If you’re a Bible software user, then you’ll want world-class training on how to use your software like a master. We’ll give you advice on how to best improve your skills and learn to use whatever program you prefer whether it’s a Bible software program on Windows, Mac or an app on your smartphone or tablet.
We started out talking about getting training direct from the software maker’s website. For example, head over to the Accordance Bible Software website to find their large college of podcast, visual training offerings and even webinars or live seminars in your area. Other sites have them as well so go to your program’s website and look for a support link or training link.
Your next stop should be the company’s support forums, if they have one. For example, one of the most active forums for a Bible software company comes from the Logos Community. You’ll find an active collection of users ready to help out quickly. They get a little prickly if you complain about Logos, but they do like to help new users. Accordance has a good community too. Many of the others offer one as well.
If you can’t find the help you need or just want to learn more, then check out the in-software help files. They will open a great set of help files in most of the packages. Rick bragged that Accordance won an award for their in-app help system.
It’s not as easy to find the in-software help in Logos. If you click the Help menu button on a Mac, you’ll find nothing. It’s only there to conform to macOS menu standards. They should make it link to their help online or something. Instead click on the Home button in the upper left and then click on the Question Mark in the upper right. See the screenshot above.
Another good place to look for help on Bible software is third-party sites like Udemy, which has a great set of Logos Help videos for a low price. If you use Logos, look into the Logos official trainer’s Morris Proctor Seminars for help. They’re not cheap, but he’s talented. There’s also LearnLogos.com.
Finally, ask us. We like to help viewers and listeners. We’re busy guys, but enjoy helping out when we can so send us an email using the contact info in our page about the Theotek Contributors.
We started a series in this week’s Theotek Podcast on doing digital sermon prep. Our team will take you through our steps of sermon prep using Bible software and digital tools.
In this first step we focused on choosing a passage. Software packages come with tools to help you figure out what verses to include in your passage, or as the scholars call it, pericope. Then we look at other aspects of sermon prep. Watch the video below or listen to the audio version at the end of this post.
We didn’t have any recommendations in Our Favorite Things this week.
Listen to a bunch of old farts talk about Bible software then and now. We take a trip down memory lane and share what we used first in Bible software. We also talk a little about the best improvements that we enjoy.
Listen below or watch above to enjoy.
Our Favorite Things for this week: LaRosa Johnson mentioned one of our favorites, the Pencil by Fiftythree, which looks and works a lot like an art pencil.
Rick, a Type 2 Diabetic, got the OneTouch Verio Sync glucose meter. It connects to an iPhone so you can track your blood sugar levels with your iPhone.
With the new iPad Pro coming out this month and iOS 9 supporting side-by-side windows of 2 apps, a tool like Verse3 makes a lot of sense. This simple Bible app that doesn’t use the same Bible display framework we’re used to. In fact it takes the focus and puts it on the person listening to a sermon or Bible study. The user can open multiple verses on the screen at a time and add their notes inline with those verses.
Fuzzy search feature where you can search for love and it returns all forms of that word
Share your notes and verses in Dropbox as text files
What would you use Verse3 for? Collect a list of verses for a study. Keep one verse on-screen while the speaker or teacher refers to others. Add notes before or after a verse.
Take a look at the app in the screen shot slide show below.
In addition to learning about Verse 3 we learned about Antoine’s trip to Australia for two interesting conferences related to church and Bible technology. He told us about an app from 5fish called Gospel in Every Language. Learn more at the 5fish website. The conference he attended can be found here.
Olive Tree let their Bible by Olive Tree for Android app languish in mediocrity for a couple of years, but that ended this June with a nice update to the Bible+ by Olive Tree app for Android. It sports a whole new polished look that feels more like a modern Android app than the earlier version. What’s new and should you get Bible+ by Olive Tree for your Android phone or tablet?
Bible by Olive Tree for Android with Material Design
One of the most obvious changes comes with the new look of the user-interface in Bible by Olive Tree for Android. Google promotes something called Material Design, which means they’ve created some standards that they hope app developers will follow. Material Designgives Android apps a unified look and Bible+ follows the standards quite well.
The Book, Chapter, Verse Chooser shows off the new look of the app. It’s more colorful and that makes it easier to see what’s on screen and interact with it.
