Bible Software in the Classroom

My teachers didn’t go through school with Bible software. Yours probably didn’t either. If you’re a seminary student (my target audience for this blog), that means you’re part of the first generation of students to have the power of BibleWorks at your fingertips not only for papers but for class time—even personal devotions.

Who’s going to be your model for how you use Bible software? I almost answered, “Your model shouldn’t be a Logos salesperson.” But then I remembered my respected friend Phil Gons and his good tech knowledge and advice… I think what my first thought was driving at, though, is that there are few people (in my experience) who both 1) know and use and love Bible software and 2) openly speak of its dangers. I aspire to be one of those people (and I’m not saying you aren’t one, Phil!).

With that aspiration in mind, I ask you to make a connection for yourself. Please read this post if you missed it a few days ago:

…you’ve simply got to read this piece on the blog medium’s message by Andrew Sullivan, or at least this summary, which would lead you to this article on PBS, which might lead you to this one in the NY Times. UPDATE: And here’s the Atlantic article that started Sullivan on this tack. (HT: Andy Naselli).

Now, how can the experiential insights of Andrew Sullivan, et al., be applied to our use of Logos, Accordance, and BibleWorks? Feel free to comment, my blog readers. Both of you.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

3 thoughts on “Bible Software in the Classroom”

  1. I definitely feel the rub about the hyperlink mindset. I can read posts on GReader all day, but I’m finding myself needing to apply extra discipline when I read a paper book.

    On your question, Mark, about the blog-defined mindset applying to the use of BW, Logos, et al, to Scripture studies, I think there are some dangers to guard against.

    One is the danger of subconsciously equating Google searches with word searches. We google a phrase and assume that we now have all the available information on the topic. Word studies of that depth are only part of the theological study – much more can be gained for concept studies. As much as I love BW7, nothing it offers comes close to reading and re-reading the passages under consideration for detail.

    Another danger is the easy searchability that comes from electronic library materials (yes, that can be a danger!). A heavy reliance on “search function” research puts the reader in jeopardy of basing conclusions on snippets of others’ conclusions – without reading or understanding the work that went into their writing. It’s the danger of laziness – letting someone else do the analysis & synthesis and grabbing bits of their conclusions without bothering to check their data or process. (Plus, you learn a lot more when you are forced to read the other pages around the “necessary” portion of your commentary!)

  2. Sullivan’s point is helpful although he seems to offer little beyond an update of Postman’s thesis in “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”

    To an extent, general magazine articles on Bible software are as unhelpful as sales pitches. Another general comparison of BW, Accordance and Logos perpetuates the fallacy that somehow the three all “do the same thing” and still continue to exist independently in the Bible software market, a narrow market with small profit margins.

    More specific articles demonstrating specific exegetical procedures with a given software package can be helpful, but it’s hard to get much use from those unless it actually illustrates something I’m trying to do at the moment.

    Usually specific articles are more helpful when I have a task I’m trying to accomplish already and am looking for a solution. I’ve probably actually learned more about software this way than I’ve ever retained from software demo sessions or generic articles comparing software packages.

  3. If I would have not read the comments on this post, I would have written exactly what James wrote.

    For my Sunday service sermons this summer I have purposefully started each sermon with my open Bible (non-reference, non-study bible) and a blank sheet of ruled paper (they actually still make sheets of paper still that aren’t on Microsoft Word!). That way I am simply noting the context and story-line before I dive into the Greek/Hebrew or commentaries.

    It ain’t a perfected system, but I find it helps me when sermon prepping.

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