Utilizing Logos 6 for Academic Research, pt. 1: Ancient Literature Connections

With the advent of Logos 6 comes some great new features for both pastors and scholars. Over the next little while, I want to highlight some features that I feel really stand out for scholars in particular. The first is the new Ancient Literature Dataset, which is accessible in the passage guide (or any customized guide you create).

This dataset was created by Ken Penner (a former colleague at Acadia Divinity College) and Rick Brannan (whom I hope to be working with on a new Logos product soon!). I have so far been really loving this new feature of Logos 6. This is, in essence, an extensive cross-referencing system of non-biblical sources. But it goes above and beyond a simple list of potential cross-references, by also categorizing them.

To help introduce this great new dataset, I’ve asked Ken and Rick a few questions.


1. First guys, thanks for this product! It is probably my favorite new feature of Logos 6. I want users to appreciate how much time a project like this must have taken. How long has this project been in the works?

[Rick]: You’re welcome, Danny! Wow, I really don’t know in actuality as far as exact time. It was in January 2013 or earlier when Sean Boisen asked me about the Cascadia Syntax Graphs of the Apostolic Fathers (which was and still is languishing on pre-pub), and why it was valuable. In thinking about that, I realized what people really want instead of a syntactic analysis like that is to be able to know when something in the Apostolic Fathers is relevant to the verse or passage they’re studying in the Bible. The connection between Isaiah 54 and 2 Clement 2 is a great example of this, and finding that sort of stuff is really only possible if you’re a search ninja that already knows the material.

Once the connection of relevant ancient reference for the Bible passage one is studying was made, the floodgates were opened. There is all sorts of ancient material related to the Bible that you might want to know about for a given verse or passage. So making a high-quality index of it seemed natural. The other thing that seemed natural was to classify the relationship between references as best as possible. It’s one thing to have a reference associated, it is another (very useful) thing to know what the relationship is between the Bible reference and the ancient reference. Once I got there, I wrote a lot of code to analyze all sorts of stuff, and was able to isolate some references. At that point, it was obvious there would need to be qualified human intervention to classify references (or rule them out altogether), and that is when I started talking with Ken because this stuff is right in his wheelhouse.

[Ken]: This one was pretty quick and intense. Rick pitched the idea to the company on April 15, 2013. I started on it in May; that was my summer and “research/publication” time for the rest of the year. We estimated:

  • Dead Sea Scrolls Sectarian: approx. 230 hours
  • Josephus: approx. 440 hours
  • Philo: approx. 180 hours
  • OT Pseudepigrapha: approx. 650 hours


2. The product page says this dataset catalogues “relevant passages from the Apostolic Fathers, Philo, the Talmud, Mishna, Judaic literature, Josephus, and more.” Can you fill out the “and more” part for us. And were there any major bodies of literature that were not included or perhaps will be in the future?

[Rick]: Apostolic Fathers is a small subset of the wider patristic literature. Another set of data included are “Church Fathers” which is more wide ranging. Think of the superset of ECF and Fathers of the Church (and, when we can do it, Ancient Christian Writers) as the basis for this stuff, minus the Apostolic Fathers stuff.

  • New Testament Apocrypha
  • Dead Sea Scrolls Sectarian Material
  • “Judaic Literature” includes stuff like the Mekhilta and Pesikta as well.

Not included: I’ve considered some references with the Rule of St. Benedict and other early monastic rules, (relevant Logos product is the Benedictine Studies Collection), but there are so few users of that collection, we need to consider it a bit more before allocating resources to do it.

[Ken]: Nag Hammadi, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Context Of Scripture, Ugaritic material, and the Amarna letters as well.


3. Something that I think is very unique to what you’ve done is the additional categorization/tagging. To help users understand what these categories are, could you please provide us with a brief definition of the tagging that is used, as well as any other comments you might feel is necessary for users to understand these designations:


  • citation – Introduced by a citation formula such as "it is written." Does it have a citation formula? It doesn’t matter whether or not the wording exactly matches.
  • quotation – Intention to quote a phrase of this canonical passage. Is the wording intended to reproduce verbatim this specific scripture for at least three words?
  • allusion – Intention to paraphrase the words of this canonical passage. Is the wording a paraphrase of at least a clause of this specific scripture? Does the relationship appear to be intentional?
  • echo – Reader who has read both would be reminded of a similar scriptural passage. Does the verbal parallel evoke or recall this scripture (and possibly others) in a reader's mind, without apparent authorial intention to reproduce the exact words?
  • topical – Similarity of subject matter. Is there a general referent in common with this scripture, without using the same word? Is its meaning similar? This is like Lexical, but for ideas rather than words.
  • historical – Reference to the same specific event or situation, whether historical or fiction. Is there a specific referent in common with this scripture, whether or not the event is fictitious or in real history?
  • lexical – The same or cognate word is used. Is there a word in common that is useful for lexical studies, but without evoking (even unintentionally) this particular scripture?
  • phrase – Similarity of subject matter AND the same or cognate words are used. Is there a combination of words in common with this scripture, without being the same specific referent (which would be Echo or Historical)? This is like Lexical, but for phrases rather than words. Examples: verb & subject, verb & object, noun in genitive relation with noun.

[Rick]: These definitions are actually coded within the resource used by Logos, it just isn’t visible (yet). It may be available in some future version.

There are a huge number of references (over 180,000 at present, but that will increase with the next round of Church Fathers data I’m working on). Ken reviewed the references for Dead Sea Scrolls Sectarian Materials, Works of Philo, and the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. I reviewed the references for Apostolic Fathers, New Testament Apocrypha, and Works of Josephus. Other datasets were classified algorithmically. The material classed as ‘Judaica’ was fairly explicit in the way it interacted with the Biblical text, so most references were classed as quotations. The material for Nag Hammadi was similarly explicit, so a classification of allusion was preferred. Outside of a few possible examples, Ancient Near-Eastern Materials have no direct intertextual relationship when you are dealing with intertextuality in the direction we were (so, does the material use the scriptural material directly in some way) so those references were largely topical, and classified as such. The Church Fathers has been the hardest nut to crack because there are so many references in so much material. After considering and working the problem for awhile, I was able to make some guesses about contexts of occurrence and thus assign relationships of either topical, allusion, or quotation. These aren’t exact, but presently there are over 100,000 references in the Church Fathers material, so all we can really do is make educated guesses and hope we’re close. I think we’re close on these, but fully expect examples of miscategorization — probably a lot of stuff that are allusion or topical but should really be quotation.


4. Given these designations, please give some suggestions for how users can best utilize this feature and make good use of the tagging designations.


  • Category ⇒ Use
  • Citation ⇒ Canonical studies
  • Quotation ⇒ Textual Criticism
  • Allusion ⇒ Historical Interpretation
  • Historical ⇒ History
  • Echo ⇒ Theology
  • Phrase ⇒ Theology
  • Topical ⇒ Theology
  • Lexical ⇒ Word studies


Thanks very much Rick and Ken!

I want to end this post with  1 tip on how to utilize this new feature. If you are a Logos user, you know (or should know!) about the Passage Guide and how it works. But what you might not know is that you can create your own guide templates. For the ancient literature dataset, what I did was create a new template (Guides>Make a New Guide Template) called “xrefs” in this guide I added to sections: 1) Ancient Literature, and 2) Cross references. After that, I open in a side panel this new guide, and link it to my open bible panel in a link set. Now, whatever verse you are on, the panel will fill with the cross references from biblical and non-biblical sources. See my screenshot below and try it out for yourself!

Posted by Danny Zacharias.
Posted on November 4, 2014 and filed under Biblical Studies.