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.
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:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Other Reviews of Logos and BibleWorks:
- Scholar’s Library: Gold (Logos Bible Software) by Andy Naselli
Andy is a very good friend of mine. He is currently at TEDS working on his second Ph.D. We studied and taught together at Bob Jones University. His review is worth reading—not only for its analysis of Logos Gold but also for its interaction with the larger question of building a digital library.
- Bible Software and Bible Exposition by Paul Lamey
I posted some thoughts there in the comments.
- BibleWorks 7: a brief review by Dan Phillips
- BibleWorks 7 Review by Dan Phillips
- Review – Logos Bible Software by Tim Challies
- The Value of Bible Software for Ministry, Part 1 by Douglas Brown and Tim Little
- The Value of Bible Software for Ministry, Part 2 by Douglas Brown and Tim Little
My Related Posts:
Other Related Posts:
- The Value of Distance Seminary Education
See esp. the comments where Dr. R. Scott Clark, Daniel Foster (from Logos), and I interact on the value of a digital library.
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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.