YouVersion’s Bible app is one of the most downloaded mobile apps in the world, with 178 million installations and consistently staying in Apple’s top 100 free app rankings. It’s completely ad-free and has 1092 versions available in 780 languages.
But reading tiny Biblical text on a phone can be hard, especially on a two-hour commute while cars blare their horns behind you for swerving. (Psalm 83:2 - “Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies?”)
So, YouVersion offers several of its versions available with audio support. And each of these versions seem to have a different voice. I took a listen to the audio versions they had available at least for the iPhone.
King James Version: British accent, of course. Masculine. He reads like a bored monarch, but with proper and correct pronunciation. I would bet money this person has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company at some point.
The Message: The interpretation that is the bane of conservative theologians, the voice of this version is a youthful-sounding gentleman from somewhere in the Pacific northwest. He sounds like he works at a coffee shop and has scraggly facial hair. He is very passionate, even during Proverbs.
New International Version: I am not shitting you. This is Josh Lucas. He did the Home Depot radio commercial afterward. He has a Carolina southern drawl with the intensity of someone who holds town meetings at their local historical society. He reads through the descendants of Nehemiah with great disinterest.
World English Bible: I have never heard of this version before, but it’s popular enough to have an audio. Even though the man they chose seems like he is reading out loud in a class, emphasizing each word too much and booming the microphone too much. There is no emotion in his voice whatsoever and it is a very monotonous reading.
New American Standard Bible: Why did they have a Wall Street broker read the Bible? He has an excellent voice for marketing, at least!
Lexham English Bible: This is the voice of an older, adjunct theology professor, trying to make an extra buck while they take away his classes to give it to the new, Rob Bell-esque theologians. THOSE CRAZY KIDS, THEY TOOK OUR JOBS.
English Standard Version: I’m heavily disappointed in the lack of accent for this one. This guy just sounds like a Calvinist preacher, totally bored by what he’s reading and unsure of why he’s doing this, except for money. Almost Jon Hamm-like, but not enough vibrato.
Douay-Rheims Version: Because I’d never heard of this version before, I actually looked it up. YouVersion has a little bit of information about each version:
The Douay-Rheims Audio Bible is a reading of The Holy Bible Douay-Rheims Version, with Challoner Revisions. Translated from the Latin Vulgate, the Douay-Rheims was the first English translation of the Bible, predating even the King James Version.
That’s pretty cool, I guess. Anyway, this voice actor is bright and chipper with a typical middle American accent.
Holman Christian Standard Bible: This friendly voice actor is eager to sell us something, including this specialty publisher version of the Bible.
New Living Translation: I’ll admit it, this is both my favorite version of the Bible and my favorite audio voice. Not only does soft on-hold waiting music play lightly in the background at time, but he accentuates his words with firmness and speaks in a tone that mirrors the text. Sometimes he does voices for characters too! This is definitely a commute-friendly audio version.
American Standard Version: This is a bonus version, because I think it’s only available when your phone accidentally goes offline, but I’ve had my audio version convert to this one and it’s just the best. It’s like the poetic English of the King James Version spoken with an unbelievably hick accent. I can’t focus on the words at all for the voice.
Overall it seems like a pretty good spread, with the best audio versions being New Living Translation and King James Version. My one (huge) criticism being that, of course, none of the audio versions were recorded by females. You wouldn’t want GIRLS to read the Bible out loud or anything.
I looked on YouVersion for the names of their voice actors, and I could not find them anywhere. Do you know who spent millions of hours recording Biblical verses and scriptures for YouVersion audio apps? Shoot me a tweet or email, or comment below!