The Bible’s physical form

We Lutherans believe in the supernatural efficacy of “Word and Sacrament.”  Other Christians believe in the power of God’s Word, but deny that water, bread, and wine, when joined to God’s Word, can have any more than a symbolic significance.  After all, how can the physical convey what is spiritual?  Part of my answer has always been that the Word too is a physical thing–ink on paper, sound waves in the air–that God uses sacramentally to bring us His grace.

David Neff of Christianity Today has written an interesting piece on the physical form of Bibles from the middle ages to our present-day “Bible apps.”

The default meaning of Bible for Christians in my group was the King James Version. The default physical form was a black leather binding.

The physical form of the Bible matters because it influences the way Christians use their sacred book. In the countercultural 1960s, for example, publishers shucked the black leather uniform in favor of more contemporary dress. The aim was to reach those who might not otherwise pick up the Scriptures. The American Bible Society’s Good News for Modern Man resembled a mass market paperback, and Tyndale House’s Reach Out: The Living New Testament looked just plain “groovy.”

Three centuries before Luther’s New Testament first came off the press in 1522, workshops in Paris produced one-volume Bibles called pandects. Unlike the large multivolume Bibles that sat in churches, monasteries, and rich men’s libraries, these could be conveniently carried by Sor-bonne students and mendicant preachers. Thus began the revolutionary shift from communal reading of Scripture to its private, individual consumption.

In 1735, the Bible emerged in another physical form—the family Bible. An English publisher named William Rayner produced The Compleat History of the Old and New Testament or a Family Bible. This was the first time that phrase was used, according to Liana Lupas, curator of the American Bible Society’s collection of rare Bibles.

The purpose of these Bibles, says Lupas, who curated a current exhibition of family Bibles for the Bible Society’s MOBIA gallery, was to provide study helps to answer questions that readers might have, and also to stimulate families to center their common devotions on the Bible.

People soon found other uses for these Bibles, pressing flowers, preserving locks of hair, and protecting other keepsakes. Families had already used the blank pages at the beginning or end of large Bibles to preserve genealogical information, recording births, marriages, and deaths. Dedicated family history pages were a natural development. And so in 1791, Isaiah Thomas published the first American Bible to contain pages dedicated to this purpose.

Placing the family Bible at the physical center of the ideal American home helped entrench the idea of the family as the main training ground in Christian living.Both Catholic families and Eastern Seaboard Protestants traditionally enshrined their family histories in parish registers and churchyard burial plots. But the American family became mobile, and American faith became more baptistic and individualized. Families who moved west left their family networks behind, and the family Bible became a portable shrine, recording the family as a sacred institution. . . .

Placing the family Bible at the physical center of the idealized American home also helped entrench the Puritan ideal of the family as the main training ground in Christian living. . . .

Today, many of us use Bibles with no physical properties of their own. They borrow their frame from computers, iPads, and smartphones—also markers of middle class existence—but created for individual use. Will this digital revolution cement the decline of family spirituality that was once fostered by the family Bible? God knows.

via How the Physical Form of a Bible Shapes Us | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

Of course, the Word of God is living and active, even as it exists on an iPhone screen.  Just as the Blood of our Lord can be conveyed in plastic cups no less than in a silver chalice.  And yet, do you think the physical form of a Bible can have significance?  If people know the Word mainly as electronic information flashing across a screen, might that contribute to the Gnostic tendency we are seeing today, wherein faith is reduced to “knowledge” by way of “information” and the physical realm of creation, incarnation, sacrament, body, world,  and vocation are giving way to a less-than-Christian hyperspiritualism?  Or will reading it online lead to taking it in just short bits and pieces, in accord with much online reading, as opposed to extensive, sustained reading and study?  On the other hand, might reading the Bible on a Kindle, say, or other e-reader, mean a return to the continuous unfolding text of the ancient scrolls, rather than the chapter and verse breakdowns of the bound volume?  Or what?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    It has been my experience that having the Bible in electronic form is a good thing. The two biggest advantages that I have encountered have been the usefulness of the “search” function and the fact that, as an iPhone app, it is always with me – I find myself reading it more.

  • Pete

    It has been my experience that having the Bible in electronic form is a good thing. The two biggest advantages that I have encountered have been the usefulness of the “search” function and the fact that, as an iPhone app, it is always with me – I find myself reading it more.

  • Dennis Peskey

    I guess I’m still old school since I much prefer the written word to the electronic word. Although I own several bibles, one stands out above the rest and is most used – an ESV bible, standard size with appropriate features. For reference, I have the Lutheran Study Bible (large print – I’m getting older); the ESV translinear new testament; and a host of others (ASV, NIV, RSV, King James etc.).

    Although I can appreciate some would gravitate to the electronic version for reference, search and additional features which would render a print copy cumbersome, my familiarity with my favorite allows me to find individual books and passages as fast (or faster) than others using electronic versions. And when one learns to utilize their fingers properly, several pages can be openned and accessed simultaneously. Then there is the pleasure of actually holding God’s Word in your hands, pondering the wonder, meditating on verses before your eyes – this I don’t get when I hold my I-Pad reference bibles. In fact, when I need to research a particular topic, individual book or verse, I inevitably set the I-Pad aside and pickup my faithful companion. But then, I still own (and use) a push-reel mower on sections of my lawn – oh well.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    I guess I’m still old school since I much prefer the written word to the electronic word. Although I own several bibles, one stands out above the rest and is most used – an ESV bible, standard size with appropriate features. For reference, I have the Lutheran Study Bible (large print – I’m getting older); the ESV translinear new testament; and a host of others (ASV, NIV, RSV, King James etc.).

    Although I can appreciate some would gravitate to the electronic version for reference, search and additional features which would render a print copy cumbersome, my familiarity with my favorite allows me to find individual books and passages as fast (or faster) than others using electronic versions. And when one learns to utilize their fingers properly, several pages can be openned and accessed simultaneously. Then there is the pleasure of actually holding God’s Word in your hands, pondering the wonder, meditating on verses before your eyes – this I don’t get when I hold my I-Pad reference bibles. In fact, when I need to research a particular topic, individual book or verse, I inevitably set the I-Pad aside and pickup my faithful companion. But then, I still own (and use) a push-reel mower on sections of my lawn – oh well.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • larry

    “might that contribute to the Gnostic tendency we are seeing today, wherein faith is reduced to “knowledge” by way of “information” and the physical realm of creation, incarnation, sacrament, body, world, and vocation are giving way to a less-than-Christian hyperspiritualism?”

    Yes you are nailing down something I’ve constantly spoken about with my wife and a few others to the point of nicknaming the internet “the great gnosis”. In a way its an escape from body into the airiness of mind alone which in turn is represented by ‘avatars’ and the like. It does not escape entirely for it to is creature in the form of electrons and energy, but its definitely being used to lean Gnostic and spiritually (in the ill sense of that term).

    This brings out a KEY point of how other protestants, especially Calvin/Calvinism, gets away from the Word very surreptitiously, its not just in the sacraments in the sign/symbol language, although that brings it out starkly, but the WORD itself. Paulson brings this point out, Calvin’s central error if you will. For Calvin one could trust in the Word (external) because all hear this and many don’t believe, thus the believer could not be assured by the Word ALONE, but assurance (of election and hence salvation and faith) comes by this inner word of the spirit. Luther and Lutherans rightly see this for what it is, enthusiasm and hence the very original sin itself. Paulson writes, “But a third, influential alternative arose with John Calvin. He retained Augustine’s notion of salvation in two parts, but he rid faith of insecurity by treating Paul’s statement as an ordo salutis. The first step is a predestination-outside of time-that is uncertain, until, secondly, an “inner call” is added that anchors faith’s assurance of salvation. Instead of a preacher with a promise in the form of an external word, Calvin substituted the Holy Spirit-who is understood to give this second, certain gift of an inner call based on the verse: “for those whom he predestined he also called… (Romans 8:30)…Calvin’s reading of Paul affected preaching at its core, it also affected the sacraments, most noticeably the Lord’s Supper…Calvin agreed with Luther that the assurance of faith is certain, and he agreed with Augustine that faith, to be true must persevere to the end. Yet Calvin made an inference, that if a person has faith in the present moment-and comes to know it through the Holy Spirit giving an “inner call”-then that person necessarily will persevere and has therefore necessarily been predestined. He concluded that the preached word of promise is always general (e.g., everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved Rom. 10:13), and therefore it can deceive us, since we can never be sure it belongs to us in particular; however, the inner call cannot deceive us. Calvin then made this into an ordo salutis in which the word must have a pledge, or seal added: “God by his call himself.” But this effectively replaced the promise with the call. Inner call was in time surrounded by various means of identification, but all of them refer to some inner movement of the Holy Spirit accessible through the individual’s experience-the very thing the Lutherans referred to as enthusiastic. Suddenly, the human experience was added to the preaching of Christ, and the table was set for the whole revolution of subjective experience in theology.” Lutheran Theology, p. 220-1, Stephen D. Paulson.

