Bible gets a makeover as teen-girl magazine

The Bible has been reprocessed into films, audiotapes, comic books and Broadway musicals, with editions aimed at numerous specialized audiences.

So why not try a format that mimics teens’ pop-culture magazines?

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Behold Revolve, the New Testament disguised as a glossy magazine aimed at girls 12 to 17, in which Holy Writ is jumbled alongside innumerable sidebars, splashy headlines and color photos — all minus the sexual titillation of Seventeen.

New York’s Daily News proclaimed the magazine “clever” and “funky,” and one teenager enthusiastically told the Detroit Free Press that she doesn’t look ridiculous reading it at lunch as she would a black-bound Bible.

But teen cynics may consider Revolve “dorky” rather than “way cool.”

The magazine, at 388 pages and $14.99, was edited by Kate Etue of Transit, the teens’ publishing division of evangelical, Nashville-based Thomas Nelson.

Revolve works up a sweat seeking relevance. Words from the brief introduction: “Radical,” “revolutionary,” “grappling,” “challenge,” “risk-takers,” “virtual,” “raw,” “out-on-a-limb,” “shock waves.”

Among the sidebars:

“Blab” — Questions and answers about topics of interest to adolescents. Was Jesus a vegetarian? No: Plenty of fish, some lamb. What’s wrong with following horoscopes? It’s condemned in Scripture. Does “honor my parents” mean I have to smoke pot with them if they ask? “No, you actually don’t honor your parents by breaking God’s law.”

“Guys Speak Out” — Opinions from unnamed “real-life teen guys,” one of whom complains that the way girls now dress, “there’s way too much showing most of the time.”

“Beauty Secrets” — Hints on beautifying “your inner-self,” for instance, daily prayer and reading the Bible to filter out bad thoughts.

“Relationships” — Typical advice: “Remember to be friends first; put the romance second. That way you know it will last longer than the come-and-go emotions.”

“Radical Faith” — Suggestions to “push us to trust God in the extreme.”

For instance, “When you are a student, the Lord calls you to obey your parents, your teachers, coaches and leaders at your church,” and as an adult, you’ll be under the rule of government and church elders.

There are Letterman-inspired but unfunny “Top Ten” lists, such as:

“Top Ten random things to know about being a `Revolve’ (magazine) girl,” among them “don’t call guys,” maintain good posture and “don’t kiss and tell.”

“Top Ten random ways to have fun on a date,” including “a double date with your parents” and taking cookies to a nursing home.

“Top Ten ways to make a difference in your school,” such as “be nice to underclassmen” and “start a prayer club.”

The text is also sprinkled with statistical factoids. This one is nestled next to Jesus’ talk with the Samaritan woman who had many men (John 4): “Didya Know: 63 percent of teens who have had sex say they wish they had waited.”

There are also pitches against smoking and in favor of worthy causes.

Oh, yes. In the midst of all the clutter, Revolve does provide the entire New Testament, all 27 books. It reprints the chatty 1991 New Century Version, which strives above all for ease of reading.

Each biblical book begins with a brief introduction. Here’s one explanation of the differences among the four Gospels:

“In Matthew, you won’t find as much dramatic action as you’ll discover in Mark, or as many spotlights on compassion as in Luke, or even as much proof of the deity of Jesus as you’ll uncover in John. But in Matthew, you’ll find the most complete record of what Jesus taught.”

Matthew’s message, the editors add, is: “Totally complete. Totally true.”

In line with the evangelical sponsorship and audience, the Revolve introduction to 2 Peter never hints that many scholars believe the apostle himself didn’t write this letter.

And the introduction to Revelation shuns all the divisive combat about interpretation that afflicts evangelicals. Revolve simply tells readers that John’s “out-of-this-world” vision has been seen as both literal and symbolic, and that some images “are still a mystery.”

Can a Bible mag for teenage guys be far behind?

• On the Web: Transit Books:

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Assciated Press, USA
Sep. 16, 2003
Richard N. Ostling

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday September 16, 2003.
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