We have multiple options for reading and studying the Bible on our cell phones. In this review, I look at six mobile Bible apps that were identified by friends on a Facebook querry.
Accordance began as a Mac-based academic Bible study program. It is a premeire program for students of Hebrew and Greek. Accordance is a wonderful option for people who have made the investment in the desktop version and who want a mobile Bible app that enables them to study in the original biblical languages.
- Free to download with English Standard Version
- Costs to add versions in English, Hebrew, and Greek.
- Easy to make and access notes and highlights.
- Navigation follows a grid format.
Bible Gateway Mobile Bible app comes from the makers of the Bible Gateway website. Bible Gateway is owned by Zondervan, a Christian book publisher that caters to Evangelicals. Its free version allows users to access a large number of translations. Several, including the New Revised Standard Version, can be downloaded for free for offline use. Bible Gateway uses a dial for navigation.
- Notes and highlights are easy to add; Trickier to locate.
- Lots of free content. More content and tools with Bible Gateway Plus subscription (3.99/monthly; 39.99/yearly).
Logos Mobile App comes from Logos Bible software company. The app itself can be downloaded free. App users have access to resources they have purchased. Purchases can be as costly print versions of the same text. For example, NRSV costs about $10. Logos syncs effectively with the desktop app. Like Accordance it supports original language Bible study. (Confession: Logos is the version I use. I’m embarassed to admit how much money I’ve invested in Logos Bible Software over the 20 years I’ve used it).
- Navigation through grid or through typing reference in to reference window.
- Allows split screen, linked or unlinked scrolling and multiple windows for text comparison or resource look-up.
- Tap to look up definitions and even parsing in original languages depending on available (purchased) resources.
Olive Tree has been around for a long time. I used a Greek version of Olive Tree’s Greek New Testament on a Palm Pilot I had in 1999 or 2000. Olive Tree is free to download and has a few free English version and even a free (SBL) Greek version of the text.
- Split screen to look at parallel versions, notes or other resources.
- Grid or list navigation.
- Purchased resources can be as expensive as print versions. NA28 with Critical Aparatus ($50); NA28, Critical Aparatus and Mounce Parsing with concise Greek-English Dictionary ($100).
Our Bible app might be described as offering a more liberal set of resources and approach to Bible study and mobile devotional. They do not use that label. Their mission is clearly stated and is broadly affirming of the full-spectrum of humanity. Our Bible makes about nine translations for free (American Standard Version, Common English Bible, New English Translation, Amplified Bible, KJV, World English Bible, NRSV, NASB, and Complete Jewish Bible). It uses a list to navigate to books and chapters. To the best of my knowledge it does not have notes or highlight features.
- Provides access to devotionals.
- Provides access to podcasts.
- Some books can be purchased and read within the app.
- $10 annual subscription removes ads and supports the ministry.
YouVersion was created by Life Church out of Edmond, OK. It made a point of being available to iPhone users as quickly as it possibly could. It has been downloaded over 330 million times. Religion News Service provided an excellent story about them that inspired this review. It is a free app that offers a large number of translations including NRSV. You can download several for offline use.
- Highlights and notes are relatively easy to make.
- Content is free.
- List-style navigation.
- Easy to create an image of a verse and share it through social media.
I hope you find this review helpful. There are several options out there. I use the Logos app myself, but that’s mainly because I’ve invested considerable resources in the desktop version and I have access to those resources on my phone. The same is true of OliveTree. I like to have access to Greek New Testament and even gladder to have some help in translating and parsing. We do so much with our cell phones and tablets. We should include having a Bible available on them as well.