Sound Amplified—Good and Bad
How was it possible for Jesus and other Biblical speakers to address thousands of people out in open sites without the aid of amplifying devices?
A writer in “Biblical Archeologist” set out to learn the answer. One place he visited was on the Sea of Galilee near the ancient city of Capernaum, which he believed to correspond with the accounts in Matthew 13 and Mark 4. Mark’s gospel (Mark 4:1) states that Jesus “again started teaching beside the sea. And a very great crowd gathered near him, so that he went aboard a boat and sat out on the sea, but all the crowd beside the sea were on the shore.”
The account in “Biblical Archeologist” describes the possible teaching site as a “cove with the appearance of a natural amphitheater, sloping steadily upward from the shore to the modern road.” At this location a technician used acoustical test equipment to determine the sound quality around the site.
He found that his instruments recorded “much more sound activity” when the sound originated out in the water where Jesus’ boat would have been than when the sound came from the water’s edge. “There is no denying that speech communication would have been quite good inside this bowl,” said the technician. He estimated that 5,000 to 7,000 people assembled in the area could have heard clearly.
It is of interest that in recent times an instructor in public speaking illustrated this principle by speaking across a pond near Ithaca, New York, to his students seated on the other side.
The Din Business
According to a recent article in the Paris daily “Liberation,” “Use of the mind will be called into question in the eighties—to think is to regress. All that remains is a body finding its fulfillment in dancing, automatically going through the same elegant or inelegant movements for six hours on end.”
The French weekly “Le Point” reports: “In its heyday, rock’n roll was the expression of an instinctive revolt against the adult world, against the rigid moral code of a blocked society. Later, the punks, who make a point of being nihilists, thumbed their noses at anything foreign to them by means of systematic provocation. Disco has made the crowds indifferent—they follow like a flock of sheep, ask no questions and have no message to convey. They just dance, hypnotized by disco’s standardized 125 beats per minute. . . . As an American journalist put it: ‘They should put up a statue of Narcissus, the presiding deity, in front of every disco.’ . . . In all of these new, depersonalized, ready-made disco supermarkets, the continuous, repetitious beat monotonously booms away like a war drum. But war against what? They say it’s against boredom. However, in the long run, the ordeal of the monotonous music, more flashy than brilliant, full of twitches and tricks, makes you question the efficiency of the remedy.”