A local philanthropist said the recent launch of an extensive Bible resource is to today's world what the Gutenberg printing press was to Christendom centuries ago.
Mart Green, Oklahoma City philanthropist and Mardel CEO, is the visionary behind Every Tribe Every Nation, which recently announced the launch of The Digital Bible Library.
“It's what I call a ‘Gutenberg moment,'” Green said of the new digital library.
Every Tribe Every Nation and the library are collaborative efforts between Green, other Christian philanthropists and three major Bible ministries: Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, Biblica and the American Bible Society. The Digital Bible Library is a universal platform that provides easy access and authorized distribution of Bible translations for audio, mobile devices and on-demand print.
Green said his comparison of the new digital library to the Gutenberg press isn't an exaggeration.
The Gutenberg press, invented around 1440, was a movable-type printing press that printed what became known as the Gutenberg Bible. The press is often hailed as one of the most significant inventions because it made the Bible available to the masses.
Green said the Digital Bible Library is poised to do the same thing by utilizing the wonders of technology. He said the digital library has made hundreds of Scripture translations available to Christian organizations, missionaries and ministries and more translated texts will be uploaded in the future.
He said the new digital library, like the Gutenberg press, is helping eradicate what he calls “Bible poverty.”
Bob Creson, president and CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, shared similar sentiments.
“He (Green) calls the launch of the Digital Bible Library a ‘Gutenberg moment' and I agree with that assessment because it gives people the opportunity to engage in Scriptures all around the world today and in a form and medium that they know best,” Creson said.
Green said he and several other donors started meeting with the leaders of the Bible ministries about two years ago to discuss the idea of a centralized digital Bible library. He said the group met regularly in Dallas once a month to discuss the project and an alliance was formed.
Creson said the three Bible ministries that are part of the collaborative effort represent about 90 percent of the Bible translations around the world. He said there are about 6,900 languages in the world today. Creson said through the hard work and dedication of missionaries and Bible translators around the globe, less than 2,000 languages have yet to be the focus of a Bible translation effort, according to October 2012 statistics. Creson said he envisions a day in the next dozen years that the Bible will be translated in those languages and those translations will be part of the cutting-edge Digital Bible Library.
Green said he envisioned a one-stop-shop where organizations like Edmond-based LifeChurch.tv, with its popular YouVersion mobile Bible application, could access many Bible translations at one time. Green said Bible translations are available for a fee that varies according to what the ministry is purchasing.
He said the digital library saves time for innovators like YouVersion's creators and thus frees them up to come up with other creative ways to engage people in Scripture. Green said YouVersion is now one of the Digital Bible Library's first “cardholders.” Another early benefactor of the digital library is BibleSearch (bibles.org), which draws most of its 235 translations from the library for free display on its website.
Green said since 1998, when he watched a man weep over a Bible that had been translated in his “heart language” or primary language, his commitment to Bible translation efforts has increased significantly.
He and Creson said they are talking to potential donors who can help propel the digital library project forward through their donations.
“Ultimately, this will be a world class first-of-its-kind,” Creson said. “As Christian believers, we believe in John 3:16. We believe everyone has a right to hear that story and hear it in their heart language and allow it to sink in.”
Green echoed Creson's words, saying that his ultimate goal is to make the Bible more accessible so that people have an opportunity to glean its sacred pages for wisdom and guidance.
“I love for people to read God's word because when they do, I believe it transforms their lives,” he said.