Throughout most of church history, Christians did not have personal copies of the Bible to read for themselves, and it can be easy for me in the 21st century to take for granted the Bible app on my phone, the She Reads Truth Bible on my nightstand, and even my own literacy so I can read and interpret the words inside. Rather than reading, people throughout history have listened to Scripture.
When I read the Bible, paper in my hands (or screen in front of my eyes), I find myself analyzing, studying, picking and pulling apart words and sentence structures to better understand the author’s intent in the passage. This is good for me and for my soul, but it is an incomplete way of engaging the Bible. What I’ve found is that, while I may understand the individual pieces better, I can sometimes lose sight of the whole.
A professor at my school once shared that looking at the whole of scripture, rather than the individual parts, is similar to defragging a computer. Computers take information and store it in pieces throughout the hard drive, much like my analyzing brain can take scripture I have read, verses I have memorized, and sermons I have listened to and store that information in ways that are fragmented.
Defragging is the consolidation and ordering of those fragmented pieces. In a computer, it takes all the pieces of the different files that were once stored in separate locations on the hard drive and puts them together. For me, listening to scripture rather than reading it helps to order the pieces as well, especially when I listen to whole books of the Bible at one time.
Listening is not passive, but it is gentle. Listening to the Bible takes away the temptation to analyze and dissect scripture at every turn. Verses are placed back into their proper context in my mind, and I can better determine the author’s overall tone and intent.
When someone reads Scripture over me, I can’t analyze each individual word or phrase because the speaker is moving on to the next idea. It forces me to take in the whole of what is being read rather than the smaller parts that I would get lost in when reading. If there is something I don’t understand, the speaker keeps moving on to the next thing. At the end of the book, I have a complete picture, a harddrive that has had the pieces ordered in a way that allows me to see the whole rather than the individual parts alone.
For the past couple weeks, I have been beta-testing an app that my husband and I wholeheartedly supported on Kickstarter months ago. The app is called Dwell and is designed for listening to the Bible, hearing scripture read over you through headphones or the speakers in your car or your computer. I have been anxiously awaiting its release so I can share it with all of you.
I truly think this app will be incredibly helpful to people in how they engage the Word in their daily lives. The app is beautifully designed with great attention to detail; the voices are unique and the readers’ love for Scripture pours through their reading of it, the artwork for passages of scripture and playlists is lovely to look at, and the background music (which can be muted if you prefer) helps to keep me engaged in the story. I am thrilled to share it with you, and I hope you will take a few minutes to download the free app and begin listening to passages of scripture.
Here is the link to Dwell in the App Store. If you’re an Android user, Dwell is scheduled to be released in the Google Play store this fall. Until then, you can check out Dwell’s website here to stay up to date and listen to some sample passages.
P.S. If you’ve downloaded the app and don’t know where to start, I’ve been listening to the book of Colossians on my drive home from work, and I think you will enjoy it too!