After I became aware of Zondervan’s TNIV audio Bible “The Bible Experience” last June, I promptly pre-ordered the entire OT and NT in MP3 format. I received my copy in October, and since then I have immensely enjoyed listening to nearly half the Bible on my iPod.
- Zondervan describes this product as “the most ambitious undertaking in recent recording history. The Bible is brought to life by a collection of distinguished artists and personalities, in a complete and fully dramatized audio recording of all 66 Books of Scripture. The 368 character portrayals are further accentuated by a compelling and inspirational musical soundtrack.”
- It includes a star-studded cast of over 200 popular actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers, all of whom appear to be African American.
- It has received positive reviews in the news media.
- The video trailers and audio samples help give a flavor for the product.
- The recording quality is outstanding. The soundtracks and sound effects in the background sound like a blockbuster movie, and the artists are gifted speech communicators who put their heart into it. Their voices are rich and expressive. Narratives are especially captivating (e.g., Esther, Ruth, Jonah, the gospels, parts of Revelation).
- The TNIV is a fine (not perfect and perhaps not the best) translation, regardless of one’s view on gender inclusivity. It may not be one’s primary translation, but it is certainly worth using.
- Cf. some of the articles on the TNIV site, e.g.,
- D. A. Carson, “The Debate Over Gender-Inclusive Language.”
- Craig Blomberg, “Today’s New International Version: The Untold Story of a Good Translation.”
- Darrell Bock, “Do Gender Sensitive Translations Distort Scripture? Not Necessarily.”
- See also D. A. Carson, The Inclusive-Language Debate: A Plea for Realism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998).
- Although the Scripture readings are consistently thought-provoking, the portrayal of some portions of Scripture is not always best. Here are a few examples:
- In Job, I expected God’s narrative to be more thundering and abrasive and Job’s response to God to be more emotional.
- Female voices are used much more frequently than seems appropriate (e.g., for many of the psalms of David!).
- Nearly twenty separate songs (most of them especially lively) are mixed within the NT epistles as their own tracks. This is distracting and corny at best.
- Many of the doxologies in Revelation come across as suave, cool, and calm (e.g., a tight a capella harmony).
- The star-studded cast may be a stumbling block to some. I don’t know who hardly any of the “stars” are, but this could be problematic for those who associate certain names with other mediums (e.g., certain genres of movies). Furthermore, for the most part I was not impressed with the philosophy of many of the celebrities in the DVD interviews. One prevailing attitude that the interviews convey (and I exaggerate to make the point) is, “(1) I’m important, famous, and talented. (2) It’s encouraging to know that there are other Christians who are also important, famous, and talented. (3) It’s exciting to be able to influence the younger generation, which uses this kind of technology and will think this product is cool because important, famous, and talented people like me are on it.”
“The Bible Experience” is a first-class tool for understanding God’s word better. Many people silently read small portions of the Bible at a time, but there’s no substitute for hearing large portions.
- Zondervan’s product page
- PastorBookshelf, “The Bible Experience | Zondervan“
- Ben Witherington, “The Bible Experience—a Great Christmas Gift“
Update on 3/31/2017: In my latest attempt to explain how to interpret and apply the Bible, I include a chapter on Bible translation (pp. 50–81).