    And history bears this out as one sees puritan Calvinism become increasingly experiential in proportion to predestination taught outside of the Word and Sacrament (how God elects), so much so that many Puritans had to write against the rise of this increasing subjective enthusiasm, notably was Jonathan Edwards “Religious Affections”. And this continues to rise into the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings (the title is telling), and to more and more what we see today be it rank pentecostalism or “how I know I am saved or elect truly”.

    In short its simple and Paulson points this out, once man is pulled away from the promises that are concrete in time and space and very tangible and very given be it Worded preaching, worded water or worded bread and wine – men then must necessarily due to the very bondage of the will (this is why BOW is against Calvin as much as Erasmus/Arminianism) seek out God within some how (=enthusiasm = original sin).

    And a note on promise. Here by faith in a promise is not meant a promise because we await its fulfillment and reality over time to some end point (Calvin), but a promise is by faith alone (sola fide) because it is already given (hence what Lutherans mean on Word and Sacrament actually doing and giving particularly) but it is received/believed by faith alone (nude) because the promise is HIDDEN, against experience (the very thing Calvin/Calvinism invest in).

  • larry

    “might that contribute to the Gnostic tendency we are seeing today, wherein faith is reduced to “knowledge” by way of “information” and the physical realm of creation, incarnation, sacrament, body, world, and vocation are giving way to a less-than-Christian hyperspiritualism?”

    Yes you are nailing down something I’ve constantly spoken about with my wife and a few others to the point of nicknaming the internet “the great gnosis”. In a way its an escape from body into the airiness of mind alone which in turn is represented by ‘avatars’ and the like. It does not escape entirely for it to is creature in the form of electrons and energy, but its definitely being used to lean Gnostic and spiritually (in the ill sense of that term).

    This brings out a KEY point of how other protestants, especially Calvin/Calvinism, gets away from the Word very surreptitiously, its not just in the sacraments in the sign/symbol language, although that brings it out starkly, but the WORD itself. Paulson brings this point out, Calvin’s central error if you will. For Calvin one could trust in the Word (external) because all hear this and many don’t believe, thus the believer could not be assured by the Word ALONE, but assurance (of election and hence salvation and faith) comes by this inner word of the spirit. Luther and Lutherans rightly see this for what it is, enthusiasm and hence the very original sin itself. Paulson writes, “But a third, influential alternative arose with John Calvin. He retained Augustine’s notion of salvation in two parts, but he rid faith of insecurity by treating Paul’s statement as an ordo salutis. The first step is a predestination-outside of time-that is uncertain, until, secondly, an “inner call” is added that anchors faith’s assurance of salvation. Instead of a preacher with a promise in the form of an external word, Calvin substituted the Holy Spirit-who is understood to give this second, certain gift of an inner call based on the verse: “for those whom he predestined he also called… (Romans 8:30)…Calvin’s reading of Paul affected preaching at its core, it also affected the sacraments, most noticeably the Lord’s Supper…Calvin agreed with Luther that the assurance of faith is certain, and he agreed with Augustine that faith, to be true must persevere to the end. Yet Calvin made an inference, that if a person has faith in the present moment-and comes to know it through the Holy Spirit giving an “inner call”-then that person necessarily will persevere and has therefore necessarily been predestined. He concluded that the preached word of promise is always general (e.g., everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved Rom. 10:13), and therefore it can deceive us, since we can never be sure it belongs to us in particular; however, the inner call cannot deceive us. Calvin then made this into an ordo salutis in which the word must have a pledge, or seal added: “God by his call himself.” But this effectively replaced the promise with the call. Inner call was in time surrounded by various means of identification, but all of them refer to some inner movement of the Holy Spirit accessible through the individual’s experience-the very thing the Lutherans referred to as enthusiastic. Suddenly, the human experience was added to the preaching of Christ, and the table was set for the whole revolution of subjective experience in theology.” Lutheran Theology, p. 220-1, Stephen D. Paulson.

    And history bears this out as one sees puritan Calvinism become increasingly experiential in proportion to predestination taught outside of the Word and Sacrament (how God elects), so much so that many Puritans had to write against the rise of this increasing subjective enthusiasm, notably was Jonathan Edwards “Religious Affections”. And this continues to rise into the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings (the title is telling), and to more and more what we see today be it rank pentecostalism or “how I know I am saved or elect truly”.

    In short its simple and Paulson points this out, once man is pulled away from the promises that are concrete in time and space and very tangible and very given be it Worded preaching, worded water or worded bread and wine – men then must necessarily due to the very bondage of the will (this is why BOW is against Calvin as much as Erasmus/Arminianism) seek out God within some how (=enthusiasm = original sin).

    And a note on promise. Here by faith in a promise is not meant a promise because we await its fulfillment and reality over time to some end point (Calvin), but a promise is by faith alone (sola fide) because it is already given (hence what Lutherans mean on Word and Sacrament actually doing and giving particularly) but it is received/believed by faith alone (nude) because the promise is HIDDEN, against experience (the very thing Calvin/Calvinism invest in).

  • larry

    This “For Calvin one could trust in the Word (external) because all hear this and many don’t believe”

    Should read:

    “For Calvin one could NOT trust in the Word (external) because all hear this and many don’t believe”

  • larry

    This “For Calvin one could trust in the Word (external) because all hear this and many don’t believe”

    Should read:

    “For Calvin one could NOT trust in the Word (external) because all hear this and many don’t believe”

  • Booklover

    Larry, that is very interesting. I will have to look up that book on Lutheran theology.

    What is BOW?

  • Booklover

    Larry, that is very interesting. I will have to look up that book on Lutheran theology.

    What is BOW?

  • Pete

    larry @3 says, ” In a way its an escape from body into the airiness of mind alone which in turn is represented by ‘avatars’ and the like. It does not escape entirely for it to is creature in the form of electrons and energy, but its definitely being used to lean Gnostic and spiritually (in the ill sense of that term).”

    Let me preface this by saying that, on this blog, I am a huge larry fan – your comments are some of the best on here. I’m not with you on this one. A rose is a rose is a rose… I’m excited about electronic readers. It strikes me as being a technological advance on the order of (though not quite as revolutionary) as Gutenburg’s invention of printing. In terms of the dissemination of God’s Word, this can only be a good thing.

  • Pete

    larry @3 says, ” In a way its an escape from body into the airiness of mind alone which in turn is represented by ‘avatars’ and the like. It does not escape entirely for it to is creature in the form of electrons and energy, but its definitely being used to lean Gnostic and spiritually (in the ill sense of that term).”

    Let me preface this by saying that, on this blog, I am a huge larry fan – your comments are some of the best on here. I’m not with you on this one. A rose is a rose is a rose… I’m excited about electronic readers. It strikes me as being a technological advance on the order of (though not quite as revolutionary) as Gutenburg’s invention of printing. In terms of the dissemination of God’s Word, this can only be a good thing.

  • Pete

    Dennis @2

    Get yourself the “Lawnmower” app – you’ll love it.

  • Pete

    Dennis @2

    Get yourself the “Lawnmower” app – you’ll love it.

  • Dan Kempin

    It seems that the author’s point of struggle is not so much with the Word of God, but with the effect changing technology has on culture. I have heard people grapple with this in terms of church architecture. Churches used to be built to reflect intergenertional permanence. Yet in today’s western society, children grow up and move away, and eventually everone leaves the neighborhood. Big, beautiful stone churches sit abandoned, because that’s not how we live anymore.

    So also the printing and binding of books was seen as a quasi-permanent way of “codifying” (to put in a codex) knowledge. And while the Word of God is certainly permanent, does the printed and bound format still convey the sense of authoritative knowledge? In many ways, the bound book is perceived by our culture as that which is already in the process of being out of date. Sure, we can order the latest book by current politician #1, but we have already discussed it in other forums before it is released. And by the time the hard copy arrives, the information scene is already twittering about what is in politician #2′s upcoming book. We still use it, and may even prefer it, but no longer see it as the cutting edge for conveying information.

    Or at least consider that the family bible was the “iphone” of its day, cutting families off from dependency on the communal Word in a way that was only possible through printing technology. As an aside, I wonder if any preachers or churchmen at the time thought this was a detriment.

    All of which is to say that the black bound king James version is itself a snapshot of technology. Perhaps, as Dr. Veith hints, we should view the power of this technology as a way to access the ancient scrolls on which God’s eternal Word was first recorded.

  • Dan Kempin

    It seems that the author’s point of struggle is not so much with the Word of God, but with the effect changing technology has on culture. I have heard people grapple with this in terms of church architecture. Churches used to be built to reflect intergenertional permanence. Yet in today’s western society, children grow up and move away, and eventually everone leaves the neighborhood. Big, beautiful stone churches sit abandoned, because that’s not how we live anymore.

