Saturday, April 18, 2009

Word of Promise Next Generation - New Testament


The Word of Promise Next Generation New Testament audio book from Thomas Nelson is a complete dramatization of the New Testament from the International Children's Bible (ICB). If you are not familiar with this translation, it is designed to make the Bible more accessible to younger readers (tweens and teens) by replacing some of the difficult vocabulary with everyday language.

I received this set a couple of months ago with the request to review it on my blog...seems it took me a little while to get through the nearly 24 hours of tracks. The set consists of 3 CDs and 1 DVD ( a movie on "The Making of"). Each CD contains approximately 70 mp3s, playable on your computer and on some CD-players and DVD-players. If you prefer, copy the mp3s to your mp3 player for easy portability.

The sound and production quality of these files is quite good. While there is background music and Foley work to help dramatize the selections, they are not particularly distracting. No blaring rock music or anything like that. The voices are provided by many young stars that you've probably heard of (I haven't, for the most part, but since we avoid TV and most current movies, I'm a little out of the loop regarding what's hip these days:-) Sean Astin is the narrator (yep, I've heard of him), Jesus is played by Cody Linley, Mary by Emily Osment, Peter by Corbin Bleu, John by Tahj Mowry, and the list goes on.

I had some difficulty determining what age group this set would truly appeal to. While it seems to be marketed for the 12-19 age group and some of the language used supports that (for example, it states that Mary and Joseph did not have sexual relations---apparently leaving it at relations was too ambiguous?), the voices of some of these young actors (Tahj Mowry's voicing of John struck me in particular) are quite child-like and seem like they would appeal more to a younger crowd. And yet, most young children would probably find it quite dull to listen to and the adult references would certainly need to be dealt with. Personally, I found some of the voices to be distracting in their youthfulness...after all, the disciples were grown men, not little kids. While making them seem younger might help young listeners to identify with them, it may also cause some misconceptionsl and make it more difficult for an older child to take what is being said seriously.

My second concern has to do with the translation. This attempt to make the Bible more understandable is perhaps misguided. I let my younger children listen to a few of the benign tracks. These are stories that my kiddos have heard many times, both in their Children's Bible and from the "adult" bible, and have loved, but my boys found the recordings to be very boring and quickly lost interest. At first I wasn't sure why, but then I realized that all the poetry is gone. When Jesus is dying on the cross, in the ICB he doesn't say "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me," he says "My God, My God, why have You left me alone?" Paul, who was a great orator and moved so many of the gentiles to become Christians sounds like an everyday Joe speaking in everyday language. Not particularly inspiring. Obviously, I want my children to understand what they are listening to, but I think it may be more valuable to have good study guide and a parent or other adult to listen along and talk about it. But, if you want your teenager to do an independent Bible study, becoming familiar with the stories in easy to understand language before tackling an "adult" Bible just might be the way to go.

The Word of Promise Next Generation New Testament audio book is available directly from Thomas Nelson, or from Christianbook.com, Amazon.com and other vendors.

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