By: Brian Lines
These days, most podcasts are started like bands did in the early 2000s, with a sense of boredom and an eagerness to talk people’s ears off. But for Dr. Pete Enns and author Jared Byas, only half of that is true. The duo started their podcast, The Bible for Normal People, in early 2017, primarily due to a growing interest in accessible biblical scholarship.
To learn more about this podcast, I reached out to Dr. Enns, who just so happens to be a professor of Biblical Studies here at Eastern University, for an interview. When asked how the podcast came about, Dr. Enns spoke of how Jared Byas approached him and asked “on a scale of 1-10, how much would you hate to do a podcast?” Dr. Enns was “happy to do a podcast,” and “happy to talk,” but didn’t really want to “deal with the ins and outs” of a podcast. Eventually, the two came together to record and the first episode of The Bible for Normal People (B4NP) came out in March of 2017.
The primary structure of the podcast is for Dr. Enns and Byas to act as hosts for the many guests who come on and share their understandings of the Bible and how their specific fields have influenced their perspectives. Dr. Enns spoke of how they wanted the podcast to be educational, and to “bring the best of biblical scholarship to normal people.” And that is exactly what the podcast does; in its six seasons, B4NP has hosted a variety of big names, from Rachel Held Evans to Jemar Tisby to Dale Allison. When asked if he had a suggested episode for prospective listeners, Dr. Enns said that “we’ve had some wonderful guests, maybe a hundred in the past six years.” He said that maybe listeners will “see a name that people recognize,” and start from there.
Then came the big question: why would you recommend people listen to B4NP? Dr. Enns made it very clear that some people simply won’t be interested in the podcast, and that’s ok; he said people might be interested in the podcast if they “are interested in getting deeper in the nature of the bible and what it is,” that “there seems to be people interested in those questions, not everyone is and that’s fine.” For me as a listener, every B4NP episode feels like a free seminary class. As Dr. Enns stated, you get to “[hear] things from scholars and practitioners who have thought a lot about [the bible].”
If you’re interested in a podcast that asks questions that you might have on your mind about the Bible or faith in general, but aren’t inclined to listen to primarily academic conversations, Dr. Enns and Jared Byas are going to be starting a second podcast: Faith for Normal People (F4NP). Dr. Enns spoke of F4NP as “A way for opening up the kind of things we talk about [in the B4NP]…B4NP more specifically addresses biblical texts and hermeneutics, with F4NP we can go deeper into things like science and religion.” They want to talk about things people are asking for, like “What do you do about evolution? What do you do about quantum physics?…What do you do about world religions?”
The Bible for Normal people is a wonderful and unique opportunity for people asking questions about the Bible or who are curious about how those who spend their time studying the Bible interpret it. And for those who aren’t as interested in the more academic conversations, or for those who are already fans of B4NP, you can look forward with eagerness to the soon to come, Faith for Normal People podcast.