Guest / Limited Access /
Hacking the Bible
Courtesy of Logos Bible Software

Stephen Smith doesn't look like a mad scientist, because he's not one. Not really. He's not even a code guy by training. But he has packed the room at BibleTech, an occasional gathering of coders, hackers, publishers, scholars, and Bible technology enthusiasts. And the standing-room-only crowd is starting to turn on him. No pitchforks and torches. But for once in this collegial, tight-knit retreat, you can feel the tension growing.

They've seen his experiments before. You might have, too. He's the guy who wrote the code to quantify what folks on Twitter gave up for Lent and how the fasts change from year to year (forswearing swearing is up, dropping alcohol is down). He figured out what Bible verses went viral after Osama bin Laden was killed, or at any other time (chances are good that "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" and "For I know the plans I have for you" are doing really well right now), and the most popular saints and mountains in American church names. (Mt. Pisgah beats out Mt. Nebo. And Lutherans almost never call their church "First Lutheran"—though "First" is a fifth of Presbyterian churches.)

If someone releases a new API (code that lets applications interact with each other), or if Google unveils a new tool in beta, or if a new dataset is published online, it's a fairly safe bet that Smith will try to connect it to the Bible. In 2012, Stanford University published a Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World. Smith used it to calculate the time and cost of each of Paul's missionary journeys. The photo-sharing site Flickr lets users search by GPS coordinates, and he created a tool to feature contemporary photos ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueJesus Didn't Tell Us to Shun Politics
Subscriber Access Only
Jesus Didn't Tell Us to Shun Politics
Why his teachings touch on more than matters of theology.
RecommendedYou Are the Manure of the Earth
Subscriber Access Only You Are the Manure of the Earth
Jesus' metaphor about salt was actually about fertilizer.
TrendingWhy Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
Why Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump
In the face of a candidate’s antics, ‘America’s Pastor’ speaks out.
Editor's PickI Found the Gospel in Communist Romania
I Found the Gospel in Communist Romania
And then I shared it with the man the government sent to kill me.
Christianity Today
Hacking the Bible
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.