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The Hearings

Imagine a Gospel reading that went through the entire book of Mark.

Or John, or Matthew... you get the idea. Imagine a Gospel reading that wasn't just 4 verses between announcements and a song. Imagine hearing the Gospels as they would have been delivered in the early church, without any distractions, embellishments or interpretations.

A “Hearing” is just a new term for an old idea - a public reading of a whole Gospel book, or a significant portion. It is a gathering of believers focused on hearing the words and stories of Jesus from the time he walked among us.

Try it.

Hear the Gospels

Hearing the Gospels as they were intended to be heard, in whole, or at least in large sections, can be a revelation.

The stories, overly familiar to many, take on greater depth, the characters become more real and the overall effect is visceral; you feel the impact of the Gospels in a way that you may not have experienced before.

A Hearing turns the current reading model on its head. A regular church service might insert a Gospel reading of seven or ten verses into a busy schedule, and then possibly use these as the basis of a sermon. While this is a wonderful model in many respects, there is definitely room for another forum; one which honours the fundamental importance, and nature of the Gospels.

Last year, we heard the Gospel according to Mark read from this translation in its entirety. It took a bit over an hour, with one short break. The effect was surprising, as most of the words were so familiar, yet the accumulation of meaning was not. The figure of Jesus emerged with a fresh intensity. The sweep of the story offered an unusual opportunity for personal response. The directness of the language left little room for distraction.

Rev Dr Alexander yule
uniting church minister, vic, australia

Back to basics

The Gospels were written to be heard in public readings. This is how the Gospels have been received by most people for most of the past two millenia. It is a fundamental aspect of the original texts, intrinsic to every word and phrase.

The Gospel authors were writing for groups of believers, gathered to hear the manuscripts with enormous excitement and expectation - these were the words and stories of Jesus, the Son of God, their hope and salvation.

The writers never expected people to sit quietly with the text in isolation, to stock their shelves with multiple versions, or download portions for personal study. Much less did they envisage churches taking snippets of three or four phrases (they hadn’t imagined ‘verses’ at that point) and inserting these into a busy morning service.

This is not to say that any of these applications of the Gospels are ineffective; it is to say that hearing an entire Gospel book, read out loud in a group, is a powerful way to reconnect with the texts.

How does it work?

A Hearing can happen in a church building, a public hall or a suburban home. It can take the place of a Bible Study or a church service, or it can be scheduled separately. It could be a session at a church camp or an impromptu event with friends on the weekend.

A hearing will take between 90 to 120 minutes, depending on the book, which is about as long as a movie (so yes, most people are very comfortable sitting through an entire reading, especially as the experience is so captivating). You may want to break half way through for refreshments, or you may choose to read an entire Gospel.

The space should be comfortable, the acoustics should be clear and the chosen reader, or readers should be competent and well rehearsed.

You will find that most people are swept up and carried along as the reading progresses. Familiar stories combine with the obscure, and popular verses are set in a broader context. Characters and stories take on greater depth and it is impossible not to discover something new.

There is no real need for anything other than prayer to go along with a Hearing, but this is entirely up to the group.

While the hearers will generally be believers, a Hearing also opens the door, very naturally, to evangelism so it is worthwhile being prepared.

For Hearers

A Hearing can obviously use any translation of the Gospels.

You should find, however that The Gospels for Hearers will add significant impact to the experience.

The entire translation has been made for public reading; recognising the original intent of the authors and the context in which these books have been presented for centuries.

When something is written for public speaking, it is crafted very differently from prose or poetry. Word choice, phrase construction, the flow of text... everything is designed to be spoken.

When that manuscript is then translated into another language, in another culture two millenia later, integrating the simple idea of translating for public speaking makes a fundamental difference. This becomes apparent when reading from The Gospels for Hearers.

The Gospels for Hearers is published by Dianggellia Press

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