Jana Riess, The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less. (The Author, 2013). ISBN 978-0-9897747-0-3. $17.99 (with 25% of profits going to various humanitarian organizations)
Once you’ve read Jana Riess’s Twible, you may never read God’s Bible the same way again … which is to say, you might actually pick up the Bible to do more than read the Nativity at Christmas time or to proof-text occasional verses in response to a Sunday School teacher’s question.
For the past year or two Jana has been tweeting the Bible on Twitter and Facebook, one biblical chapter per day, each summarized in 140 characters or less, Twitter-style. 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 King James (or whatever your pre-Twible favorite version was) and discovering that yes, your Bible does say that, sort of, without the off-kilter twist that Jana 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?
Ezekiel 10: G’s glory departs from the city. That’s like in Star Trek when the shields go down and they’re vulnerable to Klingon attack. A bad sign.
Luke 13: JC says he tried to be all mother-hennish and take us under his wing, but we rebelled and insisted on becoming free-range chicks.
Romans 9: Paul teaches that we are predestined to have free will. After writing this, his brain detonates from Irony Overload.
Revelation 21: The following jobs will be obsolete in the new heaven and new earth: undertaker, grief therapist, and anesthesiologist. Awesome.
If even the Twible were too much to read (I dare you to stop early), 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 Jana 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 is often that teacher. You won’t know and understand the scriptures without actually studying them, but you’ll sense that Jana 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.