The Social Bible

Thanks to recent reader Christina for pointing out this article yesterday!  The headline is “Rethinking the Bible as a Social Book”.  But that’s pretty misleading.  The Bible has *always* been a social book.  It has always (or at least until the last 150 years or so) been a book that was intended to be shared and read socially.  

Consider that when literacy rates were low, those who were able to read and write and therefore transmit the material in the Bible were also required to make sure that all the people had the content of the Bible read to them (for example, Exodus 24:7, Exodus 17:18-20, Deuteronomy 31:10-23).  The books of the New Testament were circulated around to the various Christian congregations, and there were read aloud so that people could hear what they said.  
All of this is built on a deeper and richer tradition of Scripture as a ‘social book’ in Judaism.  In the Jewish tradition, hundreds of years of commentary (in the Mishnah and Gemara) on the Scriptures are recorded right alongside the Scripture passages.  One of my favorite authors, Chaim Potok, fascinated me as a younger person with his depiction of this long tradition of rabbis and scholars arguing with one another across the centuries via their commentaries.   
So the assertion (however glibly made) that the Bible needs to be rethought as a social book is another fairly typical example of the sort of modern thinking that seems to feel as though we are the first people or generation who are really capable of thinking, or who really understand what social networks are all about.  We’re not.  We’re late comers to the game, and what we bring to the table is a technological twist that extends the sociality – it does not create it.  
This looks like a fascinating app, and I’m sure the developers will find partners to help them bring it to market.  But something in me also yearns for the traditional methods of doing exactly what these gentlemen are proposing.  Book clubs and reading circles and author circles and lectures.  The scope of these other social network functions is limited by time and space, but there’s the added benefit of actually being able to talk face to face with someone, without the technological buffer or translator.  
Would you guys use an app like this?  Pros & cons?

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