The Bible in the Digitial World, Betsy Shirley (America)
The Bible was the first book ever printed, but ink and paper are no longer required to share its message with a mass audience. At last count, the world’s most popular Bible app, the YouVersion Bible, had been downloaded more than 228 million times. Its distinctive icon, designed to look like a stubby, square Bible, is found on smartphones in every country in the world, giving users access to 1,305 versions of Holy Writ in 954 languages—and counting.
Conversations about the Bible in the digital age usually turn to questions of access: how technology has changed the number of people who can get their hands on a copy of the Bible and how easily. But in the story of ever-changing technology and the timeless word of God, increased access is not the only development. The Bible is a transcendent text with a very stubborn material presence, but when new technology prompts us to change the material context of Scripture—whether from papyrus scrolls to enormous illuminated manuscripts or from mass-produced soft cover books to a string of computer code—how we interact with it changes as a result.