London, Sept. 21: In the beginning was the Word but the Word alone is now no longer enough: a new version of the Bible targeted at teenage girls offers beauty tips and advice on boyfriends as well.
“Are You Dating a Godly Guy'” asks the cover of Revolve, the Complete New Testament, beside a picture of three smiling teenage models in fashionable summer gear.
Inside, the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament are juxtaposed with items on plucking eyebrows, photographs of girls in bikinis and boys’ musings on relationships. Designed to look like the magazines devoured by American teenage girls, the book has been such a success that its publishers have ordered a new print run of 120,000 copies to cope with the demand.
Faced with youngsters in focus groups complaining that the Bible was “irrelevant” and even “freaky”, Thomas Nelson Publishers decided to produce a hipper version. “The Bible can be overwhelming. The Bible can be intimidating,” said Laurie Whaley, 28, who helped to edit the new book. “We fully recognise that the Bible is difficult so we want to help people digest it.”
The most radical difference from more orthodox Bibles comes in the sidebars on teen topics accompanying the narrative of the life of Christ. “As you apply sunscreen, use that time to talk to God,” one passage suggests. “Tell him how grateful you are for how he made you. Soon you’ll be so used to talking to him, it might become as regular and familiar as shrinking your pores.”
Another contains fashion hints: “Make sure that Jesus would be pleased with what you wear. You don’t have to look frumpy, just make sure you look like a child of God.”
The book’s advice on morality is traditional enough. It urges against pre-marital sex. “Wait for marriage to open that precious gift,” it says. A New Testament for boys is scheduled for next spring and it may dwell more on sex, dating and girls.
Whaley said: “We will be a good deal more explicit about those subjects than we were with girls because probably a larger percentage of male obsessions revolve around them.”