You-VersionIt’s worth reflecting on a Sunday morning that the Bible is an interesting book. The collection of wisdom and instructions from the world’s most popular religion, it contains many fascinating stories even if you’re a nonbeliever. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the best-selling and most widely-distributed non-fiction book.

And as a fairly weighty tome in many editions, it also benefits a great deal from an electronic version. Not only is it handy to carry around for church, and less likely to be left behind somewhere, but a version that’s put together reasonably well can look up chapter-and-verse citations almost as quickly as someone can flip to them through a paper copy. (Faster, if the person’s not familiar with the order in which the books are arranged and has to consult the contents.) And no print Bible can let you punch in search keywords, if you remember a phrase like “the full armor of God” but don’t remember where it was from. (Ephesians 6, as it turns out.)

With that in mind, I wasn’t too surprised to get an email this morning from YouVersion, the makers of the Bible e-book app that I use on my own devices, declaring that the app has been installed 200 million times. It’s an impressive sum, though it doesn’t necessarily translate to 200 million separate users. I’ve installed the app on several devices, myself, for example. Nor does it mean everyone who installed it is necessarily a devout Christian—there are other reasons to read the Bible than praise and worship, and a good electronic implementation of any complicated book is a boon to scholastic research or just spur-of-the-moment interest. Still, there aren’t a whole lot of e-book apps of any kind that can claim they’ve been installed 200 million times.

And the YouVersion app has become considerably better since the last time I examined it regularly. In addition to allowing downloads of literally hundreds of different translations, it offers audiobook readings of some of them, including the ever-popular NIV. It includes devotionals and lesson plans on dozens of subjects (the email newsletter claims 40 million of those have been completed), and even access to videos and movies on Biblical subject-matter. It has also added some limited social features, such as the ability to add “friends” from your contact list. And, of course, it’s still free. If you’re going to have an edition of the Bible on your phone or tablet at all, why not a free one that offers so many features? Even if you never use most of the features, it’s not as if they cost anything extra.


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