As our phones and tablets are integral in every aspect of our lives (seriously, I turn my lights on with my phone), Bibles are also making their way onto our phones/tablets. Working the sound booth at church, I have a good view of what people use, and quite a few are using an electronic devise for their Bible (or games. . . yeah I see you).
As electronic reading devices have become more popular over the years, you hear people say I rather have a book in my hand. I want to feel the pages and smell the book. Full disclosure, I fall into this category. That musty smell and flipping through the pages lets me get my mindset that I’m going to be reading. Flipping through the pages is almost an encouragement to keep moving forward, and as you see the pages go from a stack on the right side to piling up on the left side of the book, there is a sense of accomplishment. For me, I could read twice as much on my tablet and feel like I’ve read way less than if I flipped through a book.
So what does my need to smell musty pages have to do with Bible reading?
Per a Dartmouth study, what you read on a screen compared to paper does have a difference when it comes to recollection. The study found that screen reading helped with learning concrete facts, reading off paper helped with abstract learning. So if you want to remember dates, the computer screen shows better results, while wanting to learn why those events occurred, reading off paper is better.
Screen reading has also shown that people tend to read faster or more likely skim, therefore not picking up as much information while reading. Reading off the screen also creates less of an experience making it where people tend to have difficulty reading long text, which leads to minimal comprehension.
Once again, what does this have to do with Bible reading?
First, our Bible reading should be about quality, not quantity. People are more likely to skim and speed read when using a computer screen, which leads to less comprehension. If I’m wanting to get the most from my Bible reading time, I want to comprehend it as much as I can.
Second, to understand what is going on and the why of events, it’s been shown that reading off paper gives better results. Can God speak to us and guide us if we’re on an electronic devise? Yes, but getting yourself in a better environment to do that is only going to help you understand what you’re reading and get a deeper meaning from it. We don’t go read our Bible usually in a noisy room.
Third, for me I can picture where I read something. If I need to find a verse or passage, I have a lot better chance to find it in my Bible by remember what side of the Bible or which column it was on.
Do you only use your hard copy Bible?
Nope, just as I mentioned in my third point up above, sometimes you have to find a passage and if you don’t know that verse or general location, the Bible app comes in handy, it’s far easier to search for terms or a phrase, than search your whole Bible.
In reality, it comes down to what you’re most comfortable with. I prefer to be able to jot notes down while I read. I like to make arrows and draw those points to other verses. I find it more difficult to do that on the apps. I’m also more likely to remember ideas I jot down, instead of when I type it. So for me, I’ll be sticking to my physical Bible when I do my reading.
Ferris Jabr, “The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens” Scientific American April 11, 2013
Maria Gilje Torheim , “Do we read differently on paper than on a screen?” Phys.org, September 21, 2017
Michael Lazar, “Study Finds Difference In Recollection From Screen Reading Vs. Paper Reading”, huffpost.com, May 30, 2016