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The Bible: There’s an app for that

An iPhone displaying text from YouVersion. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Not since the first days of the printing press has the Bible been so suddenly prolific.
In Johannes Gutenberg’s day, it was a wondrous thing to hold a single copy of the Bible. Readers today can enter a virtual library of Bible study tools with just a few clicks on a keyboard or taps on a touchscreen.
We asked our readers which electronic Bible study tools they use the most, and compiled their suggestions here. These are not reviews or recommendations — simply information about the tools our readers use that we hope you find useful in your quest to experience the living and active Word of God.
Free Resources
1. Olive Tree BibleReader : includes two Bible versions, Nave’s Topical Bible, and a handful of commentaries and dictionaries. Users can take notes and highlight texts, and then sync these between smartphone, e-reader and computer. Other resources can be purchased to add to the program. Free, download necessary, apps available
2. YouVersion :  This online Bible offers many different versions, with the ability to choose any two parallel. Users can also take notes, follow a reading plan and view the notes of other users. Free, no download necessary, apps available
3. E-Sword : This program allows users to view up to four translations at once. Like other software programs that cost, the user can customize the view so that translation, commentary, and other resources are all visible at once. Free, download necessary
4. Bible Gateway : With about 25 searchable English translations, three commentaries, and many audio translations available, this website offers a quick way to search the Word and switch between translations. Free, no download necessary, phone-friendly website available
5. Blue Letter Bible : This searchable Bible website has almost 20 translations, including Hebrew and Greek, and searchable Hebrew and Greek lexicons. It also has a rich library of charts, outlines, and articles. Free, no download necessary, apps available
6. Bible.is : this searchable Bible, formatted like a physical page, offers a clean format for reading, with audio options for most translations. The site offers a Twitter feed, Facebook page and podcasts. Users who register for free can make notes and highlights and sync between smartphone and computer. Free, no download necessary, apps available.
7. Bible Explorer : This free download is from the makers of WordSearch, and includes access to more than 200 resources: translations, commentaries, dictionaries, and even classic Christian literature. Free, download necessary
Resources that cost
8. WordSearch 8 : the basic version of this software includes ten translations and 48 reference books. Larger libraries intended for preachers and teachers are available for a higher price. Individual electronic reference books can also be purchased through the site to be used with the basic program. iPad and iPhone apps are also available for free with the purchase of the software. Starts at $49.99, download necessary, apps available
9. Logos : Created with teachers in mind, this highly customizable software program has a clean, simple format and includes many infographics and maps.  There are eight packages to choose from. Apps are free, but if the user also has purchased software, the app is much more powerful and can be synced to the computer. Starts at $149.95, download necessary, apps available
10. Bibleworks : this software program focuses on the text, with more than 200 translations in 40 languages, many word study resources and reference works. It has a customizable interface and many options for searching. $359, group discounts available, CD-ROM necessary
Do you have a favorite Bible app or program? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
RELATED POST: In fast-changing world, how technologically savvy is your congregation?

  • Feedback
    My home church has geared up for streaming video in the last month, and along with it, begun using YouVersion’s free “Live” events feature. Youth Minister Casey Rine translates Preaching Minister Chuck Monan’s sermon notes into an interactive outline with scripture links, polls, questions, areas for folks to take notes — even send prayer requests. You can see phone and tablet screens lit up all over the worship center (especially the Sunday when our power went out!). Folks watching the streaming video of the sermon can participate at YouVersion’s website, too.
    Keith Brenton
    March, 7 2012

    It’s worth mentioning Accordance, which syncs nicely with the desktop version of the same program:
    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer
    Tim Archer
    March, 7 2012

    I’ve used The many wonderful features of Laridian.com. some free bibles come with the initial low purchase. This program offers lots of other great works as well. I love to take notes during the sermon or bible class and this is great on this program. It also has the capability of voice.
    March, 8 2012

    I would suggest those who, like me, are getting a little rusty on their Greek, take a look at CWP Software’s Greek interlinear. Also, for sheer elegance and great media rich content, look at GLO Bible.
    Gary Cleveland
    March, 8 2012

