Review of The Gospel of Mark by GraphicAudio

The Gospel of Mark by GraphicAudio is the entire book of Mark from the New Testament, told through a full cast of actors, atmospheric sound...

The Gospel of Mark by GraphicAudio is the entire book of Mark from the New Testament, told through a full cast of actors, atmospheric soundscapes, and punctuated with use of the actual language in which Mark wrote his account. This production runs to 2 hours and 8 minutes, taking us on a journey word-for-word through the Charles B. Williams translation of the Gospel of Mark. Nothing is added to the text. So how does it hold up? Can a word-for-word audio drama of an entire book of the Bible hold your attention?

On one hand, a faithful production like this cannot utilize many of the tricks of the audio drama format that we are familiar with. It must rely heavily on narration. It is, after all, an exact narration of the text, with the minor exception of eliminating redundancies, or the repetition of certain phrases for dramatic effect. You may also find a few of the scene shifts from one chapter to the next to be stark; many tonal shifts in this production feel quite sudden. It is not quite the cinematic show that we have come to expect from many modern audio dramas with large casts.

But this is not a flaw in production; it is a framing. Beginning with the use of original Greek, I was struck by the unique experience of hearing the narrator (Mort Shelby) voice Mark's own words so effectively that I heard them in a new way: not merely as a historical narrative to read with morning coffee, but as a personal testimony. One man sharing memories from eyewitness accounts of the most extraordinary events that have ever taken place.

Image from the CD insert

The text is also creatively divided between actors to bridge the gap between the formal nature of a written text and the dynamism of conversational teaching that Jesus (played by Richard Rohan) used. This allows us to picture what his teaching really looked like: a circle of listeners asking questions, debating, talking amongst themselves – real, living, breathing audiences and disciples that gasped and laughed and yelled, just like us.

James Konicek, voice of John the Baptist
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On a less relatable subject are the portrayals of Jesus' encounters with demons. Their ghoulish, terrifying voices give a visceral glimpse at superworldly beings. These interactions are given the full weight of the gruesome conflict between good and evil. Nor does this production shy away from the death of John the Baptist (James Konicek). Sensitive listeners may be disturbed by the graphic scene in which John the Baptist is beheaded, though it is brief. GraphicAudio’s own age rating is for listeners 13 years old and up.

Listeners may also be curious about the score. Written by Dan Sondak, it is based upon a piece of music by Johannes Sebastian Bach called the Saint Mark Passion. The original music was lost and never rediscovered. Since then it has been reconstructed by numerous musicians based upon its libretto – its lyrics – which were published in a poetry collection a year after it was first performed in 1733.

And when asked why GraphicAudio chose The Williams New Testament translation to be the text for this audio drama, they cited the official translation’s website.
“Williams does what few others have done: he takes some of the finer shades of meaning found in the Greek constructions and fuses them into the English text. This he does, not in a cumbersome, overwrought manner, but in a natural, smooth-flowing style. More than any other translator he brings out the aktsion-sart (kind of action) of the verbs, an element little stressed in standard versions. Besides this there is clear evidence of the results of latest research into the fuller significance of certain words, cases, prepositions, connectives, and other parts of speech.”

On the whole, this production from GraphicAudio is a solid portrayal of the Gospel of Mark. It achieves exactly what it was meant to be: as faithful an ear into another time and place as possible. But it possesses enough vocal talent and sound design that it is enjoyable to listen to, even enthralling in such moments when we experience Pontius Pilate (Andy Clemence) struggling to condemn Jesus, or when the disciples are avidly listening to the Parable of the Tenants.

Andy Clemence, voice of Pilate
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One other strength is the unique opportunity to hear the entire book of Mark in one sitting. While most of us don’t regularly take a two hour chunk of time to sit down and read, this makes a perfect road trip audio drama, or as a reflection upon the Easter season. By listening to the entire narrative in one shot, you will pick up the narrative ebb and flow. Moments of joy, sorrow, struggle, awe, death, and eucatastrophe, all juxtaposed to lend deeper meaning that might otherwise be overlooked if read bit by bit in a devotional time or a sermon series. GraphicAudio’s The Gospel of Mark provides an accessible opportunity to hear the whole story as one unified epic.

You can listen to a sample of The Gospel of Mark here. (If your browser doesn't display the player, use the SoundCloud player.)

The Gospel of Mark is available on Audible and Apple Books or you can also order directly from GraphicAudio to get either digital or CD copies.

Robert Thacker loves all storytelling mediums; especially audio drama because it's so overlooked. He wrote the audio drama script titled "A Search for Truth," which was produced by the creators of Jonathan Park. You can check it out at

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, ATC will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!


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