Accordance 13 and Logos 8: Which Software for Biblical Exegesis?

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Accordance and Logos are two “high-end” Bible software which are by far the most powerful and complete on the market. For biblical scholars and those who study the Bible from ancient languages in an academic context, they are a valuable tool that one can scarcely do without.
However, when faced with a choice, how do you decide? What is the best software for biblical exegesis?
In order to propose some points of reference for students and biblical scholars, a detailed comparative study has been carried out. It shows the possibilities offered by these software programs in the field of biblical studies. It underlines the strengths and weaknesses of each software at each stage of exegesis. We hope that this will allow the reader to find his way among the offer proposed by the two publishers.

This post is a condensed version of the comparative review: it is intended for the busy reader who does not wish to read the 38 pages of the full version. The full version is available in PDF (link below). It contains detailed explanations, a justification of the various scores, detailed tables and many examples.

A.  Interface Comparison

With Accordance and Logos, you do not buy a piece of software, but rather a set of functions, Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries, and other Bible study books. This set constitutes a « library » whose size and content varies according to the content purchased.

Accordance and Logos libraries are accessible through two main types of apps:

  • The “desktop” version, for Windows or Mac OS, allows you to benefit from all the software’s functionalities. This is the one generally used to work and research.
  • Both software are also available as “mobile” apps, running on Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad). Logos also offers a Kindle app (Amazon) and a « web app », accessible from any Internet browser.

1.   Desktop App (Windows, Mac OS)

Accordance and Logos desktop apps run on Windows and Mac OS.

Accordance is easier to use than Logos, especially since the help section and tutorials included in the software are well designed. The software is also faster and lighter than Logos and does not require a powerful computer to run properly.

Logos is a more powerful software than Accordance, including a plethora of features. Its interface is also a little more modern and more pleasant for on-screen reading. Power and abundance also have their drawbacks: the software is slower and runs poorly on a low-powered computer. The software is also more difficult to use, especially when it comes to advanced functions.

2.   Mobile Apps

You should not expect to find all the features of the desktop app on your smartphone or tablet. The mobile versions are especially useful for consulting and reading books from your Accordance or Logos library.

Logos mobile apps are particularly well designed for reading on a smartphone or tablet, with the ability to conveniently navigate between the books of one’s library. Accessible on more systems, they also offer more features than Accordance’s mobile apps.

Accordance apps are faster (especially at startup) and offer a more powerful and convenient lexical search tool. On-screen reading is also very pleasant on these carefully designed applications.

B.  Search Features

Accordance and Logos are the most powerful tools currently available for lexical research within biblical texts in Hebrew and Greek. They allow you to make particularly complex searches. They display the results in a practical way and generate statistics in graphical form.

Logos’ biblical databases are more developed than those of Accordance and give access to more advanced search possibilities, especially in the field of semantics. Logos’ search results texts display is also nicer and more customizable.

Accordance has better non-biblical texts databases. The software is also simpler to use, has some search commands with no equivalent on Logos, and displays better search results graphs analysis

C.  Usefulness of Accordance and Logos in the Different Stages of Biblical Exegesis

After comparing the interfaces and search functions of Accordance and Logos, we will compare the interest of these two software for each of the main stages of exegesis.

1.   Textual Criticism

Accordance and Logos both give access to the main witnesses and reference critical apparatuses for textual criticism. The two software allow a quick comparison of the witnesses and facilitate the reading of the critical apparatuses thanks to the presence of hypertext links that explain the symbols and abbreviations.

Accordance and Logos also provide cross-searching between ancient versions: between the LXX and the MT (Accordance and Logos), between the Pentateuch Targums and the MT (Accordance), and between the Clementine Vulgate and the Hebrew and Greek biblical texts (Logos).

Accordance offers research possibilities within the critical apparatuses superior to those of Logos. It also offers slightly superior databases of biblical text witnesses.

