The Bible is the most translated book in the world – latest figures show that as of November 2014 the full Bible had been translated into 531 languages, with 2,883 languages having at least some portion of the Bible translated.
And now it’s being translated into another ‘language’ – emoji.
Is this a step too far for translations?
The Bible’s first translation to English
It’s been around 500 years since William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible not only became the first English translation to work directly from Greek and Hebrew texts, but advances in the art of printing at the time meant it also became the first English biblical translation to be mass-produced.
Unfortunately for Tyndale, and his fledgling translation business, his work was deemed to be a betrayal of the Catholic church and he was accused of purposely mis-translating the texts to promote anti-clericalism and heretical views – a charge he was subsequently executed for by being strangled to death before being burned at the stake.
They didn’t mess around in the Middle Ages.
Thankfully, we live in more enlightened times and a severe brow-beating is probably the biggest sanction anyone will face for translating the Bible – but is the translation to emoji a step too far?
The Emoji Bible
If you fancy seeing the Word according to apps then head off to Apple’s App Store and download “Scripture for Millennials”, a piece of tech that translates the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible into a series of emoticons and emojis.
The brainchild of a group of devout Christians, the aim of the app is to bring the Word of God to a new, less attentive, audience – if you’ve made it this far, it’s safe to assume that doesn’t include you.
One of the app’s creators, known only as ‘sunglasses smiley emoji’ (if I could hit the ‘monkey hiding its eyes’ emoji now, I would) had this to say: “What’s amazing about emojis, and 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.”
Speaking to the New York Daily News, he/she/it added: ” 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.
“I think if we were to fast-forward 100 years, an ‘emoji’ Bible of some kind would exist, so I thought, ‘Why not try and make it?’
“The Bible more than any other book has a really rich history of translation. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about emojis, and I think one of the goals of using them was to point out, in the Bible, God’s love is for everyone, not select people.”
If you want to give it a try, you can go to bibleemoji.com and put in a passage to get an instant translation that will be a combination of text and emoticon.
All of which seems a harmless bit of fun to make a notoriously heavy text more approachable and add a bit of levity to religious reading – but is it another example of how literature is being dumbed-down to account for an ever-decreasing attention span of readers around the world?
And if you want an example of how even the most basic of texts are being dumbed-down (in itself a pretty dumbed-down phrase) then consider this article has been given a score of 55.7 and deemed ‘fairly difficult to read’ by the Flesch Reading Ease test – a system used by WordPress to analyse content.
In order to get a score of 90-100 it would need to be ‘easily understood by an average 11-year-old student.
*insert ‘shocked-face’ emoji*