Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Bible: Samurai Jesus, Teen Glossies and God The Smoter

The Bible, the book of the ages. First printed by Gutenberg in 1456, the Latin version replaced the time worn practice of hand copying onto paper, papyrus or parchment, the best selling book of all time has now gone nanotech, the entire Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible fitting onto a "space less than half the size of a grain of sugar".
JERUSALEM - Israeli scientists have inscribed the entire Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible onto a space less than half the size of a grain of sugar.

The nanotechnology experts at the Technion institute in Haifa say the book was etched on a surface that measures less than 0.01 square inch.

"It took us about an hour to etch the 300,000 words of the Bible onto a tiny silicon surface," said Ohad Zohar, the university's scientific adviser for educational programs. Technion's microscopic Bible was created by blasting tiny particles called gallium ions at the object. Source - New York Daily News
The attempt to "shrink" the Bible comes as no surprise as last year in Britain a children's Bible was found that was printed over a hundred years ago, one inch wide and one and half inch thick:
Feb. 9, 2007 — Around 106 years ago, someone slipped a copy of the world’s smallest complete Bible in a child’s boot and stuffed it into a cottage chimney cavity to ward off evil. Now British archaeologists have identified the book, which a renovator discovered while working on the cottage in central England's Ewerby. Source - Discovery

According to the New Yorker, the Bible continues to outsell all other publications, at least in the United States:
The familiar observation that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time obscures a more startling fact: the Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year. Calculating how many Bibles are sold in the United States is a virtually impossible task, but a conservative estimate is that in 2005 Americans purchased some twenty-five million Bibles—twice as many as the most recent Harry Potter book. The amount spent annually on Bibles has been put at more than half a billion dollars.

300 to 400 Year-Old Biblical Scrolls

A complete ancient Hebrew Torah Scroll of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). These hand-written, one-of-a-kind pieces are approximately 300 to 400 years old. They were produced in the world’s oldest continually operating scriptorium, a 2,400-year old scriptorium in South Yemen, about 1,000 miles south of Israel. These are the same type of “Bible” that Jesus read, and quite possibly from the same scriptorium! They vary from scroll to scroll, as each is a unique manuscript, but most are 18 to 23 inches tall, and usually around 100 feet long. Source - Gold Room

1799-1800 Giant Macklin Bible Set The largest Bible ever printed. Beautifully illustrated with many huge steel-cut engravings in six absolutely HUGE volumes measuring nearly two feet tall by 16 inches wide (and six volumes thick). This Bible set,weighing well over 100 pounds, was done for King Charles. The last set sold at auction for over $25,000. Source - Gold Room
The newest fad in Bibles are contemporary versions such as the Manga Bible and the New Testament "Revolve".

Written by Ajinbayo Akinsiku, the Manga Bible is written in manga, the Japanese style of graphic novels.

Mr. Akinsiku says his Son of God is “a samurai stranger who’s come to town, in silhouette,” here to shake things up in a new, much-abridged version of the Bible rooted in manga, the Japanese form of graphic novels.

“We present things in a very brazen way,” said Mr. Akinsiku, who hopes to become an Anglican priest and who is the author of “The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation.” “Christ is a hard guy, seeking revolution and revolt, a tough guy.” Source - New York Times

These types of Bibles are known as "niche" Bibles, aimed at a particular audience. The new "Revolve" Bible is aimed squarely at teen girls.

Critics call Revolve New Testament nothing more than a splashy glossy magazine for girls. The blurb for the Bible:

Revolve is back, and more fresh and up-to-date than ever! Girls will be thrilled to hear that the third edition of this best-selling Bible is available with all new sidebars, features, and images but the same Bible text! The NCV innovation of a New Testament in a magazine format still succeeds at showing teens that the Bible is entirely understandable and relevant to their lives. Source - Amazon
Reviews on Amazon were on the most part positive:
New stories, hip design and very relative to teens. My oldest had one of these from a couple years back. Now my youngest has this one. And while they read their bible whether it's in this format or not, THIS FORMAT draws them in making them want to learn and search and dig and read and know their God. I recommend these bibles to any parent of a teenager.

While others were not so glowing:

Yes, leave it up to the Christian Publishing Industry to keep distorting Christianity through stupifyingly misleading dribble like this. How the idea for this Bible was probably pitched: "Hey, since our fundamenalist theology isn't working anymore in a culture that increasingly values education and critical literacy, let's package our same old tired evangelicalism in glossy format and feed the already bursting world of "have it your way" burger consumerism with Bibles that misrepresent what the Bible is even for in the first place." Am I being a bit too sarcastic? I'm not really upset, just simply a bit sad that people would actually buy this book.

Now that they can get the size of the Bible down to a grain of sugar and are publishing glossy hip versions and Jesus as a Samurai, we wonder what will be next for the Bible? Giant supersized Bibles or WorldWide Wrestling's Smackdown Jesus?

In light of the Islamists who resort to rioting whenever a fairly innocuous cartoon of Mohammad hits the streets, we find our ability to take the Bible and its inhabitants and turn them into different perspectives without resulting to threats of violence or rioting quite refreshing.

In countries such as Saudi Arabia where the Bible is not allowed and will be confiscated from visitors, our citizens utilize their freedom to use their creativity without fear of prosecution.

The myth that some of our more liberal citizens spin that "hard-core Christians are of the same ilk as the radical Islamists" doesn't hold water as no Christians have taken to the streets over the hundreds of thousands of non-standard Bibles. They haven't issued death threats to Mr. Akinsiku for rendering Jesus as a Samurai.

We, for one, would love to see God, the Smoter, back in business. It's been a long, long time, back in the Bible, since God has smote someone. Smiting or smoting is now considered old fashioned, passe. A shame, because smoting was quite an efficient and effective way of dealing with a problem. At least before the impact of Global Warming.

A pity.

Image - Revolve Blable

Digg! - Bigger, Better!.
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.

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