I have been a Logos user since the middle 1990s. My first purchase was shipped on four floppy discs and I have continued to upgrade and add on to my Logos Library over the years. I appreciate the good folks in Logos Marketing sending me a copy of Logos 8 early to use for this review. In addition, 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.
To be honest, it was not early enough! There are so many new and important features in the new version it would take several weeks of dedicated time to explore them completely. Consider this review my “first impressions.”
The first thing I notice when launching the new Logos 8 is improved speed. The new fonts are sharp and readable, windows seemed to open quickly. There are some speed claims on the Logos website, I have no way to verify them other than the eye-test. Compared to Logos 7, this new version is lightning fast!
The Logos homepage has been completely revamped. I must admit I rarely used the homepage in previous versions of Logos, preferring to launch to my personalized layout of books. The new homepage has a customizable dashboard allowing the user to add content from their library such as devotional material, reading plans, Logos educational courses, lectionaries and prayer lists. As with previous verses, there are a number of items pushed into a section called “explore.” These might be hints as trying out some feature of Logos (“try a work flow….start now!), a sample from a book you already own, links to Logos Bible Study blog, training videos, etc. But there also a number of temptations to purchase additional books for your library. These are links to community pricing resources (usually a good deal if you participate early) or new books in the Logos Library.
One of the coolest new features is called Workflow. When you launch a new Workflow, you will be prompted to select a text or topic to study. There are different flows for different types of study. There are Bible passage and exegesis workflows, but also people, places, and theology topics. The Workflow tab will walk you through a series of steps in a personal study of the passage, making notes for each step in the process. Each step utilizes various tools of the Logos library. For example, the first step is to read the passage marking the text with highlighters and making notes. The second step is to read the passage in other translations using the Translation Comparison tool. The third step is to identify the people in the passage. I chose Exodus 16, so this step contained links to Moses, Aaron and the Israelites in various resources. This will be a very attractive feature for people who want to do personal Bible study but need some guiding questions to focus their study.
Logos Notes have also been upgraded in this new version. I will confess I have not used the Notes feature, primarily because I did not care for how the notes were stored. I rarely was able to find what I wanted to find later. Notes are now stored in an Evernote-like collection. For example, all my notes on Galatians are collected into one directory. One thing which surprised me was a notebook with 1000+ highlights I have made in books over the years. All my old notes were converted without any trouble, including notes I made 7 years ago when I was reviewing Logos 4.5.
Notes can be filtered by several categories. For example, all the highlights and notes I made while reading the Pillar New Testament Commentary on Thessalonians are filed together under resource>Thessalonians (PNTC), but also under Bible Book>1 Thessalonians or 2 Thessalonians. If I make highlights and notes in several resources on 1 Thessalonians, these will be gathered in one place. The filters can be stacked, so Bible Book>1 Thessalonians>resource lets me see all the notes and highlights I made from individual commentaries. All notes and highlights can be quickly searched. If you take notes as you read a book, considered tagging the notes with topics to make better use of the search feature.
For me, I prefer to read books through the Logos app on my iPad. Notes and highlights I make there are stored in the same notes system the desktop version of Logos 8. This means if I am sitting in a coffee shop reading and making notes on my iPad, those notes will be organized and ready form me when I return to my office. One feature I would like Logos to consider is exporting a Notes collection to a Word file. For example, I might use the filter tool to narrow notes to the book of John, search the topic of festivals, and end up with a series of notes drawn from various resources. If those notes could be combined and exported to a Word file for editing, the Notes tool would be even more valuable. (Maybe that feature is already there and I am missing it.)
Canvas is a new feature which reminds me of a large cork board for organizing notes. Think about just about any detective show, the detective collects pictures and notes and makes connections between various clues. Canvas is a way to take information from various tools within the Logos eco-system and lay them out into a visual diagram. To be honest, this looks like an excellent tool for visual learners and has so many complicated features I have not had time to explore it sufficiently for this review.
