The Gospel of Jesus
, , read by Garrison Keillor. . HighBridge Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-59887-016-9
It's hard to imagine a more perfect match than Garrison Keillor reading the New Testament's Gospels. The CD box boasts, "America's favorite storyteller reads the world's greatest story," and for once a product exceeds its own hype. Keillor's instantly recognizable baritone glides its way through the familiar life of Jesus, from humble beginnings in Bethlehem to an exultantly rendered resurrection in Jerusalem. Johnson's "harmonization" creates a single narrative from all four Gospel strands, blending Mark's immediacy, Matthew's concerns for law and tradition, Luke's passion for the poor, and John's mysticism into a coherent story that is rich in pathos and meaning. While traditionalists will scoff at Johnson's decision to use Tyndale House's New Living Translation, Keillor sails right through that workmanlike version's clunkier moments and adds folksy transitions between pericopes to make the recounting more seamless. (The audio employs the King James Version for those times when the Old Testament is quoted.) Listeners will invariably discover that upon hearing the New Testament read aloud—as it was intended to be—they will encounter familiar stories in fresh ways and less familiar stories for what feels like the first time. They couldn't hope to have a more gifted and companionable guide than Keillor.
Reviewed on: 06/05/2006