How many books DO you need? I am trying to figure that out!

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This post has 29 Replies | 5 Followers

Posts 89
David Mitchell | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Jan 17 2012 9:57 AM

Hey gang,

I just cancelled one of my community pricing bids on a commentary set.... trying to trim the budget.

Then I've been kicking myself ever since!

And realizing I need to work through my philosophy of books... 

how do you decide how many you need?

is 10 good commentaries on a Bible book enough?  or is 30 way better?

Of course there are other kinds of books too.

I just realize I need to settle this in my heart and stop wasting time dwelling on individual decisions or second-guessing.

My question for the forum: how do you folks work this one out in your world?

 

Posts 130
Willard Scott | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 10:01 AM

We NEED one "Book." We WANT the rest. Smile

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 10:02 AM

David Mitchell:

And realizing I need to work through my philosophy of books... 

how do you decide how many you need?

No matter how few or how many books you have, the answer is always more !

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

Posts 89
David Mitchell | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 10:04 AM

thanks, that's a good start...

 

anybody want to tell us the specifics of how you work it through?

Posts 184
Paul Chatfield | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 10:12 AM

The way I deal with it is how often do I find myself running out of commentaries to consult when I'm looking at some point I want to read more on.  I would say if you find that those 10 commentaries deal with your queries all the time then fine, you have enough. 

An alternative angle would be to say it probably depends on your calling as to how many you'll need.  Those teaching regularly will need a larger range and supply than others for example.  

Hope those thoughts are helpful in some way.

 

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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 10:22 AM

David,

One good one on each book will get you most of the way there. I've found that I can use three and get just about everything answered I'd want to have answered. I rarely would consult ten and then only to see if someone just happens to have an extra thought.

The issue really is not how many, but how good. If you have the top two or three commentaries on each book of the Bible listed on the bestcommentaries.com web site you are in pretty good shape. (The trouble is that some of those aren't in Logos yet.) Ten shallow or devotional commentaries are not worth one solid exegetical commentary to me.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

Posts 611
Graham Owen | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 10:48 AM

George Somsel:
No matter how few or how many books you have, the answer is always more !

I guess the question is how do we get off the "more" treadmill! 

For me this is also linked to my financial situation I love having lots of books and when I have the money I can think of few better ways of spending it.

Recently, things have not been so good for me financially so I have had to focus more on the quality of the books I am buying and also whether or not I will actual read and/or benefit from them. 

With commentaries I like having lots of them but frequently end up only using a handful as there is never enough time to work through everything that I have now.

One of the questions I guess I need to start asking before buying more is does this add anything that I do not already have.

How many books do I need? For me the answer, like George, is more!

God Bless

Graham

Pastor - NTCOG Basingstoke

Posts 2843
Mike Childs | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 10:58 AM

David,

When you figure this out, I desperately need to know. 

Commentaries and books are the tools of our trade, but the lust for books can become a sin. 

And it is a sin that besets me continually.

Of course, one should not even use commentaries until doing a good inductive study of the text.  

Then I think I need two or three critical / exegetical commentaries - like WBC, NIVOT/NT, ICC, PIllar... Hmmm, that's more than two, isn't it?

But I also like to read one or two devotional or expository commentaries - like James M. Boice or Wiersbe or the Preacher's Commentary.

Then again, William Barclay has such helpful historical background material.  Oh, and John MacArthur can be a great help, too.

And surely I want to know what ....

My, my, I sure hope you figure this out soon, David.  I need help.

"In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church," John Wesley

Posts 9947
George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 11:11 AM

Graham Owen:

George Somsel:
No matter how few or how many books you have, the answer is always more !

I guess the question is how do we get off the "more" treadmill! 

For me this is also linked to my financial situation I love having lots of books and when I have the money I can think of few better ways of spending it.

Recently, things have not been so good for me financially so I have had to focus more on the quality of the books I am buying and also whether or not I will actual read and/or benefit from them. 

You don't get off the treadmill—like drugs, it's terminal.  I understand the financial difficulty since we are all suffering from the Obama Recovery.  This too will pass (I think).

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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Friedrich | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 11:13 AM

 

David Mitchell:
I just cancelled one of my community pricing bids on a commentary set.... trying to trim the budget.

been there.

David Mitchell:
Then I've been kicking myself ever since!

been there, too!

