An uncommon habit has infected me for decades. Even before I had been delivered of 95% of my childhood stammering issues, I felt compelled to read scripture aloud. I bought a pretty good microphone, and, every few years, I would read read long passages into a recorder.
Back in the late 1980s, I started my first and most extensive project: recording the entire New Testament in the Phillips version. For this, I received official permission from a rights administrator. I paid to make a dozen sets and gave cassette albums to family and friends as Christmas presents. (Cover of the album at right.) My guess is that most of those sets never got more than an hour of play, and that all but one or two of them were long ago discarded. But my tapes are intact. (And yes, I still have multiple cassette players, including the one in the car that’s old enough to have a cassette player.)
Some years later, I decided I needed to read aloud into a microphone again—it helped get my soul involved—but this time I pared it down to less than half the recorded hours. I scanned the entire NT and selected “highlights,” again in the Phillips version, for recording.
By the 3rd or 4th recording project, the goal was only one or two biblical documents at a time. Below is the entire list of what I’ve recorded. I don’t remember any distribution of the work from the 1990s on; the efforts were really just for myself.
|Late 1980s||Entire NT||Phillips Version: The New Testament in Modern English|
|Middle 1990s||NT highlights||Phillips again|
|Early 2000s||Job, Ecclesiastes||NASB|
|Late 2000s||Genesis||NLT (accompanied by Phil Keaggy’s instrumental tracks)|
|Middle to Late 2000s||Hebrews, Revelation||? (selected climaxes accompanied by Respighi’s Pines of Rome)|
Cut to 2015. Recently a group of us have been challenged by a teacher both to memorize small portions of “Second Isaiah” and to read the whole thing aloud. Having let most of the Thanksgiving holiday transpire with mere glances at the Bible I’d set aside to remind myself of the assignment, I am now forcing myself to read Isaiah 40-55 aloud. I’m reading pretty quickly, but I’m reading with feeling. I read more than half of it this evening. The rest, I’ll finish in a day or three. I’m not recording anymore, but I’m trying to read orally as though I were. I’m alternating reading in The Message and the New Jerusalem Bible.
Aside: I love reading aloud. I wish I could share it with people on a regular basis. In recent years I’ve thought that expressive, audible reading of somewhat extended passages is quite possibly the most significant thing that I have to offer to groups of Christians gathered in one place. A few weeks ago, someone in a small group commented positively on my reading, and it reminded me that I’d like to read aloud more, for the benefit of more people.
Back to Isaiah. I’ve almost got 40:1-5 (NRSV) memorized. It’s a tiny but significant passage, and oh, is it inspiring.
I hate prophecy, and my faith is weak, but attempting to get into the world of Isaiah is a good thing.
B. Casey, 11/29/15