Monday, February 11, 2013

In Praise of Audio Bibles

As I noted last month, the free time afforded to me as a result of having graduated from seminary last year has led me to set a goal for myself of reading through the Bible twice in 2013.  Why twice?  A lot of people just do it once.  Well, I like reading through large chunks of scripture when I read it, so I decided to make it my goal.  After all, in order to read through the Bible twice in one year, one only needs to read a meager six chapters each day.  That's really not too much when you think about it.

Anyway, I've decided to cheat a bit, although I'm not sure it's really cheating.  Every day for about the past week, when I do my workout (which I've been doing 5 times a week for the last 3 weeks - yes!), I've been listening to an audio version of the ESV New Testament.  I just finished the gospel of Matthew this evening.  I've found it a pleasant experience, especially as I am a captive audience during my workout.

What makes the experience better is that the version that I have is read by one Marquis Laughlin.  You can see and listen to some of his work here and here.  I highly recommend you take some time to listen to this man recite scripture.  He has a gift.  I could listen to him read scripture for hours and not be bored.  You can purchase his reading of the ESV version of the New Testament here for $10.00 here, which, in my opinion, is a super good deal.

Laughlin is a phenomenal reader, usually adding some dramatic flare to his readings.  At times, he will change the tone and pitch of his voice to indicate a certain character or dialogue, but it's not distracting. I can understand how listening to a narrative could be distracting if the reader's voice is always changing to represent certain characters.  This is not the case with Laughlin.  He doesn't overdo it, and the nuances he adds make the text come alive.

Another positive benefit of listening to the Bible being read (at least for me) is that it's easy to memorize, especially when it's being read with a dramatic flare.  One of my favorite gospel stories is the healing of the man born blind.  Laughlin's reading of it amazing, and I'm pretty sure I've got most of John 9 memorized because I've listened to it so many times.

I will say, however, that listening to scripture is not the same as reading scripture.  You lose something, I think, when you listen to the words being read rather than reading them for yourself, in the same way that I think there is value to reading scripture from the Bible instead of from a computer screen, or having the words of scripture printed out on a piece of paper.  But that being said, I think listening to an audio version of the Bible is a great way to ignite an interest in the Bible and a good way to feed a hunger for the word in the lives of busy people such as myself.

Although I really like listening to the Bible, I think I'm only going to listen to the narrative portions of the New Testament, such as the gospels and the book of Acts.  It's very much like listening to a story being told to you by a master storyteller.  The same can't be said of the Epistles, however.  I think those must be read, and read slowly, to really be able to get what the author is saying.

Anywho, if you're looking for a way of expanding your appreciation of the Bible, or looking for a way to feed your hunger for the word with a different flavor, give an audio Bible a shot.  If you listen to Laughlin and aren't a fan, you can also get a copy of the Man in Black reading the New King James version of the New Testament here.  I got this for my dad for Christmas this past year.  I think I might have to borrow it from him.

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