Tweeting the Bible
So, at six months into the project you are only partially through the Old Testament ... and you'll be in the OT for quite a while still. As a Christian whose faith is grounded in the life and death of Jesus Christ, do you ever want to jump ahead and tweet some New Testament?
Oh, yes, it's very tempting. This month, we'll be finishing off Deuteronomy and the Torah, but we're still not quite a quarter of the way through the entire OT, which is 929 chapters long. As I indicated, the God we've met so far in the OT is neither trustworthy nor particularly likeable. So, yeah, I'd love to skip ahead to the New Testament and the remarkable love of Jesus. But one point of the Twible is that for whatever it's worth, God is in the whole canon, not just the warm and fuzzy parts. We may not like the fact that the OT God is annihilating whole populations or seems so very anxious about bodily discharge, but it's in the Bible, and we have to figure out what to do with that stuff theologically.
Do you ever get completely blocked on a verse? What do you do when that happens? Does anyone ever help you with your tweets?
I do the whole Twible myself, but if I ever got writer's block I would certainly ask for help. So far, that hasn't happened. If anything, I have far too much to say.
What have you found most challenging about this project so far?
One-hundred-forty characters is not a lot of space! My number-one goal for the Twible is to entertain, with education as a secondary goal. Every tweet about every chapter tries to score on both counts, but that's sometimes hard to do in what amounts to a single sentence. But that's precisely what I love about it -- the distilling, and the humorous or unexpected interpretations that emerge.
What has been most rewarding?
I love it when people tell me what they've learned from the Twible. Some of my Twitter followers and Facebook friends are already very familiar with the Bible, but others aren't, and it's been fun to romp through it with them. And I'm finding a number of things that I never knew were in the Bible -- like that Noah wasn't in the ark for just 40 days like the Sunday School song says. Man, have we ever sanitized the Noah story.
#Twible Genesis 9: They've de-arked. G sends rainbow to promise he'll never again off us by flood. Keeps earthquakes, tsunamis in reserve.
How has tweeting the Bible in community with others through Twitter and Facebook affected your own reading of the Bible?
I don't think we're doing ourselves any favors when we uphold solitary Bible reading as the quintessential spiritual practice. The Bible was intended to be read out aloud, in community -- not at home alone in a "quiet time." The Twible is in no way a substitute for that liturgical community, but it does get people out of their silos to think and talk and wrestle. The tweets have been good conversation starters, and that's really what it's all about.
Do you ever worry that your humorous commentary is making light of the Bible and that people might be getting a skewed vision of scripture through your satirical lens?
Yeah, I'd be alarmed if people were only reading the Twible. It's supposed to be a humorous take on the Bible, not a substitute for it. But most people love the cheeky perspective.
Deborah Arca joined the Patheos team after more than ten years managing programs for the Program in Christian Spirituality at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Deborah has also been a youth minister, a director of Christian Education and music/theatre programs for young people and has served as a music director for worship and special retreats.