God has given us amazing access to his word. In the west, we have thousands of options to buy a printed Bible for a reasonable sum. If you prefer to read the Bible electronically, there are dozens of free avenues on your phone, tablet, or computer.
And we have not exhausted God’s generosity! We have many audio versions of the Bible available. Today I’ll point out three of the best ways I’ve found to listen to the Bible.
Why Listen to the Bible?
Having a personal, physical copy of the Bible is a recent phenomenon. The printing press (15th century) brought books to the masses, and before this Christians had to listen to the Scriptures as they were read aloud. For the original audience of the Bible, listening was their only access to God’s word.
Listening to the Bible is a wonderful convenience. It’s a great way to use your time while exercising, commuting, doing the dishes, or folding the laundry. You might even consider an audio Bible to help your preschoolers have devotions.
Listen for Free
If you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer, free audio Bible options abound. I will highlight the best two services I have used; feel free to suggest others in the comments! (I use Android devices, and the web-based versions of these services are great as well. I suggest looking into the Apple versions too, though I cannot vouch for them personally.)
- The Bible App (YouVersion) — This is probably the most popular Bible application available. It offers 49 English translations of the Bible for reading, and 12 of these have an audio version. I’m partial to the ESV and NASB, but you could also listen to the NIV, the NLT, or the Message (among others). The Bible App offers reading plans and the ability to make notes and highlights in the text. This app has a strong social component, so it is easy to share what you’re reading and learning with friends.
- Bible Gateway — This is my go-to Bible application. It also offers many (40) written English translations of the Bible along with nine audio versions. I like the parallel Bible feature, where you can compare two translations of the same passage side by side. There are other study tools available within this app, like Bible dictionaries and commentaries.
Both of these applications are free. Both suggest you make an account, but all the functionality I’ve described is available without signing up.
One Low-Cost Way to Listen
Free audio Bibles are great. The price is right, and you can change translations with the flick of a finger. But when I listen to the Bible, I’m usually looking elsewhere.
Does it sound crazy to pay for something which I could get for free? Hear me out. The Bible apps mentioned above rely on streaming technology, which requires a continuous internet connection. I’m not always connected to the internet, so having the digital files themselves means I’m never without my audio Bible. Also, I’m not dependent on the audio streaming technology when I want to listen. (I had a problem with The Bible App’s audio last year.)
Finally, if you own the files, you can adjust the playback speed. This is a common trick for fans of audiobooks, but most music players on phones and tablets allow you to speed up any track. On the other hand, if you’re enterprising and good with technology, you can remove silence and speed up the audio yourself using free audio editing software like Audacity. Without much trouble, I’ve been able to cut the run time of my audio Bible from 75 hours down to around 54 hours.
I’m sure there are many other worthy audio Bibles you could purchase. If you’re shopping, be sure to check two details. You probably want to avoid dramatized audio Bibles, and you definitely want to avoid any Bible that is abridged.