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ChurchMerch – The Bible Experience

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The Bible Experience is a unique product. Featuring a unique cast, it offers what is surely a unique recording of the Bible.

Hear the words of the Bible brought to life like never before. Inspired By…The Bible Experience: New Testament Audio CD is a fully-dramatized reading of the Bible performed by an unprecedented ensemble of distinguished African-American actors, musicians, and personalities. The cast, including recognizable voices as Denzel Washington, Blair Underwood, and Angela Bassett, reads the Bible using the accessible and trusted Today’s New International Version (TNIV).

While people commonly speak of attempts to “bring the Bible to life,” I object to using this expression in connection with Scripture. After all, Hebrews 4:12 tells us that Scripture is already alive: “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” While people who speaking of “bringing the Bible to life” may not necessarily be making a statement about the nature of the word of God, I do feel it is best to avoid this kind of careless language lest we feel that the Bible, read with expression or dramatized, is somehow more living and more active than the Bible read quietly or silently.

That small critique aside, this product is really just a recording of the Bible (in the TNIV version) read by an ensemble cast of popular African American actors, musicians and other celebrities. It is “lightly dramatized” meaning that it is read with a good deal of passion and expression, and there are ambient noises, crowd reactions, and so on. Unlike versions of Scripture read by a single narrator (think Max McLean reading the ESV), this one has different actors reading the words of the different biblical characters.

Inspired By…The Bible Experience breaks new ground in the presentation of the Bible. Unique among audio Bible productions, Inspired By…The Bible Experience is a captivating performance of the Bible presented by an ensemble of today’s-top name artists, musicians, directors, and award-winning producers.

Inspired By…The Bible Experience features a cross-generational and cross-cultural roster of talent that connects a wide variety of entertainment genres and personalities. With nearly 200 celebrities and notable personalities recorded to date, this historic production features stars from across the entertainment spectrum.

Cast members include :

  • Samuel L. Jackson as the voice of God
  • Blair Underwood as Jesus
  • Denzel Washington as the Lover of the Song of Solomon and his wife as the Beloved.
  • Angela Bassett as Esther
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. as Judas

The New Testament is currently available in stores and will be followed in 2007 by the Old Testament. In all, the cast numbers over 200, all of whom are African American celebrities. It is available digitally or on CD.

I did not listen to the entire series of CDs (there are nineteen of them for the New Testament) but the portions I did listen to, primarily from the gospels, were really quite well done. This product is certainly different, but I can see nothing inherently wrong with it! There were some strange moments, and there is something more than a little strange about hearing voices that are well-known though in far different contexts. Still, the recording is done well and the dramatizations are really quite good. This isn’t a product I am likely to use very often, but I can understand its appeal. I certainly hope it can find a market and that the words of Scripture can go beyond the ears of those who hear it, beyond the mouths of those who read it, and penetrate their hearts, just as we would hope and expect for words that are living, active and sharper than any two-edged sword.

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