PocketBible is on MeWe

With more PocketBible users making the move from Facebook to MeWe, we thought we should be there, too. We’re not leaving Facebook, just adding a MeWe page. You can click here or search for PocketBible on MeWe. When you find us, follow us.

For those of you who have never heard of MeWe, it’s like Facebook except without the ads and the censorship of certain points of view. It’s free like Facebook, but you can get access to premium features for a small fee. The free version seems to work great, though.

We’ve been happily posting on Facebook since March 2008 and have no plans to leave. We have, however, left Twitter and have no plans to return. It didn’t really fit our needs, nor, apparently, the needs of the majority of PocketBible users.

To What Are You Blind?

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

I used to spend two or three days per week working from various coffee shops around town. Most of them open at 6AM. I’d be there right as the doors open and stay through the entire day. It wasn’t unusual to have to wait in line at 6AM as everyone stopped by to get a coffee and pastry on their way to work.

There’s a coffee shop right next door to my office. It opens at 7AM. I asked the owner why she didn’t open earlier. After all, her competitors are already open. She’s giving up a lot of business. “I don’t want to get up that early,” she said. One time I asked if they had anything for lunch. She said they do lunch but only on Thursdays. She makes some quiche and when it runs out, there’s no more lunch until next Thursday.

There’s another coffee shop farther away that opens at 6AM according to their sign, but when I showed up early one day I was surprised to find the lights on and the door open. The owner told me, “I get here about 4:45 and the first thing I do is unlock the door and put coffee on. So if you get here early and the doors are open, you’ll probably be able to get a cup.”

I looked around and noticed there was nothing for lunch. I asked if they served sandwiches. He pointed to the door on the wall across from the counter and said, “That door takes you to the restaurant next door. You can get food there and bring it here, or take your coffee with you over there when you want some lunch.”

I would argue that the lazy lady next door doesn’t know what business she’s in nor who her customers are. The guy who opens early and sends people to the restaurant next door has transcended the coffee shop business and is operating at a state of consciousness that the lady next door can’t even imagine, let alone perceive.

We have a publisher with whom we’d like to do business. They have a Bible translation that we get a lot of requests for. They refuse to license it because they want to protect their own internal sales. They don’t have a software version of this Bible; they just have print. But they worry that an electronic version will cannibalize their print sales.

Electronic publishing costs traditional print publishers nothing. It only generates royalty revenue. It is money applied directly to the bottom line. People purchase electronic books that they would never buy in print, and people who are still buying print in 2020 are not buying electronic Bibles. There are exceptions and the two worlds definitely intersect, but it’s difficult to argue that one robs from the other when you’re looking at a particular title. I would argue that in an effort not to lose the revenue stream with which they are familiar, this publisher is blind to no-cost, revenue-only opportunities. These opportunities are knocking directly on his door, coming to him. He doesn’t even have to work hard to take advantage of them.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m blind to in my business. The coffee shop next door doesn’t realize they’re a coffee shop, and that people want a cup of coffee on their way to work. They aren’t going to her shop. They didn’t realize that serving lunch only one day a week is like not serving lunch. Publishers come out of marketing and sales meetings where they struggle with how to increase revenue, then tell a no-cost revenue stream that they’re not interested in taking money from them. I worry that I’m doing some outrageously silly thing. Other than wasting my time writing blog articles that no one will read, what am I blind to?

Laridian and COVID-19

We don’t think it’s necessary for Laridian to add to the noise regarding the Chinese Coronavirus Disease, COVID-19, so we’re not sending out one of those annoying emails that you’re getting from everyone from your bank to your plumber. And we’re not going to preach to you or send you an ad for our products thinly disguised as “spiritual encouragement in these challenging times” as our competitors are doing. But I would like you to know how we’re dealing with this crisis.

I like to say we’ve been practicing social distancing professionally since 1998. Laridian began its life that year as a purely virtual corporation. We had no brick-and-mortar location. While we have an office now, overlooking the downtown city park in historic Marion, IA, our work-from-home roots are part of our DNA. Our employees and contractors regularly work at home or offsite. There is no physical object, service, or capability at our office that is critical to our functioning. I’ve asked everyone to work from home for a bit while I continue to work from the office. (My wife, who works as a legal assistant and has also been asked to work from home, is joining me at the office for a change of scenery.) So in short, you’re right to not be worried about us.

Those of us who minister to others face some unique challenges during this time. Laridian isn’t in a position to solve any of those problems, but we can help a little bit by continuing to find new resources for PocketBible to aid in your ministry, and looking even harder for opportunities to save you money.

