Free NIV Bible for the Faithlife Study Bible

FSBLogos is giving away the NIV Translation with the Faithlife Study Bible until April 8. The Faithlife Study Bible is an online Study Bible with a running commentary and Bible Dictionary, similar to in-print study Bibles such as the ESV Study Bible.  The app is available for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire.  I thought that there was a desktop computer app as well, but it is not on this promotional page. I reviewed the Faithlife Study Bible app last June.

The App features include:

  • 400 photos, videos, infographics, and maps
  • Free built-in Bible dictionary
  • Custom highlights and 
  • note-taking
  • Articles from trusted Bible scholars, preachers, and leaders

Faithlife Screen ShotI have used the Logos app on my iPad since it was released and find it to be the best all-around tool for Bible Reading and study of the original languages.  I think that reading books in my Logos Library is a better experience that with the Kindle app, and the fact that Logos includes real page numbers makes the Logos App my first choice for iPad readers.  The Logos app has greatly improved the note-taking feature and syncs with notes made on your desktop version of Logos.

The Faithlife Study Bible is a slimmed down version of Logos which defaults to a dual-pane reader. the Bible is on top, running commentary along the bottom.  The size of the windows is easy to adjust.  In the commentary, links to the Bible Dictionary appear.  The Lexham Bible Dictionary is quite impressive, often competitive with the Anchor Bible Dictionary in quality and depth.  Within the Dictionary there are links to other articles and all scripture is linked to the Bible.  Touch the scripture link and a small, floating window will appear with just the verse and an option to go directly to the context in the Bible pane.  This Dictionary alone is worth using the Faithlife Study Bible!

Touching the illustrations in the commentaries opens a image viewer.  The illustrations are usually “infographic” style.  While they are not as nice as the illustrations in the ESVSB, they are good enough to illustrate the dictionary article.  On the iPad you can zoom in on the picture by pinching (the standard iPad gestures).

Since this is a Free App, there is little downside to the Faithlife Study Bible.  The Free NIV promotion goes away on April 8, but Study Bible itself works with other (free) translations.  Of course, Logos would be glad to sell you hundreds of other useful books for their study system, but the Faithlife system is a great way to get started.  If you are interested in Biblical Languages, you will need to get the full Logos App, but for most people the Faithlife Study Bible will be an excellent companion to reading the Bible.

Accordance 1.6 for iPad (Updated)

A new update to Accordance for iOS came out this week.  Some of the updates are cosmetic, the reading experience is improved with a new theme, using “subtle earth tones, new icons and buttons.”  A nine minute video was posted to YouTube highlighting the new features. The video indicates that more people use the iOS version than the desktop version.

Accordance iOSAccordance for iOS now allows you to sync notes, highlights, and User Tools using Dropbox.  This allows you to use sync these items between platforms (desktop version and iOS version, both iPad and iPhone, etc.)  By using Dropbox you can sync your notes without owning the desktop version.  I really like the split screen mode, it works much better than the Logos iOS app.  There is a button with auto-splits the screen.  Another handy button is the “back” arrow, something that was missing in the earlier version. I still prefer to change pages with a right-left swipe, like a book and available in most readers (Kindle, Logos, Vyrso, Google Books, etc.)

The Free version has an ESVi Bible (for iOS), tagged with Strong’s numbers.  Highlight an English word and the  Hebrew or Greek word will appear in a floating window.  You can “amplify” the word, which opens any Bible dictionary tools you have.  The free version opens Easton’s Bible Dictionary.  Selecting a word also allows you to highlight a text with a variety of colors or do a basic search for the word throughout the Bible.  The free version also includes demos of  Hebrew and Greek Bibles.  Highlighting a Greek word opens a floating window with parsing information and lexical form, with a gloss from Mounce’s Greek Dictionary.  The Hebrew works similarly, although it did not identify all the parts of a word (prefixed prepositions, definite articles, etc.)  Only the root is identified and parsed, along with a gloss from the Kohlenberger-Mounce lexicon. One frustration, the floating window goes away after a a short time.  Several times it automatically closed before I was finished.

If you are looking for a free Bible App for your iPad, be sure to check out Accordance.

Upgrade: Logos 3.0 for iOS (iPad, iPhone)

Logos 3.0 for iOS appeared in the AppStore today, and it is a significant upgrade.  If you already have the App, get the upgrade as soon as possible.  If you have not yet downloaded the free app, now is the time!  I personally use this App and have found it to be the best iPad app for reading (better that Kindle!), and certainly the best for reading Greek and Hebrew.

Downloading books is much easier, whole collections can be selected and moved to your iOS device.  Since I upgraded to a 64MB new iPad, I have plenty of space for key books for reading when I am not in a WiFi zone.  If you do not download a book it is still fully accessible via WiFi.

The App now has a navigation pane which slides out like other iPad apps, giving access to your library.  This works even better in split screen mode. This is a huge improvement since the earlier version required a return to the home screen to find resources.  As far as I can tell, language tools (word study tools) are unchanged.  I am still frustrated that the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) is still unavailable, but that is the fault of the publisher, not Logos.  The Third edition of Bauer (BDAG) looks great, although I wish it could be accessed more directly from the Greek Bible (it is a two-step process at this point).

