SMS Bible cre8ts new textaments 4 tech-savvy mob usrs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 October, 2005, 12:00am

Not content with giving the world a Strine version of the Bible, Australia has now translated the scriptures into the text message language of mobile phone users.

'In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth,' the SMS version begins, in what is claimed to be a world first. 'Da earth waz barren, wit no 4m of life; it waz unda a roaring ocean cuvred wit dRkness.'

All 31,173 verses of the Bible were translated into text by the Bible Society in Australia. Sending the entire Bible by SMS would take more than 30,000 messages and cost nearly A$8,000 ($47,000).

The SMS version is designed to appeal to tech-savvy teenagers but older people may feel it somewhat lacks the gravitas of the original. 'U, Lord, r my shepherd,' reads a verse from Psalm 23. The society used the International Contemporary English Version of the Bible and remained faithful to the grammar, altering only the spelling of words.

'The old days when the Bible was only available within a sombre black cover with a cross on it are long gone,' society spokesman Michael Chant said.

'We want to open it up for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests, and the SMS version is a logical extension of that.'

Inspiration for the exercise came from the son of a Bible Society employee in Sydney. It took one person about a month to convert the entire New and Old testaments into SMS text.

Biblical words of wisdom could be sent to comfort a friend or relative, Mr Chant said. 'Other people might just want to send a daily Bible recording to themselves to meditate on while they're on the bus or having lunch,' he said.

The society has previously published a Surfers' Bible and The Aussie Bible (Well, bits of it anyway), in which large parts of the New Testament were translated into Australian slang.

Based loosely on a book of Bible stories in Cockney rhyming slang, the Aussie Bible features the Good Samaritan being attacked by 'a bunch of bushrangers' and baby Jesus laid down in a 'feed trough' because the local pub was 'full to bursting'.