Digital Content

South African Christians seeking a quick spiritual boost will be able to download the entire bible on to their mobile telephones phones from Wednesday as part of a drive to modernize the scriptures.

The South African wing of the non-denominational International Bible Society, which translates and distributes the Bible, said mobile phone users with the right type of phone could download the whole bible in either English or Afrikaans using the text messaging function SMS.

"The Virtual Bible will enable the Bible Society to supply the Bible to every modern cell phone user in a fast and affordable format," Rev. Gerrit Kritzinger, chief executive of the Bible Society in South Africa, said in a statement.

The Bible Society hopes the gimmick, which costs 40 rand ($5.43), will appeal to young people in mobile-mad South Africa, where the majority of the population is Christian.

Customers can choose between the traditional King James version of the bible or more up-to-date translations. Zulu and Xhosa version will be available soon and other languages will follow.

By sending an SMS, customers get the complete Old and New Testaments as well as a built-in search engine.

The Bible Society provided the content, while Christian Mobile -- a South African firm that sells mobile phone ringtones of Christian songs and an "SMS Hopeline" of daily bible verses and prayers -- came up with the technology.

The statement said 80 percent of South African phones had the 1.2 megabytes of memory needed to receive the Bible and were java enabled with Internet access.