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Emoji Bible translation opts for symbolic approach

03 June 2016

Emoji Bible: Scripture 4 millennials

Making waves: Jonah 1.15-2.2.

Making waves: Jonah 1.15-2.2.

TRANSLATORS of the Bible are accustomed to having to defend their projects. Tyndale famously vowed that, if he survived long enough, a ploughboy would know more of the scriptures than his detractors.

Last week the anonymous translator of the Emoji Bible: Scripture 4 millennials, who is identified only by a smiling face wearing sunglasses, said that criticism was “worth the goal of making the Bible a little more approachable, to inject some levity, and to get people to look at it, with no particular agenda beyond that.”

Available from the iTunes store for US$2.99, and running to just under 3300 screen pages, it translates ‘God’ as as smiley face with halo, ‘prayer’ as two joined hands, and ‘good’ as a thumbs-up.

“Emojis are emotional, and allow people to express feelings in a visual way within the structure of ‘normal’, written language,” the translator told The Memo online news service. “What’s made them so successful, is that they’re language-agnostic — they allow you to convey an idea to anyone, regardless of what language they speak. A major goal of this whole process was to take a book that I think is very non-approachable to lay readers and try to make it more approachable by removing a lot of its density.”

The translator described the process, through which the number of words in the Bible has been reduced by about 15 per cent, as one of a “lot of trial and error, and a lot of rereading”.

Asked about “Millennials”(a demographic group born between 1980 and 2000) and their declining affiliation with Christianity, the translator told The Guardian: “I think we should worry more about spreading [peace sign emoji] & [heart emoji] & less about what church affiliation we’re doing it under.”

They declined to say if they were a Christian. “I’m just an emoji, and I [flexed biceps emoji] agree with Jesus message of course.”


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