Friday, July 4, 2014

Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Review - Part 1

Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Review
Part 1

I have long used Logos Bible software and have reviewed versions and aspects of it in the past. I have primarily used it for original language study of the Bible and to gain access to the numerous resources available for Bible study. The latest version, Logos 5--with its collection of new datasets, additional resources, and deeper integration of reverse interlinears--is an outstanding program. (Cf. my 3-part review of Logos 5 Gold.Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) I also appreciate being able to use my Logos resources not only my Win7 desktop computer but also on the web and on my Android smartphone. (Comments here.)

As a Lutheran (ELCA) myself and a teacher at a Lutheran seminary, I was pleased to be asked to review the Logos 5 Lutheran Gold collection. I will briefly note some of the aspects of Logos 5 for biblical study, but the focus of this review will be on the specifically Lutheran resources and their use within the program.

The Logos site describes the Logos 5 Lutheran Gold collection thus:
A Bible study powerhouse: Lutheran Gold comes with all of Logos 5’s advanced tools, including the Timeline, Bible Sense Lexicon, Sermon Starter Guide, and everything from the lower base packages. Plus, you’ll get a huge library of 752 resources worth over $18,000 in print. These include key titles, like Bible-history commentaries on the Old and New Testament, the 19-volume Continental Commentary Series, the Liddell and Scott Greek–English Lexicon, and over 30 additional volumes on the life and influence of Martin Luther.
This package is specifically designed for the Lutheran tradition—it combines smart Bible study tools with a world-class library of Lutheran resources, making it perfect for anyone wanting to go deeper into Lutheran studies.
In this first part of my review, I am mainly focusing on the resources available in Logos 5 Lutheran Gold. In a subsequent part, I will review the implementation of the resources in the Logos program.

Standard and Lutheran Gold Collections: Resources Comparison

Logos offers a variety of Bible software collections: Starter, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Portfolio, and Biblical Languages. Within the last year or so, Logos has also offered specialized 'families' oriented to various denominations or backgrounds: Español, Anglican, Reformed, Seventh Day Adventist, and Roman Catholic (labeled as Verbum). The Lutheran collection is one of these family offerings, and for now is offered only in a Starter, Bronze, Silver, or Gold level.

This history of Lutheranism in the United States is rather complicated, but today there are three primary branches which have supporting publishing houses whose works are included in the Lutheran Gold library.
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and (Augsburg) Fortress Press
  • Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and Concordia Publishing House
  • Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and Northwestern Publishing House
Works from Fortress Press are especially featured in the Lutheran Gold collection, but I suspect this is the result of publishing agreements and available digital versions rather than any denominational bias. What Logos has done is modify their standard Gold library by omitting some resources and adding ones with a Lutheran background.
Logos 5 Lutheran Gold lists for $1550 before any discounts (faculty, student, occasional sales...) According to Logos and as noted already, it has 752 resources with a print value of $18,000. The standard (non-Lutheran specific) Gold collection also lists for $1550 and has 1076 resources with a print value of $21,000. How many of the resources are actually valuable to you, however, is a different matter.

