Elaine Duncan believes 2020 is going to be a big year for the Bible. As the chief executive of the Scottish Bible Society, she’s been excited to see the take-up of the society’s Bible2020 campaign, launched on 1st January in a bid to encourage more people to not only open and read the Bible but to do so aloud.

Noting that oral transmission of Bible stories was the main method of transmission of the Word of God before print became commonplace, Duncan says reintroducing people to the idea of declaring God’s Word and reading it aloud, “does something to the individual as they read”.

“And obviously if you do it in public – whether that’s round your own family breakfast table or whether that’s in your office – I’ve done it a couple of times on the train commuting to work... - there’s this sense of declaring God’s Word in different places so that different people are hearing it. We don’t know what God will do with that but we do know that He’ll do something.”

Elaine Duncan

Elaine Duncan, CEO of the Scottish Bible Society. PICTURE: Supplied.

The Scottish society’s campaign – which has already had engagement from people in more than 110 countries across the globe, uses a freely downloadable smartphone app to provide people with a short daily Bible reading in the hope that it will establish a pattern they’ll continue well beyond this year. 

Speaking to Sight, Duncan says the idea for the Scottish Bible Society’s Bible 2020 goes back a couple of ideas when one of the team members was looking at the idea of the year 2020 and the notion of 2020 – or perfect - vision.

Bible 2020 logo

Bible 2020 logo. PICTURE: Supplied.

“It was around the sense of what do we need for clear vision to live? And what we need is the Bible, what we need is God."

- Elaine Duncan, CEO of the Scottish Bible Society.

“It was around the sense of what do we need for clear vision to live? And what we need is the Bible, what we need is God,” says Duncan.

“The whole idea of inviting people to read a few verses of the Bible every day through the year 2020 basically came because of the year 2020 and the link with clear vision.”

Duncan – whose favourite Bible verses include one from Luke 19 in which Jesus says He came to “seek and to save the lost”- says the fact the Scottish Bible Society is a member of the United Bible Societies - and therefore linked with almost 150 other Bible societies across the world – has helped to take the idea across the world.

The reading plan on the app – which provides access to some 1,600 different versions of the Bible - is organised around different themes – starting with the idea of Creation and going on to look at things like the character of God as well as readings related to certain events, like Easter, which take place during the year.

Those who take part in the Bible readings are able to post videos of themselves reading the Bible on a “video wall” on the website 

So far there has been more than 14,500 downloads of the app in some 110 countries with more than 4,000 registered users (registration enables videos to be uploaded – and there have been around 7,000 videos posted)

For those who can’t access the app due to limited access to technologies, the reading plan is available for download on a website. It can also be found on the YouVersion platform.

“We’ve tried to acknowledge that not everybody is geared up with a smartphone," says Duncan.

Bible 2020 app modes

Reading, selfie and video wall modes on the Bible2020 app. PICTURE: Supplied. 

The Scottish Bible Society isn’t the only organisation marking 2020 as the Year of the Bible. Other organisations which are doing so include the World Evangelical Alliance - a network of evangelical alliances in 130 countries and of more than 120 Global organisations.

It was among numerous organisations represented at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, last September where participants declared their support for ‘AD 2020 Global Year of the Bible’.

Speaking at that event, Bishop Efraim Tendero, secretary-general of the World Evangelical Alliance, descrobed the Bible as the "cornerstone of the Christian faith, and the foundation that undergirds every noble effort to address suffering in the world and steward creation".

“We are calling all citizens of the globe, regardless of religious affiliation, to discover the precious and enduring message of the Holy Bible which has profoundly influenced and strengthened communities and nations for many centuries," he said. “Year of the Bible will highlight the importance of living our lives as a narrative shaped by the unchanging Word of God. We will demonstrate that the Bible’s story - infused with the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit - is the foundation for the recognition of the dignity of every individual. It inspires hope, purpose and a right relationship with God.”

“We always want to see transformation and, with the Year of the Bible, we are stating very strongly that for us to be able to experience progressive, Christ-like transformation, we should spend more time in the Word and be filled with the Word of God..."

- Dr Lloyd Estrada, WEA global Bible engagement advocate

With the support of organisations like YWAM, Christian movement call2all, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the global Lausanne movement as well as Pope Francis, participants at the Washington gathering agreed on a broad set of aims for the year.

Dr Lloyd Estrada, WEA global Bible engagement advocate, told Sight after the launch that these aims included recognising and celebrating the “unique role of the Bible in the history of the world” as well as to educating and inspiring people to study, learn and engage with the Bible and motivating and engaging followers of Jesus to “share God’s Word with others in culturally appropriate ways”.

Estrada said the WEA was encouraging its national member alliances to take part in the year with their partners on the ground (it has provided resources on a special website - www.weabibleengagement.org - for this purpose).

“We always want to see transformation and, with the Year of the Bible, we are stating very strongly that for us to be able to experience progressive, Christ-like transformation, we should spend more time in the Word and be filled with the Word of God...” he said. 

Duncan, meanwhile, says the Bible Society is hopeful that with all the attention on the Bible this year, people across the spectrum of society will engage with the Bible as an important public document, a “credible book” that you would want to invite everybody to read and engage with.

“Because of what we believe it to be…” she says. “It nourishes our relationship with God but it also leads us to Jesus.”

 ~ http://bible2020.org