David Mitchell:
I just realize I need to settle this in my heart and stop wasting time dwelling on individual decisions or second-guessing.

i find it very hard not to feel like I have perhaps missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime, and with it, come associated all the ways that book buying is motivated within me.  Generally, my philosphy about buying is this:

  1. what budget will I have?  (and will I agree to stick with it?)  this narrows my options. I have to learn to pick and choose.
  2. I consider what items I really need, and build a wish list.  I usually have three main purposes for Logos: preparing sermons/lessons, studying scripture for my own personal edification, and reading stuff that interests me.  Of those three, the first one used to be my primary use, so I made sure I had both original language resources and secondary resources like commentaries and dictionaries and encyclopedias.  Early on, I focused on building up my commentaries.  I had a lot of other resources in hardcopy.  Then, as prices and need arose, I replaced some of my hardcopy editions with digital.  For instance, I got a great sale on ISBE.  And that was fine for several years.  Then I came across a great sale for AYDB, and I got that.  etc. etc.
    1. do I NEED all of those?  no.  Do I use all of my resources everytime?  no.  Do I sometimes overstudy?  yes.  that said, I love having the most resources that I can.  Sometimes I find that "this dictionary" or "that commentary" will deal with an issue that others don't touch.  And that one commentary becomes invaluable to me, even if I don't use it much of the rest of the time.  Or, I like to use my different commentaries as a kind of community, as I listen to each, how they compare and contrast to each other, and how that compares and contrasts to my own study using language tools, etc.  Sometimes I learn something that I would not have on my own.  Secondary sources can be a crutch. But they are also (in my theology) part of the "larger Christian community" around me, and I see many as teachers through whom God may enlighten me. 
  3. I wait for sale times, (Christmas, March Madness, etc), or significant pre-pubs deals (some pre-pubs are the same as retail.  some are 10-20 percent off.  some are 80% off--and some of that latter group will still be 60 % off retail after publication), and sometimes, I just realize: I NEED this resource for a current study, so I ask sales what kind of deal they can offer, and I purchase it.  All of this is balanced with my monetary resources (formerly a book budget, now it is only if I have fed my family and paid my bills and have a little Christmas money left over). 
  4. I used to consider base package upgrades, too, but being at Portfolio, that is now moot.
  5. I do realize that there are more books in my library than I will ever use.  But here are some quick thoughts:
    1. When I know what I have in my library beyond what pops up in passage guides, I will make better/more use of them.  SO, using Mark Barnes' nifty little bookshelf tool or taking time to tag my resources or build collections helps me see and access the out-of-the-ordinary books. 
    2. I also discover them in searches on a topic and find them quite unexpectedly.
    3. Even if I read just one paragraph in a resource, if that proves to be a catalyst for me, it was worth it.  Granted, I don't have the resources to buy 10,000 books I will rarely, or never, use, however, I do value the information I find in books, and if my monetary resources (and family objectives) allow it, I may buy good deals, seminal works, or fill holes in my library for the day I, or someone else, may need something contained within that resource.

Smile

I like Apples.  Especially Honeycrisp.

Posts 2712
DominicM | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 11:23 AM

for me its a question of will it enhance my life/witness/ministry?  Is it something I will come back to over and over or is it for a season..  Sadly most of time I have to say no, if I say yes I find a way despite only having $250 book budget,.

But with Logos 5 in the air maybe there will be good deals when we get there (down the line) .. so am saving just in case..

 

Never Deprive Anyone of Hope.. It Might Be ALL They Have

Posts 103
Mark O'Hearn | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 11:40 AM

Your post raises a very practical question.  Given the enormous and expensive digital library one can obtain through a program like Logos 4, I believe like almost everything else in life one really needs to have a specific goal/need in mind.  Otherwise, in a materialistic environment, the answer will be more is better.

So we must think practically.  For me, I use Logos 4 on a weekly basis in order to prepare for a mid-week Bible study in the evening.  I am probably not the only Logos user that does so as many churches conduct a weekly Bible study.  Anyway, I set aside Monday and Tuesday evenings each week to prepare for this study, which is for about an hour with participation from a number of folks.  As I prefer to spend as much of my time with the Biblical text and original languages (which I could not do without the help of Logos 4), I find myself pressed for time when I get around to looking through my many commentaries.  I am not even sure how many commentaries and study Bibles are now in my library, but I certainly do not consult most of them on a regular basis.

To bring some rationality to building my library with regards to commentaries, I too purchase and prioritize my library based on the top 2 commentaries for each Bible book.  This provides a solid basis for comparing my own interpretive work, and a great resource to further one’s insight. 

What I would add, however, with respect to New Testament study with my particular library, I find for a weekly Bible study the depth and somewhat repetitiveness of certain technical commentaries become laborious given the limited time set aside for this phase of the study.  So while I always appreciate having say WBC and NIGTC at hand, and do find them invaluable when considering a specific verse, phase or word (given their depth and original language insight), I often use a “medium” commentary like NAC, Tyndale, Expositor’s, Pillar, and Baker (etc.) as my main commentary, and more technical ones as the need arises.  You will find these “medium” commentary sets are also much more affordable.  Furthermore, like many I suspect, I have certain favourite authors to help complete my survey of commentaries.  It is often these types of commentaries, though less robust and detailed, where insightful/fresh thoughts can be gleamed.  Time permitting they help finish the study – well for now anyway.  So I guess for me that makes ideally 2 “technical” commentaries for reference, 1 (maybe 2) “medium”/main commentaries, and 1-3 “special” commentaries (4-7 in total).

