Save Up to 40% on John Walton Resources for Logos

Logos has been running an Author Spotlight special the last few months. For August 2019 John Walton’s books and Mobile Ed courses are up to 40% off. This means you can add the “Lost World” series for 30% (about $10 per volume). This sale includes books Walton edited, such as the Zondervan Counterpoints book, Four Views on the Historical Adam and the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary volumes (the whole set is $139.99, or get individual volumes). These are good (although brief) commentaries focusing on cultural and historical backgrounds and are richly illustrated with full color photography. Unfortunately I do not own these in Logos so I cannot comment on how easy it is to use the illustrations in your presentations, although I have had no problems with copying out of Logos and pasting into PowerPoint.

The real highlight is Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible, Second Edition (Baker 2018). Walton surveys Ancient Near Eastern literature to set the Old Testament into the proper historical context. Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts edited John Hilber and Jonathan Greer (Baker 2018). This is a a 600+ page book with essays by a wide ranges of ANE and OT scholars. Like ANE Thought, the book is illustrated with black and white photographs and line drawings. (The first edition of Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament is also listed, do not make the mistake of buying them both). Walton’s Old Testament Theology for Christians: From Ancient Context to Enduring Belief (IVP 2018) is also available at 30% off.

Logos has a deal on John Walton Mobile courses as well, the Background of the Old Testament Bundle (2 courses, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine and Old Testament Genres) or get individual courses: Old Testament Genres (4 hour course); Origins of Genesis 1-3 (4 hour course); Book Study: Genesis (9 hour course). These include video lectures along with course material (syllabus, midterm and final exams). I have quite a few of these course, most have very brief, focused lectures, sometimes only a few minutes. Along with the video lecture and a transcript of the lecture, there are suggested reading in the Bible and other Logos resources (links to Bible Dictionary articles and Logos Topical Guides).

Don’t forget the Logos Free book of the Month for August 2019: Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology (Crossway, 2015) for free. This is a concise version of their Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Second edition; Crossway, 2018). Since the larger volume is just under a thousand pages, this concise edition does not mean small: the book is over 300 pages long. I agree with Thomas Schreiner’s assessment this book is “a third way, a via media, between covenant theology and dispensationalism” by suggesting neither theological systems is informed by biblical theology. Gentry is an Old Testament professor and Wellum is a professor of Christian theology; both teach at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

For $1.99 you can add another mammoth book from a SBTS professor on biblical theology, James Hamilton’s God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Crossway. 2010).  For $2.99, you can add Gerald Bray, God Is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology (Crossway 2012). Christopher W. Morgan of California Baptist University says  “God Is Love is a warm, conversational, and contemporary systematic theology written by one of evangelicalism’s leading thinkers. But it is much more. It is biblically saturated, historically rooted theological wisdom for the people of God.”

If you do not have the Logos software, you should at least download the free Logos Basic or the $99 Logos 8 Fundamentals (currently on sale for 20%). With either minimal package you can download and use the free book every month and build your Logos library. Logos Bible Software 8 is a significant upgrade to this powerful Bible study system. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. The software runs much more efficiently than the previous version, that alone is worth the upgrade. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7 and the upgrade is well worth considering.

Book Review: Todd Bolen, Acts: Photo Companion to the Bible

Bolen, Todd. Acts: Photo Companion to the Bible., 2019.

Todd Bolen has been producing high quality resources for Bible teachers for many years on his website Bible I first became aware of Bolens’s Pictorial Library of Biblical Lands at an ETS in 2003. I have used these photographs in virtually every class I teach in order to add some colorful graphics to an otherwise dull PowerPoint presentation. Even though I have some critiques of the collection below, if you are teaching the Book of Acts, then the Photo Companion to the Bible is an essential collection of images to use to illustrate your lectures and sermons. If you are a student of the Bible, you can read the text of the Bible and page through the slides in order to place the text into a physical context.

I reviewed his Gospels Photo Companion to the Bible soon after it was released in 2017. At that time Todd told me the Acts Companion was “coming soon.” But as he told me in a recent email, it took a while longer than expected. This is not surprising since the collection contains more than 4,000 photos in twenty-eight PowerPoint sets. The slide set for Acts 13 has 250 slides, Acts 20 has 180 slides. This includes every place Paul and the apostles traveled and every photograph is identified and explained. In some cases, additional material appears in the slide, such as citations to journal articles.