    So also the printing and binding of books was seen as a quasi-permanent way of “codifying” (to put in a codex) knowledge. And while the Word of God is certainly permanent, does the printed and bound format still convey the sense of authoritative knowledge? In many ways, the bound book is perceived by our culture as that which is already in the process of being out of date. Sure, we can order the latest book by current politician #1, but we have already discussed it in other forums before it is released. And by the time the hard copy arrives, the information scene is already twittering about what is in politician #2′s upcoming book. We still use it, and may even prefer it, but no longer see it as the cutting edge for conveying information.

    Or at least consider that the family bible was the “iphone” of its day, cutting families off from dependency on the communal Word in a way that was only possible through printing technology. As an aside, I wonder if any preachers or churchmen at the time thought this was a detriment.

    All of which is to say that the black bound king James version is itself a snapshot of technology. Perhaps, as Dr. Veith hints, we should view the power of this technology as a way to access the ancient scrolls on which God’s eternal Word was first recorded.

  • Dan Kempin

    And since I haven’t had a good quibble in a while, I’m not sure that “Gnostic” is the best descriptor for the effect of the information stream. It seems to me that the saturation of information leads us rather to de-value knowledge.

  • Dan Kempin

    And since I haven’t had a good quibble in a while, I’m not sure that “Gnostic” is the best descriptor for the effect of the information stream. It seems to me that the saturation of information leads us rather to de-value knowledge.

  • Morgan

    “Or will reading it online lead to taking it in just short bits and pieces, in accord with much online reading, as opposed to extensive, sustained reading and study?”

    Nah, we were already there without iWhatevers. “Extensive, sustained reading and study” of just about anything seems to be declining, to my eyes. But this is more from our collective ADD, and not I think, based on the media we’re using. I think.

    But I do trust in the absolute and extreme power of God’s word. If it could convict and teach and shape us as someone spoke it aloud in ancient times, or could do the same from illuminated vellum, it’s still powerful via the pixel. And that gives me a lot of hope.

  • Morgan

    “Or will reading it online lead to taking it in just short bits and pieces, in accord with much online reading, as opposed to extensive, sustained reading and study?”

    Nah, we were already there without iWhatevers. “Extensive, sustained reading and study” of just about anything seems to be declining, to my eyes. But this is more from our collective ADD, and not I think, based on the media we’re using. I think.

    But I do trust in the absolute and extreme power of God’s word. If it could convict and teach and shape us as someone spoke it aloud in ancient times, or could do the same from illuminated vellum, it’s still powerful via the pixel. And that gives me a lot of hope.

  • Tom Hering

    For us today, the word “Bible” denotes an experience as much as an object, i.e., reading silently to oneself.

    For most Christians throughout history, the Bible has been a spoken and heard thing – in the church and in the family. The Bible was read aloud to others, to one another, and to oneselfas was any other book. It was only with the mass production of cheap and portable books in the 19th century that reading silently to oneself became common. Because it became possible (easier, less risky) to take books out to a greater number of public places in order to read them, it became a mark of breeding and politeness to read them silently to oneself. Only the lower classes (which of course equaled the less intelligent classes) continued to read aloud to themselves.

    Phones, desktops, laptops, tablets, and e-readers all have weight, and a feel to them, and a smell about them – just like bound books do. They all involve a physical interaction – just like bound books do. For these reasons, and because they’re read silently, I think electronic Bible texts signal less of a change in the physicality of the Word than the mass production of cheap and portable, printed and bound Bibles did. When it was still common for people to read aloud to themselves, reading the Word involved the lungs, tongue, lips, and ears. Reading the Word was the physical act of speaking the Word – and so, too, it was a strong connection to what God Himself had always done from the beginning.

  • Tom Hering

    For us today, the word “Bible” denotes an experience as much as an object, i.e., reading silently to oneself.

    For most Christians throughout history, the Bible has been a spoken and heard thing – in the church and in the family. The Bible was read aloud to others, to one another, and to oneselfas was any other book. It was only with the mass production of cheap and portable books in the 19th century that reading silently to oneself became common. Because it became possible (easier, less risky) to take books out to a greater number of public places in order to read them, it became a mark of breeding and politeness to read them silently to oneself. Only the lower classes (which of course equaled the less intelligent classes) continued to read aloud to themselves.

    Phones, desktops, laptops, tablets, and e-readers all have weight, and a feel to them, and a smell about them – just like bound books do. They all involve a physical interaction – just like bound books do. For these reasons, and because they’re read silently, I think electronic Bible texts signal less of a change in the physicality of the Word than the mass production of cheap and portable, printed and bound Bibles did. When it was still common for people to read aloud to themselves, reading the Word involved the lungs, tongue, lips, and ears. Reading the Word was the physical act of speaking the Word – and so, too, it was a strong connection to what God Himself had always done from the beginning.

  • Joe

    Tom – that is a very interesting take on the topic. Thanks for that.

    We know that “faith comes by hearing.” I wonder if a return to reading aloud, even alone, might be a good practice.

  • Joe

    Tom – that is a very interesting take on the topic. Thanks for that.

    We know that “faith comes by hearing.” I wonder if a return to reading aloud, even alone, might be a good practice.

  • Tom Hering

    Joe @ 12, I think it would indeed be a good practice to revive. Certainly an enjoyable one. You just have to overcome the idea that reading aloud to yourself is a sign of low intelligence. Which is not so easy to do if you think others might overhear you! :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Joe @ 12, I think it would indeed be a good practice to revive. Certainly an enjoyable one. You just have to overcome the idea that reading aloud to yourself is a sign of low intelligence. Which is not so easy to do if you think others might overhear you! :-D

  • Tom Hering

    If anyone does overhear you, just tell them you’re reading poetry. Reading poetry aloud to oneself has remained an acceptable thing to do. Because it can be explained as “wanting to hear the music of the words.” :-D

  • Tom Hering

    If anyone does overhear you, just tell them you’re reading poetry. Reading poetry aloud to oneself has remained an acceptable thing to do. Because it can be explained as “wanting to hear the music of the words.” :-D

  • JonSLC

    Dan @ 8

    Coincidentally, I just came across an article on book “technology”: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/christianity-and-the-future-of-the-book

    The article discusses how people’s view of the Bible changed when the technology changed from scrolls to codex: the author asserts that people began viewing the whole Bible as a unit, rather than as a collection of individual books. But now, with electronic Bibles, you can click on the book of the Bible you’d like to read … a throwback to the days of each scroll being stored in its own niche? The author also discusses the possible impact of people encountering the Bible only via selected verses projected onto a screen. Anyway, I hadn’t considered the ramifications of the Bible’s delivery technology on our view of the Scriptures. Not sure I agree with all the author’s assessments, but he is thought-provoking.

  • JonSLC

    Dan @ 8

    Coincidentally, I just came across an article on book “technology”: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/christianity-and-the-future-of-the-book

    The article discusses how people’s view of the Bible changed when the technology changed from scrolls to codex: the author asserts that people began viewing the whole Bible as a unit, rather than as a collection of individual books. But now, with electronic Bibles, you can click on the book of the Bible you’d like to read … a throwback to the days of each scroll being stored in its own niche? The author also discusses the possible impact of people encountering the Bible only via selected verses projected onto a screen. Anyway, I hadn’t considered the ramifications of the Bible’s delivery technology on our view of the Scriptures. Not sure I agree with all the author’s assessments, but he is thought-provoking.

  • DonS

    Other Christians believe in the power of God’s Word, but deny that water, bread, and wine, when joined to God’s Word, can have any more than a symbolic significance. After all, how can the physical convey what is spiritual?

    Straw man alert!! All Christians believe that the physical can convey what is spiritual. We all believe in the physical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, after all. Change “deny” to “don’t believe” and “can have” to “has”, then delete the last sentence and you will be much closer to accurately representing the views of the vast majority of non-sacramental Christians.

    Fairness in representing the views of others is an important factor in having a good discussion. Sometimes I learn that the hard way.

  • DonS

    Other Christians believe in the power of God’s Word, but deny that water, bread, and wine, when joined to God’s Word, can have any more than a symbolic significance. After all, how can the physical convey what is spiritual?

    Straw man alert!! All Christians believe that the physical can convey what is spiritual. We all believe in the physical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, after all. Change “deny” to “don’t believe” and “can have” to “has”, then delete the last sentence and you will be much closer to accurately representing the views of the vast majority of non-sacramental Christians.

    Fairness in representing the views of others is an important factor in having a good discussion. Sometimes I learn that the hard way.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Ah, you know, these topics always makes me giggle. Because the old ways are better – new fangled technology is always a tool or the gno.. I mean devil.

    Pads? No-no-no-no!

    It must be printed on a page, paper & ink?

    Printed? Oh no, you child of …, handcopied is the only thing!

    Whaddya mean? Original scrolls only, baby?

    No! I want stone tablets, with words craved!

    Absolutely not, hieroglyphs!

    You evil modernist, cave paintings is the only medium for man.

    Witch! Mediums are evil!

    Spoken word!

    No, chanted!

    No spoken!

    Die heretic, die!……..

    How postmodernist, this romantic “sehnsucht”!