Now when preparing a sermon I tend to involve many more resources and commentaries.  Though my approach to study is similar, given the extra time to prepare adding as many commentaries as is reasonable affords you the opportunity to perhaps add something “new” to the message, which is to say something Scriptural but not often heard.  Given the Biblical resources available nowadays, I find it challenging to edify my brethren without being seen repetitive.  At those times there does not seem to be enough resources at hand.

So my rhetorical question to YOU is what is your goal/need with regards to Logos 4?  Your answer lies there.

Best Regards

Posts 1357
Edwin Bowden | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 12:12 PM

Willard Scott:

We NEED one "Book." We WANT the rest. Smile

 

Yes

Posts 1539
Terry Poperszky | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 12:26 PM

It is a question I came to grips with about 6-8 months ago as I participated in a thread where everyone was bragging about how many books they had. For me it became a question of stewardship, and I decided that my faith and relationship with God were not being enhanced by the books that I had on order, only my pride was. So, I canceled my pre-pubs and community pricing orders and haven't bought a book since (well, there were a couple I missed canceling). 

For me part of the issue was the price of the Logos books, I found several books that I could buy from Amazon or BN in an e-format (which I prefer), that Logos had for quite a bit more. Yes, Logos had all of the indexing and metadata added, but these simply didn't need those added features. 

 

 

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 12:58 PM

George Somsel:

David Mitchell:

And realizing I need to work through my philosophy of books... 

how do you decide how many you need?

No matter how few or how many books you have, the answer is always more !

There is an old story that a reporter once asked John D Rockefeller, Sr if he had enough money. When he replied, "No", the reporter asked, "How much is enough?" To which the world's wealthiest man replied, "Just a little more than I have."

Such it is with books. We always want a little more than we have. Long story short; there is no sane answer to your question. Geeked

Posts 2593
David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 1:15 PM

Had a good selection. Then a NEW question came up.  Had to get 200 more to address the subject of that question. 

After you get a good selection it is advised that you stop reading the forum

[[I did not take my own advice and kept on reading and just HAD to get more to find the answers]]

Posts 251
Rod | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 1:48 PM

Willard Scott:
We NEED one "Book." We WANT the rest.

It's a disease which takes different forms.  With boats, it's referred to as "two-foot-itis" or "ten-foot-itis".

A similar concept can be seen in the evolution of razors where the single blade razor was replaced by the dual blade, then it went to three, then to four...and who knows where it's going to end up.

I have spent a lot more than I intended over the past 6 months on books because I didn't have a specific plan.  Now I do and I know what I want to get to complete things and then my intention is to slow down... a lot...

I am hoping it will work...  Embarrassed

Posts 824
GregW | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 2:17 PM

Taxee:
I have spent a lot more than I intended over the past 6 months on books because I didn't have a specific plan.  Now I do and I know what I want to get to complete things and then my intention is to slow down... a lot...

Same here - there is great value in knowing what you want to end up with, then using the various sales judiciously to build up to that point. Before I had a plan, I bought books and collections on sale at various times because I thought they might come in useful.  What you need depends on what your work/ministry is.  If you are an academic in a specific field, then having a collection of thirty commentaries on a book might be useful.  For those of us involved in pastoral/preaching ministry, that is probably not necessary.  For myself, I have invested in good commentary series NICOT/NT/WBC, Bible dictionaries, original language grammars and good-quality lexicons.  I would still like to get AYBD, but won't do so until it is available at a good price, and still have HALOT on my wish list.  The Waltke Hebrew Syntax was on my personal wish list and I bought it when it came up on the Christmas sale.  I have now built up more than enough commentaries unless I come across a must-have one for a book I am working on - I often run out of time to go through all my commentaries when preparing a particular passage anyway.   I do buy pre-pubs and CPs, but only when they include something that will defiinitely be of use to me, or are on my wish list. 

Buying something because you'll never get it again at that price is folly - we've seen over Christmas a number of things at lower prices (if you include the Christmas Credit) than previous sale prices.  If


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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 2:48 PM

David Mitchell:
how do you decide how many you need?

Quality, not quantity. I'd rather 3 excellent books than thirty average ones. That said, I'm willing to spend a few dollars on average books if I already own the excellent ones. My own strategy therefore is:

  • I don't buy bad books
  • Maximum $2/volume for average books (which rules out everything but CP)
  • Maximum $5-$10/volume for good/important books (which usually means very good sales or prepub). Very large books (400+ pages) I'll pay more for.
  • No maximum for excellent/vital books.

When I'm buying a set I recognise that not all volumes within a set will be of equal quality, and try to work out the value as best I can.

Posts 251
Rod | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jan 17 2012 2:52 PM

GregW:
...we've seen over Christmas a number of things at lower prices (if you include the Christmas Credit) than previous sale prices.

Exactly...  I included the Christmas credit in my plan and once that hits my account I will rapidly use it up with the remaining items on my wish list.

Then I will have to steel myself to resist further temptation...

 

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