Along with photographs detailing the Paul’s missionary journeys, many inscriptions are included (the Gallio Inscription, the Temple balustrade, the Politarchs inscriptions, Roman calendars, etc.). In addition there are high quality photographs of coins, artifacts, models, scrolls from museums. There are maps tracing Paul’s travels created by A. D. Riddle of

Since these are PowerPoint slides, the editors provide annotations explaining the image and the location of the photograph. There is also a code in the notes indicating the source of the image. Many are from Bolen, but there are other contributors (and I noticed a few wiki commons images as well). This is very helpful for identifying the location of museum photographs or some of the historical photographs.

I looked over most of the data sets, but for this review I will focus on Acts 13, 250 slides in all. Each slide has a phrase from the Bible across the top, the reference is in the bottom right corner. A brief description appears in the bottom right corner, and a few lines of explanation appear in the slide notes along with the image credit. Since Acts 13 begins in Syrian Antioch, there are a few slides from the modern city of Antakya in south-east Turkey, including a photograph of the ancient hippodrome taken between 1934 and 1939. There are plenty of photographs of Roman remains on Cyprus including the gymnasium at Salamis and Villa of Theseus at Paphos.

To illustrate Paul’s encounter with Bar-Jesus, there are two Aramaic curse bowls,   one from Babylon and the other from the eleventh century A.D. There are two Latin inscription was found near Pisidian Antioch with the name Sergius Paulus, one is a public domain image from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Perge is well illustrated, including the rock-cut pass between Magydus and Perga on the Via Sebaste and later Via Sebaste after Döşeme pass. After Paul leaves Pisidian Antioch, he travels to Iconium, as illustrated by a photo of a Roman bridge on the Via Sebaste east of Yunuslar between Pisidian Antioch and Iconium. Many of these photographs of Roman roads are from Mark Wilson, one of the best sources for Paul’s travels in Asia Minor. He also contributed a photograph of an inscription mentioning Galatia and Pamphylia, from Perga. The slide cites Wilson’s recent article, “The Denouement of Claudian Pamphylia-Lycia and its Implications for the Audience of Galatians,” Novum Testamentum 60 (2018): 337–60. This is the kind of detail I appreciate in these slides, there are others with citations of journal articles, such as the God-fearer mosaic from the synagogue of Sardis (dated to c. AD 365), citing John H. Kroll, “The Greek Inscriptions of the Sardis Synagogue,” Harvard Theological Review 94/1 (2001): 9.

For Acts 13:50, “But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence” there is a photo of a statue of Plancia Magna from Perga (2nd century A.D.) followed by an inscription at Perge with her name. Plancia Magna was a wealthy and powerful women in Perge, although certainly not a believer. This statue shows there indeed were prominent women who had significant power in a city like Perge.

There are some slides which do not seem particularly on topic. “Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch” (Acts 13:1) is illustrated with a wonderful Tiberias. Why? Herod moved his capital from Sepphoris to Tiberias. Barnabas and Saul speak in the synagogues in Cyprus (Acts 13:5), this is illustrated by the synagogue at Magdala. To be fair, there are not many first century synagogues and Magdala is an excellent example, but is not a synagogue from Acts 13.

Others strike me as unnecessary. For example, there is a picture of mist surrounding Nimrod’s fortress in Israel to illustrate “Immediately a mist and darkness fell on him” and a photo of a blind man in Jerusalem for “He went around seeking people to lead him by the hand.” When John Mark returns to Jerusalem, there are several slide of Jerusalem including the Syrian Orthodox site for the upper room. For Acts 13:17, “The God of this people Israel chose our forefathers” there is a photograph of Abraham’s well in Beersheba and several beautiful photographs from Egypt since 13:17 mentions Egypt. In fact, most of the slides illustrating Paul’s sermon are not necessary, but since the goal is to have something for every verse, they are included here. I would have rather had 75 more slides of Roman roads between Perge and Pisidian Antioch.

Evaluation. For many people, using Google Image Search to find pictures for their lectures is second nature. It is easy to do and there are often good photographs available without any usage restrictions. So why purchase this set of photographs from Todd Bolan?

First, these photographs often do not appear on the web. For most of the collection, Bolen has taken the photographs himself and he owns the copyright. These are not snapshots from someone’s Holy Land Tour taken with their iPhone.

