Logos vs. BibleWorks: A Brief Comparison

Someone recently asked me for my opinion about Logos vs. BibleWorks. I posted this at the Bible.org Forum in response to a discussion there. I’m reproducing it here (with some very minor changes) in case there are others who are trying to decide what Bible software to buy and use. This is by no means exhaustive, probably oversimplifies some of the issues, and certainly expresses my opinions and preferences, but it may be of help to some. I offer this not as a polished review, but as some off-the-cuff thoughts from one who uses and recommends both.

BibleWorks 7BibleWorks

I’ve been using BibleWorks since version 4. I currently have and use version 7. It’s a great program that I plan to continue to own, upgrade, and use indefinitely. Here are its strengths and weaknesses:

Main Strengths

  1. Speed: BibleWorks has an incredibly fast response time. It does searches of the biblical texts in milliseconds and gives you instant information from lexicons and grammars. In my opinion, it can’t be touched in terms of speed of access to lots of exegetical data. (Although, the startup time in version 7 has slowed significantly. BibleWorks now takes about 20 seconds to start on my computer. Before it was under 5 seconds. Interestingly, Logos starts in about 15 seconds (opening to a blank workspace). This is not significant, though. I mention it only as an interesting observation.)
  2. Value: You get a ton of great exegetical tools for a decent amount of money. In my opinion, it’s hard to beat the value in terms of sheer number and quality of exegetical tools compared to the price. (Two qualifications: this assumes you don’t want to spend much more than $350 and that you don’t qualify for Logos’s Academic Discount Program, which gives you 40% off boxed sets and very good savings on almost everything else.) This doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice.

Main Weaknesses

  1. Quality/Format of Resources: The format for BibleWorks resources is poor. You cannot mark them up or take notes in them. This is a major weakness in my view.
  2. Limited Number of Resources: BibleWorks has a lot of great resources, but they are very limited in what they offer in terms of types and number of resources. They’ve stepped it up recently, but are still far from being in the same league as Logos. I love having hundreds of commentaries as electronic resources. I use them daily.
  3. Non-Unicode: For some strange reason BibleWorks doesn’t use Unicode yet. They’ve tried to implement some support for Unicode in their notes and in exporting text, but I still have not been able to get it to work in the notes. They are far behind the times in this regard.

Logos GoldLogos

About two years ago a friend introduced me to Logos. I had been using the Theological Journal Library (which, by the way, is great and I highly recommend!), but I didn’t have a clue about all that Logos offered. I bought Silver (QB) and have loved it. I have since upgraded to Gold and spent several thousand dollars on other resources. I’ve become so convinced of its value and advantages that I’ve sold hundreds of volumes from my print library to replace them with Logos resources. Here are its strengths and weakness:

Main Strengths

  1. Quality/Format of Resources: Logos’s resources are great and enable you to do about as much to them as you can to your own print books—and more. You can underline, highlight in lots of different colors, and apply a limitless number of markups. You can also add notes within the resources. In addition, you can change the font and font size for easier reading. (As an aside, I actually now prefer reading Logos resources to print books. The 22″ monitor helps in this regard.)
  2. Number of Resources: There are between 6000 and 7000 resources available for Logos. Logos cannot be touched in terms of the sheer amount of great resources that they offer. There’s no real alternative for one interested in building a primarily digital library—something I am sold on, and something more and more people are becoming sold on.
  3. Syntax Tools: The syntax tools are great. They are going to significantly change the study of the original language texts—both (1) in what they can do that couldn’t be done before and (2) in saving time doing more efficiently what could be done before only very inefficiently. See an example here: The Spirit Communicating: Logos Syntax Search. (Warning: to take full advantage of the syntax tools, you’ll need to have a decent grasp on Greek and Hebrew. However, the reverse interlinears and the Bible Word Study report enable people with little knowledge of Greek and Hebrew to access some great data.)
  4. Academic Program Value: The academic program is great and makes the Logos packages a phenomenal value in terms of what you get for the price. Gold is incredible, and every seminary student and faculty member should own it.

Main Weakness

  • Speed: Logos is improving in this area, but they still can’t compete with BibleWorks in terms of sheer speed. The best way around this is to create collections and search only your entire library if absolutely necessary. Searching specific collections reduces the speed problem significantly, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement here. I have high hopes for LDLS 4.

Conclusion

The primary factors are (1) the amount of money you are able to spend and (2) whether you want lots of digital resources like commentaries. If you (1) don’t want to build a digital library now or in the future, (2) don’t want to spend more than $350, (3) don’t qualify for the Logos academic discounts, and could put up with the weaknesses, I’d probably recommend BibleWorks. If you qualify for the academic discount, but don’t have much money, I’d probably recommend Logos’s Original Languages collection. If you want to start building a digital library, which would be my recommendation, then Logos is a must, and certainly Gold is your best value. If money is not a huge obstacle and you want to take advantage of the benefits of both, I’d recommend getting both. As I said before, I will continue to use both programs indefinitely, until one overcomes all of its weaknesses and surpasses the other in all of its strengths. I don’t know if that will ever happen. For what it’s worth, I use Logos numerous times a day, but now use BibleWorks only several times per week.

