In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and then some time later 😇 created emoji 🙏 .
One of the most widely translated works in history has been given a 21st-century update with the publication of the Emoji Bible.
Described as a “great and fun way to share the gospel”, it interprets all 66 books of the King James Version with Unicode-approved emoji and commonly-used internet slang and contractions.
Totalling just under 3,300 pages, the book – subtitled “Scripture 4 Millennials” – was made available on the iTunes store for US $2.99 on Sunday.
The translator told Guardian Australia that he or she preferred to remain anonymous, identifying only as the cool-dude-with-sunglasses emoji: 😎.
“I thought if we fast forwarded 100 years in the future, an emoji bible would exist,” said 😎. “So I thought it’d be fun to try to make it …
“I wanted to make it similar to how you might text or tweet a bible verse, by shrinking the total character count.”
The project used a program of the translator’s own creation that linked 80 emoji with 200 corresponding words, and took about six months.
“I started tweeting the verses out and it was sort of like a public proofread.”
The translator welcomed suggestions on how to improve the translation. Though 😎 wanted to make the Bible available for Android, the book formats used by each platform presented problems: “Like Amazon for instance doesn’t support emoji.”
The Emoji Bible had been met with a largely positive reception, said 😎: “Some really nice things, some not-so-nice things.”
This was reflected in the response on Twitter – along with some translation difficulties.
“‘in the beginning angels created the stars the earth’ i’m pretty sure it doesn’t go like that,” tweeted one user, prompting a correction from the @BibleEmoji account.
Its release comes with declining rates of religious affiliation across the Millennial generation, with the Pew Research Center finding “much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations” in a May 2015 study of religious affiliation in the US population.
Asked whether this was a concern, 😎 said, “I think we should worry more about spreading ✌️ [peace sign emoji] ❤️ [heart emoji] less about what church affiliation we’re doing it under.”
😎 declined to say if they were a Christian. “I’m just an emoji, and I 💪ly [flexed biceps] agree with Jesus message of course.”
“That was strongly,” they added. “Not sure if that one came through on translation lol.”