Second, there are several types of photographs which are difficult to obtain yourself, such as aerial photography. Bolen has also included many historic photographs from the American Colony and Eric Matson collections released by Bible Places in 2009.

Third, if you are just grabbing a few photographs from the web for your teaching, perhaps you are violating copyright law. The copyright notice is as follows:

The purchaser is granted permission to use this work in face-to-face teaching, video-recorded sermons, class notes, church newsletters, and like contexts. Separate permission must be obtained from to use this material in books, magazines, commercial products, websites, and online courses. Slide notes should be treated as any other copyrighted written material, with credit given when quoting from these notes. For copyright inquiries, please email Todd Bolen at

Yes, I know we all do it and it is doubtful you will get in trouble for snagging someone’s vacation pictures from Flickr. But some universities and churches are trying to limit resources to “fair use” copyright images. The Photo Companion to the Bible allows for legal images which can be freely edited for your own needs.

If you purchase the Photo Companion, you can download it immediately with the promise of free lifetime updates as well as get a DVD copy. One important thing to consider is the copyright permissions which come with the Photo Companion to the Bible. All the images are free for use for any purpose (teaching, sermons, etc.), although if they are used in a publication, you will need to obtain permission. I have seen Bolen’s photographs in many books from major publishers, which speaks to the quality of this resource.

If you visit the website, there are samples of Matthew 4 and John 2 so you can get an idea what the collection looks like. Finally, here is a five minute video promoting the Photo Companion.

NB: Thanks to Todd Bolen at for kindly providing me with a review copy of this resource. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.



Logos Free Book of the Month for March 2019 – Leland Ryken, How Bible Stories Work

The Logos Bible Software Free and almost free books of the month are three excellent books by Leland Ryken. Ryken was professor of English at Wheaton College written extensively on classic literature from a Christian perspective, including the The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing and the classic How to Read the Bible as Literature (Zondervan 1984). Ryken served as the “literary stylist” for the English Standard Version (Crossway 2001) and was edited IVP’s Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (1998).

Ryken’s How Bible Stories Work is one of six volumes originally published by weaver but are now part of the Lexham Press catalog. Each are relatively short books (125-135 pages) and well-designed for quick reading.

  1. The Subject of Every Story: The Embodiment of Universal Human Experience
  2. Setting in Bible Stories: Seeing the Particulars
  3. Characterization in Bible Stories (Part 1): How Writers Do It
  4. Characterization in Bible Stories (Part 2): What Readers Need to Do
  5. Plot Structure and Unity: The Beginning, Middle, and Ending of Each Story
  6. Plot Devices: How Storytellers Tell Their Story with Beauty and Skill
  7. Hero Stories: A Neglected but Fruitful Narrative Genre
  8. From Story to Meaning: How to Find Significance in a Narrative Text

Each chapter focuses on specific narratives and include an exercise (“learning by doing”). For example, in the chapter on Hero Stories, Ryken outlines the way hero stories usually work, then reads Daniel 6 as an example of a biblical hero story used to teach moral virtue. Then he suggests Esther as an example of hero story, prints a series of verses from the book and asks the reader to do the literary analysis for themselves. For some readers, describing Daniel 6 or the Book of Esther as “hero stories” sounds like they are “just stories” and not really “true stories.” Ryken acknowledges this objection in the preface to the series:  “the literary approach to the Bible needs to be defended against legitimate fears by evangelical Christians, and through the years I have not scorned to clear the territory of misconceptions as part of my defense of a literary analysis of the Bible.” For Ryken, “a literary approach to the Bible is ready to grant value to the biblical authors’ skill with language and literary technique, seeing these as an added avenue to our enjoyment of the Bible.” But a literary approach to the Bible is not used in isolation, rather it is “takes its humble place alongside the two other main approaches—the theological and the historical.”

In Jesus the Hero: A Guided Literary Study of the Gospels ($1.99 for the month) Ryken first argues the Gospels are narratives and as such, the insights of literary studies are helpful in tracing the themes of the book. In Short Sentences Long Remembered: A Guided Study of Proverbs and Other Wisdom Literature ($2.99 for the month) Ryken examines a different genre of literature, that of proverbial wisdom. The book deals primarily with the Book of Proverbs and describes how short, proverbial sayings function in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, but also in Beatitudes and other contexts (James).

