Scripture is no longer available in just the form of a big book of some 1,000 pages. Even the time-transcending Word of God has assumed a modern garb, staying up-to-date with the technology that more of America's churches have been integrating into their own worship services.
The latest Scripture format, The Bible Experience, is a new 70-hour dramatic audio performance of both the Old and New Testaments featuring the voices of more than 80 black celebrities. More than a reading, the Bible "experience" created by Inspired By Media Group along with evangelical publisher Zondervan is complete with sound effects, singing and music.
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," says Blair Underwood as he voices the part of Jesus from a Los Angeles recording studio, according to USA Today.
Celebrities speaking and singing Bible roles include Denzel Washington, who records Solomon's Song of Songs; urban gospel artist Kirk Franklin, who voices Apostle Paul; hip-hopper Heavy D, who reads Apostle Andrew; and Cuba Gooding Jr., who gives voice to Judas. Others, including Queen Latifah, have not been assigned their roles yet.
The multimillion-dollar project was started by Inspired By Media Group with financing and text provided by Zondervan, the nation's largest Bible publisher. Zondervan wanted something "more experiential" to mainly engage "a new urban generation," according to Paul Caminiti, publisher of Bibles for Zondervan.
Celebrities are recording from Zondervan's Today's New International Version, which has been hailed by some as the grand solution to bringing back young bible-adherents to the pews, but has been criticized for de-gendering the Word of God.
The New Testament will be available in CD and MP3 formats in retail outlets by September, while the Old Testament is slated for release in 2007.
The Emmy- and Grammy-winning producers, meanwhile, are still on the search for someone to read the parts of God.