Every chapter of the Bible in 140 characters or less.
Between August 2010 and November 2013, I summarised the Bible on Twitter - one tweet per chapter, one chapter per day.
The @biblesummary account has 30,106 followers.
Bible Summary has been featured in the news all over the world.
Now available for Kindle
There aren't many other people who know what it's like to summarise the Bible on Twitter, but Jana Riess is one.
Jana completed her #Twible project a few months before I finished Bible Summary, and she has recently released a compilation book. I was excited to receive a copy earlier in the week.
By definite contrast to my own attempt at neutrality, the Twible strikes a sassy, humourous path through Scripture. The take on each chapter is "What would the Onion say?"
Perhaps you're wondering where the humour is in, say, Isaiah 53? As it turns out, Jana finds a pretty good angle. And across the chapters it's striking how often humour feels like a very appropriate response. The Twible version of Song of Songs is wonderful. And I've always felt that much of Ezekiel is a matter of laugh or cry.
The Twible is certainly funny, but it's also characterised by genuine devotion. (Read the Twible response to Matthew 27 if you're not convinced.) Jana mentions in her introduction that she started the project because she felt unfamiliar with a number of sections of Scripture, and there's a sense of unvarnished discovery as the book unfolds.
I've always enjoyed the counterpoint between the Twible and Bible Summary. I particularly recommend the Twible in that light. It's an honest, refreshing and often hilarious take on Scripture. The book offers the full set of Twible summaries plus a host of cartoons and side notes. It's a great package.
Here's The Twible on Amazon.
And as a bonus - next week I'll begin posting a series of interviews with a few us who have completed a summary of the Bible on Twitter. I think I'll kick off with Jana, then Kent and Nathaniel from @140Bible, and finally my own answers. Stay tuned...
The @biblesummary Twitter account passed 30,000 followers today. I'm quite surprised about that because I posted the final summary to 29,085 followers and I've been very clear that there will be no more tweets.
To mark the occasion, here are a few final stats for the project...
The whole summary came in at 164,176 characters (including spaces and punctuation) and 29,078 words. Thatís seven words less than the number of followers over the course of the project.
I averaged 138.1 characters per tweet out of a maximum 140. I'm pretty pleased with that figure, particularly considering that I posted a couple of extremely short summaries. (e.g. "Ps117: Praise the LORD! For great is his love towards us.")
I had a total of 18,957 retweets over the course of the project (and counting!)
People found the Bible Summary website via 71,031 different search terms.
There were 636,555 visitors to the Bible Summary website over the course of the project. That includes people from almost every country in the world.
It amazes me that every digit of these dizzying numbers represents someone engaging with the project. Thank you once again for your interest!
The project is over. The media attention has pretty much faded. So how has life changed now that I don't summarise the Bible every day?
For the first few mornings I felt a nagging sense that there was something I ought to be doing that I'd forgotten. It was both disorientating and a huge relief when I realised each day that it was Bible Summary and that it was finished.
Then I began to notice having energy to spare as I started my work. I realise again how much the effect of summarising every day has added up, and I'm thankful again for the support of my family.
Right now I'm mainly feeling surprised at how easily I've adjusted. Ten days after the end and I'm fairly unmindful of the absence of the deepest of habits.
I've been shocked to rediscover how difficult it can be to know what to read in the Bible. I decided to read Romans, which I'm obviously benefiting from. But it's hard to feel the same urgency as when I knew I needed to summarise my reading for tens of thousands of Twitter followers.
I actually went a whole day without reading Scripture a couple of days ago. Lots of things were going on in life, and without the obligation of the project I simply didn't prioritise it. It's strange to think how many consecutive days of reading that brought to an end.
Of course, it's possible to end up going through the motions with any habit. Summarising chapters has greatly helped my focus and understanding, but it has also became a technique that I can perform without my whole heart being in it. It's healthy to ask again why I'm reading the Bible at all. There are profound answers to that question.
Bringing my private reading into the public sphere has been an interesting and helpful experiment. But there's risk in it. Having finished the project I wonder how much it has in common with the Pharisees praying on street corners in Matthew 6. In the end I don't think that's a valid criticism, but it does make me think.
Summarising the Bible on Twitter was exactly the right thing to do when I started. And now it would be exactly the wrong thing to continue. It's time for me to reconnect with devotional reading as a private habit.