The hyperlink has to be one of the great inventions of the 20th century. Like most great inventions, we now take it almost completely for granted — a paradoxical consequence of its success. Apparently the word ‘hyperlink’ was coined in 1965, but the now-familiar sight of blue underlined text didn’t become ubiquitous until the advent of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. In essence, the hyperlink is a labelled wormhole from one point in the information universe to another. One of its greatest benefits is its time-saving potential (just as one of its greatest drawbacks is its time-wasting potential, as anyone who has been sucked into a Wikipedia rabbit hole will know).
At its simplest and best, a hyperlink is an instant click to an endnote, a definition, an explanation, an elaboration, or an illustration. No walking to the bookshelf (never mind the library). No thumbing through pages. No unremedied ignorance through sheer laziness.
From the Christian perspective, perhaps one of the worthiest uses of the humble hyperlink is to connect an in-text Bible reference to the actual text of the passage referenced. After all, many Christian books are peppered with Bible references, either in parentheses or in footnotes, and we tend to assume the more the better. Who doesn’t want their book to be (or at least appear) biblical? Yet how many of those references do we go so far as to look up for ourselves, if only to check that Scripture isn’t being taken out of context? In earlier generations, more Christians would have recognised the texts behind many of those references without looking them up, but in these days of unprecedented biblical illiteracy that assumption no longer holds.
The main limitation of these services is that they’re only active on those websites that choose to implement them. But wouldn’t it be nice to have Bible references automatically hyperlinked on every website you visit — and hyperlinked to the online Bible of your choice? Sure it would. And that’s why I created Bible Refalizer: a little extension for the popular Firefox web browser which offers just that.
What’s a ‘refalizer’, you ask? It’s an automated reference hyperlinker, of course. I invented the word for three reasons: (1) It’s quicker to type than “automated reference hyperlinker”. (2) It sounds kinda cool. (3) If anyone hears the word and Googles it, they should find the Bible Refalizer home page very easily.
If you use Firefox and think this tool might be useful to you, please check it out. If you don’t use Firefox, why not give it a whirl? It’s free and there’s a good chance you’ll want to stick with it, not least because of the many other life-simplifying extensions available for it.
Bible Refalizer currently allows you to choose from six popular online Bibles (and any of the translations offered by those sites). The latest addition is an impressive newcomer, Bible.Logos.com, which sports a nice clean interface and offers the most popular English translations plus a number of translations (and original-language texts) not available elsewhere. Check it out and give the Bible.Logos.com team your feedback to help them make it even better.