There is nothing like holding a Bible in your hands. The familiar look, feel and even smell helps you navigate God’s word with speed and precision. Notes and markups help you scan familiar passages and remind you of how God’s word has impacted you. However, when you are doing research or there is not a print Bible handy, an online Bible can be a real asset.
When I look for a good online Bible, I am looking for three things.
- Usability -Is it easy to navigate? Can I find what I am looking for immediately and intuitively? I want to get into God’s word, not learn a whole new interface.
- Effective search – Finding that obscure passage with just a keyword can save me so much time. In addition, I can look up other contexts where the word is used to help me better understand the passage I’m reading.
- Readability – Can I read more than 5 minutes without getting a headache? For an enjoyable reading experience that allows me to really immerse myself in God’s Word, the text itself needs to be sharp, adequately large, and have good contrast.
There are a number of good online Bibles. Here are several worth trying.
This is probably the most well know, and has been around for a long time. The name is easy to remember, so when I’m in a hurry, it’s my default. The navigation is easy, there is a list of all the options on the left, where you can search and even setup a reading plan. Several translations are available, and font size is easily adjustable for readability. There is also an audio feature through which you can listen to the passage you have selected. Now you can hide God’s word in your heart via the eyes and ears at the same time if you want. The overall design of the website is more functional than aesthetic, and there are advertisements; but overall it gets me to where I want to go on a nice white page with a number of helpful tools.
This is a bit more robust tool. It has great search capabilities, and some really nice ‘digging deeper’ tools such as lexicons and free commentaries. If you want to look up the word ‘repent’, it will show you not only all the uses in whatever translation you choose, but also in the original languages in the old and new testaments. You’ll also find a definition and a Strong’s number link to help you learn more about the uses of that word throughout the Bible. Again, the design is not the most beautiful, but the features are very helpful, and–unlike Bible Gateway–there are no ads to distract you.
For those of you who are not familiar with Logos, www.logos.com this is the web extension of the company’s very popular and ever improving Bible software products. What I really appreciate about this company is that they are constantly improving via updates and new software releases in an effort to always be a quality resource to study your Bible. They actually have two online Bibles. This iteration is pretty basic, providing a good number of translations, search features, and a reading plan. The design is a step up from the previous two we have looked at. It is also simpler and more contemporary. However, some may find the search results difficult to read, since font size is not adjustable. This is just a beta version, and with their other website that we will look at next, they are looking to keep adding features.
This is also from Logos, but it doesn’t feel like anything we have looked at thus far. The layout is very similar to their purchased software, complete with reading panes so you can view multiple resources at one time so that you can compare content. In addition, this interface links up to your resources if you already have the software, but even if you don’t, there are numerous free books to interact with. This is also a beta version, but looks cleaner and more polished than the bible.logos.com offering. The infrastructure that runs their regular software is being deployed online for free, making it a great first step to anyone who is thinking about buying bible software. It doesn’t have the robust free tools that Blue Letter Bible does when it comes to word study, but they say this is just a sliver of the features they are working on, and there is more to come–such as easily integrating biblical content into your own projects, and many other features.
There is something elegant about the ESV Bible. They just do formatting so well that it is a joy to read. The layout on this website is very clean and well thought out. You can layout reading plans, and actually take notes, leave bookmarks and highlight sections of the Bible much like you would in a printed Bible. However, you have to have a free account to save your notes. They have an audio option, and you can arrange the layout tabs however you like. The one big drawback is that this is a single-translation option (ESV), which may not be the translation of your choice. They do one translation very well, as you will see from the next offering. The website name kind of limits their offerings.
This is very similar to the esvonline Bible, but the polish is stepped up a bit. It is really the online tool if you have purchased the ESV Study Bible. It gives you access to all the articles in the back of the ESV study Bible, as well as all the maps and illustrations. If you haven’t seen the ESV study Bible, it really is a thing of beauty, and the commentary and articles put together by a number of well known biblical scholars is very helpful. You can take it for a free test drive, and there are a number of free options, but this really is a tool if you already have the ESV Study Bible.
Overall you can’t go wrong with any of these Bibles if you want to fire up a web browser and read God’s Word, whether it is the easy of biblegateway, the robust nature of blue letter Bible, the progressive drive of Logos, or the simple beauty of the ESV. There is much to offer, but undoubtedly there are a vast number of online Bibles that I did not mention as this is just a selection of some of the current features and offerings. Each online Bible has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and you will have to determine what works best for you. The important thing is to grab a Bible or computer and get into God’s Word.
We’d love to hear about your study experience with any of these online Bibles or others.