The bottom line is that you can add three excellent, academic books to your Logos Library for about $5. Any of these books are worth the investment at full price, so a big thanks to Lexham and Logos for making them available so inexpensively. As of today, the giveaway is not open, but the Free Books page indicates Logos will do their usual context to give away a 40 volume collection of books published by originally Weaver (which was purchased by Lexham, so maybe this giveaway will be updated soon?)

In case you have not seen the announcements, Logos released a major upgrade to their Bible Software. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. There are plenty of new features to justify an upgrade and the software runs much more efficiently than the previous version. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7 and the upgrade is well worth considering. As always, there are less expensive paths to upgrading and there are paths that will require you to mortgage your house. 

Logos Free Book of the Month for February 2019 – Mark Seifrid, Christ, Our Righteousness

Logos has an excellent book on offer for their Free Book of the Month. All three of the free and “almost free” books are part of the New Studies in Biblical Theology from InterVarsity Press. From the IVP Website, this series “Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprised by New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.”

For the month of February, you can download Mark Seifrid, Christ, Our Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Justification (IVP Academic, 2000). Seifrid’s work is solid and represents the traditional / reformation perspective on Paul (see my “What was the Old Perspective?”). His published dissertation was Justification by Faith: The Origin and Development of a Central Pauline Theme (NovT Supp; Leiden: Brill, 1992) and he has contributed numerous essays and articles on Paul’s theology, such as “The ‘New Perspective on Paul’ and its Problems,” Themelios 25 (2000): 4–18. He wrote the Pillar Commentary on the New Testament on 2 Corinthians. When I mentioned this book in an article back in 2013, I said “is a brief treatment of the topic but among the very best and most accessible for the layman.” My physical copy of this book is well-read and marked, a sure sign of a stimulating book.

In addition to Seifrid, you can add Peter G. Bolt, The Cross from a Distance: Atonement in Mark’s Gospel (IVP Academic, 2004) for $1.99. Bolt “explores why the cross is so prominent in Mark’s Gospel, what Mark’s teaching contributes to our understanding of the atonement, and how it can inform, correct, and enrich our own preaching of the gospel in the contemporary world. He helps us to stand in wonder before God who has come close to us in the cross of Jesus Christ and to live in hope for the better things to come.”

Perhaps most exciting to me, Craig Blomberg’s Contagious Holiness:Jesus’ Meals with Sinners (IVP Academic, 2005) for $2.99. This book came out about the time I started by PhD work, and I did not discover the book until I was well into my dissertation research. Reading the book was a bit depressing since Blomberg was doing the very thing I wanted to do in my dissertation (and doing it better than I would)! The thesis of his book: “In sharing food and drink with His companions, He invited them to share in the grace of God. He revealed His redemptive mission while eating with sinners, repentant and unrepentant alike. Jesus’ “table fellowship” with sinners in the Gospels has been widely agreed to be historically reliable.” I ended up with some of the historical Jesus material, but focused on table fellowship as an anticipation of the messianic banquet (which Blomberg includes briefly).

The bottom line is that you can add three excellent, academic books to your Logos Library for about $5. Any of these books are worth the investment at full price, so a big thanks to IVP Academic and Logos for making them available so inexpensively.You can also enter to win a 22 volume set of “The Bible Speaks Today: New Testament.”

In case you have not seen the announcements, Logos Bible Software released a major upgrade last week. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. There are plenty of new features to justify an upgrade and the software runs much more efficiently than the previous version. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7. Through February 7, You can save 25% on any upgrades to Logos 8 and pick five free books when you upgrade to Logos 8. Follow the link and used the code READINGACTS8.

Logos “Free Book of the Month” for January 2019 – John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone

Logos Bible Software is starting 2019 off right by offering a copy of Isaiah for Everyone by John Goldingay for free in January. From the blurb, “In this volume on Isaiah, John Goldingay explores the first of the great prophetic books. Isaiah is a compilation of the prophetic messages of several prophets. Their messages to the people of Judah and Jerusalem included a call for injustice to be recognized, a message of liberation and hope from the oppressors of the people, and a message of the coming day of judgment.” Goldingay is always a good read, and I have used his The Theology of the Book of Isaiah as a textbook in a grad class on Isaiah several times.

Seriously, all you need to know is it is a free copy of a commentary on Isaiah by John Goldingay. If you are a Logos used, then you should get this book!