Notes can be created on the iPad itself rather than only on the desktop.  I created a new note set (Thessalonians) and it appeared on my desktop version a few moments later. I find this helpful for working “out of the office,” I add a series of notes on a text as I read from several resources then pull that text into my regular word processor for full editing later.  Logos has an excellent collection of annotation tools, going far beyond the usual set of highlighters.  Readers who use various inductive study methods will find most of the colors / symbols they need.

The Logos App is now fully integrated into the FaithLife Study Bible system, so that yo can create and share notes with others using FaithLife.  This study Bible is available through the AppStore and includes an excellent collection of notes and study materials. (I reviewed the initial release of the Faithlife Study Bible here, the App is currently free in the AppStore.)

Here is a video explaining the benefits of Logos 3.0 for iOS, visit the AppStore for the free Logos App and start reading today.  According to the Logos website, you get 41 books with the free app (including the SBL Greek New Testament and apparatus), and another 26 after you create a Logos account.  It is worth creating an account since they give you Strong’s Systematic Theology and the New Nave’s Topical Dictionary, among other out-of-print books.

Win a Free Copy of BibleWorks 9

Jim Barr from BibleWorks sent me an email point out that their big contest:  In celebration of their 20th anniversary as a company, BibleWorks is giving away two full copies of their software.

The format of the contest is interesting:  you must submit a twenty word reason why you need to win the software.  “Winners will be selected based on humor, wit, and verve,” which might exclude a few pastors, it is well worth the effort to win this rather generous prize.

BibleWorks 9 has some excellent tools for working with Greek Manuscripts, including a Greek Manuscript tool which allows the user not simply to see the evidence for a variant, but to examine the actual manuscript.  Several key manuscripts are available, including Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Bezae, and Washingtonianus.  You can see the Manuscript tool in the picture to the left.

You can enter on their Facebook page as well,  but all entries must be in by June 15.  Good luck!

More Free Books: The International Critical Commentary (ICC)

The International Critical Commentary (ICC) is one of the most important commentary series of the twentieth century. I was quite pleased to find volumes which have gone out of copyright are available through Google Books for free. When I was in college I used to be able to buy volumes of the ICC for about $10, so most of these I own. Several are very nice, well preserved books which I treasure. I will always opt for the “real book” whenever possible, but thanks to Google these excellent commentaries are free to download. The ICC is one of the truly great commentary series, preserving some of the best scholarship over the last 125 years. Even thought many of the volumes have been replaced by more recent scholars, the original commentaries are worth having.

Many of the early volumes are still available used, although they are not particularly cheap. W. R. Harper on Amos and Hosea is listed on Amazon in Hardback for $49.50, the “inexpensive” paperback reprint is available new for $43. This reprint is printed on-demand from the same scan which appears on Google books at no cost. Some of the less popular volumes can be found used for less that $20, but many are becoming quite rare.

There are several volumes which are essential commentaries to own. Alfred Plummer on Luke is classic commentary everyone should have on their shelf (virtual or otherwise). Volume one of R. H. Charles’ classic two-volume commentary on Revelation is available, although I cannot find volume two. Sanday and Hendlam on Romans is another excellent commentary, although the author is listed as S. R. Driver, the editor of the series Ernest Burton on Galatians is still consulted by anyone working in Galatians.

A few of the volumes are interesting, although after 100 years, they are not particularly cutting edge. Most commentary series have some volumes which are not as good as others, the ICC is no exception. Toy on Ecclesiastes and Paton on Esther are worth reading, but they represent scholarly opinion which has in many ways been abandoned. Likewise, while Driver’s commentaries on Genesis and Deuteronomy are pillars of the Documentary Hypothesis, they may very well boggle the mind today. Yet, in my opinion, every volume in the series is worth owning (especially since they are free through Google Books).

There are some drawbacks to Google Books, however. Even though there are four pages of books listed under International Critical Commentary, many are repeats with incorrect names. For example, J. Skinner is listed as the author of the International Critical Commentary, but when you examine the book, it is actually Plummer’s Luke commentary. Skinner did write the Genesis commentary in the ICC, and for some reason he is listed as the author on about a dozen volumes. Because of the nature of the scans, these volumes cannot be searched, nor can you cut and paste text from the books. The books are page scans, so you are viewing a graphic of the page, not text. If you need search capabilities, Logos sells the entire collection in their searchable, indexed format. This collection includes more recent volumes which are still under copyright.

Copies of the ICC can also be found at the Internet Archive in a variety of formats, but not all are very useful. For example, I downloaded T. K. Abbott’s Commentary on Ephesians and Colossians in the Kindle / mobi format, and frankly the conversion was terrible. Greek characters are not recognized and unreadable, many English characters are mis-read. I tried the epub version, using Stanza on my iPad and found the text to be the same unreadable mess. I was able to download the PDF file and read the scans, and the Internet Archive’s online reader displays the pages correctly.

One of the best ways to mange your e-book collection is Calibre, an open source reader for Windows and Mac. Not only will Calibre read many different formats, the software creates a database to help you sort through the mass of PDF and epub books you download from Google Books or I have used the Windows version of this program for years and have just started using the Mac version. Sadly, there is no iOS version. I would love to have Calibre on my iPad to read books stored in Dropbox or other cloud servers.

I would recommend downloading all volumes of the ICC from Google Books, there is a wealth of scholarship waiting for you to use.