Friday, January 10, 2014

39 Versions of the Bible in English!

A Theology of Holy Scripture

 On my Kindle I use an app called “Holy Bible” for my daily devotions. I like this app because it was free and it works very well. It navigates easily between books of the Bible, and the chapters and verses flow and navigate very well. As an electronic app it is excellent. There are in the Holy Bible app. 39 versions of the Bible in the English language. 39 versions! As a very highly educated, church professional I am embarrassed to say that I have never heard of, and certainly never studied, some of the versions that are available in Holy Bible app. It is disappointing that “my” Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, is not available in this app. Thus I use the American Standard Version for my daily Bible reading. I do not believe there is any kind of theological motivation behind the exclusion of the NRSV and the RSV from this app. I know that the National Council of Churches owns the copyright on these versions, and probably is unwilling to share them without compensation.

My question is to ponder the implications of having all these different versions of the Bible before us. For people younger than me, this may be the world they grew up with. Is this a good thing? How does this change or affect one’s view and understanding of the Bible. How does having 39 versions of the Bible instantly in front of me at any moment on my Kindle influence my theology of “the authority of the Scripture.” I am now old and rather settled, and I think this particular aspect of the my theology – my understanding of Holy Scripture – was formed and defined long before the Kindle and Bible apps were invented. What does that say about me? Is there something new here that I need to learn? I must say clearly that having 39 versions of the Bible before me does not in any way bother me, threaten me or alter my reverence for the Holy Scripture.

I wonder if that is true for everyone. There is a wing of American Protestantism that emphasizes, extremely in my view, the authority of the Bible. What is the relationship between the growth and power of this strong Bible-centric theology and the fact that anyone may have 39 versions of the English Bible in front on them at any moment? It is a complicated question.

For me, I do not believe this technology has influenced my theology. But I need to think about that. I do know that I love the convenience of my Kindle. Easily, early most every morning, I can navigate from the Bible, to my morning devotional book to the New York Times at the touch of my finger. How sweet it that!