Hope this helps a little.

Phil

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Update: As of 11/12/2007 I work for Logos. This post was written prior to any thought of employment with Logos, so it is free of the natural bias that an employee would have for his company’s product.

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32 Responses to Logos vs. BibleWorks: A Brief Comparison

  1. Chad March 24, 2007 at 12:07 am #

    Phil,

    I think I read on this blog or your old blog about e-Sword. What do you think about it, is it worth downloading?

  2. Phil Gons March 24, 2007 at 8:18 am #

    Hey, Chad,

    I typically have e-Sword installed on my computer if I have the extra space. e-Sword has some things that no one else has. I don’t really use e-Sword beyond a very occasional use. That said, I think e-Sword is a great choice for someone without the money for BibleWorks and/or Logos, but it’s not really in the same league. It would especially be a good complement for someone who has only BibleWorks and not Logos.

    I would also put all the free resources that Bible Explorer is putting out in this same category. I use them primarily if I need to search for something in or copy and paste a quote from a resource that I don’t have in Logos.

    You might find these helpful: FREE eBooks! and Free! Mark Dever’s Book on Polity.

    Phil

  3. Ben March 24, 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    I knew you could change the font size in logos, but how do you change the font?

  4. Phil Gons March 24, 2007 at 2:14 pm #

    Hey, Ben,

    Unfortunately, it is not in the options menu. It should be and hopefully will be in the next major release.

    You’ll need to create a toolbar button. Right click on the toolbar area, click Customize > New. Under the Special category select Run Script Code. Click on Details and paste in this script code.

    Just replace Garamond with the font of your choice. Run the script one time by clicking the button in the toolbar. It’s a permanent change. To undo it you’ll have to run the script again with a different font. Create as many buttons as you want if you like to switch between English fonts.

    If you don’t want to mess with creating it yourself, you can download my toolbar at http://philgons.com/docs/logos/toolbars/. The zip folder also contains another toolbar that someone else made. Just unzip the folder and put the files in My Documents\Libronix DLS\CustomToolbars. You may need to enable the toolbar in Libronix by right clicking in the toolbar area and select it. After you’ve run the script, you can hide the toolbar by deselecting it.

    Hope this helps.

    Phil

    • bill baltz March 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      I went to the BBW to get the Greek and Hebrew fonts for my BBW program … and I believe got the zip file to transfer … but couldn’t get if from there to my BBW program. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

  5. Garrett Lee March 29, 2007 at 11:06 am #

    Hey, Phil. Any interaction with Accordance? I’m a new Mac user, so I just got Accordance and was curious to see how it stacks up against the others (other than its obvious superiority in that it runs on the Mac OS X platform). ;)

  6. Phil Gons March 29, 2007 at 5:08 pm #

    Hey, Garrett,

    I’ve not used Accordance, so I can’t really offer a comparison of any value. I have heard only good things about it from users. You might find this review by Dr. Andreas Köstenberger to be of help.

    I also can’t speak to the obvious superiority of Mac OS X, but friends of mine who have made the switch to the Mac have all been very pleased. Logos continues its work on a Mac version, so perhaps—once they finish—Logos and Accordance will be able to be compared more adequately.

    Phil

  7. Kazuya Hayakawa July 22, 2007 at 3:39 pm #

    Thank you for your comment. It is very interesting comment and informative. I like BibleWindows best because it is small. I am also using an old version of Logos Scholar, and BibleWorks 6, too. Although I am comparing the size of Bible softwares, I am thinking of upgrading Logos by buying the new version. Because I have to give up Window 95. What do you think if I start Original Language of Logos 3, while thinking of upgrading to the Gold version? Can you influence all Bible softwares to talk to each other?

  8. Phil Gons August 3, 2007 at 10:50 am #

    Hi, Kazuya,

    Thanks for your comment. I’d encourage you to upgrade to both Logos Gold and BibleWorks 7 as money allows. You will definitely want to upgrade to Vista before too long. I’m running the 64-bit version of Vista Home Premium and highly recommend it. (I’ve had no compatibility problems at all with the 64-bit version.)

    I wish I could influence all Bible software companies to work together on a standard format, but I’m fairly certain no one would listen to me.

