Ministry and website
Why the name “BibleDocs”?
It is accepted good practice (as well as my own opinion) that URLs of websites should be generally descriptive of their content. It also helps if they are as short as possible, for a variety of reasons (such as being easier to remember and easier to type).
Put simply, this website primarily contains text documents centered around the Bible. Hence BibleDocs. This URL is both descriptive and short.
Having a dash in the URL would make it more cumbersome to share orally – to avoid ambiguity, the URL would have to be read “Bible dash docs dot org.” As it is, it can be read simply as “Bible docs dot org,” and people will tend to automatically type in the correct address (without a dash) when they get to their computer.
Why .org not .com?
This site is dedicated to Bible teaching, offered freely to all; this is a ministry of grace. Traditionally, .com domains were the province of commercial entities, while .org domains were the province of nonprofits. Over time, many people started using .coms for everything, including nonprofit work, and they became more dominant.
However, since it seems to me that .org domains do not present recognizability problems for people who are less technically savvy (contrast less well-known alternate global top level domains like .io and .co, as used by some startups), and are unambiguous with respect to commercial intent (unlike .com domains), it makes sense for this site, which is firmly in the nonprofit camp, to use a .org domain.
Why have fancy web design? Does the shininess take away from the content?
Compared to Ichthys, say, this website has a bit more interface sparkle. I have taken care to keep content pages entirely text-centric with no unecessary interface distractions; the shininess most assuredly does not take away from the content. Most of the more complicated interface bits show up on the home page, which has some fancier content sectioning and grids of image links.
The idea behind this is not any sort of “marketing-first” approach (this sort of thing makes me completely nauseous when I encounter it on other Christian websites – all style and no substance), but simply to use modern web design so that the interface does not present a stumbling block to anyone. Put simply, for better or worse, some people are put off by a website that is “too 1990s,” so I have just made the website look more like most other modern websites.
People who don’t care about interface (i.e., the people that would be fine with a home page containing nothing but lists of links embedded in text) aren’t going to care either way, but making things shinier will work out better for people who do care more about interface. The idea here is more or less along the lines of “being all things to all people” (compare 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
I’m also a web applications developer by day. What can I say?
Who is behind this ministry?
This ministry is currently a one-man operation run by me, Steven Tammen. You can read more about me on the about the author page.
Does this ministry accept donations or other financial support?
No. This is a ministry of grace – offered freely to all – with no expectation of compensation. I work a normal job to support myself while providing these materials to the Church as my true calling in life. Compare Paul’s tentmaking, 1 Corinthians 9. (Paul, I’m sure, was much better at this than I am).
As that chapter makes clear, there is nothing wrong with pastor-teachers being paid for their efforts. For various reasons, I have chosen the path I have. Among other things, being financially independent allows me to be completely outspoken about issues that I might otherwise be hesitant to speak up about, as doing so could compromise my livelihood if I were a full-time pastor. (Unfortunate as this reality is).
If you are searching for worthy causes to contribute to, see below.
Is this ministry associated with any denomination or group?
No. Further, as my formal Greek and Hebrew study was undertaken at the University of Georgia – a secular research university (rather than a seminary) – I do not even have a historical association with any denomination or group.
Broadly speaking, this ministry falls within the conservative evangelical tradition. However, it splits with much of contemporary Christianity on a number of points, such that I prefer to simply say that this ministry is what it is.
What syntax do you use in translations original to this site?
Inferred words are added to the text using square brackets. These words do not appear in the original text, but are added by me to make things more clear. For example:
So now that we have been justified by faith, let us take hold of the peace [we have] with God [the Father] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The King James Version does something similar, but added words in the KJV are italicized instead of using brackets. The main difference in what I do vs. what the KJV does is frequency – I generally add many more words than does the KJV. The goal is to make the meaning of the text as clear as possible.
In addition to inferred words, I also make use of explanatory remarks in parentheses. To avoid ambiguity with parenthetical statements that are part of the actual text, all of the explanatory remarks I add begin with abbreviations, while I will never translate words that are part of the actual text with abbreviations. Here’s the full list of abbreviations that can introduce my explanatory remarks:
- i.e.: coming from Latin id est, meaning “that is.” The abbreviation I most frequently use, i.e. is used to clarify and explain.
