Well, it’s been here for a whole day. Yesterday (October 29, 2018), we released Logos 8 to the world. And “releasing to the world” is more true of this release than any before. We didn’t just release Logos 8 in English, but it has Spanish, German, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified) and Chinese (Traditional) versions as well. And we didn’t just release on desktop (Windows, Mac), we also released our massively updated web app as well as iOS and Android versions. And web sites to support all of those languages. It was a massive, massive job.
This time around (I’ve been through a few launches) my responsibilities involved working on one of the flagship features, Workflows. Think: What if instead of just telling you how to do something, your Bible software had a process it let you walk through, gathering the appropriate data for you at the appropriate time, and asked you questions (and let you answer!) about the current study step you were on? Well, that’s what workflows do. 18 months ago, I started working through all sorts of different Bible study methodologies, identifying tasks, understanding processes, and isolating strengths and weaknesses. And thinking about how Logos Bible Software could integrate at every single point. From there, it was a bunch of work from designers, programmers, editors and (remember, six different languages!) translators to put bones and brains into the loose sketches I’d put together.
I’m really super excited about workflows, and can’t wait to see how folks use them. There are workflows for working through a passage, topic, Biblical person or place, for building a sermon, for prayer time and devotional time. And we have more we plan to do.
Oh, there’s also a Workflow Editor that allows users to make (and share!) their own workflows. This is going to be huge.
While working on workflows, one item that was repeatedly included in study methodologies but which Logos didn’t have great data for was something like “Identify words important to your passage.”
After thinking about this for awhile, we realized that commentaries actually do this. Commentary authors pick and choose from the language in the passage they are commenting on. What they actually write indicates a choice. If we could only identify the words in the passage they discuss, we would be well on our way to deriving passage based word importance.
Fortunately, during the Logos 7 cycle, I’d done work on isolating all the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic words discussed (in Greek or Hebrew script, or in transliteration) in commentaries — and lemmatizing them — for the Logos 7 Lemma in Passage feature. That work has continued to grow, we now track nearly 7,000 commentaries and the original language words they use. This was the perfect data to extend and analyze to determine important words in a passage. The data allowed us to tie original language words to passages, and then aggregate that data across all commentaries. A colleague did some really great work analyzing the data to derive per-passage ranking, and from there the feature basically wrote itself.
The Important Passages feature was much the same. Study methodologies advocate locating similar passages and cross-references. While we’ve had cross-references data for a long time in Logos Bible Software, what has never (really) been done before — and what is really needed — is to provide a boatload of related passages but to also indicate the reason the passages are related.
The Logos 8 Important Passages feature does this. Each passage that is related to the study passage also indicates at least one reason why the passage is related and thus worth examining further. If you’re looking for similar vocabulary, or shared cultural concepts, or intertextuality, or similar command, or whatever, you can see the reason for the relation before you go and look up the passage. It’s pretty awesome.
We aggregated the data for these references in much the same way that we aggregated the data for Important Words: we used commentaries. In each commentary article, there is what we would call a milestone (the passage being commented on) and references (Bible reference citations within the comment on the passage). If you can aggregate these by passage across nearly 7,000 commentaries, then you’re getting somewhere. But we also analyzed all of the Bibles in Logos for where they indicated cross-references, we examined the old Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and other similar resources for where they indicated cross-references. The data included over 27 million milestone-reference pairs. And we did a separate analysis of lexicons to build data that indicated which verses were commonly cited in the discussion of particular lexical items. It was a huge amount of data wrangling. I was in heaven.
From here, a colleague did the tough work integrating reasons for references and of ranking and scoring things. The output of it all is that we can tell you what references tend to be cited as important or relevant or helpful for any passage of Scripture. And we can suggest all sorts of reasons as to why the passage is relevant to examine for the current study passage (milestone).
I did other stuff along the way, but the above are the major pieces. Basically these have consumed me for the past 18 months, and it’s exciting to see these features and datasets released. Hopefully they enhance your study.