It looks fun to read and could draw young people with its colours and images, but does the emoji Bible app a legitimate form of God's Word?
A month after its release, the "Scripture for Millennials," as it is called by its marketer, has drawn not only the frowns of Bible scholars but also the puzzlement of ordinary readers.
The app has received only 2.9 out of a 5-star rating in Apple's app store, with many of the people who tried reading the King James Version text, with emoji inserts, harder to read than the traditional all-word Bibles available today, according to Mission Network News.
Dr. Carl A. Moeller, CEO of world renowned and 207-year-old Bible translation organisation Biblica, is among the Bible scholars who are giving the app the thumbs down.
He says the main problem with the emoji translation is that it fails to translate God's word in all its glory. "Emojis, for all their curious and fun connotations, don't convey the specificity that's necessary in making the Bible come alive and its message transcend our daily reality," Moeller says. "The specific nature of language is that words mean things. And emojis can mean a variety of things."
He points out that the maker of the app misses the point in Bible translation. "Sometimes, in our desire to be relevant, we miss the fact that God has chosen to give us His salvation message and his life message, in the form of words. He could have done it other ways...but specifically he used words and that's why Bible translation is such an important work," Moeller says.
The Biblica official says the Bible—which he describes as "a love letter from God to us"—is God's chosen method of speaking to people. God could have communicated with the human race in any way he wanted, perhaps using the clouds or sky, the mountains or oceans. But he chose to use words, Moeller underscores.
While some people, particularly the young, may find it interesting to try and read the Bible with the emoji Bible app, it's important to remember how God inspired His Word, which is through texts, the Biblica official says.
Biblica, earlier known as The International Bible Society, was founded in 1809 and is the worldwide publisher and copyright holder of the New International Version of the Bible (NIV), the world's most widely used contemporary English Bible. It has been translating and publishing the Bible for 4 billion people in dozens of languages.