Old Testament

New Testament

2.   Reading the Text in its Immediate Context

Once the text has been established, one should read it in its immediate context: i.e., within the writing of which it is a part.

Accordance and Logos facilitate the reading of the original text by providing the morphological analysis (parsing) and a first translation. Both software also offer text formatting in the form of syntax diagrams. For each passage, the software also offers a certain amount of information on importants topics or words.

Logos offers certain features that have no equivalent on Accordance: the possibility of arranging the biblical text (in Greek, Hebrew and English) in such a way as to bring out the sentence structure of the original text; details on the literary genre of the passage being studied, on the persons or places mentioned, etc.

3.   Translation

Accordance and Logos provide a number of useful tools for translation. Morphological analysis of each word is accessible at the click of a mouse. Both software packages also offer modules that provide a syntax analysis of each sentence.

The best English-language dictionaries and grammars of Greek and Biblical Hebrew are available in Accordance’s and Logos’ catalogues. Logos’ is a little more exhaustive, however, with a few reference works that are missing from Accordance’s catalogue.

Accordance and Logos’ catalogues are almost exhaustive for English Bible versions. Both software also provide access to Bible versions in many other languages, Logos’ catalogue being a little more extensive on this point.

4.   Philology and Linguistics

Accordance and Logos are particularly useful for studying the meaning of words in biblical contexts. They can be of value to anyone working in the field of biblical linguistics.

Thanks to its semantic databases, Logos has a clear advantage over Accordance when it comes to exploring a word’s semantic field or studying semantic roles.

Syntactic databases present on both software packages are valuable tools for all those who wish to explore the grammar of biblical texts. Logos has more elaborate databases, allowing a little more research on this point. However, Accordance is easier to use. It should be noted that Accordance has been particularly active in recent years in the development of syntax databases and may soon have caught up with Logos in this area.

Both software can be used to assess certain critical assumptions. One can, for example, look for certain “forms” or literary patterns that are claimed to be typical of certain sources. It is possible to compare the vocabulary of two texts to assess the possibility that they come from the same author or the same environment. Logos has the advantage of offering more elaborate databases. However, Accordance offers search possibilities that have no equivalent on Logos (“COUNT”, “INFER” queries, etc.).

5.   Intertextuality

Both software include a “synopsis” feature allowing easy comparison of parallel texts within the biblical corpus (Gospels, quotations from the OT in the NT, Jude/2 Peter, etc.). Logos has the advantage of also offering a very practical interactive tool for exploring Old Testament quotations and allusions in the New Testament.

Regarding intertextual relationships with the literatures of the world of the Bible, both software offer tools that point to many possible parallels. It is then possible to explore these ancient texts: Accordance has better databases in Semitic languages, but Logos offers a more complete catalogue in Greek and Latin, and in English translations.

Only Accordance offers an “active” tool for searching for quotations or allusions between two texts in the same language, based on the use of a certain number of common words; which explains its top mark in this field

6.   Consulting Secondary Literature and Other Tools

Accordance and Logos can be used as an electronic “super-library” and thus facilitate the consultation of secondary exegetical literature (commentaries, encyclopedias, monographs, etc.). Accordance’s catalogue offers a fine selection of the best English-language works. However, Logos has a more complete catalogue that contains everything a Bible scholar can dream of. Logos is also the most efficient for indexing and linking the different books in the library.

Both software programs also provide access to an interactive timeline, an interactive atlas of the world of the Bible, and graphics and photographs related to the biblical context. The two software programs are equal in this respect, with perhaps a small advantage of Accordance for the atlas.

D.  Rates

 Which software is the cheapest? The answer is not easy because Accordance and Logos do not offer quite the same functionality. However, a rigorous examination of rates and pricing policies leads to the conclusion that Logos is globally a little cheaper for an academic public.

