Fashion Bible: Questions for Laurie Whaley

“Revolve,” a Bible for teenage girls designed to resemble a fashion magazine, has zipped up the sales list with record speed. Isn’t that unusual for the New Testament? How did you come up with the idea?

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We at Thomas Nelson Publishers in Nashville did some research and found that teens don’t read the Bible. They say it is too freaky and too big and it doesn’t make sense. The only thing they read is fashion magazines, so we thought, What if we made the Bible look like a magazine?

But Glamour, with their emphasis on acquiring the latest Marc Jacobs purse, seem a bit out of sync with the antimaterial thrust of the Bible.

That is true. The teachings of Vogue and other pop-culture magazines contradict the teachings of Christ.

Christ himself was not exactly a fashion plate.

I would say that Christ resisted fashion. He was not treated like a king, and he did not have the apparel of a king. He walked a lot, and it wasn’t as if he was wearing Cole Haan.

Why appropriate the format of fashion magazines to hawk the Bible? Doesn’t the medium nullify the message?

Not at all. God is not at all opposed to a fashion magazine or its format. All we have done is said that teen girls are reading magazines, so we’re going to put the Bible into the format of a magazine. We have removed the obstacle of the black-leather packaging.

Some literary scholars have suggested that the Holy Bible would have been a better read if they had left the New Testament out. But you chose to exclude the Old Testament from ”Revolve.”

The Old Testament is three times longer than the New Testament, so how could we have included it? That would have made for a magazine about the size of a Sears, Roebuck catalog!

But you found room to include sidebars on fashion and romance and to raise the question ”Are you dating a godly guy?” What translation of the Bible did you use?

We use the New Century Version. It translates the Bible thought for thought instead of word for word. The King James translation reads at a 12th-grade reading level. Most people in our country today do not read at that level. The New Century Version reads at a fifth-and-a-half-grade reading level, which is about the average where people can comprehend.

Can you provide us with an example of your efforts at translation?

O.K. One of my favorites is Psalms 1:1. The King James says, ”Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.” I learned it when I was 8. I’m a third-generation pastor’s kid, and I didn’t have a clue what it meant.

How do you prefer to translate that line?

In the New Century Version, it says, ”Happy are those who don’t listen to the wicked.”

But the King James Bible is a piece of imaginative literature on par with Shakespeare.

It is Shakespearic! That’s the problem. All those thous. I can honestly say my heart breaks because the church has made it so difficult for people to grasp the concepts of the Bible.

And yet you were able to grasp the concepts sufficiently to extract fashion tips from them.

A ”Revolve” girl makes a point of dressing modestly. She might wonder to herself, Would God find this too revealing or too suggestive?

But Mary Magdalene, who was Christ’s girlfriend, favored low necklines and loads of jewelry.

Mary was a friend of Christ. From the Bible, we have no indication that there was any sexual relationship with her.

You could argue that Christ was drawn to her precisely because of her flamboyant clothing.

Christ was drawn to everyone. I think he loved Mary regardless of her clothing.

But he does not love girls who call boys, at least according to ”Revolve”! It’s positively regressive for ”Revolve” to suggest that God made men to be the leaders in romance.

There’s no indication from Scripture that Mary Magdalene ever picked up the phone and called Christ.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The New York Times Magazine, USA
Sep. 14, 2003
Deborah Solomon

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