In the beginning was the word. But the word was too long for a post-modern generation addicted to mobile telephones.
And now, for those who prefer their scriptures hip, a new book r father n hvn: up 2 d8 txts frm d bible, has converted key passages from the Good Book into the concise language of the text message.
Thus, the main figures in the Christian story become Gzus and S8n, and the key events the cre8un, the 10 comamp;ments, the be@itudes and d pistles frm d postles.
The idea for the book came about after the Christian website www.ship-of-fools.com ran a successful competition inviting readers to send in their versions of the Lord's Prayer in text form.
Its editor Simon Jenkins concedes that some churchgoers may be offended by his light-hearted treatment of the world's best-selling book, but believes it will help bring it alive to a new generation.
He said: "There are bound to be some people who think we are trivialising the Bible, but then there were people who felt the same when the King James version of the Bible was printed. Most of the bishops I've spoken to think it's tremendous fun.
"It's supposed to be playful and entertaining, but it does have a serious side. Young people spend so much time texting each other and it is making the Bible accessible to a generation that rarely darkens the door of the local church."
Now Genesis reads: "God cre8s hvnamp;erth. Adamamp;Eve givn Xlent garden. Eve 8 appl amp; all goes pear-shapd. 1st murder amp; big flud follo."
And 2 Samuel converts to "KgDavid Cs sexy grl on nxt-d%r r%f. Tries ch@-up line: `Im hot4U'. `amp;me4U' she sez. S%n she's preg amp; Dave has her hubby killd 2coverup. Then uvas start 2die."
As for Luke's Gospel: "Luke had an I 4 da ladies. amp;also 4 d poor, lepers, immigrants amp;uva hated ppl. In Luke, Gzus givs em all speshl respect. `Da 1st wilB last amp; d last 1st,' he sez."
The 10 comamp;ments now tell us: "God: Im No.1. No pix, plz. Uz my name nicely. Day7=holy. Take care of mum'n'dad. Don't kill, scrU round, steal or lie. Keep yr hands (amp;eyz) off wot isn't yrs!"
"r father n hvn", by Simon Jenkins, Westminster John Knox Press,pound;6.99