    I highly recommend you all take a an hour or 2 to watch the recently released “Midnight in Paris”.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Ah, you know, these topics always makes me giggle. Because the old ways are better – new fangled technology is always a tool or the gno.. I mean devil.

    Pads? No-no-no-no!

    It must be printed on a page, paper & ink?

    Printed? Oh no, you child of …, handcopied is the only thing!

    Whaddya mean? Original scrolls only, baby?

    No! I want stone tablets, with words craved!

    Absolutely not, hieroglyphs!

    You evil modernist, cave paintings is the only medium for man.

    Witch! Mediums are evil!

    Spoken word!

    No, chanted!

    No spoken!

    Die heretic, die!……..

    How postmodernist, this romantic “sehnsucht”!

    I highly recommend you all take a an hour or 2 to watch the recently released “Midnight in Paris”.

  • Tom Hering

    Klasie @ 17, haven’t you studied your fellow countryman, Marshall McLuhan? Every form of progress entails a loss as well as a gain.

  • Tom Hering

    Klasie @ 17, haven’t you studied your fellow countryman, Marshall McLuhan? Every form of progress entails a loss as well as a gain.

  • Jonathan

    DonS, you must know your sacrament-free CavChap theology has few fans here. :(

  • Jonathan

    DonS, you must know your sacrament-free CavChap theology has few fans here. :(

  • DonS

    Well, Jonathan, I guess I don’t see how your comment is relevant. My sole point was that, regardless of whether you are a “fan” of the beliefs of another, you still have an obligation to present them fairly and accurately, to the best of your knowledge and ability, if you are trying to engender a fairminded and illuminating discussion.

    Now, if you just want to speak to the echo chamber, as you apparently do, then that is an option as well. But, I think Dr. Veith takes a higher road than you apparently desire to do.

  • DonS

    Well, Jonathan, I guess I don’t see how your comment is relevant. My sole point was that, regardless of whether you are a “fan” of the beliefs of another, you still have an obligation to present them fairly and accurately, to the best of your knowledge and ability, if you are trying to engender a fairminded and illuminating discussion.

    Now, if you just want to speak to the echo chamber, as you apparently do, then that is an option as well. But, I think Dr. Veith takes a higher road than you apparently desire to do.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Tom, true, but that point is often over emphasised. Meanwhile, I’l await Larry’s response by carrier-pigeon. Any other method would be hypocritical, methinks :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Tom, true, but that point is often over emphasised. Meanwhile, I’l await Larry’s response by carrier-pigeon. Any other method would be hypocritical, methinks :)

  • Dennis Peskey

    Klaasie (#17) How long does an image from your I-Pad remain in your focus when you put the I-Pad down. Now, compare that to a book you which is always booted up, ready to go, something you can put down, pause and meditate upon, come back ten minutes later and reflect somemore. The book doesn’t go to sleep or get suddenly distracted with a screen saver – it patiently waits for your return, information at the ready.

    Now, how long do you remember a tune (not the lyrics necessarily, but the music) after the song is over. Chances are all someone needs do is hum a note or two and you can recall the entire song. So it is with chanting the liturgy; if you’re exposed to the chanted liturgy for a period of time, the Divine Service flows with a grace and elegance lacking in the spoken tongue. We just finished today at CTS Symposium with choral Vespers; we began the morning with a choral Matins service.

    The point is Lutherans love to sing; Lutherans love to read Holy Scripture. But what would you think if your Pastor mounted the Lectern with his lap-top in tow, placed it on the Lectern (or Pulpit) opened the lap-top and began to read Holy Scripture. To me, I would consider this heretical although I fully realize he would be reading from an LC-MS approved lectionary or ESV bible. Perhaps I’m just a walking fossil lacking sufficient minerals. Somehow I just can not envision Moses ascending Mt. Sinai with his lap-top to get the latest Ten Commandment app from the Lord. Ain’t gonna happen – at least not until I die I pray.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Klaasie (#17) How long does an image from your I-Pad remain in your focus when you put the I-Pad down. Now, compare that to a book you which is always booted up, ready to go, something you can put down, pause and meditate upon, come back ten minutes later and reflect somemore. The book doesn’t go to sleep or get suddenly distracted with a screen saver – it patiently waits for your return, information at the ready.

    Now, how long do you remember a tune (not the lyrics necessarily, but the music) after the song is over. Chances are all someone needs do is hum a note or two and you can recall the entire song. So it is with chanting the liturgy; if you’re exposed to the chanted liturgy for a period of time, the Divine Service flows with a grace and elegance lacking in the spoken tongue. We just finished today at CTS Symposium with choral Vespers; we began the morning with a choral Matins service.

    The point is Lutherans love to sing; Lutherans love to read Holy Scripture. But what would you think if your Pastor mounted the Lectern with his lap-top in tow, placed it on the Lectern (or Pulpit) opened the lap-top and began to read Holy Scripture. To me, I would consider this heretical although I fully realize he would be reading from an LC-MS approved lectionary or ESV bible. Perhaps I’m just a walking fossil lacking sufficient minerals. Somehow I just can not envision Moses ascending Mt. Sinai with his lap-top to get the latest Ten Commandment app from the Lord. Ain’t gonna happen – at least not until I die I pray.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Dennis, your argument says as much about the subject as it says about you, your cultural milieu etc. Coming from a background where there was a lot of interaction between peoples from radically different cultural and technological backgrounds, the futulity of such arguments became apparent quite rapidly, because they attempt to “absolutise” that which is entirely relative.

    Ironically though, I am not, for instance, a supporter of the use of screens in the sanctuary – our own church is the last Lutheran one in the city not have one. But the reason is not because they are “gnostic” or any such frankly stupid lineof reasoning. It is just because they are tools easily misused, and envariably so. They take the attention away fromthe speaker (preacher). But if the preacher had a pad of some sort with him on the lectern, would it really make a difference? I think the argument is more psychological than logical.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Dennis, your argument says as much about the subject as it says about you, your cultural milieu etc. Coming from a background where there was a lot of interaction between peoples from radically different cultural and technological backgrounds, the futulity of such arguments became apparent quite rapidly, because they attempt to “absolutise” that which is entirely relative.

    Ironically though, I am not, for instance, a supporter of the use of screens in the sanctuary – our own church is the last Lutheran one in the city not have one. But the reason is not because they are “gnostic” or any such frankly stupid lineof reasoning. It is just because they are tools easily misused, and envariably so. They take the attention away fromthe speaker (preacher). But if the preacher had a pad of some sort with him on the lectern, would it really make a difference? I think the argument is more psychological than logical.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    But really Larry, must every single damn subject imaginable be turned into an intermanable tirade, albeit a dry, long winded, put-you-to-sleep one, against them evil Calvinists and their wrong view of the Sacraments?

    Are you trying to convince yourself or what?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    But really Larry, must every single damn subject imaginable be turned into an intermanable tirade, albeit a dry, long winded, put-you-to-sleep one, against them evil Calvinists and their wrong view of the Sacraments?

    Are you trying to convince yourself or what?

  • trotk

    Klasie, thanks for stating what I have been feeling for a long time. Larry, I find myself growing sympathetic to Calvinists because of your desire to use every topic to call them heretics. It feels like a presidential debate, where no matter the question, the candidate has a prepared attack to spout. My guess is that Jesus views Calvinists far more sympathetically than you do.

  • trotk

    Klasie, thanks for stating what I have been feeling for a long time. Larry, I find myself growing sympathetic to Calvinists because of your desire to use every topic to call them heretics. It feels like a presidential debate, where no matter the question, the candidate has a prepared attack to spout. My guess is that Jesus views Calvinists far more sympathetically than you do.

  • Dust

    Klasie…honestly, Dennis tried to address your points in a rather genteel manner, it would be better if you returned the favor in a more gracious and generous manner! Technologies may have changed over the years, but not good manners :)

    Cheers!

  • Dust

    Klasie…honestly, Dennis tried to address your points in a rather genteel manner, it would be better if you returned the favor in a more gracious and generous manner! Technologies may have changed over the years, but not good manners :)

    Cheers!

  • Helen K.

    Ah, Dennis @2 and the rest of your comments. In all fairness I haven’t read through everything here (it’s late) but I have to say that your views are mine. And not only the Word of God (the bible) but all books in print.

    Yes, I know I’m an old fogey and fossil, but a happy one. I love the feel of a book in my hands and seeing the word printed on real paper. I will admit I don’t have an I-Pad, Kindle or any of that and probably never will. My 10 year old computer is it…so far. I too, have many different versions of the Bible and can look up a reference in any of them faster than I can attempt it online. And as you say, the verses don’t “run away”. No clicking required. Just so you know you’re not alone. (:

    Another point, thank God for no big screens in the lovely LCMS congregation we recently became a part of. The previous 15 years of my life, the churches I attended didn’t use a traditional hymnal. And I really missed that. I don’t miss the “praise band” however! (smile)

  • Helen K.

    Ah, Dennis @2 and the rest of your comments. In all fairness I haven’t read through everything here (it’s late) but I have to say that your views are mine. And not only the Word of God (the bible) but all books in print.

