As the way people digest media has changed, a leading Bible publisher has partnered with an app development company that worked on the popular stock-trading app Robinhood to create a new line of Bibles compatible with its own “game-changing” mobile app.
While there are countless mobile Bible apps as well as many print study Bibles available today, Tyndale House Publishers, one of the largest independent Christian publishing companies in the world, has released a new line of Bibles that seeks to blend the two concepts.
Last month, the publishing house unveiled its Filament Bible Collection, which claims on its website to be “Bible Reading Reimagined.”
“It’s the future of Bibles: Learn more without carrying more,” the collection’s webpage states.
While many study Bibles have analysis on the Scripture included in the margins of Bible pages, the new Filament Bible Collection compiles all Scripture-related notes, passage reflections, interactive maps and videos related to each page of the Bible on the Filament mobile app for users to reference as they read along in their print Bible.
In the last month, the app has been used by 9,000 people.
When readers scan the page number of the passage they are reading or studying into the app, they are given the option to read an easy-to-understand summary of the passage and any additional contextual information as well as devotional essays, maps and summary videos related to the passage.
The app contains a total of over 1,200 devotions written by various curated Christian authors.
“There is something really important about having a print Bible that is the center of how you engage with God’s word. But you don’t want to get rid of all these digital tools because they also have tremendous value,” Keith Williams, the app project director and senior editor at Tyndale House, told The Christian Post.
“We bring in that digital app to provide that supplementary information that really helps you engage and understand what you are reading in that print Bible. There are print Bibles that do this — study Bibles and that sort of thing. But what happens is that you try to fit all that stuff on a page and you end up with a huge book and in some cases, the Scripture text itself is squeezed off the page almost because there is so much distracting yours from it. We are able to take all that and put it in the app.”
Williams said that the app allows users to bring in the analysis and extra content of a study Bible when they want and not worry about having to haul around a giant book.
“It allows you to have that portable Bible you can take anywhere and allows you to study on your own, at lunch, on a train or whatever,” he said. “Or if you are at a small group or talking to someone about the Bible and there are questions that come up, you have access to tools that help you answer those questions.”
The idea for the Filament Bible was first hatched in 2016. The first Filament Bible was published in October 2018. But last month, Tyndale announced the launch of the Filament Bible Collection, giving users an option of four different Bibles in New Living Translation or King James Version that are compatible with its now expanded mobile app.
“We updated the app and take it from being an experiment and into something that we are really hoping to see spread and be a part of something that [changes] the way people think about how they interact with their Bibles,” Williams said.
“We have expanded the content. It is one of the great things about having a digital companion to a print Bible is that you can continue to have access to more and more content over time. When we launched, we had about 400 devotionals in the ‘Reflect’ section of the app and now there are almost 1,200 devotionals available all keyed to the page you are on in your Bible. We continue to add more videos and interactive maps.”
According to Williams, Filament Bible’s ability to provide access to “spot-on content curated immediately for the page they’re reading” is unprecedented.
“By utilizing the free Filament app, these portable Bibles provide far more study resources and enjoyable teaching videos, devotionals, and worship music than even the largest study Bible could offer,” he said. “If you tried to fit all of this content into one Bible, you’d be carrying it in a wheelbarrow!”
Once a reader scans in their page number on the app, they are presented with three options for what they want to do to learn more about the passages they are reading: “study,” “reflect,” or "see."
The “study” portion is similar to the notes that might be found on the margins of a typical study Bible such as introductions, notes and profiles of key Bible figures. Under “reflect,” readers will be shown written reflections on how the ideas of the passages they are reading can be connected to people’s everyday lives as well as devotional articles curated by Tyndale's approved sources.
Devotional reflection pieces found in the app are written by several prominent Christian authors and leaders such as Kellye Fabian of Willow Creek, author Chris Tiergreen, author Nancy Guthrie and Colin S. Smith of Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Illinois.
The “see” window in the app allows users to view the maps (such as those of Jesus’ ministry), videos from The Bible Project and other visuals that allow users to gain a better understanding of the setting of passages they are studying.
“The biggest single addition outside of the devotionals is we have a partnership with an organization called The Worship Initiative and have over 300 worship music videos that are like lyric videos with professionally performed worship music,” he said, adding that the app could make it easier to do worship during small group meetings. “That also shows up where that hymn or praise song is relevant to the particular Scripture you are studying.”
After interviewing several app development companies, Tyndale partnered with Hippo Labs, an app developer that had previously done user interfacing work on the popular zero-commission stock trading app Robinhood, which has become a favorite investment application among younger adults due to its simplicity and low cost.
For Robinhood, which was founded 2013, Hipo Labs worked to create fully animated and customizable user interface components that “made the complex stock data look as simple as ‘free stock trading’ sounds.”
What drew Tyndale to Hipo Labs was the fact that the company had already worked to create an easy-to-use and simple Bible app called NeuBible, which aimed to make the Bible effortless to read and accessible.
“As we engaged with them in conversation, we realized they are going to be a phenomenal partner that is excellent at understanding how to build a powerful and simple and intuitive app interface,” Williams said. “They really impressed us and continue to be a great partner for us as we keep thinking about the future of this app.”