We’ve talked a lot in class about the idea of printed text online, and how this changes their meaning or interpretation. While searching for one of my own, I had difficulty narrowing down something that is greatly affected when put online. I thought of popular books that were widely loved when I was younger, or ones that had gained popularity recently, but I became struck by a text that is famously the “best-selling book of all time”: The Bible.
The Bible, of course, has many different translations to fit the various subdivisions of Catholicism that I, admittedly, am not particularly well-versed on, however by just typing “The Bible online” into Google you are met with about 140,000,000 results instantly. This is a mind-boggling, arguably unimaginable number of websites which has different editions of The Bible available for consumption. What was particularly interesting to me was the concept of “searching” these websites for particular passages of the text.
For example, I came across a website contains the “New Revised Standard Version” of The Bible. The home-page of this website has the option to search the text by either “bible reference”, “passage”, or simply a “word or phrase”. By being able to explore The Bible in this way, people are able to see only what they want to see. This particular website even gives you the option to omit certain credentials of the text.
Well, you may think, what’s the problem with that? Sure, there are benefits to this system. The ability to retrieve certain quotes or passages from The Bible in this way is, certainly, convenient. However, there are a lot of ways in which this materialization of a holy text online could be harmful. For example, by being able to “omit” certain things in a text, people are able to read this book in whatever way is most convenient for them, and, with the amount of disparity and disagreement arisen in the world based on the different interpretations of this very text, I wonder if this will have any sort of effect on those existing tensions.