    Yes, I know I’m an old fogey and fossil, but a happy one. I love the feel of a book in my hands and seeing the word printed on real paper. I will admit I don’t have an I-Pad, Kindle or any of that and probably never will. My 10 year old computer is it…so far. I too, have many different versions of the Bible and can look up a reference in any of them faster than I can attempt it online. And as you say, the verses don’t “run away”. No clicking required. Just so you know you’re not alone. (:

    Another point, thank God for no big screens in the lovely LCMS congregation we recently became a part of. The previous 15 years of my life, the churches I attended didn’t use a traditional hymnal. And I really missed that. I don’t miss the “praise band” however! (smile)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t think there’s any question about whether the medium through which we experience God’s Word affects the way we experience it — it does, and the original article hints at some of that. But I do think the accusations of digital=Gnosticism seem a bit stretched.

    I mean, maybe I’m missing something, but aren’t books equally capable of reducing faith to “‘knowledge’ by way of ‘information’”? What makes anyone think that digital formats accelerate or accentuate this process?

    Full disclosure: I got a Nook (Touch) e-reader for Christmas this year. It’s an e-ink reader, like your basic Kindle, which was one of the reasons I got it instead of a tablet-style device. I enjoy both the (weeks-long) battery life and the paper-esque reading experience over a tablet. Plus, I already have an iPhone.

    Anyhow, I have yet to pay any money for a digital book for it, but among several free digital titles I’ve found so far was the ESV Bible from Crossway (so thanks to them for making that free!). The most immediate effect I’ve noticed is that, well, I’m reading my Bible more than I used to, because the device is always in my satchel. I’ll admit to carrying it around more for pleasure reading, but if I realize I haven’t read the Bible in a while, it’s not hard to switch over to that instead. And, of course, one reason I always carry my Nook with me is because it’s small and convenient. Always having a Bible and a fiction book in my satchel (I ride the bus to work) might get to be a bit much.

    In the short while I’ve been reading it, I have noticed it shaping my reading. There’s not a lot of visual context, because the screen is small (the size of a mass-market paperback) and there’s only one “page”, so that makes reading a bit harder. Given the way I read the Bible, I often have to page back and forth on the device, whereas with a physical Bible, I could probably just dart my eyes back and forth rapidly. That’s a minus.

    One surprising positive, though, is the lack of “study” materials. Like many a modern Christian, my primary Bible has been a “study Bible” for quite some time now — I guess it’s the “serious” Bible of choice, my latest being CPH’s Lutheran Study Bible. But all those study notes cry out to be read, often dwarfing the actual text of the Bible, and it makes for slow, disjointed reading. Since the free ESV version only comes with the basic ESV footnotes (which have to be clicked on, much like a link on a webpage, to be read), the text lends itself more to straight reading-through. That’s probably a plus. Sometimes you need study notes to explain a difficult passage (though more often than not, the study notes answer questions I don’t have, while failing to answer the questions I do), but they can become a crutch, or worse.

    Not sure what Veith meant by the possibility of returning to the “continuous unfolding text of the ancient scrolls”, though. In both the e-reader and physical versions, chapters don’t start on new pages, so the flow is about the same.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I don’t think there’s any question about whether the medium through which we experience God’s Word affects the way we experience it — it does, and the original article hints at some of that. But I do think the accusations of digital=Gnosticism seem a bit stretched.

    I mean, maybe I’m missing something, but aren’t books equally capable of reducing faith to “‘knowledge’ by way of ‘information’”? What makes anyone think that digital formats accelerate or accentuate this process?

    Full disclosure: I got a Nook (Touch) e-reader for Christmas this year. It’s an e-ink reader, like your basic Kindle, which was one of the reasons I got it instead of a tablet-style device. I enjoy both the (weeks-long) battery life and the paper-esque reading experience over a tablet. Plus, I already have an iPhone.

    Anyhow, I have yet to pay any money for a digital book for it, but among several free digital titles I’ve found so far was the ESV Bible from Crossway (so thanks to them for making that free!). The most immediate effect I’ve noticed is that, well, I’m reading my Bible more than I used to, because the device is always in my satchel. I’ll admit to carrying it around more for pleasure reading, but if I realize I haven’t read the Bible in a while, it’s not hard to switch over to that instead. And, of course, one reason I always carry my Nook with me is because it’s small and convenient. Always having a Bible and a fiction book in my satchel (I ride the bus to work) might get to be a bit much.

    In the short while I’ve been reading it, I have noticed it shaping my reading. There’s not a lot of visual context, because the screen is small (the size of a mass-market paperback) and there’s only one “page”, so that makes reading a bit harder. Given the way I read the Bible, I often have to page back and forth on the device, whereas with a physical Bible, I could probably just dart my eyes back and forth rapidly. That’s a minus.

    One surprising positive, though, is the lack of “study” materials. Like many a modern Christian, my primary Bible has been a “study Bible” for quite some time now — I guess it’s the “serious” Bible of choice, my latest being CPH’s Lutheran Study Bible. But all those study notes cry out to be read, often dwarfing the actual text of the Bible, and it makes for slow, disjointed reading. Since the free ESV version only comes with the basic ESV footnotes (which have to be clicked on, much like a link on a webpage, to be read), the text lends itself more to straight reading-through. That’s probably a plus. Sometimes you need study notes to explain a difficult passage (though more often than not, the study notes answer questions I don’t have, while failing to answer the questions I do), but they can become a crutch, or worse.

    Not sure what Veith meant by the possibility of returning to the “continuous unfolding text of the ancient scrolls”, though. In both the e-reader and physical versions, chapters don’t start on new pages, so the flow is about the same.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan Kempin said (@9):

    It seems to me that the saturation of information leads us rather to de-value knowledge.

    Really? In my experience, it has us clamoring ever more for true authority. Isn’t that why we use Google, and what Google works so hard at providing — not just any answer, but the best one?

    Or how about yesterday’s Wikipedia blackout? One can certainly argue about the value of Wikipedia’s knowledge, about its authority, but it’s clear that when it sort of went away, many people missed it very much and weren’t quite sure where to find the answers to their questions, even though the overwhelming majority of the Internet remained accessible to them. In a world where there’s too much information, we turn ever more to trusted sources, it would seem.

    But perhaps I’m missing your point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan Kempin said (@9):

    It seems to me that the saturation of information leads us rather to de-value knowledge.

    Really? In my experience, it has us clamoring ever more for true authority. Isn’t that why we use Google, and what Google works so hard at providing — not just any answer, but the best one?

    Or how about yesterday’s Wikipedia blackout? One can certainly argue about the value of Wikipedia’s knowledge, about its authority, but it’s clear that when it sort of went away, many people missed it very much and weren’t quite sure where to find the answers to their questions, even though the overwhelming majority of the Internet remained accessible to them. In a world where there’s too much information, we turn ever more to trusted sources, it would seem.

    But perhaps I’m missing your point.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dennis Peskey said (@22):

    Somehow I just can not envision Moses ascending Mt. Sinai with his lap-top to get the latest Ten Commandment app from the Lord.

    Okay, but let’s not also pretend that Moses came down from said mountain with a bonded-leather-clad volume of bound onion-skin paper, hmm? Which is to say, the printed Bible you prefer still represents a massive technology shift when compared to stone tablets. Oh, and it’s not the “written word” you prefer, as you said (@2). It’s the printed word. The latter has only been around for a few centuries, while the former is much older (and much harder to use).

    I say all this lovingly as a man who mows all his lawn with a reel mower. Reel mowers for real men, I say.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dennis Peskey said (@22):

    Somehow I just can not envision Moses ascending Mt. Sinai with his lap-top to get the latest Ten Commandment app from the Lord.

    Okay, but let’s not also pretend that Moses came down from said mountain with a bonded-leather-clad volume of bound onion-skin paper, hmm? Which is to say, the printed Bible you prefer still represents a massive technology shift when compared to stone tablets. Oh, and it’s not the “written word” you prefer, as you said (@2). It’s the printed word. The latter has only been around for a few centuries, while the former is much older (and much harder to use).

    I say all this lovingly as a man who mows all his lawn with a reel mower. Reel mowers for real men, I say.

  • Helen K.

    Enjoyed your views, tODD. I almost purchased the ESV Lutheran Study Bible put out by Concordia in 2009. Decided I’d wait awhile after asking the pastor to show me his. All those notes….so I’m thinking the basic ESV may be a better choice, not that I’m Bible poor.

    Was interested in hearing about your new Nook. Our local library is promoting it somewhat. Some seem to like it better than Kindle but I am happy about your little blurb on it. Always like reading your comments.
    Are you snowed in? Looked at pictures of Olympia, WA (my former hometown) and all the weather related items. I never minded driving in snow much but the ice got to me. And I used to commute on I-5. Lots of fun at times.

  • Helen K.

    Enjoyed your views, tODD. I almost purchased the ESV Lutheran Study Bible put out by Concordia in 2009. Decided I’d wait awhile after asking the pastor to show me his. All those notes….so I’m thinking the basic ESV may be a better choice, not that I’m Bible poor.

