I've started putting together a twitter list (@pmphillips/bible-links) on various accounts offering a look at the Bible. It's a bit rough and ready and I think I am going to prune it from the hundreds of 'bible' accounts to those which offer direct access to the Bible. For example, @soccerbible isn't soccer related bible verses!
I tried to link the first few because I was interested in their different take on doing the Bible for the tweeting masses. Here's a sample of five accounts which I'm interested in exploring at the moment in a bit more detail:
@biblesummary - run by Chris Juby (@chrisjuby) who happens to be media (+arts+worship) pastor at the church where me and my family attend. Chris started this project three weeks ago - going through the bible dy by day and putting up a summary of a chapter each day - today he is up to Genesis 24. It's a good project and his followers leapt to 13,800 after the news feeds picked it up in the UK and in the States with Chris even being asked to do an interview on CNN and being on their Daily Intriguing Person list! The interesting bit will be whether Chris can maintain his flat persona on this project or whether he will be pushed into disclosing himself too much. I spoke to Chris on Sunday at church and was not surprised to hear of the issues he is having trying to bring huge chapters of narrative into 140 characters. Of course the interesting thing to watch is also the way in which Chris does this - what is he consciously or subconsciously leaving out. The two accounts of the creation in Gen 1 and 2 are not really dealt with the force many contemporary scholars would have wanted. But perhaps that's the joy of this summary - it's personal, it's trying to objective and flat, and it might get people back into the text itself.
@bible.is - this is the Twitter spin-off for a series of mobile phone applications out of the 'Faith Comes from Hearing Trust' - currently at 629 followers). The basic concept of the trust is that faith comes from hearing the Bible and they have gone to some lengths to put this into practice. It's a bit like #biblefresh and the Methodist Church's exploration of marathon bible readings - getting local communities to read the Bible out loud from start to finish. Those churches which have done this tend to talk about the immense spiritual benefits of it. Personally, I think it's a great idea nd I'd love to see it being a big thing next summer - with lots of public space readings over days and days with local dignitaries and church folk young and old taking part. Anyway, the twitter account is a spin-off and tends to share both news items as well as a bible verses. At present they are going through Jeremiah offering 140 character versions of various verses. So there's a mixture here of daily Bible verses, adverts, retweets and personal comments. But overall actual Bible verses provide the most frequent content.
@thetwible - only 63 followers for this one - it will take the author 11 years to go through the whole bible in 140 character segments. That's a huge project and I'm not so sure it is as helpful as the other packages here. But what a marathon task. I'm not sure why the person doing this has to put so many @ signs into the text - is this a joke or an attempt at adversiting the blog among bots? Strange and quirky!
@chatbible - Richard Littledale is a pastor of Teddington Baptist Church and has built up a following of a bout 150 tweeters over the last couple of months. The purpose of the account is to explore the Bible rather than offer Biblical texts themselves. Richard calls this "An experiment in Bible networking on Twitter. It tends to be about networking with rather less of the Bible than I had expected. The account was inspired by the launch in early May 2010 of One Book One Twitter – a book discussion group with 7500 members (see below). On @chatbible, you sign up to follow and then participants are invited to comment, question, and respond to each other’s comments and questions.
(@1B1T2010 - is basically a global book club with people across the world encouraged to read the same book (currently American Gods by Neil Gaiman). Comments come in for discussion and often include the author's own involvement (http://tweetree.com/neilhimself). It's a good idea and could be built on for Christian use as well. I always thought that book clubs could be a good form of evangelism or Christian education - they are so like small groups! Oh yes, they are small groups, doh!)
@bible4u - finally this site (10,400 followers or so) is a spin-off from the incredibly popular facebook page run by Mark Brown who uses to be chief exec of the NZ Bible Society. Mark is now exploring lots of other ways of engaging the social media world with the Bible and both this site and his prayer4u site have incredible viewing stats. Most days you receive a Bible passage tweet and also Mark includes occasional inspirational messages. Sometimes the verses are referenced, sometimes not. Each verse does have a link across to the facebook page which generates it. So really this account is a slave of the facebook driver.
There are a lot of daily verse offerings as well and I'll try and give an overview of some of these in the future. Personally, I like the way that @biblesummary is doing it. I think that there is a rich vein of researchable material in this project and would love someone to throw some money at CODEC to do some primary research on this or someone to come and do a PhD or MPhil programme looking at how it could analysed - where are the 13K followers from - geographic, gender, generational, denominational, social, individual or organisation, education. Then there is the interpretation of the text itself and the hermeneutics of condensing the text for twitter. Interesting stuff indeed.