Scriptures: Digital or Print?

scriptures-digital-printIn the April LDS General Conferernce, Elder Richard G. Scott spoke the fact that we live in a world where technological advances occur at an astounding pace. He said “Depending on how technology is used, these advances can be a blessing or a deterrent. Technology, when understood and used for righteous purposes, need not be a threat but rather an enhancement to spiritual communication.

“For example, many of us have a personal electronic device that fits into our pocket. We are seldom without its company; we may refer to it many times a day. Unfortunately, these devices can be a source of filth and wasted time. But, used with discipline, this technology can be a tool of protection from the worst of society.

“Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit.

“Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need.” (Read or watch the entire talk “For Peace at Home.”)

Today, we have many options for accessing the scriptures and other Church publications. The Church is definitely moving in the direction of providing materials in digital formats so we can access them on computers, tablets, e-readers, and smartphones

  • The 2013 version of the English scriptures is currently only available in digital formats. Printed editions will become available beginning in August. BYU also produces LDS View Gospel Library, a version of the scriptures you can download to your computer and use when you are offline.
  • The Gospel Library mobile app lets you study the scriptures, general conference, magazines, manuals, and other publications either online or on many different devices. You can highlight, bookmark, link, add personal notes, and add your own subject tags, and all this syncs across all your devices. (Learn more about the LDS Gospel Library mobile app.)
  • The Church used to print manuals for teaching Young Men, Young Women, and youth Sunday School classes, but beginning this year, teachers select from an online collection of lesson outlines those they think will best meet the needs of the youth in their ward. The lesson outlines are regularly updated with the most current resources and teachings and include videos, music and graphics. You can access the lesson materials via the website and mobile apps.
  • Read the article “LDS Leaders Speak to Youth Using Technology.”

The Deseret News article “The standard works, digital vs. print: What works for you?” contains ideas from several people on the pros and cons of using mobile devices vs. print editions. Some people like the convenience of carrying the digital versions to church, but like the intimacy of learning from an old fashioned physical book.

Which do you prefer to use?

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • pdw May 8, 2013, 12:39 pm

    Things have come a long way, since I was only able to fit a week’s worth of chapters on my PalmPilot! I love having the scriptures and all of the scripture tools available to me at all times. What a wonderful gift.

    Yes, I’ve been through the bishops and teachers who say that the electronic scriptures don’t carry the true essence/spirit of paper scriptures. Does that mean that the ASL or braille versions of the scriptures don’t carry the same spirit either? what about the original metal plates? They weren’t on paper either…

    Too many distractions? There are always distractions. If you can’t check Facebook, you can doodle, daydream, poke your neighbor, start cracking jokes, make a trip to the washroom, to the water fountain… or if you are at home, you can turn on the radio, the tv, start dinner, etc. It’s never just you and the scriptures, Satan is always going to be there to try to pull you away with distractions.

    Kids won’t know how to find the books if they use the devices… really? The books are all clustered and sorted in exactly the same way as they are in the paper scriptures. If I want to look up Joshua, I have to know it is in the Old Testament, and I have to know approximately where it is, or search down the table of contents the same way as I would with paper scriptures. My son’s seminary teacher won’t let them use their devices to read the scriptures. I get all of the reasons why. But he is severely dyslexic, and it is enormously helpful for him to change from a b/w colour scheme and increase the size of the font. I’m amazed at how well he can read from his iphone. But the paper scriptures? He stumbles and gets lost constantly, and doesn’t know what he’s read afterward. And if he marks something in his seminary scriptures, then it isn’t marked in the scriptures that he uses regularly for scripture study.

    Many of us like to listen to the scriptures, through the apps or mp3’s. Then we can listen while we’re walking/running, making dinner, or a myriad of other things. Are there distractions? Sure. Are we missing things that we would get if we were sitting down and focusing on reading them and not doing anything else? Absolutely. But you’re getting more than you would if you weren’t listening to them at all, or if you were listening to music, TED talks, or Netflix.

    I also use my iPhone to take notes during Sacrament meeting talks. Can everybody tell that I am taking notes instead of playing games? I don’t really care. They can think I’m playing solitaire or Angry Birds if they like, it doesn’t change the fact that I can focus better and retain better what was said, and review it later, if I take notes on my phone. And what is the rest of my family doing? They may be playing solitaire or checkers (I only allow simple board/card games during sacrament meeting talks), but doing something with their fingers allows them to sit still and listen to the talks and get something out of it, instead of poking each other, complaining to Mom, going on endless bathroom and water breaks, or just falling asleep. We were allowed to doodle or play Sacrament meeting Bingo or word-counting games during Sacrament meeting talks, or word searches or that kind of thing. Or read through books, quiet books, Friend magazines, etc. Are they distracting? I would hear less of a talk if I was reading a Friend article than if I was playing Solitaire. They could be sleeping, and then they wouldn’t hear anything.

    When my hubby was home sick and our friend was giving her first Sacrament meeting talk, then I copied and texted him my notes, so that he could ‘hear’ her topic and how she was doing. I know of others who text or tweet Sacrament meeting talks to friends who are in hospital or can’t be there for other reasons. Occasionally somebody texts my son to wake up if he looks like he’s too tired.

    They are tools. Everybody will have different rules as to how they are to be used, and different things will work for different people. That’s okay. They make the scriptures more available and more ubiquitous to many people. And that’s a good thing!

    • Jennifer January 12, 2015, 4:15 pm

      Yes, thank you! You can find it in print – the Church has encouraged us to use digital versions of materials when possible:

      We are having a difference of opinion in primary about devices, but the reality is that in another few years this won’t even be a conversation. This is what the future looks like. Why would we print, use up, and wear out expensive paper manuals and books, work with outdated paper materials, kill trees making copies, and lug around a heavy quad when all that is updated, lightweight, at my fingertips, fits in my pocket, and comes to me as a free app? Because we’re afraid people might play games on a device during class? Have you noticed that some people flat out nap through Sacrament or Sunday School, and it’s been going on forever, with no devices to blame for inattention? LOL!

      As for the issue in primary, goofing off has been a part of childhood since children were invented. Addressing the same age-old concern in the form of an iPod is no different and can be handled easily. I for one am glad to see the primary kids have LDS apps on their phones and know how to use them.

  • Samuel Bradshaw May 9, 2013, 12:17 am

    I like switching back and forth between print and digital. I wish they had an offline app for scriptures that you could download for Mac, that synced notes with the church web site like the iPhone app…

  • Ross May 16, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Digital. I can UNmark things after a while, edit the notes I make, search, and use the notebooks feature.

    I look forward to the day when I can tell a printer to take my digital scriptures and print them for me. What a great family heirloom to have my dads scriptures!

    I do wish the deacons would learn to focus on the scriptures on the ipod instead of games.

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