Article Review: “Screens are Changing the Way We Read Scripture”

Originally appeared in “Christianity Today”

In her comprehensive article on digital media and “post-literate” Bible reading, Karen Swallow Prior urges church leaders to consider the importance of renewing our paradigm on our consumption of the Scriptures.  She proposes that the days of reading the printed Bible are fading and goes on to ask, “As the way we read in this digital age changes, so too the character of the Church will change. How will those reading habits affect the way we interact with the Bible? How will the way people read the Bible alter the church body?”

Her article thoroughly addresses the history of the written Scriptures and how a variety of cultures dealt with illiteracy in creative ways.  She notes that while it seems God has intended His people to read about Him, there are other ways He can make Himself known, whether that is through art, music, dance, or speech.

Prior offers a mostly comprehensive explanation of how the brain works as it goes through the process of reading the written word and how that affects how we process the information.  She suggests other scholarly resources that take a deeper dive into this scientific issue to help interested parties learn more.

She brings conclusions that seem to purport that a digital reading of the Bible on screens is not as effective in information assimilation, even though people have easier access and may actually spend more time reading the Scriptures on their digital device.  Although she draws no conclusions on the matter, she identifies the fact that more research should be done and that, in all likelihood, people should not discard their printed copies of God’s Word in favor of screens.

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