That’s what we’re doing, and what we’re going to continue to do despite the pandemic.

Craig's Signature
Craig Rairdin
President/Founder

Laridian Account Security Updates

We don’t talk much about security issues at our website for obvious reasons – any information we provide could inform a hacker and provide them a shortcut to circumventing security on our site. We’ve recently made some changes that we want you to be aware of for a couple of reasons: First, the changes are comprehensive and as a result, could affect you in ways we haven’t anticipated. Second, we want to reassure you that your information is and always has been secure.

Let’s take that last point first: Laridian doesn’t store your PayPal username or password, nor do we store your credit card number on our servers. When you make a payment, you are interacting directly with either PayPal or our payment processor, Authorize.Net. Your financial information does not even pass through our server on its way to those companies. So we have no opportunity to store it even if we wanted to.

This is important. It means that your financial information isn’t here, even if someone did break in looking for it. It is being handled by companies that are significantly more sophisticated and more security-conscious than we are. The data breaches you read about don’t generally happen at banks and credit card processors. They are almost always the result of a retail store or online shopping site with lax security. Laridian avoids these attacks by simply not being in possession of any of that information.

The first point, that the changes are extensive and at least in some small degree affect all users, is addressed below.

What Changed

The changes we’ve made are fairly comprehensive and as a result it’s possible that you’ll have trouble signing into your account if you have inadvertently been taking advantage of a shortcoming in our previous account security methods.

Prior to about January 4, 2020, your Laridian account password was stored in our database in plain text. That’s a little unusual (and arguably unsafe), but it’s the result of the fact that our original website and database implementation was done by an outside company over 20 years ago when security standards for the Internet were very different. While standards have changed, making changes to security protocols while allowing thousands of users acquired over more than 20 years to continue to access their accounts is very challenging. So addressing this issue is something we have avoided for a long time.

Even though passwords were stored in plain text, they were (and are) encrypted when transmitted from PocketBible, and the database itself is behind a firewall. The encryption makes it unlikely that someone could grab your password by monitoring your Internet traffic, and the firewall isolates the database from the Web. Both the database and the server it is hosted on require secure account login, so it would be relatively difficult for someone to access it and view user passwords. Since we weren’t protecting any financial information, we weren’t strongly motivated to make this change.

There were three main problems in the old implementation:

  1. Passwords used to be case insensitive. If your password was PASSword, you could log in with password, Password, or PaSsWoRd. This was apparently caused by the original programmer not understanding that the database was configured to do case-insensitive searches. When we discovered it later, we already had users who were inadvertently taking advantage of this misbehavior, so it became at least difficult, if not impossible, to easily change.
  2. We used to truncate all passwords to 10 characters even if you entered more than that. If your password was password1234, you could log in with password12, password12#$, or password1234567890. The original programmer allowed for longer passwords in the database and in his code, but accidentally limited the length of password fields by the way pages on our website were written. Again, once we figured this out we already had thousands of users who were taking advantage of this without realizing it, so we couldn’t easily change it.
  3. As mentioned before, passwords were stored in plain text in the database. This was the result of the naïve belief by the original implementor that password-protecting the database and the server was sufficient to secure this information. This turned out to be true, but we felt we could do better.

The new method addresses all of the above issues:

  1. Passwords are now case sensitive. If your password is PASSword, then you must enter PASSword or you don’t get in.
  2. The new method does not put a practical limit on the length of passwords. There is a limit, but you won’t encounter it unless you want to type for a long, long time. You could create a 1,000,000-character password if you want. It just wouldn’t be practical.
  3. Your password isn’t stored anywhere.

Wait, what? If the password isn’t stored, how are you able to log in?

The way the new system works is that your password is run through what’s called a hash algorithm. This algorithm calculates a unique value that represents your password. So even if a hacker were able to gain access to the database, they would only have indecipherable numbers, not your password.

The has algorithm is one-way. That is, it’s trivial to calculate the hash value from your password, but it is theoretically impossible to generate your password given the hash value. Again, if our theoretical hacker had a list of hash values, they could not reverse-engineer those values and figure out the passwords that generated them.

When you log into your account, we run the password you give us through the same algorithm to produce a hash value, then we compare that number to the number in the database. If they match, you get in. If not, you don’t.

How You Are Affected

Because of the way we phased in the changes, you shouldn’t notice anything different unless you were accidentally using upper/lower case in a way that didn’t match your original password. If your password is longer than 10 characters, we’ll still use just the first 10 characters to log you in. If you create a new password that is longer than 10 characters, we’ll use the full password.

