Last week, I wrote this article detailing some ideas for better study and devotion time. In the article, one of my suggestions was to listen to an audio bible. Unfortunately, most of the time, audio bibles are sold at an outrageous price and I wouldn’t blame you for not jumping on board. However, on Amazon, I managed to come across this one; an mp3 bible in the ESV version, read by Stephen Johnston. Well, when I made the recommendation, I hadn’t received my copy in the mail yet. Well, now I have, and thought it might be useful to say a few words about it.
First of all, I have some major reservations about the price of Christian resources. I once worked in a Christian bookstore and it wasn’t too long before it made my stomach churn seeing how expensive some of the bibles were. (as a side note, a sound financial policy is just another reason that I love the Desiring God ministries so much; check this out). So as far as money is concerned, this audio bible is hits the mark perfectly. Brand new, it’s under $20 and if you’re willing to take a second-hand copy, which I highly recommend, you’ll get one in hand for about $10. Not too bad.
This version of the bible comes on standard compact discs, but these probably aren’t going to play on your ordinary shelf CD player. On each of the three CD’s are mp3 files. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past three or four years, you should already know what an mp3 is and what to do with it. If you don’t, you might want to google-it-up, or wade through this article and get your feet wet. In any case, this bible will easily fit onto any decent size mp3 player and obviously, you’re free to burn these files onto as many CD’s for car listening as you want. Compared to The Listener’s Bible in the NIV version, this bible will take up less than half the amount of the space on your computer and thus, on your mp3 player.
Any audio bible is pretty much made or broken by the reader. If the reader is too theatrical, he’s going to read inflection into the text which might lead listeners to the wrong conclusion. Of course, the inverse, if the reader is too dry and calm, is also possible. In this instance, Stephen Johnston does a good job communicating the text without adding to what’s there. His voice is deep, clear and well pronounced. He is not monotone, but also is not so inflected that we’re distracted from the actual text.
Some audio bibles are accompanied by sound effects or background music. Personally, I find these additions distracting. This version has no accompaniment whatsoever. It is only Johnston’s voice.
So far, I really only have two criticism for this audio bible. At times, Johnston’s pronunciation can be mildly comical. At times, his voice resembles a television commercial narrator. Don’t take this too far though. It’s only on occasion and never dominant. My other criticism is that at some times Johnston reads only a tad too quickly. I noticed this most clearly at the beginning of the book of Romans and at some parts of the poetic literature, such as Psalms. Again, I wouldn’t give too much attention to these deficiencies.
I definitely recommend this audio bible. For the money, it’s an excellent value. The reading, by and large, is good. Go ahead and pick one up on Amazon, before they’re all gone!