With the launch of Logos 6 the Lexham Cultural Ontology has finally shipped! This has been my project at Faithlife Corp (formerly Logos Bible Software) for the last year. This dataset is a powerful way to access relevant cultural material for passages of the Bible that you may be studying. In the interest of showing how the feature works, I’m going to present a bit of my sermon development method and also show how the Cultural Concepts are useful for preaching and teaching. These won’t be full sermons or lessons, but I will attempt to show how you can use the cultural concepts in sermon or lesson development. If you want to read about this feature on Logos’ website, see this link for Logos 6 features (including the Cultural Concepts). For more on the software as a whole see this link for Logos 6 in general.
The example text I’ve chosen is the first few chapters of 1 Samuel. I’ll highlight some other features with the Cultural Concepts along the way as well, with screenshots so you get a feel for the software itself.
The first thing I do is open up the Factbook from the Tools menu. This is probably my favorite one stop for gathering information in the beginning of a study. My first goal is to read up a bit on 1 Samuel and get a feel for the context. I also want to see how people have broken up the passage into pericopae before I take a stab at it myself.
The Factbook has entries for all sorts of things, but what I’m interested in right now is the page on the book of 1 Samuel. The search entry seems a little difficult to find the right thing (for example, entering “1 Samuel” doesn’t show me an option for the book itself). I finally figure out that “1 Samuel” won’t find the right match, but “first Samuel” does find what I’m looking for. The page looks like this:
It even has some pre-made media that looks like this:
This also has exporting features for proclaim and powerpoint which is nice. I don’t think I’ll take the time at the moment to work up slides, but it’s cool that it’s there for me later:
I want to get some background on the book first, so I’ve clicked on “IV. Historical and Religious Background”. Hovering over the blue link does show me what book it’s drawing from (The grey text has the book name, but commentaries are sometimes named pretty generically):
This commentary gives some great background information, letting me know that the time period of 1 Samuel occurred right around or after the migration of the “Sea Peoples” who include the Philistines, into southern Palestine. This sets the stage for some of the events of 1 Samuel. The commentary also explains that the transition from the Late Bronze age to the early Iron Age happened around this time. This commentary is actually surprising me in its detail. It goes on about the historical background, then moves to literary aspects of the book and structure. There’s so much here but I’d like to move along to the text and the Cultural Concepts a little faster. In full-form sermon prep it’d be most advantageous to read the entire introduction of this commentary for the book of 1 Samuel to really grasp the context of the book. I’d even check other commentary introductions to make sure the one I’m reading wasn’t overly biased or focused on one particular point. If an idea is reiterated in multiple commentaries, it’s probably something that’s part of the general consensus about the book (though of course, that doesn’t guarantee it’s accurate!).
After background information the next thing is to understand how the book is divided up into sections. Moving down the Factbook page to Structure gives a few different resources as options. I’ll see what the Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible says:
The EDB divides the book into sections for what I assume is the main character of that section: Samuel for 1 sam 1-8, Saul for chapters 9-15, and David for 1 Sam 16 – 2 Sam 24. For full study, reading through information like we have here in these divisions will give you a much better frame for how the parts of the stories fit together.
I think this is a good point to break for the day. In the next post I’ll dive into the context and Cultural Concepts of First Samuel 1:1-2:11.