As mentioned before, changing the way passwords are stored and used on our site and in our apps affects virtually everything we do:

  • Obviously, logging into your account on our website is affected.
  • Viewing the list of books you own from inside one of our apps depends on PocketBible being able to log into your account.
  • Synchronizing your notes/highlights/bookmarks with the Laridian Cloud depends on PocketBible being able to log into your account.
  • PocketBible for Windows Desktop uses an older version of synchronization with our iPocketBible.com server, which is different than the other apps use and takes a different path to log into your account.
  • Requesting a password-reset link from our site works the same way as before but internally is significantly different.

As a result, there could be problems in some remote corner of one of our apps or on our website that we haven’t discovered yet. If you run into any problems, contact us at support@laridian.com.

Let’s Keep the “X” in “Xmas”

This morning a customer wrote to complain about our use of XMAS in a promotional priority code in one of our marketing emails, prompting this article.

Christians and Christian values are under attack in America today. Nothing like elsewhere in the world, of course, where Christians are being killed or imprisoned for simply thinking a certain way about God. But given that this country was founded on biblical principles by people who held Christian beliefs, it is especially troubling to see those principles and beliefs under direct attack from those who benefit from them but neither understand nor appreciate them.

Because of the constant bullying we all face from “open minded” people who “respect differences”, we are sometimes quick to see offense where none really exists. The concern that some Christians have over the use of the abbreviation Xmas for Christmas is one such situation.

The X in Christmas is actually the Greek letter chi, which is the first letter in the Greek word Χριστος, from which we get “Christ”. Its English counterpart (X) has been used as an abbreviation for Christ for centuries — by some accounts, about 1000 years. The abbreviation X for Christ, and variations such as Xt and Xr, can be found in texts from the 1700’s. In no case is it used to “remove Christ” from the text, but rather as a simple shorthand or perhaps as a recognition of the sacred nature of the name — in the same way that speaking the name of God was prohibited among the Jews, resulting in the unpronounceable 4-letter name (יהוה) that we sometimes see as YHWH in English. The substitution of chi for “Christ” was never meant as an insult but was used by Christians as a way of writing Jesus’ name.

Christianity is full of symbols. The cross in its various forms (the simple ✞ and many variations, including ⳩ and ⳨). The dove that we use in our PocketBible icon. The “fish” symbol. None of these are intended to denigrate the name of Jesus or to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. Instead, they serve as powerful shorthand for the great concepts they represent. The cross isn’t just two intersecting lines; it reminds us of Jesus’ substitutionary death on behalf of sinners. It is empty, reminding us of his resurrection. It connects heaven and earth. It spans the gulf between God and humans.

When an unbeliever writes “Xmas” to avoid using the name of Christ, he or she is actually honoring Jesus. To the Christian, the X or chi in Xmas honors Jesus. And it connects us across the centuries to our ancient brothers and sisters in Christ. It is the “secret handshake” that communicates deep spiritual truths that are evident to the believer but hidden from the world. So well hidden, in fact, that some well-meaning believers actually resist its use, arguing that it removes “Christ” from “Christmas”. But they are ignorant of the long history of Christian symbolism. “Xmas” is a Christian term, invented by Christians, with a long history of use in Christian literature, based on the ancient practice of abbreviating the title “Christ” with the Greek letter ​chi​. It is not the invention of political progressives to remove Jesus from the name of the holiday that celebrates his birth.

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the animosity that exists in our society between Christians and non-Christians. But the use of Xmas as shorthand for Christmas is not one of them.

What Americans Believe

Every other year, Ligonier Ministries conduct The State of Theology survey. In it, they question Americans about their religious beliefs. As you might expect, the results are generally disappointing.

While it’s easy to blame one’s neighbor for believing that humans are basically good, or blame the person sitting next to you at church for believing that religious belief is not about Truth but about personal opinion, the fact of the matter is that they’re often not getting good teaching.

I’ve spent the last 30 years helping pastors, teachers, and everyday Christians have everything they need to understand and apply what they read in the Bible. Whether it was QuickVerse for MS-DOS in 1988, PalmBible for Windows CE in 1998, or PocketBible for iOS and Mac OS in 2018, the goal has always been to put the tools in peoples’ hands to help them discover what the Bible has to say and to teach others what they’ve learned.

While the general philosophy of those around us drifts farther and farther from Truth, it’s important that we stay firmly grounded and that we share that Truth with others.