Olive Tree describes their new look as “bold color and flat icons” which is correct. The app looks better and closer to the iOS version, which Olive Tree clearly put more effort into developing before this. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another two years to get a nice Android update.
Take a look at the Strong’s dictionary pop up to see an example of the more attractive looking user interface. Open a Bible with Strong’s tags and tap on a word. The box pops up giving the Dictionary Definition, the Strong’s number for the word, and two buttons. One button searches the Bible for that Strong’s numbered word. Searching is fast. Tap on a result to jump to the verse.
Tapping on the Look Up button will open a list of all the dictionaries and user notes for that word that the app can find. Tap one to open it inside the pop-up. This makes word studies easy.
Now, in Bible+ users can highlight more than just a verse. They can select one word or a phrase and highlight it. They also added the ability to highlight non-Bible books, which is hard to believe you couldn’t do before on Android.
In either case, select what you wish to highlight and the highlighting toolbar pops up hovering over the text just above the part selected. Tap on highlight. The new highlighter box pops up with the various colors the user can use to highlight. Tap on one of the highlighter colors and it applies the highlight to the selected text.
The highlighter tool includes five colors by default (yellow, pink, purple, green, and blue). You can add new colors or rename the included colors with things like “sermon notes” or “sermon illustrations” or whatever you like.
At the bottom of the highlighter color selector box there’s a couple of buttons. Tags let users add tags to a highlight to make it easier to find. Categories will gather highlights into a category.
Under the Hood Improvements
Some of the best improvements won’t show themselves obviously to the user. However, over time they will notice that things run smoother and faster. The text gets displayed better and overall performance is better, at least that’s the promise.
On my Nexus 9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, two of the newest Android devices running Android Lollipop 5, usually run Bible+ faster, but opening a new book still results in the Android circle that shows the OS is still working and you have to wait for it to finish what it’s doing. In other words, the devs at Olive Tree need to do some more work optimizing the app’s speed and user-interface.
Once the app does draw the screen, which usually takes about five seconds, and loads everything, the app’s clearly faster and scrolls smoother. The handle that opens the second window is smooth and lets me open the Resource Guide quickly.
Thanks to these under-the-hood improvements, new kinds of resources become possible. For example, study Bible’s with things like tables, can now show them as tables. The iOS version could do this for a long time, but the Android app was way behind in this area until now. If you have the NIV Study Bible app you will see an example of this. Open it to John 3 and you’ll see a table in the notes. The included screen shot comes from the ESV Study Bible Intro to Matthew.
This same display engine lets them layout with text flowing around visual elements. That seems like a minor thing, but the Android app couldn’t do it before this version. Thankfully Olive Tree caught up with 2015.
The Great Resource Guide
While the Resource Guide isn’t new, it deserves mention since it’s such a useful feature. At the bottom of the window you’ll notice a handle. Pull it up by tapping and holding on it and then swiping up. This opens a second window.
At the top left corner there’s a drop down box. Tap it to show the list of available resources. Library opens the user’s library so they can open a second book in that second window. Tap on My Stuff to open things like Notes, Bookmarks, Highlights, or Book Ribbons. Tap on the Resource Guide, which serves as a digital research assistant ready to show the user all of their books related to the passage in the first window.
On the top right corner, there’s a settings icon. Tap it to customize what kinds of resources will show up in the Resource Guide. It also lets the user order their resources. For example, I’ve put my Commentaries first, followed by Introductions, People, Places, Maps, and then left the rest of the items on the list alone.
Now when I open a passage in the first window, the Resource Guide will show me all of my commentaries in the second window ready to open them to that passage. It also shows me book introductions so I can learn what’s going on in that book of the Bible. Then it shows me information about people, places and any maps that might relate to the passage. The Resource Guide offers other things like related verses (cross references), notes that I’ve written on the verses in the passage, images from books in my library that are tagged with this verse or topics from the verses and much more.
Other Bible apps offers something like the Resource Guide, but the Bible+ app from Olive Tree executes it in one of the best ways available. This reason alone makes it one of the best mobile apps available.
Other New Features
Here’s some of the other new features available in the new Bible+ for Android.
