writes Andrew Malone
I’m often being asked about electronic resources. That’s a huge topic. But my relatively condensed thoughts read as follows. [The content here is much the same as it has been for a few years, but updated with minor tweaks … and to draw attention to the more recent comments below.]
There are various Bible software packages; these are not them. I’m a huge fan of doing Bible preparation with electronic resources, but that’s a discussion for another time.
For library collections, there are two main platforms. Logos (Libronix) has cornered the PC market, while Accordance is collecting resources for Macs. Each supposedly runs on the other platform, so it’s worth considering either. My own experience is with Logos and Ridley often hosts Accordance training days (the next is Saturday 11 May 2013).
My own assumption is not to buy a base package – though do look into those. Remember that there is often a 20–40% discount for academic users. Rather, I’d buy individual books and/or one of the other minor packages.
Top resources to look for:
- Few students should go past the IVP Essential Reference Collection. At $150 (and regularly on sale at $120) you get the four big IVP NT dictionaries (DJG, DPL, etc.), the important New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the major IVP reference works (NBD, NBC, New Bible Atlas), and several other significant works. Given that any one of these dictionaries is worth $35–50…
- (Note that there’s a cut-down version of this package, good for non-scholarly friends or family. The IVP Bible Study Collection offers only the NBD, NBC and NBA – but, at around $10, that’s a great way into those resources.)
- The Word Biblical Commentary series comes on CD-ROM. At the moment, 59 volumes are published. Though not all volumes are of equal value, $250–300 will furnish you with some important works. The WBC series includes some of the leading commentaries at least on Genesis [x2], Leviticus, Ruth/Esther, 2 Chronicles, Ezra–Nehemiah, Psalms [x3], Ezekiel [x2], Daniel, Hosea–Jonah, Matthew [x2], Mark [x2], Luke [x3], John, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians & Philemon, Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews, 1 Peter, 2 Peter & Jude. Other volumes can also be helpful.
- The Tyndale OT/NT Commentaries are a great buy, though you may have access to individual volumes from your pastor’s library. Many of these are a little old, but are often good ways in to major issues from an evangelical perspective. At $150 (often $120), you can get especially good mileage on Numbers, Joshua, Samuel, Chronicles, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Daniel, Hosea, Joel & Amos (and other minor prophets), Matthew, John, Acts, 2 Corinthians, Colossians & Philemon, James and 1 Peter.
- The Bible Speaks Today NT series can be found on CD for $80–100. Again, a little on the older side, but with excellent introductory value for getting into some NT books. Though I’ve not looked at too many of then, especially important volumes include Acts, Romans, 2 Corinthians, 1 Timothy & Titus and 2 Peter & Jude.
- Logos certainly sells a range of individual commentaries. Especially important are volumes in the Pillar NT Commentary, the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT, and some of the New American Commentary. Many are among ‘top buys’ for each biblical book. Especially around March and Christmas sales [see example comments below], some of these volumes can be scored for $15–25. (Otherwise they tend to be a bit expensive.)
- Other resources can also be found. Thus I’ve picked up the two IVP OT dictionaries (Pentateuch; Historical Books) for a total of $70 on sale; the same deal is currently available on advance orders for the next two volumes (Prophets; Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings).
There are down sides to electronic resources, but many advantages as well. Discussion in this thread may be helpful to explore some of that.