Verbum: The New Logos for Catholics

I’ve used Logos Bible study software for used for many years, so when they began creating products aimed at the Catholic market, I was delighted. In the past year, Logos has been adding new titles and features specifically for Catholics, and now they have decided to turn that product line into its own brand: Verbum.

Thus far, I haven’t too deeply into some of the new features, but I’m pleased to see the easier search functions for catechism, church fathers, and church documents. These allow you to see, for example, every church document referencing John 1:1. It was possible to create groups like this manually, but it was labor intensive and each collection had to be updated each time a new text was added to the library.

I’m also pleased to see a much more robust set of Latin tools to compliment to Greek and Hebrew tools already developed by Logos. Evangelicals have no real need for Latin, but for Catholics in can be essential. I’m in a class on Christology right now where my ability to instantly swap back and forth between the Latin and English texts of the Summa is essential. St. Thomas requires some very special understanding of terminology and language, and sometimes it can really only be grasped at the Latin level.

The new series is offered in five packages ranging from Basic (226 resources) to Capstone (1020 resources). You can see what each package offers and decide which is the best fit for your needs. If you use the coupon code “Logos5Verbum” you get 15% off.

I had a chance to ask Andrew Jones, Director of Catholic Products for Logos, some questions about the new product line:

Why was Verbum created, and what distinguishes it from Logos?

What we’ve done with Verbum is taken the Logos 5 software and tweaked it here and there to make it better for Catholics. The idea was that while most of the tools and functions of Logos have great value to both Catholics and Protestants, there are certain things that Catholics do differently that needed our attention. Not least among these is our preferred texts. The software relies on a certain prioritized list of books. Whenever two books could occupy the same place, the software orders them according to this priority list. So, one of the things that we have done with Verbum is put the Catholic works at the top of the list. This may seem like a minor tweak, but it actually has significant consequences

Was there a feeling that Catholics needed a product that was somewhat separate from Logos, which is product with strong Evangelical roots?

There is just no way around the fact that Catholics and Evangelicals approach the study of Christianity in different ways and making use of different resources. It is a testament to the versatility of Logos’s software that Catholics could use it for our style of study and Evangelicals could use it for theirs. This remains the case. Verbum has all the functionality of the main Logos 5 product line. However, I felt that Catholics could be better served by producing a special version of the software just for them. It was important that Catholics could just pull the product off the shelve, open it up, and start using it without having to negotiate any sort of denominational “problems.” So, when you open Verbum for the first time, you will see a Catholic Bible, the Catholic lectionary, a Catholic blog feed and things like that. Verbum users are still a part of the Logos universe, with all the benefits that go along with that, but they have their own home now.

What are some of the new tools that are specifically tailored for Catholics?

One of the things we did was create default segments within the library of texts. There are three of them: Catechism, Church Fathers, and Church Documents. These segments allow for some simple, but very useful, functionality. For example, if you are doing a search on the word “Eucharist,” you can very quickly limit it to just the writings of the Church Fathers or to the Catechism. We have incorporated these segments into what we call the Passage Guide. The Passage Guide is a tool that behaves like a dynamic study Bible. So, if you are reading a certain passage in the Bible, the tool goes into your library, pulls out relevant information on that passage, and presents it to you in a useful format. In Verbum’s Passage Guide, you can see immediately how the Catechism uses the passage in question, where the documents of the Magisterium have cited it, and how the Church Fathers treated it. You can also see when the passage is read in Mass and with what other readings. This is in addition to the normal Passage Guide tools like cross references, parallel passages, maps, commentaries, and the like. You get the same sort of behavior in other Logos tools.

What are some of the new features of Logos Version 5

Logos 5 has a bunch of new features. For example, with the Clause Search you can do things like search for every sentence in the Bible where Jesus is the subject and Peter is the indirect object, even if pronouns are used. We have the Universal Timeline, which makes dates in Logos resources links, so that you can immediately see a certain event within the context of world or Biblical history. There’s the Topic Guide that allows you to pull information from the Bible and from throughout your library that is relevant for a certain topic. There’re new smart search features that suggest possible queries that are far more complex than that of a search engine like Google. We also have a lot of social media functionality. So, you can make a note in your Bible or Catechism or any other work and share it with a group. The members of the group can reply to your note and make their own—You can study the faith together with discussion threads right in the texts.

