The Bible’s been translated into lots of vernaculars. Now for today’s plugged-in, short-attention-span, socially-mediated believers comes The Twible (Nov.).
That would be the Bible on Twitter--and humor steroids. Providing a 140-character shortcut through the Bible’s begats, levitical interdictions, and sundry smitings is Jana Riess, author of The Twible and former religion reviews editor of PW. For almost four years, Riess tweeted the entire Bible, a chapter a day, all 66 books and 1,189 chapters. As if that wasn’t heretical enough, she then took the less-traveled publishing road, self-publishing The Twible.
For someone who knows a good deal about publishing, Riess found self-publishing a profound learning experience. “I thought I was very well prepared for this adventure, and in some ways I was. But I have come to realize that there are many areas where I lacked experience, things like finding the right price point or figuring out distribution issues,” she said.
The Twitter-blue-hued book includes cartoons, distinctive tiny icons for each biblical book, funny sidebars (“Worst Careers If you Want to Remain Biblically Clean”), and even a few pages of footnotes that aren’t frighteningly academic, although Riess has a Ph.D. from Columbia University as well as an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. The Twible’s flavor is best understood when quoted. Here’s Luke Chapter 2, which recounts the familiar Nativity story: “ ‘Ma’am, the rooms are full at Bethlehem Inn, but there’s a rustic barn out back that is quite charming. And the hay is complimentary.’ ”
Riess’ humorous book has a serious aim. She’d like people to understand the Bible a little better. “My goal is to make people laugh, and preferably to make them snort beverages out of their noses. But a secondary goal has always been to combat biblical illiteracy,” she said. “My feeling is that whatever age we live in, people have always managed to find ways to make the Bible more accessible and to help it speak to a new generation. If that means parsing it on Twitter in 140 characters or less, then we should do that.”
The Twible has already been written about in USA Today, The Guardian, and Religion News Service, where Riess is a blogger. Her previous book Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor was one of PW’s top religion books in 2011.