I have found a new way to redeem my commute around Dallas. Typically, I will listen to a sermon/lecture in the mornings while I drive to class/work, and then listen to music in the afternoon/evening when I get off. Recently, though, I have begun listening to an audio Bible for most of my driving time. To be honest, the real reason I haven’t done this earlier is that I had yet to find a convenient (and free) way to listen to the Bible in my car. But that changed about 3 weeks ago when a friend from church informed me that YouVersion’s iPhone Bible App actually has free audio recording of the ESV on it. So for the past few weeks I have embarked upon listening to the whole Bible straight through while I drive.
- Getting to hear a book in it’s whole context. We tend to only read a chapter a day (or less) and dissect the passages like crazy. Hearing it and not being able to stop the reading has given me more context for understanding passages. This is really good if you’re like me – because I love to catch all the details and analyze the structure and literary patterns up close – so I often lose the forest for the trees. Listening forces me to get a broader understanding and see books as a whole.
- Along those same lines, I’ve been able to relate books together more when I listen. Especially in the Pentateuch, I’ve seen how closely tied the stories are to each other. Having just listened to Genesis the week before, I have a context for Exodus and how it fits in succession to the stories about the Patriarchs. Exodus gives me insights into Leviticus and Numbers, and so on and so forth.
- Having a different medium than reading is very helpful. Especially with the Old Testament stories, these were originally transmitted by an oral culture – so they were made to be listened to and heard. I find I get more enraptured in the story when I hear it read aloud to me – I get excited when Jacob reveals himself to his brothers in Egypt, I get frustrated by how many times the Israelites complain and whine in Exodus. I feel like I’m more a part of the story, and I’m eagerly anticipating what will happen next.
- I have started hearing how much repetition there is in Scripture – particularly in the Old Testament. Again, listening to large portions of Scripture within a week’s time has allowed me to hear repeated phrases and ideas. This is especially true of the Old Testament because of the oral nature of the stories. I will go more into this in another post.
- I have also listened fully to passages I’ve skimmed over before. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of genealogies and lists of cities/nations/people with names that I can’t pronounce that I’ve just glossed over quickly. You can’t do that when you’re listening to the Bible read. You hear everything, every name, every city. This actually has added to my understanding of Scripture – becoming more familiar with repeated names and cities, or prominent nations or places. (Part of this increased interest may be because of studying Hebrew, and how names and places make more sense to me.)
What benefits have you found from listening?
Any suggestions for a new listener?
Any other good audio Bible apps that I’m not aware of?