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When Josh Sabey was in a Bible literature class, he could not find an adequate source that neatly pooled Bible resources and allowed for interfaith and interdisciplinary conversation.
So he decided to create his own.
Josh and his wife, Sarah Sabey, who are both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Derek Simmons, a Baptist deacon the couple met in Raleigh, North Carolina, began work on the project about a year ago. On July 28, the Everyword Bible website launched at a symposium titled “Approaching the Bible,” held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Provo.
Interfaith discussion and extra-doctrinal experiences are two of the main goals of the Everyword Bible — a new interfaith, crowdsourced, online study Bible.
Individuals who join Everyword will be able to “support one another in one of the oldest religious practices — scripture study,” said creator Josh Sabey.
In her presentation at the event, Sarah Sabey said, “Tonight we hope to accomplish the same goals that we’ve designed Everyword to achieve: to give space for multiple voices to discuss the diverse approaches to the Bible — be it devotional or artistic, exegeses or analysis. We see a great value in the coming together and collaboration of these approaches.
Everyword is a “crowdsourced study Bible,” according to its Kickstarter page. The project is centered around a website on which users can create accounts, annotate the Bible verses, and interact with other users. Users can share their own insights in comments or they can upload videos, music, books, links and a variety of other resources to the site. Ideally, users will also create or join study groups, the creators said.
Having a platform for interfaith interaction is one of the main aspects of the project that he hopes contributors can identify with, Josh Sabey said after the conference. With political and religious liberty issues, Sabey said that many different religions are recognizing a need for interfaith interactions.
“In many ways we can increase our circle of communion and identity,” he said. “Interfaith at its best can be a sharing and building of faith — a feeling of unity and belonging and the spreading of good.”
However, he added that the extra-doctrinal experiences are important too, and the creators hope users will see that value as well.
Some extra-doctrinal experiences could include something like “this is what Michelangelo made out of this verse,” explained Sarah Sabey, who is pursing a master’s degree in literature while the couple lives in North Carolina. One speaker at the event, Brigham Young University professor Bruce Young, showed symbols of Shakespeare that come from the Bible. Artistic encounters such as those can be added through the different forms of media on the site.
The creators also want Everyword to “increase people’s joy and satisfaction reading the scriptures through social engagement while they are reading,” said Josh Sabey, who is a freelance writer.
Both Josh and Sarah Sabey have found personal satisfaction in their personal scripture study with this site.
Another speaker, Taylor Halverson, a teaching and learning consultant at BYU, compared this to a “modern-day Tyndale moment.” He explained that William Tyndale worked to put the Bible in the hands of every person in the 1500s. Today most people have access to Bibles, but Halverson said now the challenge is providing access to the best resources on the Bible.
“I believe that every human soul has the capacity for learning and actually has the capacity to bring light to the world,” he said. “Think about all of the lost inspiration we’d get if we diminish the opportunity for others to get access to the Bible and the best knowledge about the Bible.”
He said he applauds Everyword Bible for its efforts to accumulate the best resources.
“I encourage all of us to embrace the modern-day Tyndale moment,” he concluded. “I encourage all of us to let our light so shine by engaging in the very best ideas and encouraging others to do so.”
For information about the Everyword Bible, see everywordbible.com.
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