Lexham Bible Guide Suggestion

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Andrew Baguley | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Jan 2 2013 8:12 AM

There has been much discussion on the forums regarding the Lexham Bible Guides.  In criticising the Guides, I commented that there was a really useful set waiting to be published by Logos, but that this was not yet it, so I decided that I should consider how the Lexham Bible Guides could be improved, by answering the most common criticisms.

 

Criticism 1: High Cost

Many of the criticisms regard the cost.  At the price that the early volumes are shipping for, the series will cost more than most, if not all, series of commentaries available through Logos, including their own Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series.

Potential Solution 1: Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap

Many authors (and publishers) of electronic books have realised that they can earn more from selling many volumes cheaply than they can from selling a few volumes at a high price.  As more sales will likely lead to a greater interest in linked resources, this should be even more profitable for Logos, though the extra sales may not be easy to trace.

I’m sure that Logos must have already considered this, but it still seems to be the best way forward to many of us.  Without it, the Guides will have a very small readership, and some may never be published.

 

Criticism 2: Limited Number of Linked Resources

The Ephesians guide had a limited range of linked resources, so those who do not own many of the linked resources do not gain much.

Potential Solution 2: Link all commentaries, as a minimum

Presumably Logos have chosen the resources that best defend the perspectives they represent.  This is helpful, but many users own different resources that also defend or prefer the perspectives represented.  It would be helpful to add two lists to each perspective, one for other commentaries that defend the perspective and one for commentaries that take that view without really defending it.  For each issue discussed, it would also be helpful to add a list of commentaries that do not state a preferred viewpoint.  This would make the guides far more comprehensive, while giving users much more likelihood that their resources would be linked and suggesting resources they might like to own.  Ideally, it would include every commentary available in Logos, books other than commentaries, as the Genesis 1-11 volume does, and Bibles that express a preference in their translation, with each resource mentioned linked to the relevant place.

 

Criticism 3: Limited Depth of Coverage

The issues are treated so briefly that there is little depth, especially as there are often far more views represented than the guides suggest.  They try to focus on the main views for the key issues.

Potential Solution 3: Add a section for Other Views

Each issue could have the current list of main viewpoints, followed by a list of other views, such as the greater detail in the Exegetical Summaries series.  This may be a shorter section with less detail for each view, though ideally each view would be handled comprehensively, as suggested above, with all commentaries, as well as Bibles and other books listed under the different perspectives.

 

Criticism 4: Limited Number of Issues Covered

The Guide authors have highlighted and focussed on what they see as the main controversies.  This is helpful, but it means that many controversies are not discussed, especially compared to the Exegetical Summaries series.

Potential Solution 4: Add a section for Other Issues

Each passage could have the current list of key issues, followed by a list of other issues, such as those in the Exegetical Summaries series.  This may be a shorter section with less detail for each issue, though ideally each issue would be handled comprehensively, as suggested above, with all commentaries, as well as Bibles and other books listed under the different perspectives.  It may even cover introductory issues, discourse units, textual variants, lexical choice, etc. as the Exegetical Summaries series does, and could even be expanded to include more popular applications given in commentaries.

 

Criticism 5: No Guarantee Against Becoming Outdated

Even if every commentary and a large selection of other books available in Logos were linked, the guides would date as new resources became available in Logos.

Potential Solution 5:

There could be a commitment to keep these guides up-to-date as new resources are added.  Of course this would mean yet more work, but it would also guarantee an interest in the resource well into the future, with more and more new users investing in the resource.

 

Still Dreaming

With so many issues itemised and so many linked resources categorised, it might seem that there would be too much information here.  Currently Logos resources are largely designed round paper format books.  However, sections could be hidden, using a Show/Hide Details (for Other Resources/Views/Issues) and Show/Hide All feature.  This would improve readability and efficiency in focusing in on particular topics.

It would be even more helpful if links were colour-coded to show whether they are internal glossary-type links, internal section links, external owned resources or external un-owned resources, so that all links display this information and not just the main curated links, such as in the current Genesis 1-11 guide.

With the data collected for these guides, it would be possible to map out the resources versus the viewpoints that they take on each of the issues.  As resources have publication dates, authors and publisher details attached, it would be possible to add a spreadsheet/graphing feature, allowing patterns to be seen.  For example, it could make clear how viewpoints change over time, and visibly display a comparison of authors’ views on a range of issues or views available from a particular publisher.  In fact, if other categorisation were added, such as that already available through faceted browsing of the Logos website, then it would also be possible to show graphically how theological frameworks, denominational bias and even methods of interpretation affect the viewpoints being taken.  I’m imagining the kind of graphing available through the UN Development Programme’s Public Explorer data facility.  Different viewpoints could be selected and graphed against dates and the different classifications of resource.

 

Summary

This is suggesting a series of fairly comprehensive Bible Guides, the like of which has never been written before, as far as I am aware.  Many of us have done detailed exegesis and can imagine what the resource would look like, but we do not have the time to produce this level of detail for the whole Bible.  Logos is at the cutting edge of providing tools for Bible study and is well-equipped to take on a project of this size.  The graphing feature discussed above could be created without Logos writing comprehensive guides, based on SIL’s Exegetical Summaries series, for example, but it would be better for Logos if they owned the raw data.  The clarity and readability of the initial Bible Guides, added to the comprehensiveness and full linking suggested here would make the Lexham Bible Guides must-haves for exegesis in the future.  That said, even if only a selection of these features was implemented, then the series would be greatly improved, and probably much more popular, though price will always be a key factor.

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