Five Reasons I’m Starting to Read a Paper Bible Again

I’m a self admitted geek. I love tech stuff. My dad was an electrical engineer and our basement was filled with all kinds of gadgets. When I was a kid I spent hours playing with his tools and gadgets. And as we entered the computer age, I became one of the first among my friends to embrace that technology. I was an early smart phone adopter and I now use a tablet computer when I preach, do my devotions, and read God’s Word. Recently, however, I dusted off my old NIV and began to read it in my devotions instead of relying solely on an electronic version of the Bible. Here are five reasons I’m going to begin reading more from my paper Bible.

  1. It is now as novel to my brain as reading from a tablet computer was a few years ago. And the brain loves novelty. Novelty helps us pay better attention and enhances learning. Now, as I hold my dogeared Bible my attention to what I read has increased.
  2. Research now shows a decrease in what scientists call deep reading because our Kindle brain differs from our paper brain. It’s called the bi-literate brain. Our brain uses different circuits depending on whether we are reading from paper or plasma. Plasma reading encourages more non-linear reading (skimming and browsing when our eyes dart around) whereas paper reading encourages more linear reading, deeper reading. I’ve found that paper reading forces me to read a bit slower. I realize how I’ve missed slower and deeper Bible reading.
  3. More tactile involvement with paper reading has also increased my attention. The feel of leather and the texture of the thin paper when I turn a page to look up a Scripture has enhanced my engagement with God’s Word. The more senses we use, the more engaged we become.
  4. When I read on my Kindle, it’s silent. However, the sound from the shuffling pages of my paper Bible brings back a pleasant familiarity from former days. The ‘whoosh’ feels warm and inviting as it was a part of my life for decades before electronic Bibles.
  5. In my paper Bible I had often scribbled notes and insights in the margins that I had learned from others or from my own study. As I read my paper Bible now, I also read these notes. They remind of God’s past faithfulness when His Spirit taught me then.

I’m not selling my iPad on Craig’s list (or Kijiji here in Canada). I still enjoy the reading plans I quickly access online. And I want to easily compare different versions that my Bible program offers with side-by-side comparisons. But incorporating my paper Bible into my reading has brought me a new and fresh experience in God’s Word.

What are your thoughts and experiences about reading a paper Bible versus an electronic one?

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12 thoughts on “Five Reasons I’m Starting to Read a Paper Bible Again”

  1. I read from both paper and electronic depending on situation and location. One advantage of electronic is reading in low light conditions and when I don’t have my hard copy with me but I can access it on my phone. I will continue to use both but appreciate your post.

  2. Rodger McCready

    I too like my old study Bible Charles. It includes many memories of people and places and the Spirit’s leadings. God bless!

  3. Linda Ranson Jacobs

    Thanks for this post. I too like reading my paper Bible. Just yesterday I was reminded of a journey through pain and how the Lord had provided and brought me through that time. I had dated some scriptures in the OT and had made some notes beside them. I also like the feel of the pages in my hand and the sound of flipping pages. Glad I’m not the only one. I use my old study Bibles, review the Bibles I had when my kids were little and different versions I have.

  4. Hi Dr. Stone, I too have taken my old Bible from off the shelf and find just as you say that there is a totally different feel and thinking process going on when I read it. Also as you mentioned those once important notes scratched in the margin still offer insights I had forgotten. But for me it is the King James Version for my personal reading while I like the NIV for my study and sermon prep. It’s a personal preference I guess. That old English language still has a poetic appeal and feel for me still. Blessings.

  5. Recently I heard a Bible College professor say that he stopped reading his Bible off an electronic device because it was too easy to “click” to read something else. He added that he regretted reading his Bible from a device for his quiet time because he was easily distracted. He had already returned to using a paper copy.

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