Idea: A Bible Question-and-Answer App

“I had an idea.” Will I ever stop saying that? Probably not.

I think we—whoever is excited by this idea—need to get together to make the world’s first nonprofit, open source/open content Bible question-and-answer app/website. Think of it as “The Bible meets Wikipedia and Quora, but with responsible editors.” Interested? Read on.

Background. In five days, I will finish reading the Bible all the way through in about 100 days (for the first time). I have had many questions about this fascinating volume. In the last few months, I chased down answers in study Bibles and commentaries, but, well…I think it can be done better. Moreover, I really want a go-to place where I can ask specialized questions that I can’t easily find answered elsewhere.

The basic idea is this: A collaboratively-built clearinghouse of the very best Bible commentary, in which users can ask their own questions, too (but without messing up the resource). “How could this possibly work?” you ask. “The cranks and idiots will ruin it.” No, they would not! Here is how:

  1. Chapter and verse. Each chapter and verse of the Bible has its own page.
  2. Selection and question. It is possible to select any word, phrase, verse, or set of verses, and then ask a question about it. Anyone can submit a question relevant to fully understanding the text (i.e., matters of interpretation, relevant doctrine, problems, etc.).
  3. Question approval. A group of volunteer editors edit and approve public questions before they are posted publicly. (Eventually there would also be “private questions.” See below.)
  4. Quality control through scoring and expertise. Anyone can answer the question, but:
    • The answers must be scored by other users. (We might make a special feature for real Bible scholars so that users could opt to view only their answers and ratings.)
    • An answer does not appear publicly until it has been endorsed with a score above some minimum.
    • Answers are put in rank order by score. How much fun will it be for readers to rate answers? Lots! And Bible scholars can choose to view only those answers rated by their fellow Bible scholars. Maybe there could even be a way to sort answers based on different denominations or theological outlooks.
  5. The same system should organize existing public domain commentaries. It is permitted—indeed, strongly encouraged—to include the content of existing public domain Bible commentaries into the system.
  6. Editors and professionalism. Named and vetted editors encourage volunteer participation, but they are responsible for the final (or rather, ongoing) product, so that it displays professionalism, consistency of style, and usefulness.
  7. Private questions for individual or group study. Ordinary Bible readers would be encouraged, not discouraged, to use the same interface to add their own questions, whether or not they have been asked and answered before, soliciting help from others. By default, these more informal questions would be open only to those who opted to see them, and they would not be displayed by default. Nor would they be open content (or even public) unless the user opted for them to be.

A few tech notes. Basically, we would need to reproduce what sites like and have done (a Bible reader with multiple versions), and then add to it (i.e., a tool that allows users to add annotations to Bible pages), and then add (a) the ability to add multiple competing answers to the same question, (b) the ability to rate answers, and eventually (c) the ability to sort answers based on user categories, especially scholarly expertise. Basing this app on an existing Bible app would probably be the easiest way. If it is built from scratch (e.g., by volunteers), I wouldn’t care what tool you use as long as it gets done!

How will this ever get done? The only way this will happen is if other people step up to the plate and become full partners with me in this project. I am eager to share leadership. While I can serve as project manager/editor, I can’t spend a lot of time on this as a volunteer for the simple reason that I’m developing my consultancy business (hey, need any help?). Roles I anticipate needing filled include:

  • Coders
  • Designers
  • Managers/entrepreneurs
  • Fundraisers 🙂
  • When ready, editors and participants

If you have the resources, you can make this happen. A few rich folks and publisher types follow me. If you are one of those people and you like this idea, you can make it happen. I won’t take a huge salary, but I (and my family) gotta eat. But if you can pay my way, and I am pretty sure I can organize the rest, whether in terms of volunteers or as project manager of a team.

Next steps. Is this going to happen anytime soon? Unless people come up with a bunch of cash or firepower, nope. I will be starting to read the Bible again on March 18, with a new reading group (here, there are 14 of us so far, and you’re welcome to join). This time we’ll go through the Bible in one year (OT once, NT twice). Going more slowly, I (at least, and probably other members of the reading group) will be using the awesome tool to record my own questions and answers (started here). This should give us a better idea of what we want the tool to be like, and it will help tide over the appetites of those of us eager to start using the tool.

Interested? Add your name and what you might be able to do for the project in a comment below, and if there are enough people…maybe something will happen.




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Please do dive in (politely). I want your reactions!

10 responses to “Idea: A Bible Question-and-Answer App”

  1. Alex

    Phenomenal proposal, Larry. I can say as a truth seeker there are many times I’ve been looking into a very specific question or info to shed light on an obscure Biblical connection, often with little show for it through Google/Wiki.

    Deeper insights on certain topics such as historically lost books of the Bible which are omitted from resources available in various ways, or better understanding differences between denominations and why, for example, would be wonderful.

    A project like this could raise an entire population to a greater foundation of truth across the board.

    Please do keep us updated.

    (Side note: if interested in a fairly objective history of the Bible, is a very wonderful website and podcast)
    Not to mention

  2. I love the idea. Insufficient time to dedicate to it right now. Will watch and kibitz, though.

  3. Mike Smith


    I’ve gone through the Disciple I & II courses which are fairly intensive small group studies that meet weekly to discuss the Bible and each covers the Bible in 9 months. We used several additional study resources (Concordance, Bible dictionary and The Oxford Bible Atlas- all hardcopy) that provided important historical, cultural, political and language references that enhanced the study. In combination with weekly group study it was a great experience. For me I would love to have access to the resource you are suggesting. Quick and easy access to various references including scholarly commentary as well as laymen’s insight would be helpful and especially the ability to ask Quora like questions to the community.

    If you’d like, I can circulate this among my group of Christian friends several whom are seminary trained.

  4. Chuck Miller

    I’m a software developer, using the tools in the Microsoft stack. I could help with the dev tasks.

  5. Jillian

    WONDERFUL PROPOSAL!! I almost never comment on anything I read but I just felt compelled to commend you on this phenomenal idea. I myself have, over the years, wished for something just like this! I love Wikipedia already and believe wholeheartedly that this will be a wonderful pairing.

  6. Dave Baker

    I personally like the idea. Many people don’t take the time to research each verse or chapter and are left wondering what it means.

    Allowing simple commentary in addition to questions will likely attract plenty of users as it doesn’t seem the world will ever run out of opinions or people to give them.

    A scripture cross reference for verses could also be done as those are available in most bibles anyway. Comments and answers could be left in a scriptural segue that leads to a never ending (eternal) path through scripture. #bingestudytheword

    The only downside I could see to “scoring”… popular answers are not always the most biblically accurate, even when experts are involved. Just ask a Scribe or Pharisee.

  7. I am interested in this, but I would also propose this should extend to all ancient literature associated with the Bible. The pseudepigrapha, for example.

    Another key element would be a way to trace back concepts to their origin – or areas of active research. So if you hit a “dead end” studying something you might get a reference to someone actively working on a peer reviewed paper on the project.

    Someone who might be seriously worth looking into to help out with this is Dr Michael Heiser. Worth reaching out to him, at the least, since he has worked extensively with software related to ancient texts.

  8. Nathan


    I’m interested in helping in some way, though my time is limited.

    I’m a PhD student in New Testament

  9. Michael salzberg

    Try reading the Talmud. All 27 books

    It does what you are trying to do. Questions and answers, often disagreements, in every aspect of the Jewish approach to the Bible

  10. Ben McGunigle


    I’m working on software (open source) that has many of the features that you mention. We might be of use to each other.

    Please drop me a line.


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