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August 27th, 2010
05:22 PM ET

Need to read the whole Bible? Twitter can help

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

When I saw the recent Belief Blog post on “Tweeting the Bible, one chapter at a time,” I thought it was about my friend Jana Riess, who has been tweeting the Bible for close to a year now.

The post was actually about a relative newcomer to the scripture tweeting game: Chris Juby of the UK, who started his project (@biblesummary) earlier this month.

Riess, by contrast, has been going at it (@janariess) one chapter a day since October 4, 2009, which means she has finished the first ten biblical books—can you name them?—and is now slogging her way through 1 Kings—a few thousand years ahead of Juby (in biblical time).

In a phone call last week, she said she got the idea for her project after following my RN140 Twitter course (@sprothero), where I attempted to tweet each of the major religions in 140 characters or less.  “That eliminated my big complaint about Twitter,” she told me. "I don't care what people had for breakfast."

Not long after that  she was in a hotel room reading the Bible when she realized she had never really read it cover to cover–even when she was in seminary. Promising to tweet it would be a way to announce publicly that she intended to read it through, and then to be held accountable by what she imagined would be only a handful of followers.

Tweeting the Bible might also make the book “more understandable and user friendly instead of long and difficult and full of complexity.”

And so she began in the beginning:

Genesis 1: After 6 days creation, G totally wiped. Day off tomorrow. Key point: human beings v good. M & F in G's image.

As she proceeded, she had to make some unkind cuts, like forgetting about honoring your father–yes, I noticed–in this synopsis of the Ten Commandments:

Ex 20: G’s Top 10. No gods, idols, blasphemy. Keep Sabbath holy & love Mom. Don’t kill, cheat, steal, lie, or look @ Xmas catalogs.

There are a few other Twitter Bible projects, Riess told me, including TheFakeBible (@FakeBible), which proceeds verse by verse, often with more than one tweet per day, and has been known to use the f-word.

Riess (who does not use the f-word) would not admit to being miffed at having only a few hundred followers, to Juby’s 11,000 and counting.

She did observe, however, that her translations were a bit more edgy and irreverent. (She lost some followers after referring in an earlier tweet to Abraham and Isaac “pimping out” their wives.)

Thus far Riess, who works part-time as an editor at Westminster John Know Press, is enjoying her project. She found it the Book of Numbers “very difficult,” however, because it is “so dark.”  “I had no idea how violent it would be,” she said. “How do you write something that’s supposed to be funny about a woman getting chopped up in a Cuisinart?”

So will she make it to the New Testament and the Book of Revelation?  “I hope so,” she told me. “God hasn’t struck me down yet.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bible • Christianity

soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. Bielizna

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    December 14, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  3. Jochebed

    This is a great example of why our country is in such a sad state religiously – not even it's supposed religious leaders have managed to read their entire Bible through once. What exactly are they up there preaching, if they haven't read their Bible? Cliff Notes?

    September 2, 2010 at 6:11 am |
  4. CuzzyLINY

    NL
    I know Paul was a Jew who persecuted Christians and then reversed himself. What made him change? I don't really know and I don't think anyone does. Ambition maybe? Its been lost to history. I know Pauline Christianity is what won out over the other sects, so he got himself into the bible.

    RazMor-

    The Paul (I think his real name was Saul) who wrote the epistles from the bible never knew Jesus. He says so himself. Your getting confused. Not surprising since you don't seem to be able to make any comprehensive arguments of your own, and instead revert to bible passages to make your arguments for you. You seem to me more brainwashed then educated, so you are excused for your ignorance.

    August 30, 2010 at 12:09 am |
    • RazMor

      .
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      Do you believe with other apostle like peter or not?
      .
      .

      August 30, 2010 at 12:12 am |
    • RazMor

      .
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      @CuzzyLINY
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      You are not answering me, maybe you can not answer me because you are not sure what to answer.
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      Base on what you said like "i think", "i dont really know". It tells me that you judging Paul without knowing what Jesus said.
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      If you accept Jesus, you should accept Paul.
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      .

      August 30, 2010 at 12:28 am |
    • RazMor

      .
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      2 Timothy 3:16-17
      16 Every scripture inspired of God[ is] also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.
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      17 That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
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      .

      August 30, 2010 at 12:53 am |
    • CuzzyLINY

      I don't accept Jesus. He was just a man with an opinion on how he thought his own people should act towards to each other. We have no idea who he really was or what he really did and said. We've only been told by others who want us to know what they think and said about him.

      There is no god. There never was. Religion is an extension of politics. It is used by those in control in order to control the others around them for whatever goals those who are in control want to achieve. Jesus was just an excuse for the Israelite God's failure to honor his covenant with his chosen people. In short God failed to protect them, so he sent his only son, himself, to be sacrificed as an apology.

      Its a pretty intriguing piece of fiction, albeit with tons of loopholes. So I don't accept any of it. Everything came from out space and life was formed on this planet by some chemical reaction. So you can literally thank your lucky stars.

      By the way, I know science does not have all the answers. The universe is too complicated for one unifying answer, but at least its our nature to keep looking. Religion is just a lie and roadblock.

      August 30, 2010 at 1:02 am |
    • CuzzyLINY

      Again RazMor, you are just quoting other men's opinions. It's not helping your argument, and I'm not sure at all what your argument is.

      August 30, 2010 at 1:16 am |
    • RazMor

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      Now you dont believe with Jesus too because you said he is just a man.
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      and you said there is no God.
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      so, who do you believe?
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      Do you just trust your heart hopefuly you are right?
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      Is that what you believe?
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      .

