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To access Downloads without reading the explanations below, go directly to the bottom of the page.

The assets of an audio counterpart to the biblical texts are quite obvious, either when one strives to enrich his/her vocabulary, or to grasp the mechanisms of the syntax, or more generally to internalize these texts in the original languages. In keeping with its overarching goal of enabling the reader to develop and maintain maximum fluency, Biblia Mirecurensia now offers mp3 recordings.

New Testament:

The mp3 recordings are downloadable, not chapter by chapter as is the case on the other sites over the Internet, but by thematic units, such as for example the preparation of Jesus to His ministry in Luke (Luke 3.1 — 4. 13) or the sequence of the trumpets in Revelation (Rev 8.6 — 11.19). Thus the reader who reads the text while listening to the audio is encouraged not to read mechanically chapter after chapter, but rather in a thematic manner, passing from one paragraph to the other within a given thematic unit in order to follow the storyline or the flow of the doctrinal exposition of the text that he is listening to.

For that purpose, the New Testament has been divided into approximately 100 audio units, each 12 minutes in length on average (amounting to 6.5 pages of the Nestle-Aland text), corresponding closely to the reading plans offered by Biblia Mirecurensia in the companion documents of its Word version.

The audio recording chosen to accompany the text of Biblia Mirecurensia is that of John Simon (edited by Biblia Mirecurensia by kind permission of www.greeknewtestamentaudio.com). The reasons why this particular recording has been chosen are the following:

1. It is free of charge.

2. The pronunciation adopted by John Simon is rather close to (albeit distinct from) that of modern Greek, which makes it a valuable tool for internalization (I am among those who take the view that the so-called Erasmian pronunciation is not acceptable, either in terms of historical genuineness or even in terms of didactic validity - in that respect see the insights shared by Constantine R. Campbell in his book Advances in the Study of Greek).

3. The delivery is reasonably slow, which, together with the rather more classical pronunciation of the consonants (δ, χ, θ in particular), allows those who have been trained in biblical Greek according to the Erasmian pronunciation to find their bearings easily (which is hardly the case for a strict modern Greek pronunciation, in particular if the delivery is fast).

The text read by John Simon is that of Wescott-Hort, which generates minor differences from the text of Biblia Mirecurensia - but is not really disturbing.

Old Testament:

The mp3 audio units, read aloud by Pierre Maignial, the designer of Biblia Mirecurensia, are currently in the making. At present, the prophetic and poetical books, from Isaiah to Esther, are available for download. (I strongly recommend listening to them while following in the written version of Biblia Mirecurensia, after downloading the latest version, that of June 2017).

As is the case for the New Testament, the recordings of the Tanakh are grouped together, not by chapters but by units of meaning (see above). Once completed, they will number approximately 210, each 15 minutes in length on average and corresponding roughly to 7.5 pages of BHS text. The units currently available for download total 107, and are grouped together into four different albums : Major prophets (approximately 11h 35min's listening), Minor prophets (2h 55min), Sifreï Emet (7h 30min), 5 Megillot (2h 20min) – all of them designed to be downloaded onto a tablet or a smartphone for continuous listening. All these recordings put together cover 706 BHS pages, that is 45% of the Tanakh.

The remaining recordings (Torah + historical books) should be available for download by June 2020.

Two audio versions of the whole Tanakh are currently (March 2017) available over the Internet for free : that of Father  Schmuelof (on machon-mamre.com), and Haktuvim (haktuvim.co.il) by the Israeli Bible Society (IBS).

Father  Schmuelof's version, whose main feature is its crystal-clear pronunciation, is useful if one wants to check the traditional pronunciation of a word or group of words. But when it comes to meaning-oriented, continuous listening, it is extremely deficient : it is in fact nothing but monotonous, spoken "plain text". In the textually difficult passages, in which the Masoretic Text is deficient, Father Schmuelof's hesitations hardly help the listener grasp the meaning of the text.