1.   Comparison of the Main Collections for Academic Use

A comparison of the contents of the main collections intended for an academic public (see full review) allows us to make the following observations:

  • For a price range between $300 and $500, Accordance’s Academic Bundle Green 1 ($400) is a little more interesting than the one sold for $100 more on Logos (Academic Essentials).
  • For the price range between $500 and $1,000, the Logos’ Academic Standard package ($749), is an excellent deal in terms of content/price ratio. The Accordance’s Greek Pro and Hebrew Pro collections, sold for an additional $250 ($999), focus on one of the two biblical languages and do not offer such a complete offer.
  • For a price range between $1,000 and $1,700, Logos’ Academic Professional package ($1619) is clearly more advantageous than if you buy both Accordance’s Greek Pro and Hebrew Pro collections, for a quite similar price ($1565).

In conclusion, for a similar price range, Logos offers more often collections with more features and interesting books.

2.   Price Comparison of Major Academic Resources

If Logos’ prices are a little more interesting when it comes to collections, what about the resources sold per unit?

In order to answer this question, I have selected 58 texts, books or series of works among those that seem to me the most useful from an academic point of view (see the full review for details). Out of these 58 products, Logos offers 24 times a lower price while Accordance is cheaper on 10 products. Both catalogues offer equivalent prices on 10 products. (For the remaining 14 products, the comparison is not possible because there is no equivalent product in the other catalogue.)

3.   Major Update Rates

The publishers of Accordance and Logos regularly release new major versions, approximately every two years. Upgrading can be quite expensive on Logos (up to several hundred dollars), whereas on Accordance, the cost of upgrading to the new version of the software has never exceeded $59.90 in recent years.

4.   Free Content and Discounts

Accordance is available free of charge in a “Lite” version (see here). For Logos, it is possible to take advantage of the “Basic” package, a free collection including resources equivalent to those of the Accordance Lite version. “Academic Basic” package, reserved to students and teachers, is much more generous.

Other than Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Condensed), I have not found any additional free resources on the Accordance catalogue. Logos’ catalogue includes several free resources. Among free books of particular interest are the encyclopedic Lexham Bible Dictionary and the Perseus database (Greek and Latin classics).

Accordance grants a general 10% discount on its catalogue for students, teachers, pastors, priests or missionaries (see here). Logos offers discounts generally higher than Accordance for theology students or faculty who create an Academic account (see here) with at least 30% off on base packages and significant discounts (between 20% and 50%) on many academic reference works.

Accordance offers new special offers every week on certain resources in its catalogue. On Logos, books on sale change every month. It is hard to say which is the most generous. However, it seems to me that Accordance offers more often sales on commentary series.

Conclusion

Both software tested are remarkable tools for biblical exegesis. Logos obtains an overall score slightly higher than Accordance (but scores are very close!). However, this does not mean that Logos will be the best software for any user. Indeed, each of the two software tested has its own strengths and weaknesses. To help one find his way around, below is a table showing all the “scores” proposed in the course of the comparative review. Strengths and weaknesses of each software are also summarized.

Logos is the ideal software for anyone who wants to invest in an electronic exegetical library. With its extremely elaborate databases, it also opens up great possibilities in the field of biblical linguistics. It is the most powerful and ambitious software. The great richness of the software is also its weakness. Logos is sometimes quite slow, especially if it is used on a relatively modest computer. Finally, Logos tends to work in the place of the scholar. The software is very easy to use as a passive or semi-active tool, but the advanced search features are complex to use, which makes it less relevant as an “active” tool.

Accordance can also effectively manage an electronic library. It is particularly appreciated by Semitic languages specialists and is superior in the field of textual criticism. It is the easiest to use as an active tool: with Accordance, it is easier to imagine new possibilities to explore the texts. The software is also fast and does not need a high-end computer to work properly. However, Accordance is less powerful than its competitor and does not offer such elaborate biblical databases, especially in the field of semantics.

Scores

Strengths and Weaknesses of Each software

Accordance

Logos

Website

Accordance : accordancebible.com

Logos : logos.com

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