In a class on Mark we hear and read the gospel. We watch sections of actors doing gospel performances and we listen to the Bible on CD, particularly The Bible Experience. We compare and critique different versions, paying attention to rhetorical features of the text. Sometimes, we do our own rendition of the text in class. Yesterday, we listened to different readings of Mark 13, the longest speech of Jesus in Mark.
Something very strange takes place in the version recorded for "The Bible Experience." The apocalyptic and prophetic register of Jesus' words is almost entirely muted and in its place, beginning softly and rising to a crescendo that overtakes the words, we hear first piano and then harp in peaceful, soothing cadences. No other version of Mark 13 I have heard is like this. The version in "The Word of Promise", for example, retains the apocalyptic tenor of Jesus' words.
What's going on? One student suggested different theologies. That of "The Bible Experience" looks at apocalyptic from a removed perspective of assured deliverance. There's no question that what you hear is music overtaking words: a mood of serenity distances the listener from the dissonance and alarm of apocalyptic. Jesus' prophetic voice has been muted to the point of evisceration.
We decided that there's plenty of room for new and better recordings of Mark's gospel and we'd be happy to make one.