30 May 2013

Audiobook Review: "The Message // Remix"

Written by: God (original text) / Eugene H. Peterson (translator)
Narrators: Kelly Ryan Dolan, Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve and Christine Dente, Stu Garrard, Louie Giglio, Steve Green, Dan Haseltine, Janna Long, Mac Powell, Martine Smith, Nicol Sponberg, Rebecca St. James, TobyMac, et. al.
Synopsis: Called a "Bible in contemporary language," The Message is a paraphrase that updates the antiquated, archaic language found in most translations, whether the 1611 KJV or the 2010 NIV.  This audio version features narration from experienced voice actor Kelly Ryan Dolan, as well as popular contemporary Christian music artists ranging from Steve Green to Janna Long (Avalon) to TobyMac reading selected passages, it's God's Word as you likely have never heard it before!

Production Values: 3.5/5
I bought this expecting a multi-cast narration, a la The Word of Promise or The Bible Experience.  Instead, what I got was one guy (Dolan) reading most of the Bible, with others reading passages that usually amount to a few chapters, if even that.  Though Mr. Dolan puts more expression into his voice that Alexander Scourby ever did, the lack of variance in his voice is a bit bothersome.  When God has the same voice as Rachel, who has the same voice as Jonathan, who has the same voice as the serpent, it's just...well, not good.  The other narrators--who are musicians, not actors--don't change their voices either, but some of their readings are better than others.  Rebecca St. James, who reads Ephesians, and Steve Green, who reads the account of Abraham, both do pretty well, but Tricia Brock's reading of Jude and Steven Curtis Chapman's performance of the epistle of James are a bit hard to sit through.

Compatibility: 3.5/5
The edition I bought of The Message // Remix is the MP3 CD edition, as pictured above.  Some reviewers on CBD said that they had trouble getting the files onto their computer/MP3 player, but they were all Windows users; I figured my flat-screen iMac would copy them just fine...but I was wrong.  Though it mostly copied correctly, most of the book of Isaiah was unable to copy.  That wouldn't be that bad...if it weren't for the fact that Isaiah is one of those books where a paraphrase would really help.  So, whether you use Mac or Windows, beware.

Content Concerns: N/A
The Bible is God's Word, and is not subject to the same analyses that I would give a Disney Channel movie or a Saturday morning cartoon.  Therefore, I am not going to analyze its content.  All I will say is that some people might have a problem with the nature of the translation, but, as long as The Message has been around, pretty much everyone has already made up their mind about it.

Conclusion: For a while, I have had a bit of a penchant for audio Bibles.  I own both the original and Next Generation editions of The Word of Promise, as well as two audio NIVs and The Bible Experience.  They are a great study tool, especially when I read and listen at the same time.  Though The Message // Remix is moderately well-done, I've heard much better.  Maybe someday Mr. Peterson's paraphrase will get the Word of Promise treatment and actually sound really good; the nature of the translation seems to be perfect for that.

Score: 3.5/5

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