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The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less . . . Now with 68% More Humor! Paperback – October 26, 2013
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About the Author
Jana Riess blogs for Religion News Service and is the author of many books, including Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the top ten religion books of 2011. She has a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She wonders if maybe The Twible is the book that will guarantee her room reservation in hell.
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For the past year or two the author has been tweeting the Bible on Twitter, one biblical chapter per day, each summarized in 140 characters or less. The tweets are funny, contemporary, often irreverent, sometimes a wee bit profane but never sacrilegious, and you may find yourself saying, "No! It doesn't say that!" before checking your own Bible and discovering that yes, your Bible does say that, sort of, without the off-kilter twist that the Twible gives it.
-- Genesis 7: "Weather alert! G gives Noah 1 week eviction notice: "Take 7 pairs of each clean animal in Ark to avoid flood. Oh, and BYO Renuzit."
-- Numbers 29: Most of this chapter is about what G wants you to cook for him during the High Holy Days. Hostess tip: He's totally not a vegetarian.
-- 1 King 21: Queen Jezebel uses eminent domain to seize a vineyard, then has the owner stoned. Don't worry, though. She'll soon be Pupperoni.
-- Psalm 23: G's my shepherd. He lets me nap in green pastures. He protects me from the wolves. Sometimes it rocks to be a sheep, y'know?
If even the Twible were too much to read, you could still get a Cliff Notes glimpse of the Bible from the tweeted book overviews:
-- 2 Chronicles: Like 2 Kings, but with northern kings and history removed. This is SOUTHERN history, y'all.
-- Nahum: Death to Nineveh. Doom to Nineveh. Mayhem to Nineveh. Babylon will crush it ... and we bought front-row seats! #gloating
-- Philippians: It's funny how Paul can only write kind, cheerful letters when he's in jail and needs people to bring him food.
Some features new to the printed book that we haven't seen by following the Twible online:
-- Something like 50 cartoons. As if the text weren't funny and/or pointed enough, the cartoons go one step farther, sometimes one click more outrageous
-- Tiny marginal sketches symbolic of each book. Some are obvious - sheep for Psalms, a crown of thorns for Matthew - and others will cause you to think and feel: a "cause" ribbon for Job; a harp, crown, and scales of justice stuffed into a packing box for 2 Chronicles.
-- One-page (say, 200-250 word) essays explaining in a little more coherent - but still humorous - fashion than a tweet can convey what is happening at such-and-such a point. You'll learn why Job's downer friends are still representative of goodness; how to find useful wisdom in Proverbs; that puzzling passages are sometimes such cleaned-up euphemisms for the original Hebrew crudity that they have lost all meaning; and what's going on in the nearly unfathomable Book of Revelation.
-- An appendix of Biblical characters and their abbreviated Twible names.
-- An introduction concerning how and why the author wrote the Twible, and what she's learned from the process.
Don't think that the Twible is only a joke; certainly don't think that it is disrespectful or mocking. It can be profound. The best teachers are those who understand their material so well that they can recast strange and difficult concepts into layman's terms for a general audience to appreciate. Jana Riess is often that teacher. You won't know and understand the scriptures without actually studying them, but you'll sense that she has caught the essential elements of each part of the Bible, then served it to you in a form delightful to read and impossible to forget.
Reducing things by 95% while keeping some recognizable semblance of the original is actually kind of hard. It requires one to understand the source material extremely well. And, ultimately, this is why the Twible succeeds: Jana Riess understands the Bible very well. Her extreme redactions are funny, but they aren't JUST funny They also almost always get to something crucial about the text that often gets lost in all the words. Her versions of some of the hardest books of the Bible--Leviticus, Isaiah, Revelation--contain gems of insight that have actually changed the ways that I understand the original texts.
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Rev. Richard Gibson, Presbyterian Church USA