eager reader has limited physical space. In such an instance, Logos would provide a wealth of material without further preventing the rapid oscillation of deceased felines. Similarly, for those who feel the need to downsize and are willing to trade in the material for the insubstantial, selling off the paper library might provide for it to be more or less replaced in the cloud. There might these days be men who would simply rather have their books in a black (or silver, or whatever) box rather than on a shelf. For the modern digital reader who has eschewed the bound volume (a tragic case, but still a mad possibility) then something like Logos is simply one of the best ways forward, if not the best way. Of course, by making such significant investments, you are essentially relying on Logos to be there for you, at least for the balance of your lifetime.

Another obvious possibility would be someone entering or graduating from seminary or Bible college. To be honest, I would still buy such a fellow a well-bound set of some spiritual father of proven worth, and bid him take up and read. But I would not be averse to giving him what I hope would be a pretty permanent head start on his library by a wise investment in a Logos package. Of course, you are looking for such a man to develop the capacity - both of attitude and ability - to use the gift so given. Nevertheless, a sponsoring church or a generous individual could very readily give this as a toolbox on entry or a gift on graduation.

What about that brother who is heading into some distant or difficult place to preach the Word of God? Missionaries needing to travel lightly or discreetly might find these resources a wonderful boon, enabling them to take with them in fairly readily accessible form (presuming such things as a reasonable supply of electricity) the sort of library that in days past was the sole preserve of a fairly well-endowed theological college.

Then, again, what of the pastor who - in addition to his labours in his home church - has the opportunity to preach and teach as he travels? I do a scrap of this from time to time, and there have been occasions when either I have needed or just wished for access to my library while on the road. Perhaps there has been a need to produce something new or develop something old at the drop of a slow-falling hat. Or, some question or issue has arisen and - in addition to the tools immediately to hand and the functions of the memory, all with the help of the Holy Spirit - I have wished that I could just flip open a certain volume to refresh my memory as to what some giant of the past had to say on the subject. With a healthy bundle of Logos resources on laptop, tablet or phone, a good number of those resources are a good deal closer than they used to be. In addition to that, I can search those resources more readily and effectively than before. And yes, I could easily turn this into a jeremiad for an age in which we do not train the memory adequately, but the fact is that we do not, and here is one means to make up something of the deficit.

So, will I be throwing away my library? Of course not! As I explain to my wife whenever the need arises, books are instruction, decoration and insulation all in one, the perfect way to adorn a wall. Indeed, it is fascinating that even the Logos advertising videos often show people hunched over their computers . . . while sitting in libraries or studies surrounded by 'proper' books. To be honest, that is my ideal. There is never a substitute for knowing your Bible, and then knowing your own books. Where Logos is an aid to that, it is a wonderful aid. But the excellence of the tools can never be an excuse for poor preparation and endeavour on the part of the workman.

So, that is why Logos gets good press. It is an outstanding resource, or compendium of resources, intelligently and intuitively put together, offering the relatively well-heeled or wise investor a great wealth of material from which to select. Indeed, judicious selection and diligent employment are essential for healthy and fruitful output. If genius is indeed one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, then Logos will provide a shortcut to no-one. What it will do is to give matter to perspire over, but arranged, ordered and offered up in such a way as to maximise your perspiration. For that, I warmly commend it.
In our ongoing review of Logos 5, we have considered the underlying Logos 5 platform, and then considered the base packages available. - See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/06/logos-5-the-specialist-package.php#sthash.4mmdEdJO.dpuf
In our ongoing review of Logos 5, we have considered the underlying Logos 5 platform, and then considered the base packages available. - See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/06/logos-5-the-specialist-package.php#sthash.4mmdEdJO.dpuf
In our ongoing review of Logos 5, we have considered the underlying Logos 5 platform, and then considered the base packages available. - See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/06/logos-5-the-specialist-package.php#sthash.4mmdEdJO.dpuf
In our ongoing review of Logos 5, we have considered the underlying Logos 5 platform, and then considered the base packages available. - See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/06/logos-5-the-specialist-package.php#sthash.4mmdEdJO.dpuf
In our ongoing review of Logos 5, we have considered the underlying Logos 5 platform, and then considered the base packages available. - See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/06/logos-5-the-specialist-package.php#sthash.4mmdEdJO.dpuf

Logos 5: the specialist packages and bundles

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In our ongoing review of Logos 5, we have considered the underlying Logos 5 platform, and then considered the base packages available.

