Tuesday, May 1, 2012

7 Questions: Andrew Jones of Logos Bible Software

Andrew Jones is Director of Catholic Products for Logos Bible Software. I would like to thank him for taking the time to answer the following 7 Questions:

1) I wanted to start off with a question about your involvement with Sacred Scripture. How has Scripture played an important role in your spiritual life? Has it always been that way?

Scripture has had a profound impact on my spiritual life, especially in the context of the liturgy. What I've grown to understand is that in the same sort of way that Christ is present Body and Soul, Human and Divine, in the Eucharist, so his words are present in the Scripture and in the preaching of His priests. It is only with this liturgical and ecclesial reality that the Word of God is completely revealed to us. In my life, then, the reading of Scripture has become an essential aspect of my participation in the Church. We must listen to Christ as well as love Him and obey Him. I think it is essential that we understand Christ as Incarnate and not as some distant metaphysical "force," and the Incarnate Christ taught both through his words and through his life. The Scripture is our primary access to this teaching and so mediation upon it is an essential component of what it means to be a Christian.

 2) How long have you been involved with Logos? What are your main responsibilities with Logos?

I came to work at Logos last June. I'm the Director of Catholic Products. What this means is that I am responsible for the company's orientation toward Catholicism, both on the product development end and the marketing end. I've been developing Logos's software and libraries to facilitate a Catholic approach to study. The Logos system is really ideal for the Catholics because it allows us to study the Bible surrounded by the Tradition. We can read it with the mind of the Church-- the magisterial documents, the writings of the saints and the great theologians, become our constant companions. What I'm trying to do is construct products and strategies that allow us to fully utilize Logos's power. It's really very exciting. The digital age is allowing us to break down the idea of "The Bible" as a stand-alone book, an idea that really only developed during the Renaissance and the Reformation, an return to a paradigm of Scripture reading that re-inserts the Bible into the very heart of Tradition.

3) What brought about this new division within Logos that focuses on the Catholic market?

Logos is the world's largest Bible software company. The intention of the company has always been to provide tools for Bible study that cut across divisions between Christians. For a long time, the company's focus has been on the Evangelical market; but as it has grown, the opportunity to focus on other Christian groups has arisen. This has coincided with a real renaissance of Bible study within the Catholic Church, especially among the laity. More Catholics are reading the Bible and studying their faith now than has been the case for a very, very long time... maybe ever. I think this is one of the fruits of Vatican II that is often, unfortunately, over-shadowed by some of the problems the Church has experienced in the aftermath of the council. So, the bringing of Logos's technology into the Catholic market has been really rather natural... a classic meeting of supply and demand.

4) What are some of the features of your Logos Catholic Bible package?

Logos is amazingly powerful. In the very simplest terms, Logos links together thousands of texts and keys them all to the Scripture. The Bible becomes a sort of hub around which the whole tradition revolves. But, all the texts are linked to each other as well. So, as you read the Bible the software is mining the data of the library for information about the passage. What did St. Augustine say? Aquinas? Vatican II? Once you start following a thread, you can go in any direction with it. The library is a web of connections. With a couple clicks, for example, you can go from the Mass readings, to the Catechism, to Augustine, to Aquinas, to Vatican II and back to the lectionary. Its other great strength is in the study of Scripture in the original languages, even if you don't know Greek or Hebrew. We've mapped the original languages and the English on top of each other. So, if you do a search on a word in the Bible the software doesn't look for the English word but for the Greek or Hebrew word that lays behind it, and kicks back the results in both the original languages and in English, regardless of what English words the translators have chosen. This frees us from the translations. And what's really amazing is that this functionality works in the Greek writings of the Apostolic Fathers as well. For a word in the New Testament, then, we can, with a couple clicks, see every time it is used in the Septuagint, in the New Testament, and in the Apostolic Fathers; and Logos is looking for the root of the word, so the searches are not compromised by the language's inflection. And, all this goes with you everywhere; it works across all your desktop and mobile devices. There are many other features, but I've gone on for far too long already.

5) Could you talk a little bit about your new Aquinas Commentaries?

Sure. Many people don't realize it, but Aquinas wrote a great deal on Sacred Scripture. In fact, what scholars are increasingly realizing is that if we want to really understand Aquinas's thought we need to take into account, even begin with, his Scripture commentaries. In the modern period there has been a focus on Aquinas as a systematic theologian, as the archetype of scholastic theology: the rationalist system-builder. But often what we have actually done is project developments in theology that really belong in the seventeenth century back onto Aquinas, and in doing so we have tended to ignore his exegetical work. The truth is that Aquinas's work has its foundations in Scripture, as did all medieval theology. Aquinas did not turn his back on the Augustine and monastic tradition, which focused so profoundly on the Bible. We need to understand his Summa and his work on Aristotle as a part of a theological approach that was rooted in a reading of the Bible. So, Logos has decided to make his commentaries available in English. Many of them have never been translated, others have poor translations or translations that are out of print. We are going to remedy the situation, starting with his commentaries on Isaiah and Jeremiah. We are also going to translate his massive Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, which is his first large work of theology and which offers his most sustained treatment of the Church and the Sacraments, among other things. If your readers are interested they can go to Logos.com/Aquinas and read more.

6) In general, if someone is thinking about investing in Logos Bible Software, but perhaps has never used any Bible software in the past, what encouragement would you give them to give it a try?

What I can say is that it is worth the investment. In a recent conversation I had with Dr. Scott Hahn he stated his belief that Logos is going to change the way people read the Bible, that in a few years it will be the standard. I agree with him. Technology is not a universal good, as we well know, but the Church has consistently encouraged us to make use of its power to advance the Gospel. I think Logos is such a use. If you are interested in really digging into the Scripture and the faith, there just isn't a more powerful tool out there. Your readers should go to Logos.com/Catholic and read more.

7) Finally, do you have a favorite passage or verse from the Bible?

John Chapter 15, the discourse of the True Vine, has been the most important Biblical reading in my personal conversion. Every time I read it, I feel like I rediscover Christ. John's emphasis on "abiding" has been especially important for me. It is a persistent theme in his writings, and when the discourse is read in conjuncture with passages such as John 1:32, John 5:38 and John 6:56 a whole theology of "abiding", of peace, is revealed. I find it to be quite beautiful.

1 comment:

losabio said...

Wow, I had no idea what Logos really was. I've seen Theophrastus and some of the other contributors mention it, but I thought it was only for people who knew Greek/Hebrew, etc. The fact that Logos -- if I'm reading the features chart correctly -- seems to include (and link) dozens of theological books/commentaries in addition to the different Bible translations, is an eye opener.