Ten Reasons to Use a Print Bible in a Digital World

Pete Jurchen Teaching in the Parish 17 Comments

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Before I go on to talk about using a print Bible, let me tell you something about my love for technology. I love my iPhone, iPads, computers, and the like. I’m on the Internet way too much. I’m one of those (sigh) Millennials; tech is part of my life.

I’ve noticed something lately. People just don’t bring physical, print Bibles with them anywhere. I’d guess most people exclusively read the Bible on their smartphones. In worship, Bible study, and youth group, I see youth and adults staring at their phones. Just like we’re always staring at our phones all the time.

As I noted above, I’m no technophobe. I have Bible apps, and I’m certainly not against those. I listen to the Bible on an app, and I use the Treasury of Daily Prayer on my phone. But I think we’re missing out on something great when we exclusively stop reading from a physical print Bible. I sense something in the air. In a digital world, I predict many will simply drift the way of giving up their digital Bibles without even thinking about it. So, here’s my defense: my top ten reasons to use a print Bible in a digital world, in order, from least to most critical.

10. It Requires Some Work

This may seem silly, but hear me out. Not pulling out your print Bible is the easy thing. It’s easy to stare down at a phone screen. We stare at screens all day. Sometimes, especially with the important things in life, doing something that requires some intentional work subliminally tells us that what we’re doing is important. It’s different. Bringing a Bible to church with you or opening a Bible for personal study requires you to do something different.

9. It’s Reliable

You know what’s in a print Bible. It won’t shut down with low battery power or a bad WiFi connection. It won’t automatically update or become obsolete in a year. This is good.

8. Notes and Memories

Ask to see the print Bible of someone who has used it for a long time, and you’ll see something cool. It will be filled with notes both new and old, as well as memories like bulletins or study guides or bookmarks from special people. All these help make your print Bible a legacy of your baptismal life.

7. Familiarity

Any tool used over time will grow familiar to you. We see this with our phones. With a print Bible, if you use it year after year, you’ll find you can look up passages and familiar verses very quickly and easily. You won’t even need to remember chapter and verse—you’ll just instinctively know where to turn.

6. It’s Closed

The digital world is an open expanse of information. God’s Word, however, is final. It’s done; we don’t need any more than God has given us. An opened print Bible on the table in front of you is a physical reminder of God’s epic salvation plan for His creation in Christ.

5. Wandering Eyes

Our eyes wander. Even when we’re focusing on a Bible passage during devotions or a Bible study, they will. On a phone, our eyes are likely to wander to other apps (you know you check social media if you’ve got your phone open). In a print Bible, our eyes will more likely wander elsewhere in the Bible. This is good! Let’s drift, daydream, and follow rabbit holes in God’s Word. You never know what you’ll find, especially with notes and asides in a study Bible.

4. It’s Yours; Take It with You

Like we said in point 6, a print Bible is reliable. But more than that, there’s something profound about holding a closed book in your hands. It’s yours to read, mark, and inwardly digest.  In addition, if you use a Bible with study notes, you’ll know the source of the notes and nobody can change them on you without your noticing. Yes, phones are more portable, but you never feel like you’re actually embracing God’s unchanging Word the same way as you do with a book.

3. No Notifications!

Phones and tablets push notifications at you all day. Don’t you want a break from that? Try a print Bible that won’t automatically interrupt you all the time!

2. Sacred Space

Having a special book that you open for devotions, meditation, and study is very different from reading the small screen you use for all the other aspects of your life. Setting aside the screen to open up a book creates a sacred space for a time. In our busy world, it’s important to put the craziness aside for a while and just dig in. Fix your eyes on a page; read and reread it. Let go of the distractions and focus on God’s unchanging Word.