Today, we move on to the specialist packages and bundles. Here, my example is the Gold Reformed package. That's important, because Logos is a company that caters to a lot of tastes, and the undiscerning palate could end up with poison as well as tonic. Fortunately, this package is a tonic indeed! Linguists will salivate over the lexicons, grammars, interlinear Bibles and a few of the ancient texts. Historians will indulge in the oldest works and their translations, as well as enjoying a splendid collection of church histories and historical theologies, not to mention a great bundle of the church fathers. Confessional and creedal believers will find a wide range of material at their very fingertips. Preachers will enjoy the range of genuinely classic commentaries and the preaching and teaching resources. People like me will also luxuriate in the magnificent selection of theology, including some Puritan classics (such as Owen, Sibbes, Bunyan) and other gems (Witsius, Edwards, Shedd and Warfield, to mention but a few). And then there is a range of other helps and tools for Bible studies, including various reference works, maps, Scripture harmonies, data sets and the like. All of this, evidently, has been chosen to cater to the appetites of those who are more or less Reformed in their inclinations or convictions, and all the usual suspects are more or less in this bundle. Again, the great issue here is, "How will I use this?" Care will be needed to ensure that enthusiasm does not trample over wisdom, and eagerness swamp utility.

That said, if you do not have this material sitting on a shelf, and don't have the space on the shelf for it, and you could with legitimacy make this kind of financial investment and then make it a true spiritual investment, who would begrudge you the blessing of plunging into such an ocean of delights?

And then, as if that were not all enough, there are other bundles of themed material catering to your theological or denominational convictions, your scholarly predilections, your favourite publisher, or just about any other various you choose to mention. Some of the bigger bundles might strain older hard drives, so be aware of that.

LogosLogoVTrans200x300.pngFinally, on top of all that, there is a wealth of further material, authors Christian (from just about every tradition and of every stripe, from the ├╝ber-orthodox to the horribly heterodox) and secular (from modern classics to ancient scholarship), allowing the reader with time, appetite and available funds to build a massive library, which - if well chosen - would prove a blessing to anyone. Really, to some of us, wandering through these pages risks turning us less into the kid in the candy store: "Ooh, I like that! Wow, I like those!" and more into Homer on the sugar pile: "Mmm, sugar!" There is a real danger, especially on the better deals, of simply buying all the books you intend to read, rather than the ones you need to read or actually will read. This is a temptation with the physical library as well, but electronic purchasing is often just that little bit easier, and the fact that the book does not lurk before your eye reminding you of your investment can too easily soothe the pang of conscience.

However, at this point, it is probably worth mentioning pre-publication special prices, community pricing on new material, and the generous pricing structures and helpful payment plans allowing the full cost of the more expensive products to be spread over a number of months. If you already have a product and it is part of a new bundle, Logos will usually pick that up and adjust prices accordingly. If there is a new product in the pipeline, early interest usually secures a significantly lower price, but you do have to be in it to win it. Because of the significant price for some of these products, it is worth keeping an eye on these.

And, to be honest, the greatest barrier will probably be the price. Look at the savings, and you are likely to go mad with glee. Consider the cost, and you will be rapidly sobered. This is not a cheap tool - those payment plans will be, for many, both a blessing and a necessity! Again, the judicious, prayerful selection of what will be of genuine use and profit is demanded in the light of so much (and so much that is good) on offer.

(Next time . . . a survey of the potential usefulness and likely users of the variety of resources available.)

Logos 5: the base packages

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LogosLogoVTrans200x300.pngLast week we began to look at the Logos 5 platform, assessing something of the underlying provision. Today we move on to the base packages. These come at a range of levels, the most popular likely to be Gold, Silver or Bronze. There's also a Starter pack with some of the very basic materials, and then the system runs up through materials more suited to an academic environment (Platinum and Diamond) until you get to the all-singing and all-dancing Portfolio package, the everything-you-could-ever-want-with-cheap-deals-forever option.

Materials on the base packages are organised under various headings: data sets (basically, bundles of organised information); ancient texts and morphologies; ancient texts in translation; apologetics; Bible commentaries; Bible history and culture; Bible introductions and surveys; Bible reference; biblical studies; church history; counselling; devotionals and spiritual formation; English Bibles; exegesis and interpretation; interlinear Bibles; lectionaries; maps, photo and media; ministry resources; original language grammars and tools; original language lexicons and word studies; parallel passages and harmonies; preaching and teaching resources; and, theology resources. There really is a bewilderingly rich array of resources, and - again - it will do the buyer well to make a careful and full comparison of what is available and to select what he really needs or can use, rather than to get mindlessly greedy. Even the lower level packages contain material enough for the average lifetime and then some.

It is worth pointing out, too, that the proof-reading and editing on all this material is high-grade. It is a sweet relief to read electronic text that has been either scanned or typed and then carefully assessed and corrected (with the added bonus of a quick link for any time you might spot a typo). For those who blood pressure has risen as they have wrestled with some mangled screed, trying to w0rk ont vvhat Is gcing 0n, this is a real plus. Work has gone into making these reader's documents. Hurrah and huzzah! Among other things, this quality - together with helpful gizmos like the pasting tool with automatic footnotes - makes this an ideal tool for writers, scholars and pastors who write out their notes in full. No excuses for plagiarism here!

