Heads-up—this is a very in-depth (LOONG) review of Logos Bible Software, my favorite Bible-study tool. This is current with the new Logos 9 version released in October 2020. Here are the highlights:
- Logos 9 is expensive, but worth it for the right people
- Important new things in Logos 9
- What you can do with Logos Bible Software
- I can hook you up with a discount
I often get emails and comments about the tools I use for Bible study, and I need to give credit where it’s due. I couldn’t do this kind of stuff without Logos Bible Software. I use Logos for every Bible-y thing I do—whether it’s a blog post, a whiteboard video, or my own personal Bible study.
A lot of research goes into this site, and without Logos Bible Software, it would be way out of my league. I’ve been using this product since version 4, and I’ve yet to find a better, cooler, higher-tech tool for this kind of stuff—it’s the Batmobile of Bible study.
I know a lot of you Bible geeks are doing similar Bible studies yourselves, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Logos. I just want to give you my take on it. It has its pros and cons, but overall, I’m really happy with Logos Bible Software.
How about a tour of Logos?
Before I launch into a full-on review of this Bible software, let me get a few things out of the way.
- I hate fine print, so I’m telling you up front: I’m an affiliate of Logos, and I’ve received advance copies of Logos 6, 7, 8, and now 9 to try out. If you decide it’s right for you based on my recommendation, they give me a kickback.
- Logos Bible Software isn’t for everyone. Like the Batmobile, it’s too expensive and high-tech for most people.
- But if it is for you, I can get you a sweet discount.
It’s hard to imagine a Bible geek not loving this tool. Like I said, it’s the coolest gadget I own. But remember: I’m calling Logos Bible Software the Batmobile of Bible study—not the Batman. Why? Because like the Batmobile, Logos is a force multiplier.
With Bruce Wayne in the driver’s seat, the Dark Knight covers more ground and stops more bad guys. But if you put an average Gotham citizen behind the Batmobile’s wheel, he’s not going to solve any crime. In fact, he’ll have a hard enough time just starting the thing.
So if you’re going to drive the Bible-study Batmobile, make sure you’re willing to play the Bible-study Batman. You get out what you put in—which means you have to invest time in learning the software, learning the lingo, and learning the Scriptures in order to make this investment pay off. And boy does it pay off.
I’m going to walk you through some of my favorite aspects of Logos Bible Software, but first, I wanted to share a flow chart with you. It will walk you through a few questions that I’ve asked people who were considering whether or not they should purchase Logos.
Keep these questions in mind as you’re reading my thoughts on Logos.
What’s new in Logos 9?
Here’s the deal: Logos Bible Software has been, for the most part the same since version 4. They’ve added plenty of really, really cool and helpful tools over the past 10 years—but at its core, Logos is a mixture of Bible-study data and content. The fact that I’ve only ever really had to update this review with a handful of flashy new features over the years is a testament to the product’s long-term staying power.
That said, I want to share two ways that the product has upped their game this time.
1. The Bible is finally a dynamic Bible encyclopedia
Logos has been developing their Factbook since Logos 5: it began as a bit of an encyclopedia to the people, places, and things of the Bible. You plug in a person (like Goliath) or a thing (like a sling), and the Factbook presents (and sorts) everything in your library that’s about the search in question.
Well, now they’ve outdone themselves: by applying the Factbook visual filter to your Bible, you can instantly turn every person, place, thing, or idea in your Bible into a link to learn all about it. That means if you’re trying to figure out which Herod the Bible is referencing at a given time, you can immediately check out where he falls on that very, very confusing family tree.
The best part is you can do this all from the text of the Bible—it’s just ready to go. Well done, Logos.
2. Commentary sorting
Suppose you’re reading a particularly difficult passage in the Bible, say … Revelation 20. You want to make sense of this prophecy, so you open your commentaries.