    Was interested in hearing about your new Nook. Our local library is promoting it somewhat. Some seem to like it better than Kindle but I am happy about your little blurb on it. Always like reading your comments.
    Are you snowed in? Looked at pictures of Olympia, WA (my former hometown) and all the weather related items. I never minded driving in snow much but the ice got to me. And I used to commute on I-5. Lots of fun at times.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Dust, if you indicate to me where I employed bad manners in my reply to Dennis, I’ll be happy to apologise.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Dust, if you indicate to me where I employed bad manners in my reply to Dennis, I’ll be happy to apologise.

  • larry

    Pete,

    Don’t hear me wrong & thanks for allow me to be more clear. I agree with you and am a big fan of electronic readers. My point was how it can be used to promote this Gnostic disconnect with reality. I’m from video game generation and still love playing them. But this is well observed. It does lead, for some/many, to this reality disconnect and promotes this “ideal” gnosis. It’s not really the fault of the technology but the fault of sinners, just as with any other created thing (e.g. beer/wine = good creatures, but sin abuses, same with religion).

    It’s the abuse and this can happen, as we well see with Calvinism which uses “the Word” and “sacraments” yet denies them and turns them into de facto Gnostic forms whereby the spirit must fly high into the heavens etc… That’s why I went to great lengths to spell this out and quoted Paulson, the issue is not “the internet” itself anymore than books. It’s not a “lets do away with this media” or books or some other such nonsense as for example Klasie down further assembles his strawman. Rather how it can be used to create and further the “ideal” where gnosticism starts (aka original sin) to escape the creatures. We find this issue similar in language for example Greek and Latin and the concepts of the “nominative case” and the subsequent declensions whereby the nominative is the “ideal” of the thing spoken and declinations are “declining away from” it. This is the root of, for example Platonic thought (which is a form of gnosticism). The internet is just another way this can occur, in and of itself there’s nothing wrong with it but people get “into themselves” via it (the abuse) and create for themselves an atmosphere of they think is real and within it they try to create the “ideal” in their mind that doesn’t really exist. Thus, one gets away from creatures more and sense perception.

    So its not a knock against the internet but the abuse that sinful man can make of it. This is the original point. It’s not the creature that is the cause but the sinner. Just like beer, women and the moon are not evil creatures to blame for their abuse but fallen man. As Luther said “men can go wrong with beer, women and the sun, shall we eliminate them?” The answer expected is “NO” but recognize the real cause and effect. Same with the internet or any creature for that matter.

    I hope that helps.

    Booklover,

    You will LOVE that book I highly recommend it. “BOW” is my shorthand for Luther’s “Bondage of the Will”.
    Klasie,

    See response to Pete.

  • larry

    Pete,

    Don’t hear me wrong & thanks for allow me to be more clear. I agree with you and am a big fan of electronic readers. My point was how it can be used to promote this Gnostic disconnect with reality. I’m from video game generation and still love playing them. But this is well observed. It does lead, for some/many, to this reality disconnect and promotes this “ideal” gnosis. It’s not really the fault of the technology but the fault of sinners, just as with any other created thing (e.g. beer/wine = good creatures, but sin abuses, same with religion).

    It’s the abuse and this can happen, as we well see with Calvinism which uses “the Word” and “sacraments” yet denies them and turns them into de facto Gnostic forms whereby the spirit must fly high into the heavens etc… That’s why I went to great lengths to spell this out and quoted Paulson, the issue is not “the internet” itself anymore than books. It’s not a “lets do away with this media” or books or some other such nonsense as for example Klasie down further assembles his strawman. Rather how it can be used to create and further the “ideal” where gnosticism starts (aka original sin) to escape the creatures. We find this issue similar in language for example Greek and Latin and the concepts of the “nominative case” and the subsequent declensions whereby the nominative is the “ideal” of the thing spoken and declinations are “declining away from” it. This is the root of, for example Platonic thought (which is a form of gnosticism). The internet is just another way this can occur, in and of itself there’s nothing wrong with it but people get “into themselves” via it (the abuse) and create for themselves an atmosphere of they think is real and within it they try to create the “ideal” in their mind that doesn’t really exist. Thus, one gets away from creatures more and sense perception.

    So its not a knock against the internet but the abuse that sinful man can make of it. This is the original point. It’s not the creature that is the cause but the sinner. Just like beer, women and the moon are not evil creatures to blame for their abuse but fallen man. As Luther said “men can go wrong with beer, women and the sun, shall we eliminate them?” The answer expected is “NO” but recognize the real cause and effect. Same with the internet or any creature for that matter.

    I hope that helps.

    Booklover,

    You will LOVE that book I highly recommend it. “BOW” is my shorthand for Luther’s “Bondage of the Will”.
    Klasie,

    See response to Pete.

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #29,

    Perhaps missed my point a bit. What I meant to say is that gnosticism is about the valuing and pursuit of particular knowledge, not just knowledge in general. (And then keeping that valued knowledge a carefully guarded secret.)

    The current information stream allows us to access almost any particular knowledge easily, and thus leads toward the tendency to despise the knowledge because it is so easily attained. For example, I love riddles. If I find a really good one, though, most people will just google the answer. As a result, they don’t really appreciate the riddle. And to a large degree, myself included, we don’t really appreciate the knowledge that we can so easily attain. That’s what I meant by “de-value knowledge.”

    Interesting that so many people were bothered by the loss of Wikipedia. I don’t use it much, but it rather baffles me that anyone with access to the internet would be stymied by the loss of one source.

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #29,

    Perhaps missed my point a bit. What I meant to say is that gnosticism is about the valuing and pursuit of particular knowledge, not just knowledge in general. (And then keeping that valued knowledge a carefully guarded secret.)

    The current information stream allows us to access almost any particular knowledge easily, and thus leads toward the tendency to despise the knowledge because it is so easily attained. For example, I love riddles. If I find a really good one, though, most people will just google the answer. As a result, they don’t really appreciate the riddle. And to a large degree, myself included, we don’t really appreciate the knowledge that we can so easily attain. That’s what I meant by “de-value knowledge.”

    Interesting that so many people were bothered by the loss of Wikipedia. I don’t use it much, but it rather baffles me that anyone with access to the internet would be stymied by the loss of one source.

  • Dust

    Klasie…you’re right, my mistake and my apology, sorry about that mate :)

    cheers!

  • Dust

    Klasie…you’re right, my mistake and my apology, sorry about that mate :)

    cheers!

  • Dennis Peskey

    Klasie – I apologize for not responding earlier, but today was our last at CTS Symposium. As such, after Vespers and a reception prior to the Seminary Banquet, I returned to the motel to pack and get ready to ship out which meant the laptop ceased to function (yet another argument against electronic Bibles?). Having outrun the snow storm, I successfully navigated I-69 from Ft. Wayne, IN to St. Johns, MI and am now where I belong once again.

    First, let me assure you I took no umbrage at any of your remarks. The one advantage of age is thick skin; personnal affronts bead off like a well-waxed pickup – if you want to ruffel my fur, try heresy. That will generate a quick response – but you didn’t and life goes on.

    My first response to Dr. Veith’s posting was written (ok, tODD – typed) with a happy smile on my face. Being at the Seminary, engaged in exegetical study, I noted to my friend (now an ordained LC-MS pastor) that I needed a bible in the worst way. So, on Tuesday when the bookstore openned up, I purchased a new “pocket” edition ESV (and, yes tODD, the edged are gold-lined, leather bound died a deep forest green) measuring 6×4 inches. This was perfect to fit in a coat pocket yet the print was large enough to be read. Couple this with my pocket Concordia BoC edition and I’m all set for the state LC-MS convention this summer.

    I would appreciate a bit of unpacking regarding your comment, “a lot of interaction between peoples from radically different cultural and technological backgrounds” producing a futility in my comments. At Concordia Theological Seminary our worship services are attended by a large contingent of foreign students and visitors. In fact, on the Thursday Vesper service mentioned, I had a fellow christian sitting next to me who obviously was not from European ancestry nor origin. I did not recognize his dialect, but it certainly was neither an American nor British Commonwealth derivative. Nor was he alone as when I was speaking with my former Pastor who now serves the Synodical President – people kept walking up and greeting us in languages I could not discern. The point was, in our worship, we were all one with the Lord and we all utilized the LSB to guide this worship. Perhaps you know more foreigners than attend our international seminary, to this I can not speak. But I am aware of the international outreach of the LC-MS and have physically witnessed the people we’ve touched with an exchange of peace and the written word (thanks tODD). I know this is not an argument against technology, but many of these people come from places where potable water is a luxury; electricity is unknown.

    I did not notice a reply to the chanting; perhaps an oversight yet I hold to the positive reinforcement of the chanted liturgy. Music is the strongest method of impression and memorization, especially gregorian chant to emphasize the responses (the Words of Institution remain the proper work of God, yet I much prefer them chanted for both impact and impression).