IBS's Haktuvim is infinitely more reader-friendly and interesting : the readers, who are Hebrew native speakers, have produced something quite natural in tone, rich in intonation and pleasant to listen to. This is a remarkable tool for all those who want to boost their fluency in Biblical Hebrew and get a fluid access to the text of the Tanakh; I thus heartily recommend using it.

However, to my mind, this version has the following defects:

- It is a dramatised version: the choice of background music in any given passage will not necessrarily please all listeners, and music is often more of a distraction than anything else.

- To this day, the audio files are not downloadable and have to be listened to as streamed files. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to navigate within the mp3 file, for example to go backwards in order to listen to a few words again – and yet navigability of the biblical text is, I believe, just as essential in an audio file as for the written version. Besides, when you want to listen in a continuous way, it is a tedious business to have to click on each chapter one by one: in order to listen to the whole Tanakh, you will have to click 929 times! Dividing the Tanakh, as Biblia Mirecurensia does, into units of meaning rather than into chapters enables the number of files to be reduced by more than 75%, a great asset if one intends to handle downloadable albums.

- Some pronunciations pose recurring phonological problems. For example, in Numbers 22:6, ארה לי is pronounced [ara li] ; in verse 8, the shift of stress in והשיבותי is not heard ; in verse 11, קבה לי is pronounced [kava li]. All this goes against the traditional pronunciation of these words as indicated by the spelling of machon-mamre.com for example, or the major reference works for Biblical Hebrew, or even the prononciation by the readers of Haktuvim in other passages of the Tanakh. The fact that native speakers can have such problems with the treatment of a/o shows how little reader-friendly Masoretic spellings can be …

- Finally, the same problem occurs for the readers of Haktuvim as for those of Father Schmuelof: in the passages in which the MT is difficult to understand, they fail to bring out any real meaning, even if they hesistate less than with Father Schmuelof. The lack of an eclectic text lets the listener down in such passages, just as it does the reader …

The main characteristics chosen for the making of Biblia Mirecurensia's recordings are the following:

1. The diction and intonation aim first and foremost at enhancing sentence structure (word groups) and the wider unit of meaning (paragraph or stanza), closely following the typographic layout of Biblia Mirecurensia. By contrast, Schmuelof often marks a slight pause one or two words before the end of the sentence or the group of words, which is disconcerting for the listener. Moreover, internal sentence break-up very often lacks relief.

2. The audio recording closely follows the text of Biblia Mirecurensia, thus integrating its emendations of MT (approximately 9200), together with an attempt to offer a better division of units of meaning within the sentence, wherever deemed necessary. In this respect, Father Schmuelof’s hesitancy in reading numerous passages - and likewise for the readers of Haktuvim in the same passages, even though less marked - clearly demonstrates that in such places, they find it hard to understand what they are reading. This is barely surprising, given that the MT is often wrongly divided (at least in the poetical books), and that in many passages the text is hardly understandable.

3. The chosen pace of reading is slightly slow, about 10% slower than a strictly natural reading pace. This is for two major reasons: because of their lexical load and their poetical form, many passages of the Tanakh pose comprehension difficulties to the listener - even to native speakers; and besides, for those who want to read the written version while listening, since Biblia Mirecurensia has chosen to offer an unvocalised text (the reasons for this being given on the homepage, para 3.4), it seems to me preferable to make up for this difficulty by adopting a slower reading pace.

4. In places where the pronunciation of a given word appears debatable – which happens more often than many people suspect - these are the reference works I have consulted (in decreasing order of importance): 1. Mechon Mamre, 2. HALOT, 3. Davidson's Lexicon, 4. Schmueloff (audio), 5. Haktuvim (audio).

5. Besides the audio recordings, videos can also be found on the audio downloads page. The videos, of a topical nature, are designed to explore lexical fields or themes typical of the prophetic books, and can be exploited word by word if necessary, using some sort of media reader.

 

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