Read the complete survey results here. Read about our new Pastors and Teachers Library here.

King James Version: Red Letters and Paragraphs

Title_PageBack in October, 2014 we updated our King James Version text. We had taken some criticism for publishing a low-quality edition of the text which couldn’t seem to be traced back to any known edition of the KJV.

Red Letters

When we published that version, we intentionally left out the “words of Christ in red” feature, because the whole goal was to get to a pedigreed version of the text and red letters were not a part of the KJV text until relatively recently.

This didn’t go over well with folks who rely on red ink to know when Jesus is speaking. So we did more research to see if we could come up with an “authoritative” red-letter edition of the KJV on which to base our editorial decisions. To our surprise, we found one.

In 1899, Louis Klopsch (1852-1910), editor of The Christian Herald, was writing an editorial for his magazine when he read Luke 22:20: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” It struck him that a New Testament with Christ’s words written in “blood” would be both useful and highly symbolic. He approached his mentor, Rev. T DeWitt Talmage with the idea, and the men agreed, “It could do no harm and it most certainly could do much good.”

Klopsch Red Letter BibleRight away they discovered that the KJV contains no quotation marks to delineate those words spoken by Jesus and separate them from those of the narrator or other characters in the story. It also occurred to them that there are instances in the Old Testament where it is believed that Jesus appeared to the Old Testament saints and spoke to them. Should those words be in red? What about the words of Jesus when spoken by others in the book of Acts or the epistles?

Klopsch had to make a few choices (such as in John 3:16ff) about where Jesus’ words end and the narrator’s begin. He opted to omit Old Testament christophanies, but to include New Testament quotes in red. The first red-letter New Testament was published in 1899, and an entire Bible, containing the red-letter New Testament, was published in 1901.

Laridian was able to obtain a 1903 New Testament and a 1913 whole Bible, each with Klopsch’s original red-letter text. The New Testament claims an 1899 copyright and the whole Bible, 1901. From these well-used pages we manually marked up our electronic text to indicate the words of Christ.

Paragraphs

Soon after publishing our updated KJV last year we realized that the text we had worked from did not contain paragraph indicators of any kind. With a little effort we were able to find a source of that information that is consistent with the age and quality of the text itself, and have integrated that information into our text.

The King James Version has historically been printed with each verse starting on a new line, and a pilcrow (¶) marking the start of a new paragraph. We have followed that tradition, which means that in versions of PocketBible that allow you to display the text in paragraph form or one verse per line, you will always see the KJV text presented with each verse starting on a new line.

While some might argue that this format is jarring to the modern reader, we would point out that that KJV itself is “jarring” to the modern reader. We think there is great value in upholding the publishing traditions that add to the unique character of the King James Version of the Bible, and are very happy with the results of this effort to update our version of the text.

Most PocketBible users will see a note on the “Add/Remove Books”, “Cloud Library”, or “Download Books” screen in PocketBible to the effect that the KJV and KJV with Strong’s Numbers texts have been updated. Select the updated product to download it to PocketBible. Windows Desktop users will have to download the setup program for the KJV or KJVEC from the Downloads area of our website.

Does It Matter Where Your Bible App Comes From?

DumpsterTrevor McKendrick is an atheist who wrote one of the top-selling Bible apps for iOS. A former Mormon, McKendrick saw an unserved niche market on the App Store and created a Spanish audio Bible to fill it. Now he’s banking over $100,000 per year selling the app. He compares the Bible to Harry Potter and describes Christians as people who learn the spells in the book and try to use them to heal their children. He compares them to people who teach The Lord of the Rings as real history.

Does it make any difference whether or not the people who create the products you use for Bible study agree with the materials they publish?

When I started writing Bible software in 1988 there were very few other products on the market. I purchased the King James Bible from Public Brand Software, a distributor of freeware and shareware programs for MS-DOS. While browsing their catalog (paper catalog — this was before the Web) I saw a Bible program called WordWorker and picked up a copy of that, too.

WordWorker was pretty impressive compared to other programs available at the time. My problem with it was that the programmer who wrote it was associated with The Way International, which denies key teachings of historic Christianity and adds a few of their own. They encourage severing ties with family and friends and living with other “believers” instead, which many argue qualifies them as a “cult”.

