Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Listening to the Bible

There have been a bunch of articles published in the past week on Bible sales. The best I’ve seen was written by Daniel Radosh for The New Yorker. Of all the products out there, I have to admit I think the complete reading of the NT in the NKJV by Johnny Cash has my attention.

Note the marketing copy on the front cover, “I wear the black for those who’ve never read or listened to the words that Jesus said.”

One reviewer at Amazon gets to the heart of my concern for a good reading of the Bible. It sounds like Johnny Cash doesn’t quite read the text in a way that would actually help people understand the words that Jesus said.

Johnny gets the job done, but does no dramatizing or voice inflections to help flesh out the text and dialogue. I would have enjoyed it more if he had tried to emphasize highlights or emotions in the text and dialogue. He sounds like he has great reverence for the Bible, but seems too unfamiliar to be comfortable adding pertinent emotions in the correct passages.
This reminds me of a Bible idea that has been floating around my head for the last couple months. You can listen to the ESV online (just hit the "Listen" link above the text), but it is read by a professional voice. This voice is so wooden that I get lost unless I have the text in front of me while it is being read.

I would like to see a reading of the ESV by well-studied pastors such as John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, R.C. Sproul, Eric Alexander, etc. The reason this would be helpful is because each of these men have a heart for the congregation and for the word of God. They have studied the text and know how to emphasize the right parts.

Get twenty or so pastor’s, who know how to read the Bible, and sit them down in front of a microphone, and let them go. Sproul will probably have to take the book of Isaiah, Piper can take a gospel and some of the Epistles, Ferguson can take Job and a few minor prophets, Eric Alexander could take a Genesis, and so on.

By the way, I grew up listening to The Living Bible on tape. It was done so well, though dated, that I still listen to it on my way to work. My children listen to it as they go to bed at night. My only problem with it is that I don't agree with some of the theological interpretations, and so it can be jarring at times. Many of the narative portions are fine to listen to, but the Epistles are too hard to swallow.

What a blessing it would be to listen to a lively rendition of a good translation on the way to work each day. Lord, let it happen.

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