Christian website designers are currently testing an online application of Scripture that they say can change the way church sites, pastors, and even novice programmers use the Bible online.

Next week, Crossway's English Standard Version (ESV) will become the first Bible to allow web programmers to use its text on their own websites.

It's not Crossway's first attempt at making the translation computer friendly. When it first released the ESV in September 2001, the publisher included a CD-ROM of the text with every print Bible. It has also released a web search sidebar to allow searches of the ESV from anywhere on the Internet.

"We've tried to be technologically progressive," says ESV webmaster Steve Smith. "We've wanted to make the ESV available to people who want to use it in ways the Bible has never been used before."

Starting next week the Bible's text will be offered to users through a web service, which is a way for computers to talk to each other without human interaction. Smith said that an example of a web service are commerce websites which—without users knowing it—directly contact UPS's computers, retrieve the applicable shipping cost, and report it to the buyer. The site doesn't have to store a database of shipping prices.

"Similarly, if you want to display a passage of Scripture on your website, you don't have to store the entire Bible," Smith told Christianity Today. "You can retrieve it from our computers and show it to your visitors who see it as a seamless part of your site."

Other sites such as Bible Gateway offer web services in order to search Scripture or link to verses. But the ESV web service uses an Application Program Interface (API) that allows programmers to determine the format in which the text is retrieved. ...

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