    Allow me to join with yourself and others in concordia concerning screens in the sanctuary. I do consider them a heresy for they not only detract from the Word of God – I offer the following apology against this abomination. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. When a large screen affronts the congregation, sinful man (this includes women and children as well) will gravitate their eyes to the screen. Tell me truly, are they then listening to the Word or are they reading the Epistle of Gospel lessons at a pace apart from each other. The body of Christ, His Church, should be one when the listen to his voice. And yes, I do believe if St Peter took his I-Pad, Kindle, Nook or cranny up on the Mount of Transfiguration, God would not only have instructed Peter to shut up but to turn the damn thing off and listen to His Son. My humble opinion.

    For tODD (#3) We are in full concord regarding the proper maintenance of the pasture. Alleluia! I have taken your other comments to heart and soul.

    For Helen (#31) Another good friend at Symposium is a pilot for Alaska Airlines. He had intended to return to Seattle late Tuesday evening. Didn’t happen. Wednesday came, the exegetical section completed; the confessional section began – he still was with us. On Thursday, I informed him I would discontinue bidding him adieu; he didn’t seem to be going anywhere. This morning came and went; Symposium concluded and I had to say goodbye for my Chevy truck was set on a race against the impending snowstorm closing in on Indiana and Michigan. I pray he gets to return home soon – the weather on the west coast is terrible (I’m certain tODD could speak to this with greater authority).

    One final note on an outstanding week of exegetical and confessional study. I departed with not only a new, pocket-sized, gold-lined, leather-bound ESV Bible, but six new volumes ranging from Genesis, Romans, Revelation, pastoral ministry, history of the church to finally infant baptism. And just to make Klasie covet, our final presenter dealt with Gerhard Forde, Atonement and Justification. During the last part of his presentation, the subject of atonement took us to Forde’s view of Genesis and creation. Forde’s misreading of Scripture opened the door to theistic evolution which we do consider heretical. But since that is not the subject of this post, I’ll not mention the topic. Peace be with you all.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Klasie – I apologize for not responding earlier, but today was our last at CTS Symposium. As such, after Vespers and a reception prior to the Seminary Banquet, I returned to the motel to pack and get ready to ship out which meant the laptop ceased to function (yet another argument against electronic Bibles?). Having outrun the snow storm, I successfully navigated I-69 from Ft. Wayne, IN to St. Johns, MI and am now where I belong once again.

    First, let me assure you I took no umbrage at any of your remarks. The one advantage of age is thick skin; personnal affronts bead off like a well-waxed pickup – if you want to ruffel my fur, try heresy. That will generate a quick response – but you didn’t and life goes on.

    My first response to Dr. Veith’s posting was written (ok, tODD – typed) with a happy smile on my face. Being at the Seminary, engaged in exegetical study, I noted to my friend (now an ordained LC-MS pastor) that I needed a bible in the worst way. So, on Tuesday when the bookstore openned up, I purchased a new “pocket” edition ESV (and, yes tODD, the edged are gold-lined, leather bound died a deep forest green) measuring 6×4 inches. This was perfect to fit in a coat pocket yet the print was large enough to be read. Couple this with my pocket Concordia BoC edition and I’m all set for the state LC-MS convention this summer.

    I would appreciate a bit of unpacking regarding your comment, “a lot of interaction between peoples from radically different cultural and technological backgrounds” producing a futility in my comments. At Concordia Theological Seminary our worship services are attended by a large contingent of foreign students and visitors. In fact, on the Thursday Vesper service mentioned, I had a fellow christian sitting next to me who obviously was not from European ancestry nor origin. I did not recognize his dialect, but it certainly was neither an American nor British Commonwealth derivative. Nor was he alone as when I was speaking with my former Pastor who now serves the Synodical President – people kept walking up and greeting us in languages I could not discern. The point was, in our worship, we were all one with the Lord and we all utilized the LSB to guide this worship. Perhaps you know more foreigners than attend our international seminary, to this I can not speak. But I am aware of the international outreach of the LC-MS and have physically witnessed the people we’ve touched with an exchange of peace and the written word (thanks tODD). I know this is not an argument against technology, but many of these people come from places where potable water is a luxury; electricity is unknown.

    I did not notice a reply to the chanting; perhaps an oversight yet I hold to the positive reinforcement of the chanted liturgy. Music is the strongest method of impression and memorization, especially gregorian chant to emphasize the responses (the Words of Institution remain the proper work of God, yet I much prefer them chanted for both impact and impression).

    Allow me to join with yourself and others in concordia concerning screens in the sanctuary. I do consider them a heresy for they not only detract from the Word of God – I offer the following apology against this abomination. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God. When a large screen affronts the congregation, sinful man (this includes women and children as well) will gravitate their eyes to the screen. Tell me truly, are they then listening to the Word or are they reading the Epistle of Gospel lessons at a pace apart from each other. The body of Christ, His Church, should be one when the listen to his voice. And yes, I do believe if St Peter took his I-Pad, Kindle, Nook or cranny up on the Mount of Transfiguration, God would not only have instructed Peter to shut up but to turn the damn thing off and listen to His Son. My humble opinion.

    For tODD (#3) We are in full concord regarding the proper maintenance of the pasture. Alleluia! I have taken your other comments to heart and soul.

    For Helen (#31) Another good friend at Symposium is a pilot for Alaska Airlines. He had intended to return to Seattle late Tuesday evening. Didn’t happen. Wednesday came, the exegetical section completed; the confessional section began – he still was with us. On Thursday, I informed him I would discontinue bidding him adieu; he didn’t seem to be going anywhere. This morning came and went; Symposium concluded and I had to say goodbye for my Chevy truck was set on a race against the impending snowstorm closing in on Indiana and Michigan. I pray he gets to return home soon – the weather on the west coast is terrible (I’m certain tODD could speak to this with greater authority).

    One final note on an outstanding week of exegetical and confessional study. I departed with not only a new, pocket-sized, gold-lined, leather-bound ESV Bible, but six new volumes ranging from Genesis, Romans, Revelation, pastoral ministry, history of the church to finally infant baptism. And just to make Klasie covet, our final presenter dealt with Gerhard Forde, Atonement and Justification. During the last part of his presentation, the subject of atonement took us to Forde’s view of Genesis and creation. Forde’s misreading of Scripture opened the door to theistic evolution which we do consider heretical. But since that is not the subject of this post, I’ll not mention the topic. Peace be with you all.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Dennis – but would God have told Peter to close his leather bound, printed, thin paged book? That argument is just silly – God could have told Peter to focus on Him, no matter if he had a Electronic tablet, or a stone tablet in his hands.

    As to “unpacking” my statement – I’m talking about worshipping with people in one room – not only of different cultures, but also from different developmental stages within those cultures, as well as different educational levels. I’ve had all sorts of things said – that indicated that often the sin is perceived to be “within” the technology, or the means, when that person is still new to that technology or means. Preaching against much reading – by people from semi-literate societies – yes! Preaching against too much education from lowly educated classes – yes! Preaching against virtually anything, because it is yet foreign to their socio-economic / developmental / generational / technological / educational / cultural level or background – yes.

    For that very reason, I am sceptical about the nature of the argument here. The only part of the argument that appears to possibly have some credence to it is where you mention how screens draw the eye away – thus they might not be the best idea for that specific situation, because of the psychological effect. But that is a relatively minor point, compared to the major point you are trying to make. Todd framed it well by pointing out that you are ok with printed books – technology that post-date Sinai (for instance) by 2800 years. Yet technology that came a mere 500 years later, or 3300 after Moses, is suddenly bad and evil, when applied as “carriers” for God’s word. That is a really bad argument.

    As you yourself hinted towards earlier, the argument might be more psychological than logical……

    That, btw, doesn’t mean that we must abandon the liturgy etc etc. Not at all. I’m a strong liturgist myself. The arguments have nothing in common whatsoever. It also doesn’t mean that we must replace books with Kindles. I love books, I love the feel and the smell and all that. There is a difference, however, between tradition and/or reason on the one hand; and bad arguments on the other. Just because we like one thing, doesn’t automatically mean the other thing must be bad.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Dennis – but would God have told Peter to close his leather bound, printed, thin paged book? That argument is just silly – God could have told Peter to focus on Him, no matter if he had a Electronic tablet, or a stone tablet in his hands.

    As to “unpacking” my statement – I’m talking about worshipping with people in one room – not only of different cultures, but also from different developmental stages within those cultures, as well as different educational levels. I’ve had all sorts of things said – that indicated that often the sin is perceived to be “within” the technology, or the means, when that person is still new to that technology or means. Preaching against much reading – by people from semi-literate societies – yes! Preaching against too much education from lowly educated classes – yes! Preaching against virtually anything, because it is yet foreign to their socio-economic / developmental / generational / technological / educational / cultural level or background – yes.