The new app display engine can finally show Interlinears, like the ESV Greek-English Interlinear. It goes beyond what the Strong’s tagged Bibles offer. Tap on the Greek word and it shows the word, Strong’s numbers, parsing information and will search for the word in all forms, not just the form in that verse. Tap just the Strong’s number to see the Strong’s dictionary entry, like you would with the ESV with Strong’s tagging. If you want to search for the word as it’s used in that verse with its present format, it will do that too. That way you can find other instances of a word with the same parsing.
Bible+ for Android uses a new font that looks better and supports formatting better. It’s more readable. Open the app and you’ll notice how prettier the text looks. There’s a crispness that wasn’t present before.
Part of me wants to say, “About time!” I used to use the Bible+ app on my Android phone and iPad all the time. It was my go-to app for public use as I listened to preaching, took part in group Bible studies and even when I preached or taught using my Android phone as my Bible. As the app fell further behind other Android apps, I retired it. Even though the app continued to improve on iOS, I didn’t use it because I wanted a consistent user-interface on both platforms. Other apps from Logos and YouVersion did a better job of keeping both platforms up to date and fairly consistent.
Now that Olive Tree finally updated the Android app I’ve used it more. I’m still leery of their continued commitment to Android. After this update will they again start to ignore the app in favor of other projects? They put Apple Watch support in the iOS app almost right away, but Android Wear watches have been around for a year, yet we still don’t see Android Wear support. That’s a signal to Android fans that they might not yet be serious about Android. Let’s hope they are and the next six months will tell the story.
There’s room to improve the app since it does crash on occasion. While writing this article, it crashed three times in about two hours. That’s got to get fixed and I’m confident Olive Tree will.
Should you give Olive Tree another shot on Android? Definitely! Former users should grab the update and poke around in it. If you use another app and are happy with it, download a free version and give it a look. I doubt that many will make the switch based on this build alone, but you might. Olive Tree offers a large library of books which makes it an attractive option. The improved Android app deserves a close look from old users who moved on out of frustration, like I did.
Way back in 2000 Rick Meyers, a successful programmer, released the first version of e-Sword. e-Sword’s a free Bible study program that brought digital Bible study to people who couldn’t afford to buy a program or who wouldn’t consider paying for such software. Fifteen years later, e-Sword now runs natively on a Mac thanks to e-Sword X ($9.99) for Mac.
The e-Sword X looks familiar to e-Sword users. There’s the same basic layout that e-Sword users enjoy, plus some extra touches that take up to the next level. For example, a drop down box in the middle of the top toolbar shows layout options. Turn all the windows on with the Show All Views option. Or just pick one of the other options to see fewer panes on the screen at the same time. The available window panes include…
Editor for notes, journal or topic notes
To download free content click on File and Resources and then Download… or use COMMAND+D. Click on one of the tabs to find the various kinds of books to download and install. Users who purchased content from a third-party publisher, like modern translation or commentaries, click on the item and then click Download. It will offer to let you Recover Product Key, which helps you get the resource without knowing the key itself. This takes the user to that site to log in and get credentials. Hit Validate to enter product keys.
e-Sword X also lets user import files made for use in e-Sword. The software has a large community of users with tools to create resources that work in e-Sword. Import using File, Resources, and Import…. Also add user-created files for things like dictionaries or documents.
The navigation controls in each window pane move around in that kind of resource easily. All panes include a drop down box to select a resource like translations in the Bible pane or commentaries in the Commentary pane and dictionaries in the Dictionary pane.
The Bible window lets users read a Book, compare multiple translations a verse at a time, see parallel Bibles in a tablet with columns for each translation and rows for each verse.
The commentary browser shows Book notes, Chapter notes and Verse notes with tabs for each.
The e-Sword notes feature is simple. Attach notes to the Bible and use right-click to change things like fonts. It could use some sprucing up to make it as good as the competition, but it’s there.
From the Window menu, find some additional resources. That’s where users go for their Bible Reading, Daily Devotional and Reference Books.
The Reference Books shows additional tools like the American Bible Society Maps pictured above. We get E.M. Bounds books on prayer, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and more. You can add resources by downloading them from the Resources menu under File. You can also add your own tools, if you know how to make them, by clicking File, User Files and then Import….
One way to make your own resources is download them from third-party sites dedicated to making e-Sword modules from public domain books. A great site for this is BibleSupport.com. You can add free content from this site. You may need to convert it from the Windows version to the Mac version, but they show you how to do that. You need the converter available at the e-Sword Extras site.
