Bible and technology guest post (part two)

It’s probably safe to say that the number of Bible readers is directly related to the number of Christians. In the West (and the best numbers I could find relate in general to Europe and the USA), there has been a steady decrease in the number of self-identified Christians and church attendance. It’s no surprise, then, that Bible reading has decreased, and the only way to reverse this contribution to the decline has to be a revitalization of Christianity in the West. The follow-up question then is, “Can new technologies contribute to the revitalization of Christianity, including the reading of the Bible?”

I think there is also a conceptual factor at work. People still simply conceive of the Bible as a printed, physical book. There is an older gentleman in my home congregation who uses a computer regularly for email and internet, but when he reads his Bible, he pulls out his mother’s RSV Bible from the 1950’s. It’s rewarding for him to have that tangible connection with his family’s history. Even when he was part of an online Bible study group, and I linked directly to biblical texts using or Reftagger, he still pulled out his Bible to read the text. It’s not just an issue with older readers, however. Biblical scholars and seminary students have certainly discovered the benefits of working with Bible software, but I don’t know how many of them actually just read the Bible on their computer. How does this concept of the Bible as a physical book affect the number of people reading the Bible? Sales of physical books have been steadily declining in recent years, and just last year, Amazon reported that they were selling more e-books than physical ones. So, if fewer people are reading physical books, and the Bible is primarily conceived as a physical book, we should not be surprised to see a decrease in Bible reading. I believe that the majority of Bible readers simply have not made the shift to think of the Bible as a digital resource.
Now the question becomes, “Can people be enticed to read the Bible if it is delivered in digital forms?”

[More in part three all being well, WordPress problems continue.]

2 comments on “Bible and technology guest post (part two)

  1. tim

    Mark, there are comments on Facebook, I have asked permission to cross-post them here…
    One read: Visit to read about the ETEN initiative.
    Every Tribe Every Nation
    Every Tribe Every Nation
    I’d also be interested in your comments on such projects Mark :)

    The other said: I’m not sure it is “safe to say…” The number of Christians is growing fastest in countries where there is a shortage of Bibles and/or mass illiteracy, whereas in the West we often put more emphasis on Bible study than on evangelism which surely contributes to the decline of the church.

    Which is also well worth discussing, but it is past my bedtime, so perhaps in the morning ;)

  2. Mark Hoffman

    Hi, Tim,
    I found the threads on Facebook and will reply there.
    Thanks for pointing to the site. I was not familiar with their work. It looks to be a commendable project for creating a digital Bible library.