Make A List; Check It Twice

This is a good time of year for me to remind you and you of an important principle: don’t listen to Logos when they let their marketing folks write the following:

The sheer volume of content in Logos base packages makes them incredibly valuable.

There’s a fundamental error here—or at least a faulty assumption: quantity and quality are not the same thing, even in products from an excellent company like Logos. In a given year I use a relatively small percentage of my Logos resources. Here’s what I use most frequently:

  • Commentaries
  • Bibles: ESV, NIrV, GNT, BHS
  • Commentaries
  • Bible Dictionaries (like the NDBT, NDT, NBD, etc.)
  • Commentaries
  • A number of journals
  • Systematics (like Grudem and Hodge)
  • Assorted individual books (Piper, Schreiner, Levinsohn, etc.)

The money I spent on the above resources also purchased for me a great quantity of other materials, much of which is simply of lower quality than the stuff I do use. I simply don’t have the time or inclination to check everything my library has to say about a given passage—much as it would be a waste of time to check everything my school’s library says about it. When I have top-level resources, I don’t generally need to check low-level ones. So I’ve “hidden” the following resources:

  • The Pulpit Commentary (not helpful; out of date)
  • Semeia (typically too liberal and arcane)
  • Wilmington’s Bible Handbook
  • Wilmington’s Book of Bible Lists
  • Preach for a Year #s 1 and 2 (sermon outlines; yech)
  • Bob Utley’s various commentaries

There may come a time when introductory level works are useful for me if I teach a discipleship class, but for now the NICOT, NICNT, NIGTC, NAC, WBC, TOTC, PNTC, and BST series (plus a few more) are more than adequate for my research needs. I paid good money for what I use, but I paid for quality, not quantity. Don’t get a baseball-card mentality when it comes to buying books. Your collection’s value may actually decrease with size; it can be hard to wade through junk.

So make a list of what you’ll actually use and check it twice against “analog” book prices before you buy. Your list will likely look different from mine (for example, I use BDAG and notes in BibleWorks, not Logos), but you’ve got to make one or you may waste money.

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.

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