  9. Aaron September 10, 2007 at 11:49 pm #

    I have to say that I have enjoyed your review and can pretty much concur. I currently run and primarily use Logos Gold with several add on libraries. The value of Logos is beyond compare when it comes to researching passages in commentaries and reference works. The volume and quality of material available is unsurpassed. To have multiple world class commentaries at your finger tips for a fraction of the cost of the hard backs is on benefit, the speed with which you can compile your data is yet another. I have friends that spend hours in the library just collecting their research from all the different resources while the same data compilation takes me only minutes. If you want to go even farther consider that if something terrible were to happen to all of those nice hard back books (fire, flood, etc…) they are a loss. Logos maintains an inventory of your purchased products and if something ever happens to you computer (crash, theft, damage) the Logos will replace your entire library for you (an invaluable but little considered factor). The additional add ons to integrate Logos into your personal devotional life just add to its daily usability. Things like Bible reading plans, prayer lists, and devotionals are the icing on the cake.

    With all that said I have come to realize that for speed and depth in work with languages Bible works is another necessity for the serious Bible scholar determined to build an electronic library. The tools for language research coupled with the speed, and especially the flexible search options make this the perfect language study tool to complement your Logos Research library.

  10. Jay September 11, 2007 at 4:16 pm #

    For us Mac users out there I would highly recommend Accordance—it’s a nice competing product to Logos for Windows. (Word on the street is that Logos is writing a Mac version but taking their sweet time. )

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  11. Phil Gons September 11, 2007 at 10:16 pm #

    Aaron, thanks for the comment. Well said. I enjoyed hearing your take and am in full agreement with you on the value of electronic resources in general and Logos and BibleWorks in particular.

    Blessings to you in your studies!

  12. Phil Gons September 11, 2007 at 10:19 pm #

    Thanks for the note, Jay. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Accordance, and, though I’ve never used it, several of my friends do and love it.

    Logos continues to make progress on their Mac version. In fact, they just recently released a video that shows many of the features working. Sounds like alpha testing is right around the corner. It should provide for some good competition in the Mac world.

  13. Brian Fink October 10, 2007 at 4:25 pm #

    I have an old version of Bibleworks 4, and although its comprehensive, the format simply is very poor. I’m a Greek Orthodox seminarian and am wondering what people recommend for someone with my background.

  14. Phil Gons October 10, 2007 at 4:30 pm #

    Thanks for the note, Brian. I guess it depends on what you want to do. No Bible software program has a lot of Orthodox resources. BibleWorks has come a long way since version 7 and is a great piece of software if you primarily want to study the texts of Scripture. Logos is the undisputed choice for building a comprehensive library of grammatical, reference, theological, and other biblical resources. You’ll find much of what they have to offer helpful, even as someone in the Orthodox Church.

  15. James Sheets December 24, 2007 at 1:20 am #

    Phil:
    I downloaded your toolbar but I don’t see an option to change the font. Also, I tried copying the script via your link and got a 404 error. Can you help?
    Thanks

  16. Phil Gons December 28, 2007 at 4:33 am #

    Hi, James,

    Sorry about that. I changed my folder location and failed to update the script link.

    I blogged about this in detail at the Logos blog. You might want to check it out. If that doesn’t answer your questions, let me know.

  17. Joseph January 13, 2008 at 2:49 am #

    Hi Phil,

    I am a Seminary Student and existing user for BibleWorks 7. I just got a logos Scholar last week for my biblical research and it is very CoOL. The most powerful and excellent software. I go thru most of the video training class. It is very helpful and user friendly. Several questions would like to ask:

    1) Regarding the backup information. If we add the notes in logos. Can we backup those notes or personal setting if the computer suddenly out of order or computer replacement. Any way we can export or backup the notes

    2) Any table can show us the relationship of the link function between dictionary, encyclopedias, bible, commentary, theology reference, etc.)WHich one can link which one cannot link together?

    3) I find that some book is in Korean language. Will logos provide Chinese language book or search engine. Since it is a very large demand from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

    Again, it is so joyful to use logos and we can feel the real user-oriented software.

    I will introduce this software to my seminary fellows in Hong Kong.

  18. Phil Gons January 19, 2008 at 1:18 am #

    Hi, Joseph,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you’re enjoying Logos!

    1. Yes. If you back up everything in My Documents\Libronix DLS, you will have all of your notes and markups preserved. For preferences and personal settings, you’d also have to backup Application Data\Libronix DLS. See here for more information.

    2. You will want to link together only resources that have the same structure. So you would want to link Bibles together or commentaries. You wouldn’t want to link two books together that don’t have the same major sections.

    3. Logos is looking in to how it can provide biblical resources for other markets. I have passed on your suggestion to the appropriate people. Thanks for sharing about the need you see.

    Feel free to contact me if I can be of any help. I now work at Logos. My email address is phil-at-logos.com.

  19. Chad Rudolph February 10, 2008 at 10:12 pm #

    eBible is a better value and uses the same software (Libronix) as Logos.

