Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not Dead, just Reading

Man, I've had to use the "not dead" header too many times around here.

But seriously, I've been spending as much time as possible reading and studying and have not had much "free" time. I wanted to break the silence by sharing some of the programs I have been using to help with my studies, in case any of you might be interested in them.

First off, the freebie e-Sword. This little gem gives you access to many translations of the bible (in several languages), commentaries and lexicon resources. The one drawback is the installation scheme. You have to download and install each resource separately. For users with Windows Vista, prepare to spend a lot of time setting this program up (UAC prompt to start install, install procedure, clearing "did this program install correctly" window for each and every resource installed). Beyond the installation hassle, the interface is rather clean, but I would love an easy way to toggle the display of Strong's Numbers and morphology tags.

Second freebie, the SWORD Project. This one is very similar to e-Sword. In fact the resource list is pretty much identical. The main difference is the install scheme and the program interface. All of the resources can be downloaded and installed manually, or you can use the built-in Install Manager to download the files you want. Makes for an easier install (if your connection to their FTP server does not stall, I have that problem on my connection). The SWORD Project also has versions for several operating systems. My favorite, for its interface, is BibleTime for KDE installs of Linux. The Windows version is a bit sloppy in the interface department in my opinion, but is still usable.

Both of these resources can give you the basics to start looking into more serious studies in the bible, such as examining the original languages. One complaint you might have is the fact that the NIV translation is missing. This is not the fault of the programs, but due to Copyright limitations. You can, however, purchase the NIV for these programs.

Now, if you are wanting to get deeper into studying the bible, there are two main programs that I use, BibleWorks 7 and the Libronix Digital Library System.

BibleWorks gives you a great number of resources in which to study the original language versions of the bible. There are Hebrew and Greek resources available so you can pick apart the original material to your heart's content. One word of warning though. The lexicons included are very good, but they are only abridged versions. If you want the full, unabridged lexicons you will have to purchase them separately.

For taking apart the original texts, BibleWorks shines once you get used to the layout and interface. Its main drawback is the fact that it is really only good for bible analysis. If you want to include more diverse sources for study, you cannot really do this within just the BibleWorks program.

This is where the Libronix Digital Library System shines. The LDLS allows you to use the program as an actual library, combining several diverse sources together for studying. Heading over to the Logos website (Libronix is the software, Logos handles the "books" of the library) you can browse through a large selection of "books". You can buy boxed sets (such as the various Logos 3 products), along with individual books.

The main drawback to going the Logos route is the fact that most of the books cost the same amount as the printed versions. The searchability of these electronic versions is wonderful, but I question the pricing, considering the lack of printing costs. The Logos 3 boxed libraries are a different matter entirely.

The boxed libraries can be a wonderful deal, especially if you are looking to get into deep studies on Christianity. The Scholar's Libraries (standard, silver or gold versions) contain so many books, that you would probably need a loan and a new room added to your house to have all of the printed versions. The Original Languages Library compares well to BibleWorks 7, but has a few more "teach yourself" resources for the extra $100 you will pay for it.

If you are looking into software for in depth biblical study, my advice is to take the time to seriously compare the products out there. If you are just wanting to look into the original texts and compare bible translations, BibleWorks might be the route for you. If you want to build a library over time then Logos might be the way. Both products have their strengths and weaknesses. I personally use all of the software I have mentioned here (but that route can start getting expensive quickly).


Cheryl said...

Glad to see y'all back!

Douglas Beaumont said...

Keep in mind that LOGOS has to pay publishers for each of these titles - the publishers are the book's creators, not LOGOS, so the fact that the books are not printed has nothing to do with keeping the costs down. As a publisher, you can't give a huge discount to LOGOS and kill the market for your printed books and bookstores. That's just basic economics.