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Friday, August 18, 2006
 
PodBible and "devotional application" ::

Lingamish, who says in a comment below that he found this blog (and I assume PodBible) from a comment of mine on the Better Bibles Blog, has some kind things to say about the Bible podcasts in his post "Faith comes by hearing". However, there is one thing he says that is (I hope) not quite right. As well as the favourable comment on the choice of CEV (great for the job as it is simple and written to be read aloud) he says that we:
are distributing daily podcasts that include a short reading and devotional application.
Which, I hope, misses the point in two significant ways.
  1. the smallest readings we offer are the "chapter a day" version (which though short are still longer than most readings in churches on Sunday!) but we also offer "Bible in a Year" of several chapters at a time - it is precisely that hearers get the text in larger "chunks" that I see as one of the advantages of this medium!
  2. We do want people to read the Bible devotionally, but I think to say we provide a "devotional application" also misses the point. Our brief things to |think|pray|do| at the end of each chapter (of the chapter a day version) are carefully openended, we try to avoid telling others what the Bible is "saying" but hope to provoke them to work it out for themselves, and certainly to work out the application for themselves.
Lingamish closes his post (and do go and read it!) paradoxically in view of his title, with a reflection on the differences of hearing and reading Scripture. After making strongly the point that Scripture is more heard than read, and that therefore translations need to be apt for reading aloud, he adds:
Second, despite the fact that most people are exposed to Scriptures by hearing it, reading is a far more effective means of understanding a text. The best way to understand a text is to sit down and quietly read it.
In part this is true. You can more easily engage complexity, decode structure and the like when reading, and re-reading. BUT hearing, and particularly hearing larger swathes of text, means you are more likely to pick up themes and keywords and motifs that are repeated or opperate through a book. Both ways of consuming text have advantages! As the "Bible in an Electronic Context" postgraduate class and I were exploring together last Monday. Maybe one of them will post more on this and I can link to their post ;-)





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