I’ve been reading through the Tree of Life Version (TLV) this year and really like this Messianic Bible translation. Each year I read through a different translation. This is actually my second time through this one. A few years ago, I read the first edition hot off the press. It had a few typos and misprints; I suppose that is to be expected in a new work. Now I am finishing up the current one. I review the TLV here.
Besides publishing the TLV, The Tree of Life Bible Society has also published the TLV Journey Bible App, a free app for Android and iOS devices. It is an update to the original TLV Bible app, which was basically limited to the Bible text. Since the Tree of Life Version is available in the popular YouVersion app, having a separate app just for reading the TLV seems redundant. But the TLV Journey Bible App is much more than just a Bible reader.
Here I am reviewing the Android app, but I have gone through the iOS app and it works in the same manner. The current version of the TLV Journey Bible App runs on Android 4.1 and higher, so it will work even on most older devices. The iOS app says that it requires iOS 10 or higher. My old iPad 2 can’t go higher than iOS 9.3.5 so it isn’t available for me and this iPad still has the original TLV Bible App. Not being a fan of iOS, I don’t plan to replace my iPad.
Look for the TLV Journey Bible App in the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
More Than A Bible-Reading App
Of course, using the TLV Journey Bible App you can read the Tree of Life Version. This works offline, so you don’t need to use any data or have a Wi-Fi connection to use this part. I tested this part in Airplane Mode and it still worked well. Other parts required an internet connection.
Two parts of this app really stand out to me. First is an area called Parsha-Passages. This one changes each week, and has the complete text for appropriate “Torah, Haftorah and New Covenant” readings for the upcoming Sabbath. These are usually the same readings – including the New Covenant – that I have posted over at Messianic Torah Portion. Even better, there is audio of all three portions being read from the Tree of Life Version!
In a section called Family there is a written commentary on the weekly Torah portion from a Messianic perspective. This also changes each week so you have the correct portion, and there doesn’t appear to be a “history” where you can go back. The great thing about these commentaries (at least all those I have read so far, and I’m not sure who wrote them) is that they keep Yeshua at the forefront of everything going on in the Torah.
The other great part of this app is called Shabbat Life. It includes a Siddur-type liturgy in Hebrew, transliterated Hebrew and English for many of the blessings used in services. There is a section for Erev Shabbat (Friday evening beginning the Sabbath), Shabbat (Daytime on Saturday) and Havdalah (Saturday evening closing the Sabbath). Many, but not all, have audio of them being chanted or sung in Hebrew.
There is a simple calendar included in the TLV Journey Bible App that marks the Biblical holidays as well as Rosh Chodesh (Head or Beginning of the Month) and the full moon in the middle of the month. On the first day of each week (Sunday) it gets you started by listing the Torah, Haftorah and New Covenant readings, which of course you can read and listen to in the Parsha-Passages section. Then at the end of the week on Sabbath it reminds you to “Join Israel’s Journey Through” the portion. It doesn’t tell you the Hebrew dates, and the Holidays are in keeping with the traditional Hillel calendar.
Many Other Features
There is a Glossary, listed alphabetically by English transliteration, of Hebrew terms used in the Tree of Life Version. This glossary seems to be more extensive than the one in the printed Bible. Also included are images of an Torah scroll from the 1800s; each photograph is one complete column, and there are 255 photos so it looks like a complete scroll (I’m no expert on Torah scrolls). They are great photos and you can zoom in on them and see the writing very clearly.
A few Messianic songs (audio only) are included, and you can listen to Podcasts by Daniah Greenberg, Founder and President of what is now the Tree of Life Bible Society. Of course, there is a marketplace where you can by items from the organization.
The Tree of Life Bible Society, formerly the Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society, really exhibits a heart for evangelism. So, included in this app are tips and articles on sharing your faith with others. These require data or Wi-Fi to work (I tried them on Airplane mode and got an error) so they may be dynamic and change from time to time. As I write this, there is an extensive article on Answering Objections to the Messiah from the Hebrew Bible.
There are a few other features that round out this great app.
The TLV Journey Bible App is offered free in both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. In the app, and also on the TLV Bible Society web site, there are places you can donate to this and other projects. In the notes on the latest update they state, “We’re doing some spring cleaning in preparation for the subscription version with all its bells and whistles… some of the awesome content we’ll be providing to our SOON TO BE SUBSCRIBERS!” This leads me to think that, in the future, not all of these great features will be free. There is an industry trend toward providing “software as a service” through subscriptions, and good quality content is worth paying for. But for now, everything in the app is free.
A Word Of Caution
While this is a wonderful app for your smart phone or tablet, please enjoy the convenience while remembering the volatility of technology. There may come a time when this stuff ceases to work, perhaps even by design. Apps and programs like this can be wiped out in an instant. Hard copy books and notes are much more difficult to take away, but even would still be possible. What you have hidden in your heart and mind can’t be taken away. Make sure you get a printed copy of the Tree of Life Version Bible, and be sure you read it.