    Accordance must be highlighted (and mentioned again) as it is the premiere Bible and theological resource for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. You won’t find another tool like it on any platform.
    March, 8 2012

    I also have Laridian. It has a good menu and many bibles and other reference books at a reasonable price.
    March, 8 2012

    I cannot read the Bible any longer, my batteries are dead.
    Harley Todd
    March, 8 2012

    I use the Olive Tree free app and it is very user friendly for us older not so techy folks. Several different bible versions are available for less than $5. My favorite one is the NIRV.
    March, 8 2012

    You Version is my favorite Bible ap for basic reading and quick movement from one passage to another. A very good program (free) on the internet is BibleStudyTools.com (accessable on smartphones and iPads). Many, many versions, see a verse compared in all translations, footnotes, cross references, commentaries, lexicons, dictionaries, a tremendous library, ability to append notes to scriptures,etc.
    Tom Crouch
    March, 8 2012

    PC Study Bible (see BibleSoft.com) has proven to be the most useful and user-friendly software for me.
    Chuck Bagby, Ph.D.
    March, 9 2012

    I like the free WAVE Bible app for I-phone.
    It has several free versions and a Greek New Testament.
    A Hebrew OT is in the works.
    Larry Fitzgerald
    Plainview Church of Christ of Colorado City, TX
    Larry Fitzgerald
    March, 9 2012

    BibleSoft’s PC Study Bible is great for the desktop or laptop, but not available for smart ‘phones, as near as I can tell.
    Also, Laridian is excellent, but not yet available for the android. (They’re working on it, and have an alpha version available.)
    Bob Perkins
    March, 10 2012

    I have chosen Logos as my favorite Bible study software and plan to purchase it. My wife bought me a Nook reader from Barnes&Noble.com. It’s based on the Android, as is the Kindle Fire from amazon.com. I downloaded a couple free Bibles (ESV and HCSB) but they are difficult/slow to use and the ESV is sometimes stiff reading.
    I discovered some Bibles/software designed for the Android system and the Bibles/software are produced by Tecarta, Inc. They are fast, simple and work well. I purchased and downloaded the NLT text only for 5.99 and the NIV study Bible for 19.99–the Niv text only is 5.99. There are other translations available but these were already my favorite two and I feel that I need no others now. The Niv study Bible has some faint underlines for particular words/phrases that can be touched for search info. windows. I can turn the Nook on it’s side and choose to have a parallel NLT/NIV SB or NLT/NIV(text) or NIV/NIV SB(notes), that are scrollable separately. So, I have four Bibles in the palm of my hand (counting ESV&HCSB). Oh, the Tecarta software gives a choice of large or standard size type and several different fonts to choose from. Touching the Help explains all the choices/how to. I love it.
    Lee Baggs
    March, 10 2012

    I purchased and evaluated several Bible software programs in the early ninities including, Bibleworks, PCStudy Bible, Olive Tree, Laradin, etc. In 1994 I decided to go with the Logos Software Program, because of it’s power and large number of available resources (currently 10,000+ and growing).
    I became a Beta tester for Logos shortly after purchasing my first package, which allowed me to keep up with the programs features. Originally, it was confined to the PC, but now it runs on the PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, and Android platforms. Furthermore, it has the ability to sync across the various programs. I can create a note or highlite on my iPad or PC and it immediately syncs to the other platform. I started collecting resources, whenever Logos had a sale, and now have a large library, which I take with me everywhere on my iPad.
    Grace and peace, Gary Butner
    Gary Butner, Th.D.
    March, 12 2012

    Tecarta-is good on mobile devices. Simple, easy and fast to use. The best for simple reading. Does the usual searches but that is about all it does. Who needs all the other stuff on your iPhone? I’ve had others, Laridan, Accordance, Quickverse and used Olive Tree but prefer Tecarta. Has a good price, too.
    March, 14 2012

    I like PC Study Bible and have used it for for over twenty years. They also have available Bro. Burton Coffman’s Commentary set as an add-on in the program. I understand they are working on an I-phone app, but it is not available yet.
    Keith Kress
    March, 16 2012

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