Posted by: alisonwalley | 28 June 2009

Listen and listen again

This week’s blog continues the theme of listening to the Bible. If the idea of buying a set of CDs doesn’t appeal, you can always now get a podcast Bible reading instead.

Suppose you use iTunes as your music organiser. Go to the iTunes store, click on podcasts and select Religion & Spirituality as your genre. (Of course you get plenty more than just Bible readings!) As far as I’m concerned, the great advantage of a podcast is that you can try it first. That’s very important I think. As I said last week, you need to be able to listen to the reader’s voice. I downloaded one podcast which looked useful, only to turn it off after about eight verses of the particular chapter. First, the guy reading slurred his announcement of what he was reading so I couldn’t pick out the first verse, then I couldn’t distinguish all the names in the first few verses clearly enough.

Now, that may be because I wasn’t used to his particular American accent. But I don’t think so.  One thing readers often get wrong (I’ve heard this a lot in churches) is to go too fast. Listeners are then still trying to catch up with what’s just been read and can’t take the next part in. Anyway, before I get off onto a ‘how to read in public’ blog, I’m glad I could sample the podcast first!

If you want individual books with chapters as separate podcasts, iTunes gives you The Bible Podcast, which of course you can subscribe to from it’s own website. Yes, it does what it says. A guy called Michael Lee simply reads a chapter from the Bible (yes, he’s American too but reads well and very clearly). There’s some music at the beginning and end, and he gives the website address after he’s read the chapter. Check out his website and especially the questions if you want to find out why he’s doing it.

Interestingly, Michael Lee uses the New English Translation because it is an ‘open source’ one written specially for the internet. He hasn’t covered the whole of the Bible yet, but he’s got a good balance between Old and New Testaments. The podcasts themselves aren’t that long, but it depends on the chapter. Taking 1 Thessalonians as an example, each chapters averages about 3.5 minutes.

If you want an audio podcast of the Bible in a year, iTunes offers the Daily Audio Bible, read by Brian from Tennessee, as part of his radio programme. As it’s the whole Bible in a year, the episodes are much longer. I listened to this first at the beginning of this month and got nearly two chapters in 2 Samuel, the last chapter of John’s gospel, a psalm and a couple of verses of Proverbs.

Brian’s reading style is very conversational and works very well for the long chapters. The DAB has a large online community and be warned that not all the podcasts are Bible readings and Brian includes listener’s phone-in prayer requests at the end of the episodes. This could be a great way to hear the Bible in a year – but be prepared for a long session and a larger download, as they average 30 minutes or so.

And finally, you might want to check out The New Testament NIV Bible on MP3 (Artist: God) and the equivalent Old Testament one. Not all the books have been completed, but you do mostly get the whole book in one episode. (This does make some of them quite long – Matthew for instance is just over two hours.)

I haven’t mentioned everything that’s out there by a long way. Only, so far I haven’t found any British readers! Anyway, happy and profitable listening.

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