Last week, The Gospel Coalition published an article with the intriguing title “Don’t Just Read the Bible.” I was expecting the article to be about Bible study (Don’t just read the Bible but study it.) But in fact, the author went in a different direction: Don’t just read the Bible; listen to it being read.
I have valued Bible listening for quite some time, which is why I’m happy to allow for audio-Bible listening in our 90-day reading challenge. Listening to the Bible is a marvelous way to soak in the big picture, the main ideas, the overarching story line. And in his TGC article, Jonathan Bailey makes a good case for the practice:
So how do reading and listening shape us in different ways? When we read, our default tendency is to study, to pull apart the text and piece it back together, and to draw conclusions. We’re after comprehension: to grasp with the mind, to sharpen our thinking, to learn, and, above all, to understand. When we read, we want to get something out of it.
When we listen, we have to leave all that behind. We lose our ability to be precise; there’s no underlining, cross-referencing, or consulting commentaries. Listening is more leisurely. When we listen we’re after apprehension: to lay hold of something, or better said, to have something lay hold of us.
Now of course, comprehension is not a bad thing. But I certainly appreciate the useful distinction between comprehension (getting something out of it) and apprehension (merely beholding the wonder). This sounds just right. And anyway, having our own Bibles to read is a rather recent development in the history of the world. Before the 16th century, most people would only get to listen.
So in the bio at the bottom, I noticed that Mr. Bailey just launched a Kickstarter project for a new Bible listening mobile app. An app designed to perfect not the reading experience but the listening experience. Different vocal tracks with a variety of English-speaking accents. Seamless synchronization. Original music scored to highlight the text. Listening plans and playlists.
I must say I am impressed. So impressed that I immediately backed the project to get a lifetime subscription to the app. Perhaps you might want to consider this project as well. It became fully funded within 3 days, but it’s still open to new backers. The more they raise, the more features they can add at launch. But regardless of how much they raise now, it sounds like many more features will come over time.