One of the key moments of the Reformation was Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible. In doing so he made it accessible, and people were able to experience the word of God in a way that was relatable to their daily life. At heart, this is the goal of every new translation of the Bible: to learn the stories, remember God’s promises and find the ways that our personal story connects with God’s story.

The invention of the printing press meant more standardization of language, as more people had access to printed works in their own language. Today the influence of technology on language continues.

Twible, Emoji Bibles, #GIFBible

Jana Reiss wondered how you would tell the story of the Bible in Twitter-sized chunks. Thus, The Twible was born: every chapter of the Bible, summed up in 140 characters. Reiss started The Twible on Twitter, naturally, and it was eventually published as a book.

Others have gone further than The Twible, wondering how emoji (e.g., ϑ) could be used to illustrate the Bible. Now various Emoji Bibles employ these common characters used in our text messages and tweets to help express the biblical story.

On Twitter and in text messages, GIFs (looping animated images) have become increasingly common. Much like the shortened messages of The Twible and the pictorial representations of the Emoji Bibles, the #GIFBible uses these images on social media to retell biblical stories in new ways.

These “translations” are new and novel, and it can be easy to write them off—I won’t likely replace my study Bible with The Twible as I prepare to preach. But it would be a mistake to dismiss them too quickly.

Engaging the story

Reimagining biblical texts can serve some important functions: it helps us engage the story—to see truth that we might have otherwise overlooked; it keeps the Bible from becoming overly familiar; and it brings the full breadth of emotion—humor, joy, sadness—into these stories anew.

When Luther translated the Bible into the language of the shoemaker and the butcher, he didn’t intend for that to be the end of the project. He expected that we would continue to engage the spirit of Scripture, translating it into the language of our daily lives.

How could you translate your favorite passages into the language you speak every day?

David L. Hansen
Hansen is pastor of Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church in The Woodlands, Texas.

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