But then you pause. There’s a lot of commentary on this chapter of the Bible—but how many perspectives are these folks coming from? And when were these thoughts written? Are you getting the thoughts of someone from the middle ages? From the Enlightenment era? From this decade? Are they writing that commentary from the perspective of a Lutheran in the 1602s or as a Pentecostal from 2016?
These are the things a wise student of the Bible will take into consideration—and Logos helps you do that. Now, when you’re accessing your commentaries, you can sort by denomination, time period, and more. And you’re sorting based on the author, not the book! That means you get the commentator’s perspective on a specific passage in context of their general perspective. I anticipate this being very, very helpful to seminary students!
These are the two biggest new things you can do with Logos 9. But the lineup of things you’ve been able to do for a long time is still just as impressive.
What can you do with Logos Bible Software?
You’ve seen the things I love about Logos’ latest version. But I’ll level with you: Logos has been awesome for a long, long time. I’m going to show you just what kind of Bible-study superpowers Logos Bible Software gives you!
Logos can (automatically) point out things you’d overlook.
In 2014, I told Logos to highlight every command or instruction in the Bible in red. Now any time I come across a command verb in the Bible, it shows up in red like this:
Which is cool. But you might be thinking, “Yeah, but how hard is it to tell a command from a non-command? That’s pretty straightforward, Jeffrey.”
I’ll give you that. It is straightforward . . . except when it’s not.
I’ve found that setting up a few filters like these help jolt me out of my cultural understanding of familiar parts of the Bible.
For example, we’re used to hearing that the Great Commission in Matthew 28 is all about Jesus telling us to GO.
But when I turn on my Logos visual filter . . .
. . . I see something entirely different.
So the imperative verb in the Great Commission is to “make disciples”—that’s not something we would pick up on if we’ve constantly heard a different perspective on the verse.
And it’s not something I would have thought to look up on my own. But when I set up that filter in Logos Bible Software, the technology points it out for me. In a way, it’s like I have a Bible scholar pointing out cool things that I’d overlook—and not in an interruptive way, either.
But wait … it gets even better.
Let’s say I’m doing a study on the book of 2 Peter. I’m noticing that the phrase “make every effort” (or “be diligent” in my beloved NASB) comes up a lot in this book, so I pay close attention to what Peter’s talking about when he uses this phrase. (Kay Arthur and other Bible-study gurus would call this a “key word.”)
I could just go through this book highlighting “make every effort” every time it appears, looking up the Greek word, making some notes, and calling it a day.
But then I’d miss something amazing toward the end of the book. Peter tells his readers to live godly lives as they look forward to the day of the Lord and “speed its coming.” The Greek word for “speed” there has the same root as the phrase translated “make every effort.”
This was an eye-opening Logos moment for me. All I had to do was click on the key word, and Logos’s Corresponding Words tool highlighted related words in my Bible for me. It was easy to turn on—just a few clicks:
But just like that, you can tell Logos to catch key related words that would otherwise slip right past you!
Logos shows you how the New Testament uses the Old Testament
A cheer went up from all Logos users when this new feature was announced. (We’ve been trying to hack this for years!)
But the good folks at Faithlife put together a tool that lets you browse the New Testament for uses of the Old Testament.
That means if I want to find every time the book of Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament, I just open the new tool (very creatively titled “New Testament Use of the Old Testament”) and select “Quotation” as the “Type” of use I want to look up.
Then I’d choose my source book. (Isaiah, in this case.)
And just like that, Logos gives me a report of every time the book of Isaiah is directly quoted in the New Testament!
Logos shows how any word is used across the whole Bible.
Logos calls it Morph Search, and it’s hands-down the most useful feature of this Bible software. There are few times I use Logos without putting this tool to work for me.
It lets me search the Bible for any Greek or Hebrew word, which is super helpful.
For example, have you ever seen my list of all the one-another commands in the New Testament? I made that list in MINUTES. I followed a few simple steps. I started with a one-another command I knew, and then a few clicks did most of the work for me after that.
That gave me a huge dump of every time the Greek word for “one another” is used in the Bible, which I was able to go through and categorize.
