Spoiler alert! If you want to study the Bible but never really got around to it, Crossway’s ESV Bible is a good start. It’s free and doesn’t clutter your mind with reference notes written from a specific theological spin. If you need to cite scripture for research, it’s also the most manageable of the Bible apps available. It’s a three-star app, but the free price tag bumps it up an additional star.
As many readers are no doubt aware (especially those who have been reading the preview posts in Righteous Indigestion) there are only three posts left in iPad Envy. This isn’t my doing. The simple fact is that the Rapture will occur sometime Saturday and after the Rapture we’ll be too busy preparing for the final end of the world in October to worry about new iPad apps.
The good Christians will be taken away to heaven so they can cheer on the battle between the angels and demons with the bad Christians and every one else left behind to catch all their shit. The Obama antichrist will consolidate his power and the Democrats will have free reign over the world because Republicans will have been Raptured, too.1
Then there will be singing and dancing, Rap music in every mall at the command of President Antichrist, and drugs will be legal. The Moslems will take over the world because the Democrats will be too wishy washy to resist them (hell, they’ll probably convert to prove how tolerant they are).
So I decided these last three posts should help you prepare for the Rapture by reviewing Bible apps and games. They aren’t many Christian iPad games, which should come as no surprise since Steve Jobs is a servant of Satan, and most of the Christian iPad apps involve Bible study, listening to Christian music or watching Christian videos, and networking with your Christian friends (for a list of available iPad and iPhone apps check out ChristianiPhoneApps.com
I decided that you probably need the real, honest-to-God, Bible more than anything else if you want to be ready when the train leaves the heavenly station, so this week I will look at the ESV Bible and the Just 1 Word Bible app.
Crossway offers two versions of the ESV Bible, the free Bible and the $15.00 study Bible. I’m reviewing the free version because it has all the search and note taking capabilities of the full version. It only seems to lack the study resources and notes.
This is what I would recommend if you’re new to the Bible anyway. As I go back and look at the commentaries and study guides I used when I started studying, I now wish I hadn’t bothered. Most of them present a slanted view. Instead, I would recommend you start simple, with books you may have an easier time understanding (and not falling asleep reading).
Even then, you may find passages too dense or too bizarre. Don’t worry, people have been arguing over those very verses for two millennia and haven’t reached consensus yet. Process what you can understand.
Here’s a good starting list:
- First Corinthians (Don’t worry about the women and covered hair stuff)
- The Three Letters from John
- Galations, Ephesians, Colossians, both Thessalonians, Second Corinthians
- Matthew and Luke
- Genesis and Exodus
- The Gospel of John
After that you should be able to navigate fairly well (although Hebrews is really, really dense—probably written by Derrida’s great100 grandfather). And put off Revelations until the end. Seriously. It messed with so many heads the Byzantines2 and Luther wanted it left out of the Bible before finally giving in, and Calvin simply excised it from his translation.
Don’t think of each verse as having independent meaning. These were written as short books and letters. The chapter and verse stuff was added later. Try your best to read them like you would any book or magazine article.
And, to be honest, one translation is pretty much as good a starting point as another, although the only reason to use the King James would be if that were the version you heard growing up in church (assuming you did). The Revised, New English, NIV and ASV all have pretty readable text.
And if you think you don’t need to read the Bible because Christians are stupid and intolerant and responsible for most of the ailments in society (and many may well be), then you are seriously off base. If you haven’t read the Bible, you won’t have a clue to American politics and half of world history (just like if you haven’t read the Koran, the Tao, the Dhammapada or the Bhagavad Gita you will never understand the politics of the other side of the globe). Even 007 carried around a copy of The Bible as Literature.3
ESV for free
Unlike other Bible apps, ESV only offers one translation, but for most purposes this will be all you need. Especially for beginning Bible study.
Crossway makes it easy to find just about any passage you want. You can find a specific chapter using the browse feature (although most readers wouldn’t know where to look for anything other than Psalm 23, John 3 and 1 Corinthians 13 (and maybe 14 if you’re background is Pentecostal).
The search engine allows you to find passages related to key words and phrases. Passages you actually visit will be recorded in the app’s history.
It’s easier to use the word search feature to look for keywords and topics. The instances of a word or phrase appear in the search window, and you can follow any reference you want from the list until you enter a new search term.
If you need to visit a passage you already read you can trace your reading in the history section. If you want to mark a verse for future reference you can keep it in the favorites section.
You can highlight and explore passages. Crossway includes cross-references to related passages as well as alternate readings and definitions.
Crossway also allows you to highlight and make notes about the passages. You can also copy and paste any length of material into your word processor for research papers in class. Or forward it to friends via email, Facebook or Twitter. The same dialogue provides cross-references definitions and occasional alternative readings. You can easily access your notes and highlighted passages from the menu bar.
You can easily track down all of your notes and passages highlighted from previous readings.
I’ve used the Crossway ESV to prepare conference presentations and articles for journals. I haven’t had any problems or crashes. It’s one of the standard apps on my iPad. The fact that it’s free makes it all the more valuable. So you have until Saturday. Get reading.
Jenny Manytoes rates the Crossway ESV
Jenny Manytoes would purr next to the Crossway ESV. If you really want to start learning more about the Bible, you can also buy the study version for $15 with reference materials, but I think it works fine on its own.