    Try it first with 6 free books:
    http://www.nelsonministryservices.com/nms/dept.asp?dept_id=5076&ref=11523

    Watch Videos:
    http://www.logos.com/videos

    Then get a package with MacDonald’s “Believer’s Bible Commentary”:
    http://rejoicesoftware.com/ebible_expanded.htm
    http://www.nelsonministryservices.com/nms/dept.asp?dept_id=5069

    EMAIL: BibleLight[AT symbol]gmail.com

  20. Theo March 19, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    I stumbled across your page. I am a seminarian working with Bibleworks 6 right now. Have not come even close to really knowing it well (beyond word searches and cut-n-paste for translating for Heb & Grk classes). I really need a workshop on using it but out west that doesn’t come so easily. I was going to upgrade but they keep promoting Logos at a church where I do a Bible study. My long term goal is a PhD…maybe teach Greek/Latin, maybe paleography work. So, I don’t mind investing for the future…just don’t want to change horses mid-stream.

    Curious to know, if given a choice of the two for biblical language studies,which would you pick and why?

    Thanks & Blessings On You

    • Phil Gons March 20, 2009 at 7:49 am #

      Theo, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’ve used BibleWorks since version 4, and I currently have version 7. It’s a wonderful program for what it does–which is very fast access to a tight group of Bible translations and texts and exegetical resources like lexicons and grammars.

      But Logos does just about everything BibleWorks does, and much more. And it provides a platform for you to really go the digital route and build as big of a library of resources as you want. There are roughly 10,000 resources available, and we’re adding on at about 2,000 a year. Compare that to BibleWorks’s few hundred resources. Logos has far more Greek and Latin resources to choose from. While BibleWorks may still have the upper hand in speed in some scenarios, the next version of Logos will put an end to that. We’re pushing hard to be ready to ship in the not-too-distant future.

      To sum it up, the only reason I could see that it would be wise to choose BibleWorks is if you’re on a low budget, want just a streamlined group of resources and don’t want a platform that you can grow into with a large library of digital resources, and don’t need all of the benefits that Logos provides. My recommendation would be to choose Logos for the long term.

      (In full disclosure, I have worked for Logos for the last year and a half. Although, you’ll notice that this post was written prior to any thoughts of working for Logos.)

  21. Jason December 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    I’m trying to evaluate BibleWorks 8 and Logos, and one of the problems I’m having is deciding which Logos to compare BibleWorks with. Comparing a $350 product with a $1,700 one doesn’t seem fair; nor does comparing it with a $150 one! Which Logos would you recommend comparing to BibleWorks?

  22. Reid January 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    Phil,

    I have and old version (not sure which at the moment) of Logos. If I am not mistaken, Logos was previously free and it was really the books/collections that cost money. Is that still true? Can I upgrade to Logos 4 for free and use my outdated Scholar’s?

    Thanks for your time!

  23. Luke Henley July 5, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    Hello, I just recently purchased Bible Works 8. I was reviewing the software for the 30 day allowable time for review. My 30 days ended and I paid for the program. Approximately 5 days later Bibleworks 9 was released. I contacted Bible Works about getting the upgrade and they said that I would have to pay an additional $100.00 for the upgrade. I am totally dissappointed because had I known version 9 was coming out I would have waited 1 month for it. I’m very dissappointed with customer service. when you call them you will not reach a live person. It’s all recorded.

  24. David September 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Great Article and I would agree with much of what was written. However, I would NOT recommend selling your hard copy paper library to stack up on an electronic one. Logos and Bibleworks libraries are useful as long as those companies stay in business. Although it may seem that this will be a “forever” scenario, it is not guaranteed. Neither one of them have switched to mobile platforms yet and that is bound to take away market share. But even if they should stay in business for generations it is not guaranteed that they will outlast hard print. If you are someone who actually uses all the resources in your software library regularly, then electronic is better than print. However, if your library is filled with resources that you hardly ever use, it may be better to stick with the physical print and think twice before switching to digital. A well kept hard copy of a book can last for hundreds of years whereas these relatively new software companies may not. Once their software platform goes kerplunk, so does your library.

  25. jose July 13, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    Hi Phil,
    I gone through your review and it was good. I was bit dissapointed because my friend told me that i wasted lot of money on logos and he is using bible works.

    Any way thanks for the review and I have a doubt , is there any option to add my ebooks or kindle books collections to logos, because its a digital library and i have lot of books in my kindle and ibooks. thanks for your time.
    God bless

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 小傳道札記 » 由win3.1用到mac版的聖經工具(Logos Bible Software) - March 20, 2008

    [...] 最後,我常被人問及Logos與BibleWorks有甚麼分別,而那一個比較好,這個我因為沒有擁有BibleWorks,所以我對BibleWorks會沒有那麼熟,所以我去比較並不公平。不過世上總有人會這樣比較,大家可以去看一看。 [...]

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