The Apple Watch is out and a few Bible apps wants to put the Bible on your watch. We talk about that and some other new developments in Bible software and more church tech on this week’s episode of the Theotek Podcast #022: Apple Watch This. LaRosa Johnson, a former regular on Theotek and a member of the Olive Tree team also joined us during the second half.
I found that Olive Tree isn’t the only game in town on the Apple Watch. In fact the Bible app from LifeChurch and YouVersion also has an Apple Watch app. There are a number of others too.
We also talked about Stephen Johnson’s new ESV Bible app. He also Tweeted about it running on Apple Watch.
Here’s a screenshot. The app does more than it used to, thanks to the great coding of Stephen.
Rick and I will be getting our Surface 3 tablets and we’ll talk about them next time. Mine’s in and I really like it.
The crew also discussed Microsoft’s wish to turn your phone into a desktop replacement. Hook up a Windows 10 phone to a display, keyboard and mouse or a dock with those things connected, and you can replace a desktop using the phone as the PC instead.
Android already lets you do this. Hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Either connect an HDMI display or wirelessly cast the screen using a Chromecast or Miracast receiver, remember to use nothing but top glass protectors to take care of your watch. This gives you a desktop style functions with the same Android user-interface.
While LaRosa Johnson was with us, he discussed Bibletek. He didn’t mention his new book Raw Material. Get it on Amazon. It’s a nice basics for the Christian disciple.
BibleWorks, one of the best scholarly original language Bible study tools available, got a big update to BibleWorks 10. The company is also partnering with Crossway to give away a free book for people who order in the first wave.
BibleWorks puts the Bible at the heart at its user-interface. They give users a quick way to view Bible content with powerful searching features and excellent original language study tools. The program includes almost every popular modern Bible translation. You also get the best Greek and Hebrew tools including access to NA28.
What’s New in BibleWorks 10
One of the most exciting new features is the EPUB reader. If you own books in EPUB format, the new BibleWorks 10 will read these books opening up your BibleWorks library to more than just the books that BibleWorks sells.
The new BibleWorks 10 user-interface will let the user customize, not only the window layout as always, but also the color.
With BibleWorks 9, the program could show four columns, but now the user can close a column easily. The person can also change the color of the borders. Plus, customize the tabs easily.
Mac users will get a better installer and the screenshots make it look more like a native Mac app that earlier versions.
A few other awesome new features include…
Colors for Morphology – tag a word with a color based on the morphology
Screen Scaling – looks better on different screen resolutions
Leningradensis Codex Images – high-resolution images of the OT texts
Essential Biblical Hebrew, Jan Verbruggen – a Hebrew Grammar text in digital form
User Lexicon Tab – this lets users create their own lexicon by adding notes to any word and notes show up when we mouse over the word
Fuzzy Search – search for a word like love and it gives us many forms
Holy Land Pictures Database – high res photos from the Holy Land
Get a Free Book from Crossway
People who order BibleWorks 10 before May 3 will get free copy of Interpreting the New Testament Text. You can also get half off any ebooks bought from Crossway.org. That’s a nice perk considering the great library available through Crossway.
As I posted late last week, Logos launched a new service called Logos Now that includes a beta web app. WORDsearch also launched a new version of their online site that replaces My Study Bible, which made the Top 6 favorite Bible study sites. We talk about online Bible study sites and go more in-depth with Logos Now, to name a few things we discussed in this week’s edition of the Theotek Podcast. See it below.
If you want to listen to the audio version of our podcast, use the audio player below or subscribe to it on iTunes or Stitcher.
Finally, let me introduce you to Rick Mansfield. Rick joins us from Accordance Bible Software. He’s lives in Kentucky and knows a lot about tech and Bible software. He joined us a couple of times as an official spokesperson from Accordance, but now he will put on the neutral observer hat for us on Fridays as the fourth member of the Theotek Team. Rick blogs at thislamp.com and Tweets using @thislamp.
Logos users expected Faithlife to go to a subscription model since they’ve talked about it for years. Bob Pritchett, CEO of Faithlife, took to the forums to announce Logos Now, their new monthly subscription based service that will give uses access to some content not available otherwise. This also includes a new Web App that’s in very early beta stage.
