The makers of the Christian meditation app Soultime have announced the development and release of the world’s first-ever audio version of the Bible read in its entirety by an artificial intelligence voice amounting to 100 hours of audible scripture.
Soultime said in a statement that it “evaluated a range of text-to-speech platforms but found Google’s Wavenet the most natural sounding,” however, because “the Bible text is extremely complex” it had to “work hard to modify the basic reading to create something that both sounded natural and was truly enjoyable to listen to.”
Citing an example, the statement said Wavenet for some reason couldn’t pronounce “for His name’s sake,” as found in the most famous of all Psalms, Psalm 23, according to Premier. The Google platform insisted on saying “for His name’s saké,” like the alcoholic beverage.
“AI readings have some great advantages,” the makers of the Christian app added. “Having developed the initial version, further [Bible reading] versions can be easily produced in different accents, genders or languages. Also as text-to-speech voices improve over time, the readings can be easily updated.”
Founded by London-based Mark Wagner, Soultime is an app for Christian meditation.
“This is not an intellectual process so much as a spiritual and emotional process of trying to understand what it is that our hearts are believing,” Wagner told Premier Christian Radio last year. “To do that, we need a certain amount of calm, a certain amount of peace, we need a certain amount of time.”
Soultime helps believers do that through music, graphics and a series of guided meditations with various themes, including “Jesus carries our anxieties away,” “Freedom with Forgiveness,” and “Exploring the Lord’s Prayer.”
The app has been endorsed by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. “Soultime is a wonderful app. I warmly recommend it,” he was quoted as saying.
Similar to other meditation apps that are popular, the Soultime app when it’s opened plays sounds of nature such as the wind and birds chirping. It includes a daily “mood check” and features calming music and voices who guide users through themed meditations.
Silk, one of the “guides” featured in the app who help users through a meditation, explained, “Soultime is very much about building a hunger for the presence of God, the voice of God, the person of Jesus Christ.”
It seeks to “build, strengthen, tune your heart with the Word of God with the voice of God, the presence of God. It’s going to be focused on Jesus, the focus on the presence of God, the focus on the Bible. No other apps are focused on that.”
Last year, the Courage for Life ministry, which serves at-risk and incarcerated women, released the first-ever audio version of the New Testament voiced entirely by women. “Often, the abuse was in their teenage years, and it’s trauma they’re still holding onto,” Ann White, who's from that ministry, told The Christian Post at the time. “Sometimes, simply hearing a man’s voice is a subconscious trigger. That’s why it’s important to use gender-specific treatment.”
A New Mexico-based ministry, Faith Comes By Hearing, provides audio versions of New Testaments. Scripture recordings are available in 1,354 languages with the potential of reaching over 85 million people with the Gospel.
The ministry, which seeks to help fulfill the Great Commission in this generation by providing access to the Word of God in every translated language, offers free access to its digital resources.