At some point last night while working on a problem Patrick Mead was having on his blog (it’s fixed… I think), I realized an odd similarity that exists between web browsers and Bible translations. We all have our favorites. Some prefer the NIV, some the KJV, NLT, NASB, RSV, etc. Some prefer Firefox, others Internet Explorer, and others like Safari, Camino, or Opera. It is getting to where there are almost as many web browsers available as there are Bible versions.
Where the oddest part of this similarity lies is in the process of choosing which version we’ll use as our primary. Sometimes we spend time with the options, looking at the way certain versions handle the translation of specific ideas and how they structure the sentences grammatically. We make further selection based on tools and features a Bible offers, whether it has a concordance or study notes. Sometimes, though, our choices are not made with such a level of thought and reflection. Sometimes we chose a particular Bible translation by default when one was given to us, maybe as a child. At other times the choice is more passive and comes in the form of sticking with what we are comfortable with and have used for a long period of time.
The reason I thought of this similarity is because of the problems that exist with the web browser Internet Explorer. It is notorious for butchering content on web sites and munging the layout that web designers work so hard to put in place (and, by the way, was the cause of the problem on Patrick Mead’s blog). Why do people use Internet Explorer? Some have carefully decided that the features and qualities of IE meet their needs the most. Others because they’ve been using it forever and are uncomfortable with trying something new. Others use IE because it came on their computer and so by default they’ve adopted it into their internet experience.
So, to conclude a very strange post that mixes two very different worlds with each other, I have a piece of advice for all users of the Bible and the internet. Broaden your horizons by consulting with a few different versions of either. If you count electronic versions of the Bible, I have access to over 50 translations (I only use a couple, and the freeware version of the Living Oracles for PalmPilot is a hoot.). I get a better understanding of the text when I look at how different translators handle the text. Web browsers are the same way. I have four currently installed on my computer and I consult each of them at any given time, especially when there is a problem or when something doesn’t show up correctly.
My current favorites? New International Version for the Bible and Firefox for web browser. The ultimate kick: Viewing the New International Version at www.biblegateway.com using Firefox.