Sunday, 20 November 2011

Have you seen YouVersion?

Jeff introduced me to this app and I love it!

It's basically a Bible reading app, and I already have those for the NIV and ESV translations, but YouVersion has a Bible reading plan element to it as well. You can choose from over 100 different plans, which vary from two day plans to read through epistles to week-long plans following a topic through the Bible, to year long whole-Bible reading plans that are organised chronologically (in the probably order the events happened), historically (in the order the books were written), or following several popular systems such as the McCheyne system. The best feature: automatic alerts sent each day, at the times you decide, to remind you to read the Bible passage set for that day.

I have chosen the 21-day "Plan for Busy Women: a rich and satisfying life" devotional, which will be my personal Bible study for the next three weeks. I've set my alert for this for 10am, by which time the kids are off to school, I have done my basic chores for the day and I'm ready for a coffee break - but (I hope) before I get lost in other, less essential, activities. (Perfect for filling the gap left by the summer break from BSF in the Southern Hemisphere.)

I've also signed up to read the Bible chronologically, since I want to read the whole OT through before I begin studying Old Testament 501 at Trinity next semester. I've set my alert for this longer reading at 8pm, after the kids are fed and in bed and the dishes are (usually!) done, but before I get distracted by evening TV shows or reading novels.

Logging in to allows you to adjust the length of any plan, as well. So I have condensed my year-long chronological study down so that I am reading enough chapters each day to get through the OT by February 17, when classes start.

YouVersion has accountability features as well, where you can sign up a friend (who already uses YouVersion) to receive emails telling them how you are going with the Bible reading plan you have signed up to. I could ask Jeff to keep track of my reading progress and encourage him with his reading of his chosen plan as well, for instance. (He's chosen the plan from the ESV Study Bible, a year-long plan with four shorter readings from different parts of the Bible each day.)

You can either down load a Bible version (or more than one) so you can read anytime without internet access, or you can download each reading when you want it (taking moments). I've downloaded the Holman Christian Standard Bible, so I can check it out - so far I like it. (I've been reading the NIV - 1984 edition - as my personal Bible for years.) I like that the HCSB text uses "Yahweh" in place of "LORD" for the tetragrammation, God's personal name, which means "I am who I am" - as God taught Moses in Exodus 3. This occurs in at least 500 places, but not in every use. I like this feature in the HCSB because I have just been teaching the kids in Children's Church all about who God is, and we started with Exodus 3. I hadn't heard about the HCSB until I read about it in the latest Briefing, which has an article considering the comparative merits of the ESV, NIV11 and HCSB for use in local churches as the version from which the pulpit Bible readings are presented.

If you're looking to turn over a new leaf in your personal Bible reading and study for 2012, YouVersion can help you get on track and stay on track.

PS Two months in, I've read about 60% of the Bible, according to the little green line for my Chronological reading plan. I dropped the other reading plan after a few days, but hope to get back to it once I finish reading through the Old Testament - I'm currently reading Jeremiah.


Mrs. Edwards said...

Our church really encourages using YouVersion. In fact, the building WiFi only allows access to You Version during Sunday services. They encourage you to use it for making sermon notes and reading Scripture.

I was pretty excited to realize that Spurgeon's Morning and Evening is on YouVersions devotionals, but over time I just couldn't keep up. I try to accomplish too many things at once.

Your post piqued my interest in HCSB. Lydia's first Bible, given to her upon her birth from grandparents, is a HCSB and that was my first realization of the translation. I haven't really paid much attention to it, but after reading the Matthias Media article on the different translations, I'm interested. I admit that I love the ESV, but hadn't really considered it to be difficult or more intellectual. I suppose, however, that that is true.

I'm not sure what our church will do about the end of the NIV84. This is the primary translation we use and give all the children in second grade, use for pew Bibles, etc. I'm assuming that the staff is thinking about options.

I loaded the HCSB on my Kindle and have been reading it. I love the way they use YHWH and put Messiah in the place of Christ in some NT contexts. This struck Howard as strange, however. I only learned that Christ is the Greek and Messiah the Hebrew for the same word/meaning, "anointed one" in the last five years or so, though. I'm thinking that if you didn't understand that, it would feel like HCSB was interpreting more than translating. It is fascinating how much our tradition shapes how we feel about Scripture. That is, the word "Christ" feels sacred and replacing "Messiah" with that for Howard feels off to him. And yet, he understands that it means the same.

Sharon said...

The thing I have noticed about the ESV is that some of the sentences, particularly in Paul's letters, are very long. This makes them more difficult to understand if they are being read aloud and listened to, although for a Bible to study from it is not such a problem. Actually, it might be an advantage, because it makes one re-read to be sure one has the gist of the passage, rather than just read over quickly and assume one understands. But I definitely wouldn't choose it for a "church" Bible based on the difficulty of reading aloud. Mind you, I am used to the NIV84, so perhaps if I had persisted in reading the NRSV that I had when I first became a Christian (it was the Bible the school chaplain recommended), perhaps the ESV phrasing would not seem so awkward.

I, too, have been recommending parents at our church who want to buy their new readers a Bible purchase the NIV84; but in the UK-spelling version of the 1984 translation, which was released in 2009 or 2010 by the Bible Society. Now, I am not sure if the NIVUK will still be available when the TNIV and NIV84 are not printed. I guess I should ask the Bible Society...

I am reading from the OT at the moment, so I haven't run across the usages of Messiah in the NT yet, although I know they're there. The thing about that translation choice is that Messiah is a Hebrew word and Christos is the Greek translation. Christ is the English version of Christos. And what was the NT originally written in? Greek, not Hebrew, though most of the authors were Jewish. So the Greek New Testament Fourth Edition from the United Bible Societies (on Jeff's shelf) has Christos for all those places where the HSCB has used Messiah. Maybe "Messiah" is a more helpful translation, but if they were going for meaning, they should have used "Anointed One"... so I think I am with H on this one.

