When pithy is profound

When the Bible Society in Australia translated the Bible into SMS back in 2005, there was much snickering in the press about such an enterprise. Worthy columnists delighted in quoting such verse as ‘ in da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth’, and no-one took it very seriously.

When @chatbible was launched on Twitter in May 2010, one of the ideas I had to defend in print and radio interviews was that anything worthwhile could be said about such a profound book within a 140 character limit.  My contention at the time was that the concentration required to condense your biblical insight or enquiry into 140 characters might enhance, rather than denude the quality of the exchange. Chatbible discussions on subjects such as the Sermon on the Mount and Ecclesiastes have proved that to be true.

Today, British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has said that texting, far from ruining the linguistic capacity of young people , could actually improve it. In an article in today’s Guardian newspaper she describe poetry as a form of texting, and goes on to say that :’it’s a perfecting of a feeling in language – it’s a way of saying more with less, just as texting is. ‘

The Australian SMS Bible is no longer available to download. However, I suspect that the reason for that is that it has been superseded by so many other initiatives. Today there are people sending out verses from the Bible in text messages, tweets and Facebook messages all over the world. Of course a 140 or 160 character limit does mean that you have to choose your verses carefully – but that’s no bad thing. With so many gems to choose from, lingering a little longer in the jeweller’s shop before making your selection can only be a pleasure.

Here’s a question to ponder on, though – if  William Tyndale were alive today, would he be disseminating the word by print or pixel, I wonder?