NB. If you have a different religious faith and a different 'holy' reference text then I'm sure there are similar options for you - see the Ovi Store, plus the suggestions below and think laterally....
Once upon a time (1996), getting the Bible on your PDA meant finding it in eBook form. And even then, the sheer size of the text (around 3 or 4MB of raw text) was too much for the memory cards of the day and you had to go for an eBook form that allowed for compression. It was all a bit fiddly and even then you only got text plus a basic search function.
Eventually cards got bigger and a wide variety of eBook and database systems arose on Psion and Symbian Series 80 and Series 60 to handle Bible text. I wrote a piece at the time summarising the options. Sadly, few of these options have survived in fully supported form to the current day as compatible with the latest Symbian^3 phones.
However, all is not lost, as the rise of the 'app store' has meant that a number of dedicated options have arisen. In addition, bandwidth and web storage costs have now altered sufficiently that it's quite practical for a lot of sites to host the full Bible text online, for easy access, with plenty of extras.
A curious (though understandable, given the work involved) aspect of Bible distribution is that most translations (there are a lot of them, each with subtly different sourcing, slants and styles) are copyrighted and therefore have to be licensed if they're to be disseminated further. The only publicly distributable versions are the "Old King James" (the one with the "Thee"s and "Thou"s) and the modern "World English Bible" (an adaptation of the American Standard Version). This has some effect on text availability.
The following are all available in the Ovi Store.
Bible (TrendMedia) (11MB, free)
This is a "Modern version of the traditional Bible from 1901 in the English language" and is impressively implemented in OpenGL. It's beautifully styled, with animated page edges in some views and over 200 line drawings at appropriate points.
Which might be enough to recommend it as-is, except that the UI is very good too. Tapping the screen advances the text a page at a time, tapping at the top goes back a screen* and font sizes are well thought out throughout. There's a very iPhone-like selection system for book, chapter and verse and marking a passage as a favourite is as easy as tapping the 'star' icon in the top toolbar - favourites are then available via a similar kinetic scrolling system.
All that's really missing for a basic Bible reference system is a search function, but then this is a totally free solution, so it would be churlish to complain too much. Bible takes around ten seconds to load, which is a little frustrating, but again understandable considering the size of the text involved.
* though an odd bug means that once you start going backwards, you can't go forwards again - at least, I couldn't see how!
Holy Bible on biNu (biNu) (0.2MB, free)
Having just reviewed a few excellent Java applications, I didn't want to be prejudiced, but this application is an appalling mess of UI inconsistencies and bugs. Flinging you from one display type to another, to several different forms of text or numeric input, Holy Bible on biNu is simply unusable. Getting its data from the Internet is probably OK in this day and age, but the developers have to make an effort with the UI. The critical 'Search' function doesn't work at all, returning an error whatever I entered.
Very disappointing even at a free price point.
Bible KJV (Mobifusion) (2MB, £1.50)
Also written in Java, Bible KJV shows what can be done by a developer who puts in some effort. It's still miles from perfect, mind you, but at least the basics are here. It's slow and it's clunky, but the screens of Bible text (all original KJV, as the name implies) are all here and scroll smoothly, there are simple graphical 3D transitions between the app's various screens, there's a 'Search' function and even a DIY portrait Qwerty keyboard! So far so good.
Unfortunately, the performance of Bible KJV leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps the result of trying to access 4MB of text in a Java application. Search results take over 20 seconds to be returned - and when they do arrive are simply listed by chapter, without even saying which book each is from or quoting a few words of context. Worse, dive into a search result and then back out again and you have to wait the full 20 seconds again for the matches to appear. And again. And again. Making this function completely unusable.
Given the antiquated text and search problems, it's hard to recommend this as a commercial purchase.
Best eBible (Smartphoneware) (2MB, £1.50)
This is more like it, a proper native Symbian coded application and, impressively, works in both black on white and (OLED friendly) white on black modes. Plus you get a choice of three font sizes, to suit all eyes. Navigation around the various books is acceptable, with a tap-friendly hierarchical list and there's a traditional Symbian/S60 Options menu with a few extras, including a somewhat cryptic 8 slot bookmark system and further cosmetic customisations.
Where eBible falls down isn't necessarily its use of the original, old KJV text. It isn't in the way text can be swiped around but not kinetically (as we're used to these days). Where it falls down is that this has the potential to be a serious reference tool and yet it fails the most fundamental of tests - there's a Search function and it doesn't work - it only finds matches for the word you type within the current chapter. In other words, utterly useless. It's not clear whether this is a 'feature' or a bug (surely, surely it's the latter?), but either way it ruins the application.
Of course, with our smartphones being online all the time (well, most of the time, you could be on 'retreat' in a hermitage in the country!), there's arguably no real need to rely on a local application at all. A number of web sites offer the full Bible text, in several different versions, on demand. The following were tested in Web on a Nokia E7.
Based on web pages with a byte count of around 200-300kb, this is a super solution, especially if you have 3G or wi-fi available. The search-engine-like front end means you can search for a particular verse or a few keywords and matches follow swiftly. Yes, you have to swipe around the page a little, but the sheer amount of reference text and functionality here (for free) is impressive.
There are many, many foreign language versions of the Bible, plus over twenty English ones and you can swap between them at will. Each chapter has footnotes to help with study, and there are commentaries, reading plans and a whole lot more. A staggering resource, and most of it works fine in Symbian Web.
More of a links resource than a site in itself, there's still plenty here that's worth exploring from a Symbian smartphone. If you're looking for the Bible in a particular rare version or translation then this is a good place to start. Page byte counts vary, depending on what gets linked to, but some results are surprisingly light.
With a very low byte count and a simple form-based interface, this is a great bookmark to set up, albeit only for the public domain KJV translation. Searches can be across the whole Bible or in a specific book, or you can simply opt to start reading from a particular book and chapter. Nice and simple and very fast, even practical over a slow GPRS connection.
Another low-bandwidth form based effort, but well laid out and easy to navigate. This time there's three (fairly old) translations on offer, plus an attempt to make the page look a little more Bible-like. All adding up to a recommendation from me.
A very useful way of absorbing bits of the Bible is to listen to it being read aloud while you get on with something else - driving, chores, drifting off to sleep, and so on. There are fragments of the Bible in MP3 format all over the Internet, but you might like to start your search at www.audiotreasure.com , which offers a full range of MP3s in the popular open source World English Bible translation (WEB).
The MP3s download and play fine on Symbian, though they get auto-saved to a system folder on your mass memory, rather than to a folder of your choice. So you might want to simply grab them all on the desktop and then side-load a \WEB folder over onto your mass memory, for picking up and playing properly in Music player.
Another source, in the equally popular NIV translation (which means that this audio distribution is somewhat 'grey' in its legality?), is jcsm.org, offering the Old and the all-important New Testament, either as a single huge file or in book-sized MP3 chunks. And, thankfully, this time the MP3s get saved properly into your mass memory \Downloads folder, for easy retrieval later on.
Plenty of options then, even if the obvious choice - dedicated applications - aren't necessarily the best starting point.
Comments welcome if you've stumbled across other options that work well or if you've got an eBook-based solution working well on the Symbian^3 platform.