The Bible has long been one of the world's least-read bestsellers. According to pollster George Barna's January 2005 survey of more than 1,000 adults, 45 percent said they read the Bible during a typical week. But publisher Zondervan said that while 91 percent of Americans own at least one Bible, only 22 percent have read through the entire text. Fewer still seem to understand it. About 12 percent of Americans think Noah's wife was Joan of Arc, according to a Gallup poll.

Proponents of a new trend, however, hope to make God's word digestible for the masses not in years, but in weeks, days, and—yes—even minutes. The BBC reported that The 100-Minute Bible, published last September, has already sold 100,000 copies.

How many purchasers are actually reading it—and what they are getting out of it—are other matters.

Including The 100-Minute Bible, three new options for accelerated Bible reading have just hit the shelf, all based on the premise that reading it the old-fashioned way is just too hard or takes too long.

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For the person who want their speediness to be at a relaxed pace, The Bible in 90 Days might be a good choice. With an interactive website and cross-country encouragement, it is both a Bible and a curriculum (www.Biblein90Days.com site run by Zondervan) developed and field-tested by Ted Cooper, a Houston businessman.

Six years ago, Cooper and his wife were professed agnostics. They started attending church for their children, and Cooper began to be skeptical of his own agnosticism as he read the Bible. "I thought if there is a God and I get started reading it, he's going to want me to finish it," he said.

A computer industry consultant and businessman, Cooper read the Bible in three months. He ...

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