And here’s what’s crazy: Logos Bible Software has been doing this since 2010! It’s a feature from way back in their fourth version.
You can run a background check on any Bible character.
The Bible Factbook really gives me a hand.
You know that post I did on the authors of the Bible? I wrote that in a few hours. I knew who the traditional authors were beforehand, but I still needed to write up quick profiles on each of them. Normally, that would mean opening all my Bible dictionaries and piecing stuff together from the various accounts. (After all, that’s what I had to do for The Illustrated Guide to the 12 Apostles.)
But not this time.
Enter the Bible Factbook. I just type in the author’s name, say, Ezra, and BOOM:
It pulls up any media in my library on Ezra. It pulls in the biblical events Ezra takes part in. It shows me the Bible dictionary articles on Ezra. It shows me how the Bible refers to Ezra (even when it’s just pronouns like “he” or “him”).
That’s just skimming the surface, folks. It also pulls up a timeline for the character, a list of relatives, and links to further explore his roles and the like.
This is a huge, huge step up from the “Bible Facts” feature they rolled out with the earlier version. I finally feel like I can look up any biblical figure, place, or thing and find everything related to that person. I think of it like a meta-encyclopedia to the Bible: it gives me a high-level look at the people (or whatever) in question, then gives me lots of links to explore.
Logos’ Interlinear Ribbon shows you Hebrew & Greek insight right away
I grew up doing Bible word studies with print books. That meant that when I wanted to know what “kindness” meant in Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit, I had to go through a process involving multiple books:
- Open a print concordance (I liked the Zondervan NASB Exhaustive Concordance) and look up “kindness.”
- Then, I’d find the mention of “kindness” in Galatians 5:22 and make a note of the Strong’s number next to it.
- The next step would be to flip to the back of the book to find the corresponding number. There, I would find a quick, dictionary-type definition of the word.
- If I wanted to know more—and I always did—I would look up that word in Dr. Spiros Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament for a full explanation.
SHEEEESH. That’s a lot of flipping around, and it involved two beloved-yet-heavy tomes. (As a kid, I used to think “exhaustive” concordances got their name because of how heavy they were.)
But with Logos, I don’t have to do that.
Instead, I can turn on the Interlinear Ribbon, and all this information floats right below the Bible like so:
You can search the Bible by speaker in Logos Bible Software.
I don’t know of any tool that lets you pull this off besides Logos.
Suppose you want to find all the places where God talks about David. You can’t just search the Bible for the words “God” and “David.” That would leave out some important synonyms (Lord) and pronouns (he, him). Plus, even if you generated a list of all the times God and David are referred to in the Bible, you’d have to sort through the results to see which verses actually involve God speaking about David. That would take DAYS to do by myself. Sheesh—it’d even take days to do with the old Logos 6.
But I did that in about 15 seconds with Logos just now. I kid you not. In fact, you can download the results by clicking here.
I hope you’re as excited about this as I am. I am reeling with ideas for blog posts based on this function alone:
- Jesus’ most commonly used words
- Words of Satan in the Bible
- The most talkative people in the Bible
- Prophets quoted in the New Testament
Plus, I can check to see if any Bible character speaks on a certain topic. That’s pretty cool.
You can even browse the whole Bible by the words spoken to God. This gives you a look at every single prayer and petition and conversation directed toward a member of the Trinity.
You can search the Bible by sense in Logos Bible Software.
This is also super, super exciting.
The Logos team has gone through the Bible tagging words with their basic definitions. Now we can finally search the Bible by meaning instead of just by word.
Here’s an example: I wrote a post on the angels and demons of the Bible. I could have searched the Bible for “angel,” but that would leave out important words like “cherubim,” “heavenly host,” and “seraphim.” That’s no good—I would have needed to do the tedious work of hunting down all the ways angels are referred to in the Bible.
But with Logos, I can just search the Bible for every time the angel sense is used. That pulls up results for “angel,” “cherubim,” “glorious ones,” “watchers,” “archangel” … you get the idea.
