I got home from the SBL to find waiting for me this huge box from Zondervan. Christmas came quite early. Perhaps you are not much into audio books. Perhaps you do not spend a lot of time riding in a car, and would rather here music anyway on such trips. But I have to tell you that you need to make an exception, and to help this along you can actually choose the all MP3 version of the entire Bible rather than the CDs of the whole set. Why? Because this is the best audio Bible of all time. When I was at the SBL meeting in SBL I watched the trailers for the Bible Experience and was very moved. To the left here is what you will find on the Zondervan web sight if you Google it, and I would encourage you to go and watch the samples.
This project is remarkable in many ways. In the first place, for the first time we have a modern inclusive language translation (the TNIV) dramatically read verbatim from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. This along makes it a worthwhile project as it is so easy to listen to and easier to comprehend than many translations.
Secondly, these dramatic readers are not just any readers. Some of them are some of the great African American actors of our time, and they definitely know how to bring the text to life--- Samuel L. Jackson, Blair Underwood, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Cuba Gooding Jr., Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Levar Burton (the star of that great classic 'Roots' ) and so many others, including many African American ministers who have 'preacher voice'. I have to say hearing Blair Underwood as Jesus, and Samuel L. Jackson as the voice of God in the NT is pretty compelling stuff.
Thirdly, this production comes with sound effects and music. The theme for the Bible Experience sounds rather like the Hans Zimmer theme for Gladiator-- it is stirring and gets the blood pumping. You will hear snatches of this right along throughout the readings. You will also hear the ocean, sea gulls, crowds, various noises as well along the way to add a little color and flavor in the background of the reading. Mostly this works, though sometimes it is a little distracting. And in some places one could have wanted some music, where there was none. It is hard sometimes to figure why one might have music in some of these segments, but not in others. One of the interesting features is that often rather than have just one person reading a particular book the actors will trade off and male and female voices will trade off. This works quite well. There is also the interesting feature that God speaks directly (and this entails at various points not reading the phrase 'says/ declares the Lord', understandably).
The box set of the whole Bible has a few drawbacks. The CDs come in sleeves rather than jewel cases, so if you want to take a particular disc and listen to it in the car, you have to bring a spare case with you. The set as a whole is so large that it will not conveniently fit into a car's central CD container, but this is a minor complaint.
I will also tell you that the doing of this project clearly had a dramatic effect on some of the readers. Some of them, like Denzel Washington, were already Christians, but some who were not were enormously moved by doing this. God's Word comes alive! As Levar Burton says-- "there is no rattling off the Bible". Once you get caught up in its dramatic reading, you find yourself swept up and carried along to places you did not expect to go. The trailer of Blair Underwood reading the lines of Jesus in the Gospels is itself worth having.
So, are you looking for a gift that keeps on giving? A gift that could save some souls, without being confrontational? A gift that makes the Word come alive? This is the Christmas gift for you. The MP3 version of the complete Bible is a very reason $50.00 or so, depending on who you order it from. The full version of all the CDs is closer to $80.00, but heck this is way better than spending such money on a couple of Xbox games or controllers.
Be a blessing this Christmas--- give the Bible Experience. You won't regret it :)