Well.. a couple of weeks ago I heard something called “The Big Bible Project” mentioned on Twitter… it was then mentioned by Church Mouse… and the rate they’re going I’m sure more people will hear of The Big Bible Project soon.
One thing has led to another and we’ve managed to get ourselves our first interview, please read on and find out about the Big Bible Project, and have a think if you’d like to get involved.
Please enjoy our interview with Dr Bex Lewis;
What is the Big Bible Project?
The @BigBible Project is an ecumenical project, promoting Bible reading within a community setting, whether that be online or offline. It is part of the #Biblefresh initiative, which Biblefresh is a movement of churches, agencies, organisations, colleges and festivals which has a vision to reignite and re-enthuse the church in its passion for the Bible. For many in our churches the Bible has become tedious and toxic rather treasured, trusted and true. The aim of the Biblefresh initiative is to encourage a greater confidence and passion for Scripture across the Church, in 2001, a year which celebrates the 400th anniversary since the publication of the King James Version of the Bible.
The #BigRead2011 will make use of Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone: Matthew, encouraging people to meet together in housegroups to read the Bible. The Big Read offers opportunities to go much bigger and much more creative and join in online (inter)nationally. From quiet sitting rooms with Bibles and books, to coffee shops and internet chatrooms across the world, we will offer tips & tricks on how to gain confidence in new media, so that you can engage with the project as much as you like. If you want to just read the book, or just download the housegroup materials, that’s all good. If, however, you are keen to understand the possibilities and options offered by the online world, we aim to help you get online, offering inspiring interviews, tips, tricks & training to enable you to engage with the Bible online. We plan to launch it with a Mardi Gras event on Shrove Tuesday, and will provide a ‘party pack’ for that!
Why was the Big Bible project started?
Over Lent 2010, the people of the North East got together for “The Big Read“. Through a series of housegroups and public meetings as well as private reading, they worked their way through Luke, using the first of three texts to be written by Tom Wright. BigRead2010 was such a success that Pete Phillips, Director of the Centre for Biblical Literacy and Communication (CODEC, St John’s College, Durham), buoyed also by the strong interest in a conference last year ‘Christian Communication in a Digital Age’, and a strong passion for enabling stronger Christian communication in the digital age, was determined to turn it into a national project, and tracked down funding.
Can you tell us about who is behind the Big Bible Project?
Pete Phillips secured funding (in the form of finance, office space, intellectual property) from The Methodist Church, Methodist Evangelicals Together, Premier Christian Radio, and SPCK, which enabled him to employ me (Bex) at the beginning of July on a part-time basis as the Blended Learning Project Manager (as it’s about finding the appropriate mix for the materials we have, rather than pushing the technology in inappropriate ways). I work with a number of people, most closely the marketing team at Premier, but also drawing on the wisdom, expertise, and guest blogging skills of my Twitter and other contacts, and Twelve Baskets will be offering free image-hosting and newsletter functionality to grow the quality resource base of Christian material.
Why do you think people struggle to read the Bible?
Well, from my perspective – it’s a big book (or series of books), contains some really hard bit, and as someone once said to me ‘there are lots of boring bits’, which can include the many lists and tongue twister names . Those ‘boring bits’, however, help to contextualise the entire story, and that person had read the Bible every year for about 50 years. We set a lot of expectations on ourselves, for example, to read lots of the Bible, rather than to read it deeply, and it can often be quite an academic exercise. I have been learning to take more creative responses, and some of these are likely to be reflected in the #bigread2011 materials, and we will also offer ways to read the Bible digitally, making use of times such as waiting at the bus stop.
So how big is your Bible?
Well, I am one of those privileged Westerners who has more than one. I grew up with the Good News Bible, with occasional reference to the King James, moved onto the New International Version. Next to my bed these days I have a BIG New Living Translation, with lots of notes, and a copy of the The Message. I also have the ‘YouBible’ app on my iPhone, as well as a number of other apps that I want to experiment with. Whilst off sick once, a friend brought me the “Bible as a Novel”, which I did read.
Tell us about your favourite Bible?
Reading The Bible as a Novel, and working as a Tour Leader for Oak Hall inspired me to the challenge of reading the entire Bible. I tried to read it in a year, but ended up with what we refer to as “2 & a half weeks behind with Jesus”. I am now really enjoying working my way through The Message, one chapter per day, and am just about to start Luke’s gospel.
Have you ever had a church sofa?
No, but I was very impressed by the one on Rev. I have a friend who goes to HTB, and I like the sound of their white sofas (not a hardwearing colour though, I’d like to relax, rather about worrying about getting the sofa dirty… hmmm is there a deeper meaning in that?)!
Dr Bex Lewis is the Blended Learning Project Manager for the Big Bible Project. She is also the Blended Learning Fellow at the University of Winchester, where she is also an Associate Lecturer in Media Studies and History (and undertook her PhD: http://ww2poster.co.uk). Because she thinks she is some kind of superwoman, she also maintains a number of other social media activities, all linked from http://digital-fingerprint.co.uk.