Coincidentally I had been unsuccessfully recruited by a member of The Way while in college. Noticing a strange-looking guy observing me playing pinball at the student union, I struck up a conversation and bought him a couple games (he had never played pinball). He invited me to join his “twig fellowship”. As a brand new Christian with very little foundation in the Bible, I struggled with figuring out if this was God’s direction or not. Fortunately I dodged that bullet, and got involved with a local church that had a strong emphasis on the Bible and Bible study, which is what eventually led me into developing Bible software.

It was difficult to get excited about using WordWorker because I felt like I was supporting a cult. Even if it coincidentally met my needs, it was hard to recommend to others or even use enthusiastically because I knew where it came from. One benefit of using Bible software that comes from a person with whom you share a common faith is that you don’t have to feel guilty about supporting something with which you disagree. You and I may not agree on every fine point of doctrine, and we may not share a common worship style preference, but I bet we’re closer to agreeing with each other on the fundamentals of the faith than you would be with an atheist.

I originally wrote my Bible study software as a tool for myself to use. Its features were designed to meet my needs, which I obviously knew well. I didn’t have to do any research to figure out what people who read the Bible wanted; I wrote what I wanted.

I took my Bible program (QuickVerse) to Parsons Technology in 1988, where, over the next ten years, I employed a couple dozen different programmers. Not all of them were practicing Christians, but they were good programmers. Jeff Wheeler (who would later leave Parsons with me to start Laridian) and I led the development of the program. Both of us were Bible-believing Christians who were not just developers, but users of the program.

Having real Christians write your Bible study app guarantees that it is designed to meet the needs of someone who really studies the Bible.

Parsons Technology was not a “Christian company”. It was a plain-old software company that happened to have a Church Software Division that published church management and Bible study software. Parsons was eventually purchased by Intuit (1994), which sold us to Broderbund (1997), which was purchased by The Learning Company (1998), which was purchased by Mattel (1999), which sold the Church Software Division to a dormant company that was rumored to have previously been a booking agency for Las Vegas acts (2000). During those years we were faced with a number of demands from our pagan overlords that compromised the quality of QuickVerse. They saw “unserved niches” on store shelves and wanted us to create products that were just old versions of QuickVerse with a new cover. They weren’t interested in meeting needs, but in making money.

This was the final straw for me. When it got to where creating Bible software was about duping people into buying old versions of our program at a cheap price because BestBuy or Costco was looking for 25-cent CD-ROMs to fill an end-cap, I bailed out and started Laridian in 1998.

Our goal has always been to focus on our customers and our product, not on creating a company to sell to the highest bidder. The features and reference materials you see in PocketBible come from customer feedback (and from our own needs as our product’s first customers). We bristle at doing things like renaming our product “@Bible” so that it pops up first in alphabetic search results on the App Store, or calling our program “Bible App” to cause it to come up first when you do a generic search for a Bible app, or seeding the store with identical products, all with different names, so it appears more often in your search results. This is what marketeers do to trick people into buying shoddy products. We aim for letting the quality and usability of our apps speak for themselves.

So another benefit of having real Christians write your Bible study app is that they’re not just seeing you as a rube who will spend their hard-earned money on a quickly thrown-together, shallow product, but rather they are committed to creating not just one download but an ecosystem of products that will meet your Bible study needs not only today, but for years to come.

I don’t have a doctrinal test for people with whom I do business, but I expect my Bible study materials to come from people who are as firmly committed to the Bible as I am. It’s not that they’re the only ones who I can trust to create useful products, but it is at least more likely that they’re doing a better job.

Updated King James Version for PocketBible

Title_PageWe’ve just updated the text of the King James Version we use in PocketBible. Whether you’re a devoted reader of the KJV or only have it installed because it came bundled with your copy of PocketBible, you should welcome this move to a more pedigreed version of the text.

Laridian has long been criticized for the perceived lack of attention we’ve paid to our KJV text by those for whom the accuracy of this text is a major issue. The previous version of our text was from an unknown source and contained American spellings and modern replacements for many archaic words. In some cases, these aspects of the text went unnoticed but in others they were very apparent and called into question the quality of the rest of the text.

The most commonly cited problem was our use of the word thoroughly in 2 Timothy 3:17, where the original 1611 KJV uses the archaic word throughly. While it is the case that the word throughly is defined as “thoroughly; completely”, there are some who feel the original word conveys some additional meaning that is lost by the change to thoroughly. This, despite the fact that Vine’s Expository Dictionary says “For THROUGHLY see THOROUGHLY” and even Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary says “For this, thoroughly is now used”.  This is just one example, though arguably the most significant, of about 100 spelling changes between our previous edition of the KJV and our newest release.

