Glo Bible spreads word (and HD video) of God to digital generation
* Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 14 October 2009 17.30 BST
* Article history
Glo Bible has high-resolution photos, virtual tours, interactive timelines and a slick, youthful publicity campaign
With its soft rock soundtrack and perky narrative, the trailer could be for a new TV show or a teen skincare line. But the slick advert is selling something ancient and unglamorous.
Launched worldwide tomorrow and retailing at £59.99 in the UK, Glo claims to be the Bible that will engage the digital generation of Christians.
Boasting 2,382 high-resolution photos, 7,500 articles, 463 virtual tours, 3.5 hours of high-definition video and 689 works of art, as well as virtual tours of Jerusalem in the present day and as it might have been in the time of Jesus, Glo says it "brings God's word to life".
Its creator, Nelson Saba, a former aeronautical engineer and banker, said: "There is nothing wrong with the Bible but we have two generations which favour interactive media. Unless you put the Bible on that media you won't connect with them. It's not about mimicking paper. It's about offering an experience."
This experience includes close-ups of religious art such as the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and accompanying text, tours of the Garden of Gethsemane and Temple Mount, the Bible mapped out on a timeline and atlas, and documentaries featuring scholarly narrative. The project has a full-time team of 20 shooting footage, taking photographs, compiling text and developing the technology.
It features a youthful publicity campaign that urges potential customers to "dive into the world of Bible" and asserts that Glo, which will be sold online and distributed on DVD, is "kinda cool", "just feels right" and that "instead of just reading the Bible, you see it, feel it, get it".
Saba said: "We did a number of focus groups with people aged between 20 and 50. We asked how they felt and what frustrations they had. The older group were more engaged with the paper Bible, but a lot of what we designed addressed our findings. It's about being efficient and relevant, and even people who are nominal in their faith still have a reverence for it but they were challenged in finding what they needed."
Glo is the latest attempt to put a fresh spin on centuries-old scripture. Last year the UK branch of the Bible Society teamed up with academics in the West Indies to translate the books of the Old and New Testament into patois for the 5 million people who speak it, mostly in Jamaica but also in Britain.
While the project received an emotional welcome from native speakers it upset traditionalists who took exception to text such as "'Wa rait dong iina di Laa?' Jiizas aks im. 'Yu andastan i?'" from Luke chapter 10 verse 26, which usually reads: "What is written in the law? Jesus asks him. How do you understand it?"
In 2005 the Bible Society in Australia translated all 31,173 verses into SMS, with Exodus chapter 20 verse 12 appearing as: "Respect ur father & ur mother, & u will live a long time in da l& I am givin u." A spokesman said the exercise was a logical way to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds.
There is also the Brick Testament, an illustrated online Bible retelling key stories in Lego, and the LolCat Bible, which opens with the timeless line: "Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem."