Online Bible vs. Paper Bible
The internet is teeming with websites that are either devoted solely to the Bible or somehow incorporate the scriptures. There are so many of them that it’s difficult to pick and choose one because each one has something unique.
In this post I will introduce you to some popular Bible websites. However, before I do that, I want to show you something else. We will compare reading the Bible online with reading the sacred text offline in order to understand their complementary nature. If you are interested in scientific data on how our understanding or comprehension is affected by reading something on paper vs. reading it on screen, you can find one resource here.
Here, however, I’m writing from my own experience as a person who has spent years reading the Bible both online and offline. So if you feel this is too subjective, you are more than welcome to toss it out of your mind’s window.
In general, I find reading the Bible in paper form to be more tangible. By tangible, I mean that I’m able to perceive the Bible by touch; I feel its weight, its size, its texture under my hands. When I turn the page, its crackle reminds me that I accomplished one little step in this journey. In a sense, it makes my reading experience more real. I don’t just see; I touch, I sniff, and I perceive the book, the materialized seat of God’s word.
On the other hand, reading the Bible online has its own strength. Most of the biblical texts online are linked to a vast amount of data that you can access with a single click. In other words, reading the scripture online may not feel as tangible as reading it offline, but this weakness is overshadowed by the additional information available to you to help you understand the biblical text. Here is an example. On some websites you will find Bible texts linked to commentaries. With a click, you can access a commentary about certain difficult texts within the scripture. You don’t need to put the Bible aside, go fetch the commentary, and read the information you are looking for. Obviously, this linked nature of online texts introduces other new issues (links in the text implicitly compete with the text being read), but the power that one-click access gives you is a huge advantage.
I see these two kinds of readings (on screen and offline) as complementary. When I read the Bible for prayer, meditation, and an in depth soul-searching, I read the real book I have on the shelf. But when I want to do a quick exploration or an analysis of a particular passage, then I read it on screen (on the internet), knowing that other sources for the research is a click away. So both of these are important in their own ways.
That said, below are ten (non-academic) websites that will give you access to the online Bible, its interpretation, and to various perspectives about the text.
This high-powered website is all about various translations. It does offer other sources such as books and the capacity to take notes on the text (in the paid version only), but its strength is in its translations. You will find many English translations as well as translations in other languages. You can also search various translations simultaneously. It has simple interface interface and is relatively free of clutter. One of my favorite websites for bible-related explorations.
This is another high-powered website I use often. It too has a lot of translations, but I use this website mainly for my research in the original languages (Hebrew, Greek) and any cross-references. Its cross-reference system is richer and connects you not only to related scripture verses but also to commentaries that are relevant to the text you are studying. In addition, the site has topic-related photos and an atlas search system where you can find the places mentioned in the Bible on a map.
This site’s simple and free-of-clutter design will help you focus on your study, and its Bible study tool (named Lumina) will power your research with a lot of articles. It has blogs regularly posted by ministers. The strength of this site is in its ministry-like approach to the online Bible. By “ministry-like,” I mean that they offer practical guides integrated into the whole site that make it easy to do Bible study and to find various applications of the studied material.
This website is another giant in the world of internet bibles. Run by Catholics, the site will provide you with many treasures of Christian theology. You will find the Summa Theologiae, a lot of material from (and about) church fathers, and the Bible itself. The Bible is presented in Greek, English, and Latin parallel. I use this site for my readings in patristics and scholastic theology. The strength of this site is in its combination of classic theological literature with the Bible that will enrich your understanding of the scripture.
This website with its austere design may not be as well known as the sites I’ve mentioned, but make no mistake: if you want to read interlinear bibles (English, Greek, Hebrew interlinears), then this is the site to visit. It is a decidedly text-, grammar-, and translation-focused website that would be heaven for anyone who revels in the technicalities of language. But it is not necessarily for scholars. It provides plenty of articles on translation methods, grammar, and word analysis. When I want to parse a word or actually figure out the exact grammar of a sentence, I come here.
This website is a tool to study all of the Bible, but its strength is in its verse isolation and the study of an isolated verse. Here you will find verses of the day, popular verses by topic, and many other resources. Like other websites, this one offers dictionaries, encyclopedias, articles, devotionals, blog posts, prayers, and inspiring stories. The site also offers many bible study plans designed for whatever your purpose.
This is a website that focuses on daily prayer. It has roots in the Anglican church, so the prayers are informed with the Scripture and saturated with readings from classic sources. The site has an online Bible too, and its relatively simple design allows you to simplify your reading experience. You can search, read the Bible, and in the process eliminate all the distractions — including verse numbers, footnotes, and section headings — so that you can read just the plain ol’ Bible. If you want to read the Bible in a devotional context with plenty of high liturgical sources, this is the site to visit.
Ok, here we venture out of our religious Bible, ugh…I mean, religious bubble.
If you are interested in a skeptical and decidedly hostile perspective on the sacred text, then this is the site for you. Here you’ll see the Bible (and the sacred texts of other religions) annotated from a non-religious and skeptical perspective. You know, it’s eye-opening to see what others see when they look at the same thing we look at. Reading the commentary on this site will help us see the side of the Bible that we may often miss and how skeptics capitalize on that marginalized side of the scripture. The Highlights section speaks for itself: “absurdity,” “injustice,” “good stuff,” “boring stuff,” and so on.
This website offers you a chance to read and listen to the Bible or watch Bible-related videos on your computer, phone, or tablet. The site offers a free Bible app, 1000+ Bible versions, and plenty of devotionals with eye-catching photos and pictures. It offers a Bible app for kids too that helps children play while learning the Bible. The site’s strength is in its reading plans and devotionals tailored to suit your various needs.
This website is a Bible exploration source that offers you a topical grouping of verses, geocoding that connects places in Israel-Palestine directly to biblical verses, and real-time monitoring to see which verses are trending. Moreover, here you can find tools such as a word locator to help you check what words (e.g., love) are used in what books of the scripture. I personally use this website to get a quick feel for a topic or for the geography of the verse I’m interested in.
There you go. Every one of these websites has something unique to offer that can enrich your understanding of the Christian scripture. Use them and deepen your comprehension of the Bible.
Now it’s your turn. Comment and let us know what other websites you’ve found that offer a unique angle on the Bible. Also, please share the post on social media; let others read and benefit from these websites.
Check blog posts below too; they all are about the Bible.