A Little History

The Authorized or King James Version of the Bible was the result of a project to revise the text of the Bishops’ Bible, which was the Bible of the Church of England at the turn of the 17th century. In 1604, a committee of fifty-four men were appointed to undertake the revision. Work was delayed until 1607, by which time only forty-seven of the original appointees were available to work on the project. The instructions given to the translators were to alter the text of the Bishops’ Bible as little as possible and to use the text of Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Whitchurch, or Geneva when those translations agree more closely with the original Hebrew and Greek texts. The editors worked in several teams, each tackling a portion of the books of the Bible. When the work was complete, representatives of each group oversaw a final editorial pass through the text and two men worked closely with the printer to supervise the first printing in 1611.

A number of factors made it impossible for any two early print runs of the KJV to be identical. First, the printing technology at the time required that a single page be created by laying out individual pieces of type (each representing one letter, punctuation mark, or space) to create a form. Once the entire print run for that page was completed, the type was reclaimed to create the next page. By necessity, then, the second and subsequent printings of the Bible had to be re-set from scratch using the original documents or the previous printing as a guide. While errors in the previous printings could be corrected at this time, the resetting of every page made it possibile for new errors to be introduced. In 1725, printers at Cambridge University came up with the idea of making a plaster mould of an entire form, then using this to cast a metal stereotype or cliché from which identical subsequent prints could be made. This helped reduce the errors from constant resetting of the text.

A second source of variation in the text was the lack of a standard English orthography (spelling). Most people in the 16th and 17th centuries experienced reading vicariously — the actors in Shakespeare’s plays repeated his words on stage, and the clergy read the Bible aloud to the congregation. As long as the words could be pronounced in a way the hearer could understand, the spelling of the word on the page was irrelevant. It would be another 150 years before the idea of “standard” spelling and even the concept of a dictionary of the English language would come about. In the meantime, there might be two or more different spellings of the same word within one printing of the Bible (or any book for that matter).

To complicate this further, and because correct spelling simply wasn’t an issue, typesetters would add or remove letters from words to make them fit better on a line of type. This introduced another opportunity for variation.

Even after stereotyping made it possible for one publisher to maintain consistency between printings of the same book, each publisher created their own forms and thereby introduced their own changes into the text. Publishers also felt free to add or remove footnotes, change punctuation, and revise the spelling or word usage for their particular audience.

The result of all of this is that we have literally hundreds of different versions of the King James Version text on bookshelves around the world, created over a period of more than 400 years by dozens of publishers using a variety of printing techniques. Each of these is labelled “King James Version” and none come with a list of how they differ from the printing before them, let alone the original 1611 text.

The Age of Electronic Publishing

In the late 20th century it became possible for anyone with a high-speed scanner and optical character recognition software to create an electronic copy of the King James Version text — and they did. Our previous King James Version text was the product of one such person’s efforts. We don’t know which of hundreds of available versions of the KJV text they used, but we know it had Americanized spellings (honorable for honourablerazor for rasorcounseller for counsellor, etc) and modern proper names (Jeremiah instead of Jeremy or JeremiasNoah instead of NoeIsaiah instead of Esaias, etc.). It also used a number of modern words in place of their archaic counterparts (the previously cited thoroughly in place of throughlyprivately in place of privilyfood in place of meattwo in place of twain, etc.).

Laridian’s Historic Position

Because the KJV has been around for 400 years; because it lived through every significant improvement in publishing since moveable type; and because we could find no two KJV Bibles (especially from different publishers) which agreed with each other, we took the position that there was no “best” KJV text. In every case cited by a customer, we could find an example of a KJV Bible from a major publisher that agreed with our version and another that agreed with them.

Lacking an obvious answer to the question “Which KJV is the KJV?” short of the 1611 text (which nobody reads since it uses “u” for “v”, “j” for “i”, and something like “f” for “long s”, rendering it virtually unreadable), we turned to two authoritative sources. First was Cambridge University, which is the steward of the Crown’s copyright on the King James Version in the United Kingdom. During a conversation over a meal, I asked if they had electronic files for the “official” King James Version — assuming there was such a thing, perhaps in a vault buried deep under London. Had I not been paying for their dinner, I would’ve been laughed out of the room. They repeated much of what I’ve stated above, and added the fact that every publisher over the years has made their own “corrections” and changes to the text, including Cambridge itself. They could offer me no advice other than to use one of their more recent printings (for which they had no electronic files). Since that would carry no more weight of being “the” KJV than the one we already had, that seemed like a waste of time.