Since Logos is partnering with Westminster John Knox for the give away this month, they are also offering two excellent books as “almost free” add-ons. First, for only $1.99 you can add Douglas Stuart’s Old Testament Exegesis (Fourth Edition): A Handbook for Students and Pastors, and for $2.99 more you can add Gordon Fee’s New Testament Exegesis (Third Edition): A Handbook for Students and Pastors. I have used the Fee book as a textbook in a NT Exegesis class for years, it is very good introduction to NT exegetical method. I was assigned Studart’s book in a PhD seminary on Hebrew Exegesis and used it the last time I taught a Hebrew exegesis course

You can also enter to win the Westminster John Knox Theology Collection (6 vols.; $180 value). The set includes The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology by Kevin J. Vanhoozer and there are several ways to enter.

In case you have not seen the announcements, Logos Bible Software released a major upgrade last week. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. There are plenty of new features to justify an upgrade and the software runs much more efficiently than the previous version. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7. You can save 25% on any upgrades to Logos 8 and pick five free books when you upgrade to Logos 8. Follow the link and used the code READINGACTS8.

Logos “Free Book of the Month” for December 2018 – John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him

For the  month of December Logos users can download John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him: The Doctrine of God (Crossway, 2001) for free, Graham Cole, He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit for $2.99 and Bruce Demerast, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation for $4.99.

These three books are part of The Foundations of Evangelical Theology from Crossway. In Feinberg’s general introduction to the series, he indicates the intention of the series is “to address all areas of evangelical theology with a special emphasis on key issues in each area. While other series may be more like a history of doctrine, this series purposes to incorporate insights from Scripture, historical theology, philosophy, etc., in order to produce an up-to-date work in systematic theology. Though all contributors to the series are thoroughly evangelical in their theology, embracing the historical orthodox doctrines of the church, the series as a whole is not meant to be slanted in the direction of one form of evangelical theology. Nonetheless, most of the writers come from a Reformed perspective. Alternate evangelical and non-evangelical options, however, are discussed.”

You can also enter the Logos giveaway for the Crossway Studies on the Bible (8 Vol. set).

In case you have not seen the announcements, Logos Bible Software released a major upgrade last week. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. There are plenty of new features to justify an upgrade and the software runs much more efficiently than the previous version. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7. You can save 25% on any upgrades to Logos 8 and pick five free books when you upgrade to Logos 8. Follow the link and used the code READINGACTS8.

Head on over to the Logos Free Book page and get yourself a nice Christmas present (or two).

Logos Free Book – Aída Besançon Spencer, 2 Timothy and Titus

Logos Bible Software has another very good “Free book of the Month” for November. Partnering with Cascade Books, Logos is offering a copy of New Covenant Commentary on 2 Timothy and Titus (2014) by for free, Nijay Gupta’s 1 & 2 Thessalonians (2016) for only 99 cents, and Michael Bird’s Colossians and Philemon (2009) for only $1.99. That is three good commentaries for your Logos library for a mere $3, less than a cup of that fancy coffee you like so much. As I was purchasing these commentaries I noticed Aída Spencer’s 1 Timothy commentary is only $4.99, if you want to complete your set of commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles in the New Covenant series. In fact, all the volumes of the New Covenant series available in the Logos Library are $4.99 right now.

Commenting on Spencer’s commentary, Eckhard Schnabel said “By explaining lexical, grammatical, historical, and theological matters, and by focusing consistently on canonical connections and pastoral application, Aida Spencer has written a lucid commentary that will prove helpful for general readers, students, and pastors alike.” Spencer is professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has published many other books including Global Voices on Biblical Equality: Women and Men Ministering Together in the Church (W&S, 2008).

I have used Gordon Fee’s Revelation (click for a six-year old review) and Craig Keener’s Romans commentaries and found them very helpful. Although they are brief compared to other recent commentaries, these commentaries target a general audience and will be very useful for the pastor preparing a sermon or a layperson working through a book in a Bible Study.

In case you have not seen the announcements, Logos Bible Software released a major upgrade last week. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. There are plenty of new features to justify an upgrade and the software runs much more efficiently than the previous version. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7. You can save 25% on any upgrades to Logos 8 and pick five free books when you upgrade to Logos 8. Follow the link and used the code READINGACTS8.

Logos also has a giveaway each month, for November 2018 they are giving away a set of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics (31 volumes, a $299). Scroll past the free books to the contest section, there four ways to enter. So in the spirit of the election season, enter early and often to have the best chance to win this valuable resource. I wonder what Karl Barth would think of his magnum opus being a prize in a raffle.