How long does it take to read out aloud the Catholic Bible from Genesis to Revelation if you read 24 hours a day? Roughly 139 hours, allowing for musical interludes. RAI, Italy’s state broadcaster, has just wrapped up the longest live television broadcast ever. It started on the 5th of October with the Pope reading Genesis 1, and ended on the 11th. The New Testament was started on Friday morning, just to give an idea of how long it took to get through the Old Testament and the Apocrypha.
I had some misgivings, but was won over when I first watched the transmission. The mood was solemn and reverential, which contributed to concentrating on the Word. The music was mostly in Latin, though I happened to be watching at a point when an American choir did an up-beat Gospel song. IMHO, that was a little incongruous with everything else. In the end, I ended up listening to Proverbs, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Matthew, the whole of Mark, Luke, Hebrews, James, all of 1,2,3 John, 1&2 Peter, Jude, Revelation.
The readers were a diverse lot. Ordinary people, priests, cardinals, local celebrities and the odd politician. They came from Italy, Syria, Honduras, the US, Romania; I missed the Kenyan reader(s). There were adherents from the Catholic, Jewish and Eastern Orthodox faiths. Someone read in Braille, someone used sign language, someone came in a wheelchair.
Thinking about it, this probably wouldn’t have happened elsewhere in secular Western Europe or even in the US. It probably wouldn’t have happened in the developing world either, because of the logistics involved. Another thing that I found a little ironic is that the Catholic Church was once vehemently opposed to people reading the Bible in their own language; now the Pope is exhorting the Catholic faithful to read their Bibles, and to do it often. God does work in mysterious ways…