      August 30, 2010 at 1:20 am |
    • RazMor

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      A SCIENTIFIC PROOF:
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      http://www.angdatingdaan.org/publications/pdf/The-Blog-Mag_v1n2.pdf
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      .

      August 30, 2010 at 2:00 am |
  5. Kate

    Now I see why this is much better on Twitter – it's a lot easier to keep up with posts 140 characters or less :P

    August 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  6. bk03

    Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." I believe this verse is not just towards unbelievers but to us that believe as well. Jesus wanted us to spread the Message of the Gospel, not shove it down people's throats. Jesus taught the word. Yes, people were offended. Yes, people didn't believe. But He did what his Father sent him here to do. He didn't look down on them because he was the Son of God. He gives us a choice. I believe the reason why people are so resistant to receive the word is because We believers look down on others that don't. By his grace, we are saved. We are blessed that we chose to open our hearts and believe. And we forget that at one time, We too were lost. We too will be held accountable for all the souls that are lost because of Our actions. We want to fill our mouths saying We are Christians but our actions beg to differ. We are not exempt from sin. We live in the flesh. And even the ones that think are firm, fall and then they are mocked for it. We need to be humble if we want to win souls for Christ.

    August 29, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • RazMor

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      "By his grace, we are saved"
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      save from what?
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      August 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
    • NL

      bk03-
      The reason why people are so resistant to receive the word is because they are already quite satisfied with what they already believe, be it another religious tradition, or no religious tradition al all. Contrary to what you have been taught people can live very happy and fulfilled lives outside of Christianity. Some of us did not know happiness and peace of mind until they put church behind them. Accept that and you'll become a better person, despite you being a Christian.

      August 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • CuzzyLINY

      That was written by Paul. Paul was a man. He was not Jesus. And he certainly wasn't any type of god. In fact Paul was more influential in creating the church than Jesus was. In fact, Jesus never said anything at all about creating a church. He was expecting heaven to come down to Earth. Yes folks, heaven is not in the sky, it was supposed to here on Earth, whenever God decided it was time. Paul, not an original disciple by the way, had to deal with the fact that heaven never came, and probably wasn't coming any time soon.

      You can look it up, right there in the bible.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
    • NL

      CuzzyLINY-
      Paul was actually the biggest enemy of the new movement, then he all of a sudden took the entire message and twisted it towards the gentile world. Perhaps it was not Jesus who blinded him on the side of the road. Brain tumour maybe? Satan? If Satan exists and wanted to destroy the message Jesus brought to the Jewish people, what better way than to pose as Jesus to some guilt-ridden fool out to make amends?

      August 29, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
    • RazMor

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      Paul is the biggest enemy?
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      He is one of the Apostles
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      .

      August 29, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
    • RazMor

      @cuzzylini
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      You don't believe with any apostles but only Jesus?
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      Is that right, only Jesus will you believe in the truth?
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      .

      August 30, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • CuzzyLINY

      I don't believe in anything. I thought I made that clear. And no, I am not unsure and hoping that I am right. Man created God because he was/is scared of dying and the unknown. I'm not scared of anything. I've been through too much in life. I'm not surprised at what human beings are capable of doing to each other. Men are just animals trying to control themselves around each other. Some human beings can do it better than others. Most seem to do an okay job, while others sometimes just go off the deep end. And then we die. End of story.

      Someday this planet will be dead and gone too. Maybe something spectacular will happen between now and then, and maybe not. Humanity's curse is that we can think all we want, but we'll never know the all the answers to what was and what will come. In the meantime, try to control yourself. Let people live the little time they have here as they want and as they are able (I realize many people in this world do not have a choice to choose. Be grateful that you can) within the boundaries of our societies. Try not cajole, convert, or threaten others with your beliefs, especially if they explain to you that they are not interested or have made their own decisions.

      Good luck out there. I'm leaving now.

      August 30, 2010 at 3:11 am |
  7. ybs

    It's clear... "all" religions are one big pile of dung surrounded by sheep that pontificate about its virtue or lack thereof! Most are still trying to justify having eaten it! :)

    August 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
    • RazMor

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      Do you believe that human can do worst than devil?
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      August 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • RazMor

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      PAUL SAID:
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      Rom 2:16
      In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according TO MY GOSPEL.
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      .

      August 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  8. RazMor

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    1Ti 2:3-4
    (3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
    (4) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
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    Watch the LIVE webcast EVERY Wednesday @ 8pm Eastern Standard time!!!
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    Log on to http://www.livestream.com/elisoriano and get a chance to ask Bro. Eli regarding the bible and your salvation!
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    BE THERE!!!
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    August 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  9. jimbo

    If the earth is a living organism, and so is our bodies, I wonder what you would call our minds ?
    Maybe god should manufacture a large can of raid and just spray every brain until every nook and cranny is covered.
    The DNA was once packaged in a little snake called sperm. Once inside the temple it slithered it's way into the mainframe thus the whole place became insane with ideology and illusions.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  10. RazMor

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    This is what Jesus said:
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    Mat 12:36
    But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
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    August 29, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • CuzzyLINY

      Here is an example: You are quoting Matthew on what he thought Jesus said, not Jesus himself. Jesus never wrote anything down because he didn't expect to be around long (here I am referring to the coming kingdom of God, not his unexpected death).

      August 30, 2010 at 1:21 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.