- e.g.: coming from Latin exempli gratia, meaning “for example.” This abbreviation, unsurprisingly, is used to introduce examples.
- cf.: coming from Latin confer/conferatur, meaning “compare.” This abbreviation is used to introduce things that ought to be compared (or possibly contrasted) with the present topic. On this site, it is overwhelming used to introduce scripture passages as cross references: “salvation comes by grace through faith (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9).”
Why pages for video guides?
Unlike most content on this site, which is all text due to the enormous advantages text has as a study medium, the actual content of guides is primarily video-based, since videos are objectively better for guides (which really ought to “show” rather than “tell”). So why even bother having this section on the site, and instead just leave all the organization of videos on YouTube?
Two big reasons. First, if I ever want to update a guide by uploading an updated video and subsequently unlisting the old video (so it doesn’t appear on my YouTube profile, but also doesn’t break already-existing links to it; compare 301 redirects of URLs), it is beneficial to preserve the same URL for the guide. If people link to the URL of the guide page on my website, then when I update the guide, while the video may have changed to some degree, they never have to manually update their links to point to the most up-to-date version of the guide. From their perspective, it happens transparently, minimizing work for them. I benefit by (primarily) having only the most recent versions of my content receiving link traffic.
Second, while it is true that video guides make lots of sense, it is very common for me to want to discuss things brought up in a guide or tangentially related to a guide in more detail. Keeping such discussion (that doesn’t benefit from the video medium in the same way as actual guide content — like demonstrations and such — does) in text means it receives all the benefits of text as a medium, as above, and also, importantly, keeps it out of the video. Keeping guide videos short, focused, and to-the-point is extremely important. While it would be possible to put some of this “guide-related content” in the description of YouTube videos, it is better to put it on the site, where there is much more flexibility (e.g., I can actually use hyperlinks with link text, use images, have sections with different background colors, etc.) and it can take advantage of the (completely automatic) creation of section header links and a table of contents that readers can use in linking to specific parts of the page.
Can I change the Bible version used in verse tagging?
Yes. You can change settings related to verse tagging on the settings page.
Connections and associations
You said you don’t take donations. Do you know of good causes?
For a variety of reasons, it is my opinion that believer-to-believer aid is best done directly (especially in our modern internet age, where giving via PayPal and the like is easy and secure). No matter how efficient a charity proper is (and some are in fact a whole lot better than others: see Charity Navigator), it will always have a lot more overhead than direct giving.
Contributing to others without any middlemen also allows you to directly see where your financial support is being used (contrast again charities proper). For us as Christians, spiritual ends are far more important than material ones; we are not here to ease economic distress, but to share the gospel that people might be saved, and to help them grow in the truth thereafter. Money that goes towards these spiritual ends is in truth much more important.
For this reason, I find it best to prioritize giving money to Christians who are legitimately in need of aid due to difficult material circumstances, and especially to Christians who are in need of money to help support their service to the Body of Christ (by freeing up their time to do ministry, for example). In-line with the above discussion of the truth’s role in our giving, Bible teachers going about things the right way should be priority #1 in terms of people we support.
Towards these ends:
- One public teaching ministry that takes donations that I can recommend wholeheartedly is Bible Academy.
- There are also other private individuals I support or help coordinate support for that I would be happy to get people in contact with. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Note that money is not the only way we can assist one another. I can help people set up ministry websites, for example. A contact of mine has helped another with some rehabilitation exercises based upon his experience as a personal trainer. And so on.
I personally maintain a private address book containing the names, expertise/background and/or interests, and contact info for various people who are readers or contacts of this ministry. This (not publicly visible) address book serves as the basis for the contact network associated with this ministry, through which I may be able to connect believers I know with one another based on need and interest. If there is specific expertise/background and/or interests you have that you are willing to share with the Body of Christ, you can email me (email@example.com) and I will make sure to take note of it and send people your way as appropriate.