The Library Tool has been updated. I usually find my books by hitting ctrl-L and opening a floating window, entering the name of the book in the search line. The new Library window has a filter in the sidebar. This is the same system used to filter notes, although there are more categories available. Maybe the filter was always there and I never noticed it, but the Logos 8 library window now sorts by subject, topic and author, but also series. I can now sort out all the Library of New Testament Studies volumes. These filters can be stacked, Library of New Testament Studies and Paul, or Hermenia and Q theory. One serious frustration is the sub-categories are not alphabetical and I do not see an easy way to scan through the categories to find what I want. The new filter sidebar has a “new today,” “new last seven days,” etc. This replaces the update notice on the home page in Logos 7.
The Passage and Exegetical guides are excellent tools to jumpstart a Bible study. Select the tool from the guides menu and enter a passage. This can be a single verse or a section. This will generate a tab with links to all the resources you own on that particular verse, including commentaries, journal articles, parallel passages, and cross-reference tools. Logos 8 now generates a list of “important passages” and “important words” for your passage. For example, I entered John 3:16 and the guide identifies all the nouns and verbs as important, but did not list any of the words which are not very important for exegesis (and, but, the, etc.). The guide also includes links to various media you may have in your library, such as graphs and timelines. One extremely valuable tool in the passage guide is a list of allusions in other ancient literature. If you have the apostolic or church fathers installed, the guide generates links to the books which quote or allude to your verse. I was quite surprised to see links to New Testament apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and the Nag Hammadi literature. The passage guide concludes with allusions to the verse in systematic theologies and confessional documents as well as sermons in your collection (as well as those shared in the Faithlife by contemporary pastors). This guide will even find hymns that relate to your passage!
The Word Study Guide has been the main tool I use when preparing lessons. Right click on a Greek or Hebrew, make sure the lemma is selected and then pick the Word Study Guide. This will generate a tab with links to any lexicons and word study books you own. There is a helpful section listing words with similar roots. I ran a Word Study Guide on δοῦλος, root section included the verb δουλεύω and the noun σύνδουλος along with several other less frequent words lexically related words. These words are clickable and a Word Study tab will for the new word. The guide also generates a chart detailing the way that particular word is rendered in your preferred translation. If you are working on a Greek work the Word Study tool will generate a chart of how the Hebrew words translated with your word in the LXX. Although the Word Study Guide does not create a concordance style list, it will offer a few example uses of the word in different grammatical uses (subject, object, etc.). The new Word Study guide also generates “clause participation” in the preferred translation, although I am not sure this is useful information. The final section of the Word Study is one of the more important. The Guide will search for your word in the LXX, apostolic fathers, New Testament apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo and Greek Classics (if you have the Greek versions in your library).
New in Logos 8 is a Theology Guide. Launch the guide from the Guides menu and enter a theological topic. I entered justification, and a tab was generated including the Lexham Survey of Theology, This resource includes charts, key New Testament text on justification and several shorter articles on the Nature of Justification and the timing of Justification, etc. Each article has a Recommended Resources section with clickable links; if the resources is unlocked you will be taken to that resource, otherwise Logos will offer a chance to purchase the book. In this case, I owned Berkof’s Systematic Theology so clicking the guide took me right to his discussion of justification. But when I clicked on the recommended Perspectives Old and New on Paul by Stephen Westerholm I was given the opportunity to buy the resource.
In most of the guides and workflows Logos will suggest “Important Words” or “Important passages.” It is not clear now these texts are generated, but at first glance they seem to be useful lists of actually important words and passages. Sometimes automatically generated lists include less that helpful suggestions, this is not the case with this new tool.
Conclusion. There is plenty more to explore in Logos 8. This new version of Logos is a major upgrade, if you are using an older version this is a great time to considered upgrading. Use the code READINGACTS8 at checkout to save 25% on upgrades to Logos 8 and pick five free books.