February 19th, 2010
The Word of Promise–NKJV New Testament audio Bible (unabridged). Thomas Nelson, 2007. $49.99.
While the Holy Bible needs no introduction, perhaps it would do well to explain this project in a bit more detail.
The cast of this particular audio Bible is breathtaking. From Jim Caviezel as Jesus to Marissa Tomei as Mary Magdalene, they leave no character untouched. Even Hank Hanegraaff makes an appearance as an angel in the book of Revelation. The man who plays Matthew, John Heard, actually reads the gospel of Matthew. The thematic music helps with the flow of the reading as well as the dramatization of it all. The entire cast, both Old and New Testament, consists of over 600 people! You can check out a highlighted list of cast members here. You can access the website for more details here.
Ok, I am not going to review the Bible. What I am going to do is offer a review of the audio as well as the cast of characters and such.
Obviously, the cast is star-studded. Some of the actors make sense. For example, Jim Caviezel playing Jesus makes a lot of sense with his role as Christ in The Passion of the Christ. Hank Hanegraaff makes sense as an angel with the success of his apocalyptic series co-authored with Sigmund Brouwer. The interplay of the various voices helps children to know that “real people” were in the Bible. It also helps the Bible to “come alive” as it were to hear all of the different voices–it is very easy to get in a rut when reading the Bible. This dramatized version does not allow for that to happen.
What I struggle to completely accept is Luke Perry as Judas and Stephen and John Schneider as James. Whenever I hear them speaking, I hear Dillon of Beverly Hills 90210 and Bo Duke of the Dukes of Hazzard (I grew up with the Dukes, could’ve care less about 90210). It is somewhat distracting to have visuals of the General Lee or bar room brawls when you are being exhorted to “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20-21). Or to think of Dillon and all of his escapades in Beverly Hills when you are listening to Stephen cry out to God to forgive those who are stoning him in Acts 7.
The original music is second to none insofar as dramatized Bibles are concerned. Sometimes the background music takes away from the content of the story. In the case of The Word of Promise, the background music greatly enhances the story telling.
Another quality of the audio found in The Word of Promise are the sound effects. For example, when John the Baptist’s head is cut off in Matthew 14:10, you actually hear the sword being unsheathed, sliced through the air, down onto the chopping block and then moments later a thud. It is quite graphic and that is a good thing. You also can hear the people walking or the oars slapping the water as Christ and His disciples row out to sea.
Perhaps the only other negative, in my estimation, is the break between chapters of the Bible. It is not noticeable when the chapters in Scripture actually break along story lines, but when the chapter comes in the middle of a thought or story, it is quite annoying. Regardless, that is easily overcome and dealt with given the quality of the production.
While there are some noted negatives, The Word of Promise is, without a doubt, one of the best audio Bibles I have come across. I was blown away by the quality of the production. I have used Max McLean for years, but my children have not found him as interesting as I have.
When playing Matthew for the kids on a drive, I found that my boys (5, 3, and 2) were enraptured by the audio. The next day, my oldest drew the three crosses on Calvary with an earthquake (using arrows at the bottom of the picture) and storm clouds and lightening at the top because of the dramatization of the audio. Too be honest, I didn’t even think he was listening at that point because it had already been 90 minutes or so of listening to the Bible.
I highly recommend The Word of Promise for anyone wanting to listen to an audio Bible. You can listen to Darth Vadar read the Bible or you can listen to an entire cast of characters “live” the Bible. The Word of Promise also makes for an excellent family worship resource as your children will undoubtedly want to listen to more!