What are the ins and outs — mostly ins — of the Internet’s Bible Gateway?”

What are the ins and outs — mostly ins — of the Internet’s Bible Gateway?” January 19, 2016


I don’t see the New Revised Standard Version in my biblegateway.com app. Do you have any idea why it’s excluded?


This specific topic is quick and easy, so the Guy will use the space and occasion to provide broader information about the quite remarkable www.biblegateway.com (hereafter BG), billed as “the most-visited Christian Website in the world” with “more than 18 million unique visitors per month” — and a must for Religion Q and A readers. The heart of things is a free and fully searchable online archive of complete Bible texts in 70 languages. The offerings in English are 53 texts and 14 audio versions (three of these read by the euphonious Max McLean) plus many related features.

On Heather’s point, the main Website posts the New Revised Standard Version, known for its gender-inclusive language. But, yes, the NRSV is not among the text and audio versions accessible for free via the Bible Gateway App for mobile iPhone, iPad, iPodTouch, Android, and KindleFire. This is not BG’s doing. Older Bible versions in “public domain” can be used free by anyone but BG negotiates with 27 publishers for licenses that allow posting of newer versions under copyright. The National Council of Churches, which controls NRSV rights, granted BG the Web rights in 2012 but decided not to include a license for the app.

Still, the app’s offerings are extensive, and the ins and outs of the parent Website are almost totally “in.” The available texts are in languages ranging from Amharic to Vietnamese. In English, we get the recent best-sellers, the classics, and even the John Wycliffe Bible from the 14th Century. Sample:

“Charity falleth never down, whether prophecies shall be voided, either languages shall cease, either science shall be destroyed. For a part we know, and a part we prophesy; but when that shall come that is perfect, that thing that is of part shall be voided…” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

Another curiosity is the color-coded BRG Bible with statements by God the Father in blue letters, words of Jesus the Son in red, and mentions of the Holy Spirit in gold.  We also find the stripped-down Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) in which God is asked, “I wonder, Why are people so important to you? Why do you even think about them? Why do you care so much about humans?” (Psalm 8:4).

Though Protestant in origin, BG provides the Apocrypha with versions that include those books such as U.S. Catholicism’s official New American Bible (revised edition, 2010) and Europe’s old Douay-Rheims (in the 1899 U.S. version). Among the few missing translations are Britain’s elegant New English Bible and updated Revised English Bible, and Anglo-French Catholics’ Jerusalem Bible and New Jerusalem Bible update. Jewish Bibles (Christians’ Old Testament) are absent. BG does post the “Complete Jewish Bible” and Yiddish-ized “Orthodox Jewish jBible” but despite their titles these are Christian Bibles with New Testament included. (Note that the Jewish Publication Society’s 1917 rendition is available at www.breslov.com/bible but the 1985 J.P.S. is not online).

Through BG, readers can make side-by-side comparisons of passages in various versions, and conduct searches by chapter or verse, key words, or topic. Searchable Bibles are only the beginning. BG says it sends more than 40 million e-mails each month to subscribers to dozens of free newsletters, devotional materials, and reading plans. There are also Bible commentaries, dictionaries, and other reference works, some of them copyrighted so online access must be purchased. A daily blog promotes new books and resources about the Bible.

This empire is a typical example of the many religious innovations U.S. conservative and evangelical Protestants have produced in the decades since World War Two. The project originated in 1993, an era when the Internet carried 1 percent of global telecommunications. Founder Nick Hengeveld created a simple shared database on these lines for friends at Michigan’s Calvin College. He took the idea public in 1995 and placed it with a company that Zondervan publishing later absorbed.

Today, BG is owned by the Nashville-based HarperCollins Christian Publishing, created in 2012 after secular giant HarperCollins Publishers had purchased Zondervan and another major evangelical house, Thomas Nelson. (HarperCollins also operates the separate and older HarperOne imprint for books on “spirituality, healthy living, personal growth, religion, wellness, innovation, creativity, leadership and culture.”)

All these are for-profit divisions under Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch’s News Corporation. Once dependent on donations, BG now gets its revenues from ads on the site and shared profits from sales of Bibles, books, and related products in conjunction with Christian Book Distributors of Peabody, Mass., said to be “the world’s largest distributor of Christian products.”

Like many cyber operations, BG’s staff is scattered among Nashville, Grand Rapids, Spokane, and other towns. General Manager Rachel Barach is simultaneously the senior vice president of digital operations for HarperCollins Christian. Oddly for a Christian company, it declines to provide information about Barach or other key leaders, including their religious affiliations. It  also issues no financial information.

However, BG at least publishes its purpose: “To honor Christ by equipping people to read and understand the Bible, wherever they are.” There’s also a statement of faith that declares, “The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind, the inspired, infallible Word of God. As such, it is the supreme and final authority and without error in what it teaches and affirms.”



"(First off, a correction: telescopes were invented about 1,300 years after Ptolemy's death.)Skeptics have been ..."

UFO buzz: Will life on distant ..."
"NIPs... spurn labels and are averse to “organized religion” with its expectations about moral lifestyles ..."

How do categories differ among America’s ..."
"Atheists are those who are certain God does not exist, and the same for all ..."

How do categories differ among America’s ..."
"We already know what happens, Christianity is the only worldview that has completely answered all ..."

Why doesn’t the Bible mention dinosaurs?

Browse Our Archives

Close Ad