Saturday, December 16, 2006

the bible experience

The Shields Family is doing Christmas in three phases this season:

Phase I was in Ellicott City, MD (our home) today.

Phase II will be in Charlotte, NC with Beth's sister Bonnie and her husband Phil. We'll also be visiting Warehouse 242 on Christmas Eve where we hope to catch up with Steve Knight, Anthony Smith and Rod Garvin. We'll go down there on Sat 23 Dec and then leave for...

Phase III in Danville, VA where my folks live, until the 31st or the 1st.

Today Beth received the Nano that I bought her. I was going to wait until we got to Charlotte before I gave her The Bible Experience, but decided to let her open that present just after she gave me exactly the same thing!

My first reaction was, "Cool! I'll get credit at Borders when I return it!" but then we listened to the Christmas story as a family today (which you can hear for free here). Now I've decided to keep it and am importing it into iTunes as I type.

I'm not sure there has ever been a more elaborately produced Bible. I use my English Standard Version Audio Bible quite a bit but haven't really been thrilled with dramatic readings of most audio Bible's I've ever heard. This was is different. Most of the readers are professional actors or speakers and they include sound effects and music. It's very well done - very compelling.

I'm not thrilled with the translation - it's Today's New International Version (TNIV) which I find to be a bit too paraphrastic though I used to read the New International Version (NIV) a lot. Before the English Standard Version (ESV) came out, I used to read the New American Standard Bible (NASB) in the New Testament and the New International Version in the Old Testament. For me, the ESV hits that sweet spot between a wooden literalism and a more free dynamic equivalent translations.

But - setting that aside - The Bible Experience really does seem to do a fine job at making the Bible come alive. We were all pretty amazed when we listened to it.

I mentioned to Beth that to listen to it is to want to buy one. I foresee that I'll be listening more to the historical sections of the NT with it. The NIV is the number one best-selling English audio Bible. I recently read that since The Bible Experience has come out in September that it has sold more copies than the NIV Audio Bible!

The full Bible is slated to come out in the Fall of 2007.

I can see why.

the mp3 on cd edition is available here from barnes & noble.


Pastor Astor said...

I´m writing a book on personal bibledtudy for youth, and I figured I had to try all the different methods I will write about. I used to listen to cassettes of the NT when I was a teenager but haven´t done it since, so I bought the Bible experience a couple of weeks ago, and it is great!!

I suddenly understand what Bible as oral transmission material is about!Just by listening to Ephesians (the book I have studied most in dept) I could find a couple of new points that has been hidden from me before - it is like the oral representation and the text paints somewhat different landscapes - different features stand out in different ways.

Another thing that has gotten me to think is that in oral transmission the human contribution to the message is so obvious - it is only a textbased theology/tradition that could even start to imagine a Holy Scripture that is Gods communication to my heart without mediators, that is holy on account of being undefiled by our humaness (I'm not sure that is the correct term, but I hope you get my point).

What started as a "field test" has turned into a great adventure for me, that I really didn´t count on when I started.

Stephen said...

hi pastor astor,

beth was just mentioning oral transmission to me in relation to the bible experience. i think your point is very interesting. the sales of TBE pretty much guarantee that some other folks will not jump into the fray with more popular translations. and the sales of TBE should also translate into increasing acceptance and sales of the TNIV. so it's going to be interesting to see how this phenomenon will affect the church's relationship with the scriptures as these things progress.

R. Mansfield said...

Paraphrastic may be too strong a word for the TNIV. It's nowhere near being a paraphrase. And you might even find that it grows on you the more that you listen to the Bible Experience.

Stephen said...


Fair point; I didn't mean to imply that it's a paraphrase (like The Message or Living Bible). How about paraphrasesque? :)

R. Mansfield said...

I think "paraphrase-anything doesn't really represent the translational method behind the NIV/TNIV tradition. The NIV always held a good halfway point between formal and dynamic equivalent methods. The TNIV does the same thing, and in fact is actually more literal in some places than its predecessor.

Stephen said...


I can understand you're not wishing to attach paraphrase of any flavor to either translations - they're not paraphrases. it's just that most folks aren't familiar with the term dynamic equivalency. but am I understanding you correctly that you don't see the niv or the tniv as dynamic equivalent translations?

(fyi, i just ordered the new tniv study bible)


R. Mansfield said...

I would say that the NLT is a dynamic equivalent translation as is the TEV and even CEV. On the other end of the spectrum, you would have formal equivalent translations such as the NASB, ESV and NKJV. The NIV/TNIV is going to fall somewhere in the middle much like the HCSB. There are elements of dynamic equivalency in the TNIV, but in a passage like 2 Tim 3:16, the TNIV is more literal than even the NASB.