1. Context

The greatest loss we’ve suffered from moving more exclusively toward digital delivery of God’s Word is a lack of context. When we only pluck out the verse or section we need for the study, we begin to lose sight of something. The Bible tells the story of God’s plan to restore creation through Christ. This plan happened in space and time, with real people, sinners called to repentance and granted forgiveness through God’s amazing promise. This is recorded in this library of books we call the Bible. This is God’s Word—sixty-six books written over hundreds of years. When we only pull this or that snippet out when reading, we miss how the books are connected. In addition, we easily lose sight of God’s salvation plan in its context. But something amazing happens when you open to a section and then flip back and forth through the pages with your fingertips. Yes, pulling out a bulky book isn’t the simplest option, but you can’t avoid the totality of the Bible. You gain perspective through paging through the genres, and you simply have to learn the order of things. In other words, when you use a print Bible you more easily engage the totality of God’s epic plan of salvation. As such, you can then better understand your place in it.

 

 

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About the Author

Pete Jurchen

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Rev. Pete Jurchen is Editor of Curriculum Resources at CPH. In addition to his MDiv, he has a MS Ed. in Curriculum Leadership and enjoys the pursuit of lifelong learning. He is honored to serve the congregations of the LCMS by equipping and partnering with its households in engaging their God-given vocations. He lives in Imperial, MO, with his wife, Deb, and his four children. You can read his latest posts here.

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17 Comments on "Ten Reasons to Use a Print Bible in a Digital World"

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Christopher C. Browne
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Christopher C. Browne

Also the physical book has its own weight, look, scent, etc. It’s closer to the Sacraments; it’s closer to the Word who became flesh and pitched His tent in our neighborhood.

miriam
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Easier (for me) to reference in a physical copy, also for study , for sharing with other people and for giving to those without Also the first Bible (IMO) should always be physical.

Mark Wenthe
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Pastor Pete: You are so right about the value of a greatly used print Bible. I have the Concordia study Bible, and more notes, messages, and highlights to emphasize those special verses to me. Terry says it is hard for her to use as I have so many notes written. So I second your opinion on the printed version!! Blessings to you and the family and your work at CPH🙏🏻 Mark

Jason Traxler
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I have a number of different Bible versions in my home. There are times when my discernment is aided by slight rephrasing say between the EVS, NIV, NASA or NKJV. Some are study Bibles. All, except the NASB with giant print, have print that continues to shrink as the Bibles age. Obviously, the NASB is my most recent acquisition and I love it. It is easy to read, reportedly accurate and, without commentary, the books are rationally spaced and becoming easier to find with use. But what I also want to say is that a Bible written in a language… Read more »
Blaise
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Agree. I have used the NASB for over 35 years, love it, and would not be without it. As a kid I grew up with KJV, so that’s right behind it for favorites, and it seems more poetic in the old English.

Dan Sheppard
Guest

I am an avid digital user, especially when I can link to commentaries, atlases, dictionaries, etc. Still, I do have a Lutheran Study Bible right next to my chair, so I can quickly check something out, cross-reference what the narrative comments are, and otherwise dig into God’s Word. Both are great resources; manual and digital.

Scott Dunavent
Guest

Very helpful thoughts Dan. I use my Lutheran Study Bible (ESV) at home but I use my phone when in a line at the grocery store or any other place. I find my Bible on my phone keeps me connected to God so that His word is with me when I am not able to have my printed Bible with me.

Thank you for your article.

I pray Godmay richly bless you and your family.

StillWiggling
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I enjoy a couple of study Bibles that I cannot read in paper versions because the print, especially in the footnotes and cross references, is too small for my aging eyes to see anymore. If they made a paper version of one of these study Bibles with all the print big enough for me to comfortably see, it would be enormous and too heavy to lift! I love my digital Bibles, I can make the print as big as I want, and I haven’t had one run out of power on me yet. And I mostly can no longer make… Read more »
Karl Schroeder
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I love my iPad and the many Bible choices, all free. I may not be able to quote chapter and verse but I can locate it readily. It’s a great device.

Margaret T
Guest

Yes, yes and 8 more yes…!

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