What are some of the new books being added to the base packages? 

We’ve added scores of books. We have the all the papal encyclicals since 1740; we have the Papal Exhortations and Constitutions of John Paul II and Benedict XVI; we have a reverse interlinear of the RSVCE; we have sermons of St. Thomas Aquinas, history works, reference books, and of course many, many different Bible texts. The full lists can be seen here.

New Catholic Resources From Logos

Andrew Jones, the man spearheading the Logos Bible Software Catholic program, is pushing ahead with some incredible add-ons to the original three base packages. The following are already available:

There is a nice selection of texts from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, focusing on different topics in scripture study. These are divided in a New Testament Studies Collection (11 vols.) and Old Testament Studies Collection (6 Vols.).

The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide (8 vols.) This is a central text for anyone doing Catholic exegesis, and it makes extensive use of patristic sources.  It’s similar to the Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) of St. Thomas.

Augustine Through the Ages. The best single reference work on St. Augustine you’ll find: I’m using a print version right now for a class.

Discovering Aquinas (Aidan Nichols) & Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel of Life (Lawrence Cunningham) are bundled in a single download. I’m no familiar with the Cunningham book, but the Nichols is the best introduction you’ll find. (Indeed, everything by Nichols is worthwhile.)

The Complete Works of Dionysius the Areopagite (2 vols.)

There are two collections of Bible studies published by Eerdmans: one on the Old Testament, and one on the New Testament.

The Modern Catholic Theology Collection includes 5 books about the evolution of modern Catholic theology through the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Maurice Blondel, Joseph Ratzinger, Henri de Lubac, and others.

Two of the collections I’ve been able to spend some time with are The Desiderius Erasmus Collection (17 Vols.) and Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI Collection (14 vols.).

The Erasmus collection is as complete a selection as you’ll ever need of the works of the great Renaissance Christian humanist. It includes Against War, Ciceronianus, The Colloquies of Desiderius Erasmus, The Complaint of Peace, Enchiridion Militis Christiani, Letters, Praise of Folly, Proverbs Chiefly Taken from the Adagia of Erasmus, The Apophthegmes of Erasmus, and Institutio Principis Christiani: Chapters III-XI. It also includes the secondary works Erasmus (Ernest Capey), Erasmus and Other Essays (Marcus Dods), and Erasmus and Luther: Their Attitude to Toleration (Robert Murray).

The Ratzinger/Benedict set is even more exciting, although there are certainly some other volumes I would have liked to see included as well. The second volume of Jesus of Nazareth is included, but not the first, due to rights issues with the publisher. Also included are Behold the Pierced One: An Approach to a Spiritual Christology, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today, Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology, Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year, Credo for Today: What Christians Believe, God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life, Introduction to Christianity (Revised Edition), Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, The God of Jesus Christ: Meditations on the Triune God, The Nature and Mission of Theology, The Spirit of the Liturgy, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, and What It Means to Be a Christian.

Obviously, that’s not far from the complete Ratzinger/Benedict, but it’s a great start. I would have loved to see ‘In the Beginning…’: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall in there, as well as his book length interviews with Peter Seewald and, of course, a healthy selection of his papal documents. But the project is still young, and there is, no doubt, more to come.

Remember that this is not a text dump. Each of these collections is brought into the Logos systems, instantly linking it the entire Bible study engine. Thus, any scripture reference in any book is linked to any search on that scripture passage.

Numerous other packages are already in pre-publication, which means you can buy them at a discount.

Coming up is the Code of Canon Law (Western and Eastern), The Apostolic Exhortations and Constitutions of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, The Roman Missals (ordinary and extraordinary forms), and a full run of the journal Letter and Spirit. Andrew tells me that they are “starting some major translations projects. We are going to translate Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, and his scripture commentaries that are still in Latin only. This will be a major event. We will be posting pages about these projects soon.”

I know these are expensive packages, but I can tell you as both a student and a teacher, there are a great resource.