Logos Bible Software gets us closer to the original settings.
Let’s say I were typing up a study guide for the book of 3 John.
I could just read the book, do some cross references, and start plugging away at the study. But I’d be missing out on some important pieces of this letter. Since I’m not a first-century Christian in the Roman Empire, I’m blind to a few cultural concepts in the epistle—concepts that people studying 3 John should understand.
But in Logos, I can look up the passage and get a high-level idea of some ancient cultural concepts in this book of the Bible:
As you can see, some of these are a lot more helpful than others. “Letter writing” is something we understand pretty well nowadays, but “Elders as fathers” is something I’ll want to write on in that study guide, since it’s how John sees his relationship with Gaius and the church (3 Jn 1, 4).
You can probably see how helpful that is to me and the OverviewBible team when it comes to unpacking the books of the Bible in study guides, infographics, and the like. I can also see this being a huge help when it comes to writing sermons, preparing seminary lessons, and the like.
With Logos, you can easily visualize ancient units of measurement.
Remember the first time you read the story of manna falling from heaven? It’s an amazing miracle that the Lord worked for his people in the wilderness. Sweet-tasting bread just shows up all over the land like snow! Moses tells the people not to gather more than an omer’s worth per person (Ex 16:16). The people who gathered too much just ended up with nasty, wormy mush the next morning.
But you know what always bothered me about that passage? When I go to find out just how much an omer is, Moses says, “Now an omer is a tenth of an ephah” (Ex 16:36).
Thanks, Moses. Really helpful.
But Logos Bible Software’s Weights & Measures Converter makes a lot more sense out of this. I just open the tool, enter “1 omer,” and SHAZAM!
So an omer is 1.5 liters, which is a good deal of bread per person, especially if this stuff could be packed down.
It’s nice to have this kind of information built into my study tool, because I can immediately get an idea of what the author’s communicating.
Let’s try another example. Suppose you’re going to teach about Noah in your church’s children’s ministry this Sunday. (Good on ya!) You just KNOW that one of these curious 7-year-olds is going to ask just how big the ark was . . . and “300 cubits” just isn’t going to cut it.
With this tool, you can come up with not just one, but FIVE tangible examples to share with them! Just type “300 cubits” into the Weights and Measures Converter and you’ll get . . .
You can get an even more tangible idea of just how massive 300 cubits is—using whales, bridges, airplanes, busses, and semi trucks as reference points.
And new versions of Logos Bible Software keep awesome features from before.
We can still right-click any word in my Bible to see what the original Greek or Hebrew word is. And we can still immediately find that word’s definition. And we can still search the whole Bible (or just specific books) for places where that word is used.
Which means I’ll still be using it to make infographics, blog posts, and ebooks for you. ;-)
If you’re sold on this tool, you can get it here. They’ll even give you a discount and some free books.
So, should you get Logos Bible Software 8? Well …
This is the best tool out there. But like I said earlier, it isn’t for everyone. Here are a few factors that might make Logos a pretty bad choice for you:
- Logos is expensive. (Although it’s more affordable than ever.) Seriously: even if you go with the bottom-shelf package, you’ll spend a few hundred bucks. Is it a great deal? Absolutely! But you need to think of this as an industry-grade tool, because that’s the kind of price you’ll be paying.
- Logos takes time. It’s a force-multiplier: you get out what you put in. This is NOT some theo-magical device that makes the Bible’s most difficult passages become clear. You’ll still need to put in hard work, but the return on that investment is amazingly high.
- Logos is high-tech. If you have trouble finding your way around a smart phone, you’re gonna have a bad time in Logos 9. It’s got a learning curve that you need to scale first.
Remember: you don’t need the Batmobile for a 15-minute commute. ;-)
How to get a Logos Bible Software discount
If you read through all that and you’re still as excited about Logos Bible Software 8 as I am, woohoo! It’s time to set you up with your own base package.
And that’s pretty easy. Just go to my page on Logos’ website, choose a base package, and start studying!