Ministers contribute to first audio Bible solely recorded by women
Published on 8 March 2023 3 minutes read
Two Church of Scotland ministers have helped narrate the first audio adaptation of the New International Version of the Bible recorded solely by women from across the UK.
Rev Shuna Dicks and Rev Rosie Frew said they are delighted to contribute to the groundbreaking project which is being officially launched today which is International Women's Day.
They said that they hoped that the free-to-access audio book, recorded by women with a wide range of regional accents, would enable listeners to engage with Scripture in a new and exciting way.
Mrs Dicks, minister of Cults Parish Church in Aberdeen, narrated Corinthians, book one and two, while Mrs Frew of Bowden and Melrose Church in the Scottish Borders read Matthew's Gospel, the longest book in the New Testament.
The group behind the project is called Her Audio Bible UK and both ministers heard about it on social media and submitted audition tapes.
They were both successful and recorded their parts separately last year - Mrs Dicks travelled to Bath while Mrs Frew went to a town called Burford in Oxfordshire.
Run by a group of volunteers, Her Audio Bible UK say this version makes the Bible accessible to people who find reading a struggle as well as for those in situations where reading it is unsafe or socially unacceptable.
It says that listening to a woman's voice can be particularly helpful for those who find it more difficult to listen to a male voice, for example people who have experienced abuse or violence that they associate with men.
Reflecting on the experience, Mrs Dicks said: "We are used to hearing the Bible spoken but really only snippets in church on a Sunday morning.
"To speak and hear the whole of Paul's letters to the Corinthian church was very powerful.
"I was very excited to take part in this unique project.
"Women bring their own ‘voice' to the Bible and this will hopefully be helpful and transformative for people to hear.
"The Bible is a living word, as relevant today as it ever was.
"Hearing it in a fresh and new way will bring it alive and hopefully inspire women and girls to know that their voices can be heard too and that the Bible is relevant to them."
Mrs Frew said the aim of Her Audio Bible UK is to widen accessibility to Scripture by breaking down the barriers of class, race, and gender.
"As a woman who has only ever heard recordings of the Bible read by men, usually with English or American accents, I was excited by this project," she explained.
"Over 30 years ago now, quite early on in my ministry in Largo, Fife, we were encouraged as a congregation to take part in an initiative being promoted by the Scottish Bible Society called Faith Comes by Hearing.
"The premise being that when we listen we often understand more fully, we get caught up in the drama of a passage, we get a better sense of what's being said and faith comes, or faith is strengthened, or difficult aspects of faith are considered by hearing."
The director and producer of the Her Audio Bible UK project is Rev Katy Partridge, a Church of England curate.
She said between 700-800 audio Bibles have been recorded across the world and only eight have so far been recorded in women's voices.
The Anglicised 2011 New International Version was chosen because of its rigorous translation process and how it flows when read aloud.
Ms Partridge said: "Women's voices matter to God.
"If women are somehow excluded from religious spaces, the message they receive is that their voice does not matter to God or is less important.
"Sometimes theophanies come in the wind and the fire, and sometimes in the gentle whisper, so it's interesting to me to hear Scripture in a wide range of tones and depths and strengths."
A theophany is a visible manifestation of God's presence.
Her Audio Bible UK is the first project of a charity called Open Word UK.
The four Gospels and Revelation will be released on International Women's Day with the remainder of the New Testament released on a monthly basis thereafter.
Her Audio Bible UK will be available free of charge through a variety of digital audio services such as Spotify and via www.heraudiobible.org.uk.
It is being launched this evening at 7.30pm on Instagram Live.
Breaking the glass ceiling
Meanwhile, Edinburgh Interfaith Association is organising an event, entitled Breaking the Glass Ceiling, to celebrate International Women's Day.
It will feature Rev Fiona Smith, Principal Clerk of the General Assembly, in conversation with Trishna Singh OBE, the founder/director of Sikh Sanjog.
The event is being held on the 16th of March at Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church in Edinburgh from 5:30pm to 7pm. It will also be livestreamed.