    For that very reason, I am sceptical about the nature of the argument here. The only part of the argument that appears to possibly have some credence to it is where you mention how screens draw the eye away – thus they might not be the best idea for that specific situation, because of the psychological effect. But that is a relatively minor point, compared to the major point you are trying to make. Todd framed it well by pointing out that you are ok with printed books – technology that post-date Sinai (for instance) by 2800 years. Yet technology that came a mere 500 years later, or 3300 after Moses, is suddenly bad and evil, when applied as “carriers” for God’s word. That is a really bad argument.

    As you yourself hinted towards earlier, the argument might be more psychological than logical……

    That, btw, doesn’t mean that we must abandon the liturgy etc etc. Not at all. I’m a strong liturgist myself. The arguments have nothing in common whatsoever. It also doesn’t mean that we must replace books with Kindles. I love books, I love the feel and the smell and all that. There is a difference, however, between tradition and/or reason on the one hand; and bad arguments on the other. Just because we like one thing, doesn’t automatically mean the other thing must be bad.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    BTW – Dennis, as a footnote, others here know more about me, but here’s some background: I grew up in Africa, I went to churches that were multicultural, multilingual: Sometimes, the Service was conducted with three languages from the front, and 2+ simultaneous translations at the back, for different language communities. So in one service, you could listen to the sermon, if you could follow it, in English, Zulu, Afrikaans, Sesotho, German, French and sometimes Setswana, Venda, Portugese, Shangaan and other languages. The sermon would make cultural references to First world European cultural issues here, and to traditional African issues like ancestor worship and witchcraft there. This was a legalistic, sectarian set-up, so the liturgy was non-existent, and the sermons were looooong…. with plenty of pulpit pounding against sin. Which led to a lot of exposure to cultural issues and things you would normally not hear about :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    BTW – Dennis, as a footnote, others here know more about me, but here’s some background: I grew up in Africa, I went to churches that were multicultural, multilingual: Sometimes, the Service was conducted with three languages from the front, and 2+ simultaneous translations at the back, for different language communities. So in one service, you could listen to the sermon, if you could follow it, in English, Zulu, Afrikaans, Sesotho, German, French and sometimes Setswana, Venda, Portugese, Shangaan and other languages. The sermon would make cultural references to First world European cultural issues here, and to traditional African issues like ancestor worship and witchcraft there. This was a legalistic, sectarian set-up, so the liturgy was non-existent, and the sermons were looooong…. with plenty of pulpit pounding against sin. Which led to a lot of exposure to cultural issues and things you would normally not hear about :)

  • George A. Marquart

    We Lutherans tend to think that the written word of God has a power of its own. We speak about the word doing this and that, as in Baptism, when we speak about “the word of God” making the Baptism valid. Therefore we become concerned that the form in which the word of God is presented may limit its effectiveness. In fact, the word of God is a tool God uses, which has no power apart from the One Who wields it, as He said in Isaiah 55: 11. “…it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Whether it is the “verba” in Holy Communion, or the words spoken in Baptism, each and every time they are spoken, they are efficacious only because of God’s promise and the fact that He makes them efficacious in each instant.

    Therefore, in whatever form we read the word of God, even, pardon the expression, if it is on a toilet wall, it will accomplish what God has intended. Faith itself is a gift from God, and His power to give that gift in the form that will accomplish His purposes cannot be affected by anything.

    We may have personal preferences with regard to form or translation, but these are adiaphora, matters of personal taste. Gnosticism and “hyperspirituality” have been around for a long time. Their cause is not the form in which the word of God is presented, but the perverse nature of even regenerate people.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    We Lutherans tend to think that the written word of God has a power of its own. We speak about the word doing this and that, as in Baptism, when we speak about “the word of God” making the Baptism valid. Therefore we become concerned that the form in which the word of God is presented may limit its effectiveness. In fact, the word of God is a tool God uses, which has no power apart from the One Who wields it, as He said in Isaiah 55: 11. “…it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Whether it is the “verba” in Holy Communion, or the words spoken in Baptism, each and every time they are spoken, they are efficacious only because of God’s promise and the fact that He makes them efficacious in each instant.

    Therefore, in whatever form we read the word of God, even, pardon the expression, if it is on a toilet wall, it will accomplish what God has intended. Faith itself is a gift from God, and His power to give that gift in the form that will accomplish His purposes cannot be affected by anything.

    We may have personal preferences with regard to form or translation, but these are adiaphora, matters of personal taste. Gnosticism and “hyperspirituality” have been around for a long time. Their cause is not the form in which the word of God is presented, but the perverse nature of even regenerate people.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Booklover

    I share much of what tODD @28 has experienced. I am enjoying my nook color, with the exception that it is too heavy, and is hard to hold as a book for too long, but I’m sure they will fix that in future editions.

    Searching for a biblical word on the nook is easier than dragging out my gigantifat Strong’s Concordance. I, too, am enjoying my free ESV Bible on the nook. However, I am not having such luck with my other free books–the formatting is horrible and the spelling is atrocious. “w” is often presented as “i v” and such. Granted I have downloaded many free ancient works such as the church fathers, and few of them are even readable. I’m now reading Bainton’s “Here I Stand” for free. There are many mistakes, but none insurmountable.

    I understand the precautions of non-print versions of the Bible, but there are many benefits also. It is easier to store one little nook than hundreds of books.

  • Booklover

    I share much of what tODD @28 has experienced. I am enjoying my nook color, with the exception that it is too heavy, and is hard to hold as a book for too long, but I’m sure they will fix that in future editions.

    Searching for a biblical word on the nook is easier than dragging out my gigantifat Strong’s Concordance. I, too, am enjoying my free ESV Bible on the nook. However, I am not having such luck with my other free books–the formatting is horrible and the spelling is atrocious. “w” is often presented as “i v” and such. Granted I have downloaded many free ancient works such as the church fathers, and few of them are even readable. I’m now reading Bainton’s “Here I Stand” for free. There are many mistakes, but none insurmountable.

    I understand the precautions of non-print versions of the Bible, but there are many benefits also. It is easier to store one little nook than hundreds of books.

  • PinonCoffee

    Dan @8 – “All of which is to say that the black bound king James version is itself a snapshot of technology.”

    Yes. Agreed.

    1. I’m more interested in the accurate transmission of the Word of God than its physical format. Digits can be hacked or altered, batteries die, but paper and vellum tend to hold still. Until they mold. For that matter even stone crumbles eventually. Technology is great, when it works, and people can abuse pretty much anything.

    2. I am concerned that the ancient, physical manuscripts stay intact so we can always compare back to them.

    3. Comfortingly… we know God will preserve the Bible. :-)

  • PinonCoffee

    Dan @8 – “All of which is to say that the black bound king James version is itself a snapshot of technology.”

    Yes. Agreed.

    1. I’m more interested in the accurate transmission of the Word of God than its physical format. Digits can be hacked or altered, batteries die, but paper and vellum tend to hold still. Until they mold. For that matter even stone crumbles eventually. Technology is great, when it works, and people can abuse pretty much anything.

    2. I am concerned that the ancient, physical manuscripts stay intact so we can always compare back to them.

    3. Comfortingly… we know God will preserve the Bible. :-)

  • Dust

    What I miss about the old fashioned books is, you could look around a room and see what people were reading. The book jackets had the author and title so you could clearly see it, and they could sell it too, of course!

    The bible was different from other books, in that generally, it was the only one with leather cover, gold edged pages, and it’s “jacket” was the simplest, most formal, and elegant….just “The Holy Bible” in gold against a solid background, and perhaps a simple Christian cross.

    In any case, you knew what people were reading in the old days! You may even start a conversation and end up learning some new things along the way, and even making a new friend.

    All of this is gone with the electronic books. No one knows what anyone else is reading. Kind of like the iPod music machines. You have your own set of earphone and no one knows what you are listening to. Am not sure what all this means, but it is different and guess time will tell if it means anything of consequence?

    cheers!

  • Dust

    What I miss about the old fashioned books is, you could look around a room and see what people were reading. The book jackets had the author and title so you could clearly see it, and they could sell it too, of course!

    The bible was different from other books, in that generally, it was the only one with leather cover, gold edged pages, and it’s “jacket” was the simplest, most formal, and elegant….just “The Holy Bible” in gold against a solid background, and perhaps a simple Christian cross.

    In any case, you knew what people were reading in the old days! You may even start a conversation and end up learning some new things along the way, and even making a new friend.

    All of this is gone with the electronic books. No one knows what anyone else is reading. Kind of like the iPod music machines. You have your own set of earphone and no one knows what you are listening to. Am not sure what all this means, but it is different and guess time will tell if it means anything of consequence?

    cheers!

  • Helen K.

    Dust @42—a + Plus for you…..can you imagine walking into a “library” of the future and no actual printed material on the shelves (if there are any left)…maybe the whole thing will go virtual or whatever they call it…glad I was born when I was and have lived in the best of times.

  • Helen K.

    Dust @42—a + Plus for you…..can you imagine walking into a “library” of the future and no actual printed material on the shelves (if there are any left)…maybe the whole thing will go virtual or whatever they call it…glad I was born when I was and have lived in the best of times.


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