I next turned to Dr. Peter Ruckman, perhaps the most well-known authority on the “KJV Only” position. Dr. Ruckman argues not only that the KJV is the only accurate English Bible in existence, but that it supersedes the original Hebrew and Greek texts in any question over interpretation of the Word of God. According to Dr. Ruckman, translations of the Bible should be made from it, not from Hebrew and Greek. I wrote Dr. Ruckman a letter asking for his recommendations for an “official” text of the King James Version that would satisfy the requirements of his most vocal followers for an accurate text. Dr. Ruckman scrawled “IDIOT” over my letter and sent it back to me, with the comment “any Gideon Bible”. I pulled my Gideon Bible off the shelf and found it to be a modern English version, not the KJV at all. Of course, I don’t believe Ruckman was making the case that the Gideons were the Keepers of the Authoritative King James Version Bible Text, but rather that I could literally grab any KJV Bible off the shelf, even the free Gideon Bible I found in a hotel, and use it in our software.

When the appeal to authority failed, we simply settled into distributing the KJV that we had and left it at that.

The Pure/Standard Cambridge Edition

Once or twice a year we are contacted by PocketBible users who have a serious problem with our KJV (usually citing the use of thoroughly in 2 Tim 3:17) and encouraging us to publish “the” KJV (and threatening us if we don’t). None of these users have ever been able to point to a definitive, authoritative source for this text, but recently we were directed to two sources: The Pure Cambridge Edition (PCE) at www.bibleprotector.com and Brandon Staggs’ Common Cambridge Edition at av1611.com. Both of these sites claim to have done extensive research to produce an electronic edition of the text that matches that in use by Cambridge University Press around 1900-1910, down to the last punctuation mark, capital letter, and use of italics.

We downloaded these texts and compared them to each other. They differ in about a dozen places, none of which are anywhere near as significant as the use of thoroughly for throughly in 2 Tim 3:17. After looking at some other similar sources, we settled on a version of the text that draws mostly from the Pure Cambridge Edition except in a couple places where we felt the Common Cambridge Edition was better. (In particular, we hyphenate Elelohe-Israel and Meribah-Kadesh instead of creating the “camel-case” spellings EleloheIsrael and MeribahKadesh used in the PCE, and we chose to leave out the footers THE END OF THE PROPHETS after Malachi 4:6 and THE END after Revelation 22:21.)

It was fairly trivial to convert this text to PocketBible format. The hard part was merging Strong’s numbers into it, but we’ve done that to create an updated version of our King James Version With Strong’s Numbers product as well. This has the additional benefit of bringing these two texts into agreement with each other, as even our own KJV and KJV/Strong’s texts had disagreed in a number of places.

Lessons Learned

We’ve gained a new appreciation not just for the King James Version in this process, but also for the history of the English language and printing technology. The myriad variations on the KJV text had led us to “give up” and settle for what was easy. However, this project created the desire to produce something of historical validity and significance, even if it can’t be said to be “the” KJV.

While we don’t agree with those who argue that the KJV is the only English Bible we should be reading, we do agree that it has historical significance and that we should provide a version of it that meets with the approval of those who put it on a taller pedestal than we do. We believe this edition of the KJV for PocketBible meets that standard.

We’re considering publishing some earlier editions of the KJV just for their historical value. While we don’t find reading the 1611 text to be particularly edifying, we do find it interesting. For example:

“And as Moses lifted vp the serpent in the wildernesse : euen so must the Sonne of man be lifted vp : That whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue eternall life. For God so loued yͤ world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne : that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”

I’m particularly intrigued by the shorthand rendition of the word “the” in “God so loued yͤ world”. This comes from the Early Middle English spelling of “the”, which was þe (the archaic letter thorn followed by e). When printed in the common black letter or gothic font, thorn looked very similar to y, and printers (especially in France where thorn did not exist in their alphabet) would substitute the letter y. When needed to make the words better fit on a line, the e would be placed above the y as you see here. (Another example is the word thou which was often shortened to yͧ.) It’s easy to imagine how yͤ became “ye” in “Ye Olde Book Shoppe”, and why “Ye” in this context should be pronounced with a “th” sound like “the”.

Anyway, I digress….

You can simply download the KJV from within PocketBible if you’re running PocketBible on a platform that supports that feature, or, if you have PocketBible for Windows Desktop, go to your download account at our site to download a new installation program for the KJV or KJVEC (KJV with Strong’s Numbers).