So what do you get or not in Lutheran Gold as compared to the standard Gold collection? (Note: I am comparing the standard and Lutheran Gold collections as of 2014.07, but resources do sometimes change.)
  • All the Logos Datasets, Maps, Photos, Media, Parallel Passages and Harmonies are the same or nearly so.
  • Among "Ancient Texts and Morphologies," you get Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia in the standard but not the Lutheran. Neither offers Nestle-Aland, but in both, you will still have plenty of reliable Hebrew and Greek texts to do original language work. There are similar and sufficient "Original Language Grammars and Tools" and "Original Language Lexicons and Word Studies" in both standard and Lutheran Gold to conduct further study.
  • The only real texts of note lacking among "Ancient Texts in Translation" in the Lutheran Gold are Josephus and Philo and the Nag Hammadi Library in English.
  • There are plenty of the most used English Bible versions (and Interlinears) in standard or Lutheran Gold, and the only ones that I consult missing in the Lutheran package (though available for purchase separately) are the Good News Translation and Peterson's The Message.
  • Among "Bible Introductions and Surveys," both standard and Lutheran Gold include resources like the Faithlife Study Bible, Ryrie's Guide, and the Holman Bible Handbook, none of which are Lutheran in background, however. A better option would have been to include The Lutheran Study Bible (Concordia).
  • Though there are fewer resources in the Lutheran Gold "Bible Reference" category, it includes more than enough useful ones (I especially like the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary) and adds The Lutheran Cyclopedia. Among the resources that Logos labels as "Biblical Studies," the Lutheran collection is, I believe, far superior and is a notable highlight. It includes three books by N.T. Wright (published by SPCK), and others by Helmut Koester (the valuable Cites of Paul and Paul and His World), Malherbe, Theissen, and Zetterholm (all by Fortress). Among Bible Commentaries offered, both include a number of old series, and both have the very useful United Bible Society OT and NT Handbook Series. The standard Gold offers relatively recent series like the Holman NT  Commentary, New American Commentary, and Black's NT Commentary. The Lutheran Gold offers fewer commentary series, but the ones included from Lutheran publishers are quite good, most notably the Continental Commentary Series and the Augsburg Commentary on the NT.
  • Among "Bible History and Culture," both include The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land and New Manners and Customs of the Bible, but where the standard offers The Context of Scripture, the Lutheran Gold includes Schürer's History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ and The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition.
  • In the "Church History / Church Fathers" categories, the Lutheran collection actually offers more, including a number of specifically Lutheran resources, noting in particular Gritsch's A History of Lutheranism.
  • In the "Theology" category, there are far more resources in the Lutheran Gold, and most of them have a Lutheran connection.
  • The Lutheran Gold does not offer resources in the categories of "Counseling," "Ministry," or "Devotionals and Spiritual Formation," but I think it was reasonable to omit these since they do not have specifically Lutheran focus. There are also far fewer resources in the "Preaching and Teaching" category, but the Lutheran Gold does significantly include the 13 volumes of the Fortress Press Homiletics Collection
  •  Lectionaries: The lectionary tools are very helpful for identifying and accumulating the Scripture readings for any particular week. Christian Worship (WELS) and Lutheran Service Book (LCMS) one- and three- year lectionaries are included as well as the three-year and daily readings of the Revised Common Lectionary (used by most ELCA and many other mainline denominations). I know of quite a number of (Lutheran) congregations that are using the four-year Narrative Lectionary, and I encourage Logos to add this schedule to their resources.
  •  Liturgy, Hymns and Prayer Books are unique to Lutheran Gold. There are ten volumes with publishing dates between 1715 and 1921 and hence primarily valuable simply as historical documents.

Logos 5 Lutheran Starter, Bronze, Silver, or Gold?

For comparison sake, I also looked at the other Lutheran collections, and Logos makes it easy for you to make your own comparison. Prices listed are before any available discounts.
  • Starter: 195 resources, $295
  • Bronze: 368 resources, $630
  • Silver: 506 resources, $1000
  • Gold: 752 resources, $1550
The Starter library really is limited and doesn't even really take full advantage of the basic Logos 5 program. It does include The Book of Concord, but it does not appear to be a great value to me. Stepping up to the Bronze level does provide for much more thorough biblical studies and biblical reference works in addition to more Lutheran works. Silver mainly provides more biblical tools, early Church, and biblical studies resources, though notably Bonhoeffer's Works are added. Moving up to Gold notably adds the Continental Commentary Series, the UBS Handbooks, the Fortress Press Homiletical Collection, and the Select Studies in Martin Luther's Life and Influence (29 vols.). If I were starting with nothing, I would at least want the Bronze level, but there are good reasons and value to step up to Silver or Gold. If you already own a Logos product, they do take into account resources you already own, so it is worth checking the personalized prices.

SUMMARY: Logos 5 Lutheran Gold Resources

With Logos 5 Lutheran Gold, Logos has assembled a commendable set of resources for conducting biblical study (in both the original languages as well as English) supplemented by a collection of Lutheran resources. Books from Fortress Press are particularly well represented. The resources in the Biblical Studies, Bible Commentaries, Bible History and Culture, and Preaching and Teaching groups are particularly strong. The Theology group does include many excellent resources from a Lutheran theological perspective, but the lack of Luther's Works is notable.

For a more detailed listing of the resources with additional comments, consult this page I have posted.
In the next part of my review, I will see how these resources are implemented in the program overall.

UPDATE: Part 2 of my review is now posted.

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