Then again, one of the very interesting things I found out using my concordance tools ( and on my NIV Bible app from is that the word "Messiah" isn't used at all in the Old Testament - in the NIV84 and NIV11 translations, at least. And it appears from that the NIV11 now includes many more uses of Messiah than the two that are in the NIV84. However, all of these instances are in the NT. In the OT, the passages where Messiah is inferred use "Anointed One" or "anointed king", or "the one the LORD anointed to ..." etc. So any argument that using "Messiah" harkens back to the Israelite/Jewish/Hebraic use of the term doesn't make sense when translators consistently use the more explanatory term "Anointed" anyway.

More thoughts later, possibly!


Mrs. Edwards said...

Just a disclaimer: I don't think this is a big deal either way. It is interesting, but however you render "anointed one" in English--anointed, Messiah, Christ--it is mostly just a fascinating thing.

One reason that HCSB's decision appeals to me is because for most of my life I did not understand that Christ was Greek for anointed, just as Messiah was Hebrew for anointed. When people try to argue that Jesus never claimed to be God, it is easier to convince someone if they don't understand what is going on when He is called Christ in the Gospels, even the synoptics. Certainly you can tell people that the words mean the same thing, but it isn't the same as using the same word.

But, I see your point. Why not just use the English "anointed'? I think because of the connotation. And this brings up the point that even the most literal translation engages in interpretation. As you pointed out, the OT uses anointed rather than Messiah, even though the manuscripts were Hebrew. (Actually, KJV uses Messiah in Daniel 9.)

I think that the Messianic movement, that is, the Jewish people's search for the/a Messiah happened between the Testaments historically. This is why the word Messiah in NT times began to mean something greater than the simple word "anointed." So I don't think that HCSB chose the term in the NT because of the "israelite/Jewish/Hebraic use of the term" in the OT manuscripts, but because culturally in NT times the oppressed Jews were longing for and looking for the Messiah.

Spouting off opinions with out a lot of expert knowledge,

Mrs. Edwards said...

I tripped to this whole thing by reading HCSB's introduction, which explains the features of their translation. It is interesting, at any rate.

Sharon said...

Oh, I hadn't thought about the influence of the intra-testamental period upon the use of the word. Hmmm.

Sometimes I wish they'd use "king" though I know that "anointed" doesn't always mean that (sometimes it means "anointed for priesthood" etc). It would certainly be a lot easier to explain to kids in my paraphrases for children's ministry.

Of course the other thing I should remember is that I need to read the words of the Bible that are there and not the words that I want to be there. That would just get me into all sorts of problems!

Which brings me to question why the HCSB uses "slave" when other translations use "servant". I have read what they say about why they use it (from the website I referenced in the post, I don't have a paper copy of the version) but their explanation doesn't actually say what the Greek texts say, just what they chose to include. It says they chose to translate with ""slave" instead of "servant" when translating the word doulos"." On their promo, they say this is "so ... the radical nature of discipleship is clearer." Is this a decision based on the meaning of the original Greek word, or upon what the translators thought the word should mean, given their own doctrinal positions on discipleship?

I don't know enough Greek to work that out - although I am sure a quick trip to the Gk-English lexicon or a short Q&A with Jeff could tell me. My point is, however, that the average Christian doesn't have a Greek-English lexicon on their shelves (come to think of it, ours are at the church office anyway) and they don't know NT Greek themselves. So how can they determine whether the usage of slave over servant is a "better" choice if they don't even know if it has been made on a literal or dynamic equivalency basis?

And now I'd better get off this way-too-high horse and head off to bed! Luv ya! xxS

PS I think it is cool that your church recommends YouVersion. I do think I prefer the formatting of my Tecarta Bible app, though. And its concordance seems much easier to use. But maybe that's just because I spelt anointed with two Ns the first time I was looking for it - me and my Aust/UK spelling!

Mrs. Edwards said...

That's funny about annointed/anointed. I'm always trying to put in an extra "n" but didn't know that was a UK spelling.

I suppose the average Christian doesn't have a Greek-English lexicon on their shelves--we sure don't--but anyone with Internet can check Blue Letter Bible.

Here's the entry for the Greek word doulos, which the KJV translates "servant":

And here's the Hebrew which KJV translates "servant":

I don't remember what Holman said about their reasoning, but from what I know about ancient history, servants then were nothing like what we imagine now--Jeeves or Alice or Hazel or whatever television character best captures the idea of a paid housekeeper or whatever. On the other hand, at least here in America, slave carries such connotations rooted in our history of slavery (and I suppose Britain as well, prior to Wilberforce) that it might give the wrong idea.

Doulos is actually a bondservant, which is a higher level of commitment than simply being a paid servant, obviously. I don't think this is Holman interpreting what discipleship means, but trying to choose a word that conveys to modern readers as best as possible a relationship that is lost to our culture (mostly). It isn't just someone who works for someone else in a lower position. It means that you are bonded over to another, indentured, subservient in your will, etc. ESV puts in a text note in the NT that says "Greek bondservant" when they use the word "servant." (Click on the Trench's synonyms link in Blue Letter for more than enough information on that word!)

As for explaining anointed to kids, I like to explain that it means "chosen for service." Yes, kings are anointed to rule or reign, but Biblical anointing, at least in my mind, implies that the anointed one is an instrument of God or one used by God, such as Cyrus.

I know you get that, just thinking out loud. Back to Hogwarts, making supper, then baking a cheesecake. I wish I could give you a slice. Mmmm.

Sharon said...

PS, I just found out how lame my spelling is. There is only one N in anointed whether you are using US spelling or Standard Australian English spelling. My bad!