Like other digital media enthusiasts, Mr. Huguenin talks about audio Bibles as an experience. “What we see time and again, globally, is when you play audio out loud, it draws a crowd,” he says. He describes the Proclaimer, a shoebox-sized, solar-powered audio Bible player produced by Faith Comes by Hearing and popular in places where electricity is not available. “They can’t be stuffed in a pocket and they’re obnoxiously loud,” he explains. “So inevitably, your neighbors are going to come over, or your family is going to gather.” According to Mr. Huguenin, reading the Bible out loud in a group creates a sense of accountability, because friends and family often remind each other of what they have heard.
But unlike virtual reality or biometrics, helping oral cultures produce their own audio Bibles is not about helping people have an experience that is new; rather, it is about allowing people to experience the Bible in a way that is already deeply familiar.
“That question rarely comes up outside of the U.S.,” says Mr. Huguenin when I ask if he thinks audio Bibles are somehow less authoritative or holy than printed Bibles.”It’s really easy for those in other countries to embrace the audio,” he explains. And even though we in the United States are most used to encountering Scripture as a book, “it’s important to recognize that both are God’s word.”