At the same time, some of this is beyond helpful. For example, the sermon starter is a bit of a non-starter for me. Yes, if I search the passage I have in mind, it immediately offers a wealth of technical and explanatory material. But it is also very quick to let me choose a topic, and then offer me texts to preach it from, which makes me slightly uneasy: it is too much of a gift to the user looking for a means to vault into the saddle of his favourite hobby horse. While it is great to have all the passages of all your available commentaries available at the click of the button, Logos users will still need deliberately and actively to work at this. As it is, it seems or too easily becomes mechanical, even artificial. To be sure, the material is put on a plate, but - for all the investment of real people behind the glowing screen - it cannot prepare a sermon for my congregation, it cannot meditate on the text for me. You cannot put the Holy Spirit in a box. At best, a tool like this serves you food (sometimes too much) that you need to digest. Such an offering, generous as it is, too easily imposes itself upon the preacher, and potentially clogs up his thought processes and forces him down channels that may not be particularly profitable to him in his particular circumstances. It could make a man inclined to carelessness or laziness that bit more careless and lazy. I can imagine addresses that, because this tool has been abused, are reasonably well-themed collections of what is actually gobbets of disjointed material. That is not the same as a sermon. And just because you have a wonderful tool in your box doesn't mean that you should be always using it for everything.

(Next time . . . specialist packages and bundles. For those who like screen shots: View image; View image; View image)

Logos 5: the underlying platform

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(Note: while there is an almost endless variety of material available from Logos Bible Software, this compound review is based around Logos Bible Software 5, the Bronze base package, and the Gold Reformed package.)

LogosLogoVTrans200x300.pngFrom time to time, Logos gets a mention - and usually a kind one - on the Reformation21 blog. But what is it, is it any use, and should you be interested? The temptation in considering this product is simply to reel off a list of the material that is available, but that is a little like displaying the menu without showing you round the kitchen and introducing you to the chef. I would like to give you something of a tour.

I will divide my review into three elements, considering the underlying platform, a typical standard base package, and then a typical specialist base package. I hope, in this way, to provide a reasonable overview of the product. In writing this review, I should make clear that my reading instinct is to have an open book in one hand and a pencil in the other. I like to engage with my books, and to read them face to face, as it were. So, I come to a platform like Logos with a measure of caution, though not really suspicion, more of an old-school inclination when it comes to the reading experience. At the same time, I am not going to dwell overmuch on the pros and cons of hard and soft copies of books more generally.

First, the underlying platform is Logos Bible Software 5. The basic application is free and can be downloaded to just about any mainstream device or operating system, including PCs and all the iStuff, Android and Kindle. In other words, most users will be catered for.

The application itself opens on a desktop or laptop looking something like a busy webpage or blog. It can be fairly thoroughly customised and personalised, stripping out the extraneous stuff and advertising and giving you potentially useful streams of information, but you may still end up with flows of material you are unlikely to use. That said, that is just the splash page, and a couple of clicks takes you straight into the meat. The layout itself is fairly intuitive, and will be rapidly familiar to anyone with a modicum of computer sense. Playing with the various icons and buttons gives a rapid and developing sense of how things fit together and flip around. In similar fashion, apps opening on phones and tablets are well-designed, and have a familiar and straightforward feel about them, especially as you begin to get used to the tools available.

Of no small moment is the fact that even the standard fonts and settings are easy on the eye, with clean and bright design setting off clear and crisp texts. For those for whom reading off a screen is not natural or particularly pleasant, this is at the better end of the experience, with further options to customise as you wish. Tied in with that are the excellent utilities for highlighting and annotation. Again, for someone who likes to interact with a book, if I am going to be reading this material online, being able to mark it up like this is a genuine boon. I still have no instinct for it, but the scope is there. There is a broad variety of appearance in the highlighting, and a good and clear system for notes, allowing them to be well-organised and easily tracked.

The basic app itself gives you a lot of functionality. Even with a single Bible version, you can create your own reading schemes and memorisation programmes, start picking up the regularly-offered free resources, and being piecing together some low-level capacity. For those finding their way more slowly, and perhaps stumbling a little, my limited experience with the helpdesk is that it is staffed by proper humans who are intelligent, skilled and helpful, demonstrating the kind of persistently polite friendliness that makes Brits wonder if they are secretly being made fun of.