Serendipitous Programming

Today I’ve been working on a new feature for PocketBible for iOS and one thing led to another, and, well, I ended up implementing a feature I didn’t know I was working on, and didn’t realize how much of it was already sitting there, waiting to be exposed to the user.

So the new feature I thought I was working on is the ability to “rename” your highlight colors. That is, you’ll be able to assign a topic to each color. Then when you highlight a verse, instead of seeing a list containing “Khaki”, “Cornflower Blue” and “Hot Pink”, you’ll see “Salvation”, “God’s Love” and “Prophecy”. We’ve been wanting to implement this for a long time. While we were upgrading our cloud synchronization protocol over the last few months, I added the ability to sync highlight color names with the server and we took advantage of that in PocketBible for Windows Phone and Windows Store. The plan has always been to roll that into other platforms as we have the opportunity.

While looking through the code that shows you your list of highlight colors (which I’ll have to modify to show you your user-defined names for those colors) I stumbled into a bit of code that Jeff wrote years ago but then “commented out”. (If we have code that we’d like to retain for reference purposes but don’t want to actually have the computer execute, we turn the code into a “comment” so it will be ignored by the compiler but still be there if we want to see it.)

Those of you who have been with us for a while know that Jeff was my programming partner for 27 years before his death from cancer in May 2012. It’s been a bittersweet year as I’ve had to deal with his passing while surrounded and immersed every day in code that he wrote. I keep running into little things that remind me of him, make me want to give him a call to talk about a problem, or give me a chuckle. So it’s always interesting when I run into a piece of code like this.

What this particular piece of code did was add three additional highlighting styles to the list of colors you can highlight with. These are “underline”, “strikeout”, and “underline+strikeout”. Those look like this, this, and this, respectively.

Now, why would you ever want to strike out a verse? That’s a good question and takes me back fifteen years to the days of the Palm operating system when cameras were cameras, phones were phones, and “portable digital assistants” were all the rage. In those days, color displays were luxuries that cost money, size, weight, and battery life. So most of those devices had monochromatic screens.

On color screens, we could highlight a verse with a background color. But what could we do on these black and white screens? Since our text was coded in HTML, and since HTML offered simple styles like bold, italics, underline, and strikeout, we decided to use those. We ended up not using bold and italics because they could cause the text to re-wrap when they were applied, and in those days of wimpy processors, it just took too long and was disturbing to see. That left us with underline and strikeout, so that’s what we used.

As time has gone on, we’ve gotten to where we don’t even include these underline and strikeout highlighting styles in our programs. They’re not in PocketBible for iOS, and we weren’t planning on implementing them in PocketBible for Android. Unfortunately, some of you who were around back then and have sync’ed your highlights from your Palm PDA to PocketBible for Windows to our server and to PocketBible for iPhone expect to see those underlines. So we have to at least be able to display them if they exist, but we don’t let you create them (because we don’t want to proliferate a bad idea).

What I discovered today was Jeff’s original code for being able to create underline, strikeout, and underline+strikeout highlights in PocketBible for iOS. His comment said he had taken them out because the display engine (my code) didn’t support them. Sometime between then and now I implemented those highlight styles but we just never went back into Jeff’s code and turned those choices on.

On a whim, I enabled those lines of code and what do you know — they worked! That put me in the awkward position of trying to decide whether or not to leave them in. I never liked the idea of striking verses from the Bible, and even once you get over that, it makes the text hard to read.

About then it was time for dinner and I set the laptop aside to meet my wife and get something to eat. On the way there it occurred to me that we now have some better styling options that we had back in 1998. New versions of HTML with CSS support dotted and dashed underlines.

When I got home I spent about 30 minutes and implemented the styles you see here. These new styles replace the old styles rather than adding to them. So where you had strikeouts, you’ll have dotted underlines. And where you had strikeout+underline, you’ll have dashed underlines. I think this is a nice way of making your legacy data from your Palm days more usable and it gives you three more highlighting styles to use in PocketBible for iOS. (If you’re having trouble making out the dots and dashes, click on the screen shot to see the original size image.)

One of the cool things about this is that the underlying data storage and cloud synchronization already supports it. We’re not changing the data we save, but rather the interpretation of the data. So nothing changes in any of the other platforms nor on the server.

What I think is special about this — even though it’s not a life-changing feature — is that Jeff left it behind and it only took a little extra work to make it useful. And I like that all the infrastructure both for storing the new highlight styles and displaying them was already there.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to work on naming your highlight colors. But this was a nice little one or two hour detour to give us an unexpected new feature in PocketBible.