I signed up for the Logos Now service and went over to the Logos Now Web App, the thing I’m most excited to use, and the user-interface looks a lot like the Logos 6 desktop app, but without most of the features functioning. A number of features don’t work while some do. Others don’t yet show up as available.
What Does and Doesn’t Work in Logos Now Web App
Despite that it’s a beta, or more accurately a non-functioning pre-Alpha, it’s promising. We will hopefully one day see the things we love about Logos, like the tools, library access and syncing of content.
Enter a passage reference and the passage will load. Click on the Library button to open books.
Click on Documents, Guides and Tools and you’ll get a screen like the one above which says, ‘Check back soon!” This also happens on the Home and Search buttons too. In the upper right we get the layouts, help and account buttons, all non-working.
Sometimes things seem to work fine and other times they fail miserably. For awhile I couldn’t navigate to other passages or scroll through more than a few passages before the window went blank. Then I got logged out, not on purpose. I logged back in and I could move around the Bible. It seems this was a login/logout issue more than anything else.
Table of Contents, at least on my preferred Bible shows nothing. However, other tools in the drop down box that shows up after clicking the Book cover work. I could increase and decrease font size, use column or full screen viewing mode.
Other Things in Logos Now
Logos Now is a little more than the Web App. Here what’s exclusive to Logos Now subscribers in addition to Logos Now Web App.
Old Testament Propositional Outlines Dataset
Greek Grammatical Constructions Dataset
Commandments of the Law
Logos Stock Images, vol. 2
Visual Copy Templates for Visual Copy tool new in Logos 6
Author Slide Templates for Visual Copy tool new in Logos 6
Proclaim Starter for Visual Copy tool new in Logos 6
The Old Testament Propositional Outlines Dataset gets describe as follows:
This visual filter reformats Old Testament text into a narrative outline that labels the purpose or theme of each line, and offers easy-to-read primary points and secondary points. With a click, see how the text flows, how ideas fit together, and how each line relates to the next. This outline also exposes key aspects of biblical narratives, like events, purposes, and characterization. More and more Old Testament books will be added over time, and eventually, this dataset will include the entire Old Testament.
The site says it would cost $39.95 if bought separately, however it’s also exclusive to Logos Now. That means seems to mean buyers can get it outside of the subscription.
Here’s how Faithlife describes the Greek Grammatical Constructions Dataset.
With the Greek Grammatical Constructions Dataset, you can simplify complex constructions with ease. This new dataset identifies grammatical constructions in the New Testament and finds other occurrences of the construction in the Bible. Create visual filters to mark constructions in your favorite Bible as well as find and test your knowledge of rules and constructions. Filter results in the resource menu to make certain constructions easy to spot in future studies and limit your search by book of the Bible.
Faithlife says this would cost $14.95 if they sold it outside the subscription.
Read the description of the Commandments of the Law tool.
The Commandments of the Law Interactive provides information on the 613mitzvoth (commandments) as delineated by Maimonides (Rambam) in the Middle Ages, around 1170 C.E. While the Rabbis freely referred to the 613mitzvoth and agreed on their number, they rarely provided a completed list and therefore understood the commandments differently. These commandments are explicit commandments found within the Torah as understood by the Rabbis. Maimonides distilled the principles for identifying the 613mitzvothand also provided a reliable list. His listcontains 248 positive commandments and 365 negative ones.
The Commandments of the Law interactive allows you to group the 613 mitzvoth (commandments) into various categories (State, People, Category, etc.) and track down a specific type of law.
It would cost $5.95. So that’s $61 of content. Add the visual media which would add up to a total of $125 sold separately. It will take you almost 21 months if they added nothing new to buy them at $9/month. That’s not a bad deal, if they do add more content within that time.
New Logos Now Media Browser
There’s now a Media Browser under the Tools menu. Click it and see all the new media options listed above.
The Media Browser shows image and multimedia files. Use it to teach or preach. Use it to enhance your own personal study. Share images or media online to help others.
Along the left there’s a list with categories of kinds of media or ways of organizing it. Things like tags, kinds, topics, or collections organizes the media.
Should You Subscribe
Yes or no! Not very helpful I know. People who hate subscription software should stay away. Those who like it should sign up. Others, who want the Web App access or want early access to new features that normally wouldn’t become available till Logos 7, should sign up. I signed up for the free 30 day subscription so anyone can get a look for free and cancel if you’re not impressed.