The available training is good - short and clear (if sometimes a little cheesy) videos, helpful tips and tricks - but you will need it to maximise your investment. For example, simply watching through a playlist will very quickly overwhelm you. Little and often will be the way forward. With so many options and countless tools, you will need the training both to work out what you can do, and then you must decide whether or not you want to do it, and then how to do it best. Like many such platforms, there is utility here that many will simply never need, no matter how much they might tell themselves they want it. Of course, for 'power users' (great phrase!) many of these tools will be meat and drink. As so often, you do not want to over-buy and end up paying for resources and tools you will never use.

The search tools are fantastic, even if they can take a little time to do all the processing with such a massive database to cover. A great deal of human endeavour (as opposed to mere mechanical data-crunching and algorithmic wizardry) has gone into connecting references, so that searching for an individual's name, for example, will throw up instances in which that individual is referred to without being named. This gives the student a far more sure grasp on the available material. Of course, the downside of so much material is that you can be overwhelmed even by the more simple searches, leaving you needing to use the search limiting functions wisely and well. A similar issue arises as you begin to learn to use the various windows and tools available. Before long, you might be thinking, "We're gonna need a bigger screen." Bear in mind, too, that there are hypertext links all over the place: potentially distracting, yes, but often these various tags and links offer rapid and brief insights and demonstrate valid connections without taking you away from the main thread.The main questions will be: do you need and can you handle the deluge of data?

(Next time . . . a typical standard base package.)

Baptibits (and more) at Logos

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A few weeks ago I drew attention to some community pricing offers at Logos that might be of interest to Baptists. Of those, the Baptist Covenant Theology Collection has now crept over the edge and is now available (as a pre-order until Friday) at around $20, dropping lower if there are more orders. As they say, what are you waiting for?

However, in addition to this, there is plenty more that could be available with a little more interest:

  • The Works of Abraham Booth: this looks more like it is gathering dust than interest. "My brothers, these things ought not to be so!" When I remind you that - for what might at the moment be only $15 - you would get not only the magnificent Reign of Grace but also his Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners and his Apology for the Baptists - no snickering at the back! - then you really have no cause to be sitting on your hands.
  • The Works of John Gill: whatever you say about John Gill, he cannot be ignored in the history of Baptist theological thought and development. This puppy has been languishing for too long in the 'gathering interest' section and could do with a little momentum being added to it. Besides, who would sniff at 19 volumes for about $40?
  • The Works of John Brown of Haddington: not a Baptist, I know, but what a doozy of a collection - 14 volumes currently running at about $30. His self-interpreting Bible would be worth this alone, but add in his material on the Shorter Catechism, his work on the Psalms, and other gems, and you're on to a real winner.
  • Might I also add The Works of Patrick Fairbairn? Some penetrating stuff on typology and prophecy, a magnificent pastoral theology, and a few other bits and pieces, make this a cracking collection.

So, if you are interested, head over to Logos and start dipping.

Baptist gold: Logos community pricing offers

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I have recently been looking into and using Logos a little more (review on its way, I hope) and I thought I might draw attention to a few bits and pieces. For those who don't know, the Logos reader is free and you then just tack on the substance you want. In addition, when looking for new material, Logos do something called "community pricing" which is basically a way of pre-ordering stuff at a great price, with higher number of bidders driving down the price.

Of interest to Reformed Baptists might be some of the following:

  • Baptist Covenant Theology Collection: yes, you can easily define and defend yourself as a Reformed, Particular and covenantal Baptist with this cracking collection of 17 volumes of primary source material. As a bonus, you can cause apoplexy in certain circles simply by using the words "covenant" and "Baptist" in the same sentence - throw in Reformed for some real fireworks! The bidding finishes on Friday 14 March, and the more bids we get, the lower we will drive the already happily-ridiculous price of about $30. Join the fun and reap the benefits.
  • The Works of John Gill: whatever you say about John Gill, he cannot be ignored in the history of Baptist theological thought and development. This puppy has been languishing for too long in the 'gathering interest' section and could do with a little momentum being added to it. Besides, who would sniff at 19 volumes for about $40?
  • The Works of John Brown of Haddington: not a Baptist, I know, but what a doozy of a collection - 14 volumes currently running at about $30. His self-interpreting Bible would be worth this alone, but add in his material on the Shorter Catechism, his work on the Psalms, and other gems, and you're on to a real winner.
  • The Works of Abraham Booth: back with the Baptists, and the outstanding Abraham Booth. Again, this looks more like it is gathering dust than interest. "My brothers, these things ought not to be so!" When I remind you that - for what might at the moment be only $15 - you would get not only the magnificent Reign of Grace but also his Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners and his Apology for the Baptists - no snickering at the back! - then you really have no cause to be sitting on your hands.

So, ladies and gentlemen, please crack on, get your orders in, and make sure you help us all share in a feast of good things.