Date of Award:

5-2021

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Cindy D. Jones

Committee

Cindy D. Jones

Committee

Amy Wilson-Lopez

Committee

Kathleen A. J. Mohr

Committee

Sheri Haderlie

Committee

Amy Piotrowski

Abstract

Digital sacred text reading is rapidly growing as digital devices such as mobile smartphones are becoming more common across the globe. Although sacred text can have strong influence on identify and behavior, the effects of a digital revolution on scripture reading practices are not well understood. In particular, current research literature indicates that more information is needed about the design and use of digital sacred text applications (apps) such as mobile Bibles across different religious groups or cultures. Therefore, this study builds upon and extends previous work to analyze a religious text app, Gospel Library, which is designed and largely used by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Data about the design of the app were collected by analyzing app store description text, conducting a technical app walkthrough, and interviewing current app design team members. Data about the usage of Gospel Library were collected by gaining permission from the design organization to access user analytic data collected during normal app operations. Results of the study show that this digital sacred text app is designed and used in ways that support religious or cultural reading values and norms. In particular, this study suggests that Latter-day Saints appear to value the King James Version of the English Bible and other unique religious text such as the Book of Mormon and General Conference sermons or messages. Results also suggest Latter-day Saints value church-wide directed scripture reading efforts situated in a culture of listening and receiving interpretation as opposed to social discussions of scripture. Furthermore, this study reports unique features or affordances that digital sacred texts can offer including audio capabilities, videos, search functions, sharing, highlighting, and other annotations. This study contributes to the research field of digital sacred text literacy by offering data gathered from an app design organization including interviews and user analytic data. It also adds to the broader conversation about religious literacy and digital versus print-based reading.

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