It was several years ago that I was introduced to e-books when my husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday. As a diehard book fan, I struggled at first with the idea of paying for a digital version of a book instead of the physical copy I could hold. I declared, somewhat arrogantly, that I would always prefer the physical copy, the feel of turning a page, the smell of ink on paper.
Then I started acquiring ebooks and realized how much I loved them! I've been able to download and read books (many for free) that I never would have otherwise, and I haven't had to find space on my shelves for them. It's been freeing to carry a library of books with me everywhere I go and to have something to read whenever I find myself waiting somewhere.
I've also downloaded the Bible onto my iPad. I have several versions in my Kindle app, and then I also have found many Bible-specific apps that make the Word of God available to me, including the YouVersion app that lets me look at dozens of different translations, many of them even offline. Amazing! I could just bring my iPad with me, and I would always have a Bible at hand, and in any translation I wanted.
These days, though, I've found myself going back to my "old-fashioned" Bible. I still have the YouVersion app, and I use it often. It's handy to read different translations, and to search for a certain word or phrase to find the right verse. But here's why I'm pulling out my paper and ink version more and more:
- I can find passages faster. No matter how fast the search function is, I can find it faster, or almost as fast, on my own. I can also hold my place in one section and flip back to another book, and then go back to the first. All of that is clumsy and slow in my e-Bibles. And even if it got easier, I don't want to lose the skill of navigating God's Word in printed form, or the familiarity with knowing where a certain book is.
- I can read the context more easily. When I look for a verse in my eBible, it brings me to that verse, and sometimes that chapter, but letting my eyes skim to the previous chapters or the upcoming ones is not as simple as with my paper Bible. My paper Bible encourages me to read and understand the context of what I am reading instead of each section in isolation.
- I can keep handwritten notes. I know I can highlight verses and add notes in many of the eBibles, but there is something about underlining and making a note in my own handwriting - something I can go back to months and years later to see what God was teaching me at that point.
- I am setting an example for my children. When I read the Bible on my iPad, my children can't tell if I am reading the Bible or checking my Facebook account. The same is true out in public, or even in church. While reading the Bible is not something to do for show, reading it in public does open doors of conversation with others. It is also a habit I want to help build in my children, and they will learn best from seeing me model that habit as well.
- It doesn't need a battery. We are highly dependent on wifi and electricity in this day and age. I want to be comfortable with the printed-on-paper Word of God that I can use regardless of what the weather brings or if our Internet or cell phone service is interrupted.
- It connects me with the past and with believers around the globe. We are living in an age and place where the Bible is readily available, in a language that is easily understood. It is not so in every country, and it has not been so in every other time in history. The preservation of the Scriptures throughout the ages and its translation into the language of the common people is a story of dedication and sacrifice, sometimes to the point of death. There is something about holding a physical copy of God's Word in my hands that makes me feel more connected with my Christian brothers and sisters in countries where they would give anything to have a Bible.
I'm certainly not against reading the Bible on an electronic device! I do know it is the message of the Bible that is most important, not the format in which it is written. I hope I will never take the Word of God for granted, for by it we know about God and His plan of redemption, and the Holy Spirit uses it to refine us and make us into the men and women God wants us to be.
Do you prefer reading the Bible electronically or the "old fashioned" way? Share below!