Man tweeted the Bible, one chapter at a time
Chris Juby, worship director at Kings Church in Durham, U.K. and a freelance web designer, embarked on a special mission in August 2010 when he decided to tweet the Bible, one chapter at a time, every day. Juby stayed true to his word and completed his mission on Nov. 8 with Revelations 22.
Juby hasn’t missed a single day since he started summarizing each chapter of the Bible on Twitter and decided that after 1,189 chapters, @BibleSummary will no longer post any tweets. Juby spoke with Metro about what he learned about himself and his faith in the past three-and-a-half years and what’s next on the docket.
Rev22: The river of life flows from the throne of God. "Behold, I am coming soon. I am the beginning and the end." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
— Bible Summary (@biblesummary) November 8, 2013
How did you come up with the idea?
I regularly read the bible anyway and I was looking for a way to focus my daily reading and take in more of what I was reading rather than to let it swim in my head. I thought writing summaries would be a good way to do that. I was a regular Twitter user anyway so I decided I’d post the summaries onto Twitter. It was really just for a few friends and family and then it went all around the world and I gained a lot of followers.
When did the account go viral?
Maybe a couple of weeks after I started, I mentioned it to my local paper and they sent out a reporter and photographer, and then it was in the national papers, and then I got a call from CNN and ABC … All the social media guys and Mashable ran stories on it and within two weeks of starting, I had over 10,000 followers.
How does it feel now that you’re not tweeting on the account anymore?
It’s a strange feeling. It’s been a significant part of my life and my family over the course of these three-and-a-half years – we’ve had two sons in that time. I’ve been delighted to follow through and finish what I set out to do. It’s a strange feeling to wake up and not have anything to summarize.
How long did it take you to summarize each chapter?
It varied, depending on how complicated the chapter was. The average was probably about half an hour. I’d read the chapter and try to figure out the main things and find sentences to express it in 140 characters or less.
What was the most inspiring fan mail you received?
I think my favorite ones were people who sent me emails or messages saying my summaries really helped them understand the meanings of the Bible. I’ve also had some people saying that in countries where they don’t have Christian literature, they’ve used my summaries as a starting point for studying scripture. Those things are actually brilliant. Once it got popular, my motivation became to get people to read the Bible for themselves.
Have you learned a lot in the process?
It’s been incredible actually. Pretty much the first thing I noticed is how much more attention to detail you pay when you have to summarize things when you know it’s going to a big audience. It really forced me to read it properly. I think having the digital read through and going through all the different and difficult, boring bits and the inspiring, popular bits gave me a bigger sense of what the story or scripture is.
What was the most surprising discovery you made?
How many people were interested in the project who were not Christians. I thought it would be mainly people who went to church, but everyone who came into contact with the project was interested in finding out what was actually in the scripture. People know the influence the Bible has had on Christians and general culture but a lot of people don’t feel confident enough to read the Bible themselves and actually know what’s in there. A lot of people were curious about following along so they could get a sense of what’s actually in there.
What was the most difficult chapter for you to tweet?
There were chapters in the Book of Romans, a famously dense book in the Bible, which I found very difficult because they are quite famous chapters and lots of people have their own ways of interpreting them. In some parts even just following the arguments was quite a challenge, so probably those ones.
Do you have a new project in the works?
I think there are a few things to follow up on. I had a few publicists get in touch with me about turning the project into a book at some time, so I’m definitely exploring this option. I’ve had conversations with the folks at Bible Gateway about rerunning the project in partnership with them in some way. There are lots of possibilities. I’ve also had lots of wacky suggestions, like summarizing “The Lord of the Rings,” but that’s probably less likely.
Do you think you’re stronger in your faith now?
Yeah, that’s definitely the case. It’s been a really eventful time, personally, these last few years – not least of all the birth of my two sons – and having that kind of discipline of reading scripture everyday and getting the sense of the story of my life, getting caught up with the big story the scripture is telling me – it’s definitely got the Bible deeper into my own life.
Follow Andrea Park: @andreapark