A while back Thomas Nelson Publishing made an offer I jumped at: receive a free book in exchange for writing a review on your blog. My skeptical side said, Surely there must be a catch. But there wasn't/isn't (at least none I've discovered). The first book I received, Billy, arrived days after I signed up. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and after writing my review, I returned Thomas Nelson to request a new book. Well, this time the book selection was WAY more limited. (e.g. They offered only three choices.) Doors one and two revealed books that didn't interest me at all. I'll go with what's behind door number three.
Days later I received an audio Bible. Correction: "a dramatic audio Bible with an all-star cast." Without further ado, here's my review. . .
Shopping for a Bible today reminds me of the Burger King commercial: “Have it Your Way.” With 3,256 choices on CBD.com, you can have your Bible just the way you want it: compact, amplified, annotated, chronological, devotional, parallel or topical to name a few. And for those who want their Word to go, audio Bibles have made a big splash recently.
Perhaps following in the successful footsteps of The Word of Promise New Testament audio Bible, comes The Word of Promise Next Generation New Testament aimed at tweens and teens. It features some of today’s hottest young stars like Corbin Bleu, Cody Linley, Alyson Stoner and Emily Osment. (If you don't know who they are, ask your kids.)
Typically I prefer to read the Bible, but since I’m participating as a Thomas Nelson Publishing blog reviewer, I thought I’d give the TWoPNGNT a listen. The three MP3 CDs provide over 23 hours of listening and are divided into books, just like a regular Bible.
Jenna and Max Lucado introduce each book with insightful, interesting teaching that provides the audio Bible's high points. Narrator Sean Astin’s (Lord of the Rings) pleasant voice deftly handles the text. But, the rest of the young voices simply don’t convey the heft, passion or character to adequately bring to life the Living Word. Most egregious was Linley as Jesus. While he may cause young girls to swoon, as Jesus his soft, whiny voice caused more irritation than inspiration. The voicing of the apostle Paul, probably the most charismatic and influential preacher of all time, also fell flat.
Bottom line, most of the actors distracted me from the message and I didn't feel they really believed (or understood) what they were saying. Even the most impassioned passage didn't deliver much more emotional depth than an episode on the Disney Channel. (However, watchers of that channel are exactly this audio Bible’s target audience, so maybe this will speak to them in a way they can relate to.)
That said, my 13-year-old daughter quickly snatched the CDs from my desk for her own listening pleasure. Her verdict so far: she wants to hear more. While it's not for me, if TWoPNGNT causes media hungry teens to turn off their iPods for a bit to listen, surely that’s a good thing.