The Word on the Street (book)
It is Lacey's first major book, and was originally published in 2003 as The Street Bible. It was republished in 2004 as the word on the street (promoted in small capitals). It tells major stories of the story of the Bible in less than 500 pages, paraphrasing the text in a distinctive, urban style inspired by Lacey's performances. Major biblical stories are recast as mini-blockbusters; individual psalms are rewritten as song lyrics; the Pauline epistles become emails to the fledgling "Jesus Liberation Movement" (aka the church). the word on the street is published by Zondervan.
At the same time the book was launched, Lacey partnered with musicians Bill Taylor-Beales and Rachel Taylor-Beales to produce an audio CD of his 75-minute performance of the Bible. The CD was nominated for an Audie Award by the Audio Publishers Association in 2004.
The book was first published in the United Kingdom in 2003 and was one of the bestselling religious books for the next two years, ultimately winning the Christian Booksellers Convention's Book of the Year award in 2004. In the US, Barnes & Noble recognized the word on the street as one of the ten best "religion & spirituality" books of 2004. Lacey Theatre Company toured shows based on this book in 2004-5 and 2005-6.
Lacey followed this book with The Liberator (2006), a retelling of the life of Jesus based on the gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. Lacey Theatre Company toured shows based on this book in 2007 and 2008, and extracts from it were also performed in "St David’s Praise" (31 May 2008, St David’s Hall in Cardiff).
Analysis of the text
The author and Christian reviewers have described the book as the Bible as performance art. In the words of the author, "No way is this the Proper Bible. It’s a trailer for, an intro to, an overview of The Bible (capital 'B'). For those who’ve never read it, And those who’ve read it so much it’s gone stale on them".
The following shows a comparison between the KJV and the word on the street:
|King James Version||In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.|
|the word on the street||First off, nothing. No light, no time, no substance, no matter. Second off, God starts it all up and WHAP! Stuff everywhere! The cosmos in chaos: no shape, no form, no function– just darkness ... total. And floating above it all, God’s Holy Spirit, ready to play. Day one: Then God’s voice booms out, ‘Lights!’ and, from nowhere, light floods the skies and ‘night’ is swept off the scene.|
- Otherways - Page 56 Andrew Perriman - 2007 "Rob Lacey's much acclaimed hip, edgy Street Bible is a recent example: Day three: God says, “Too much water! We need something to walk on, a huge lump of it – call it 'land'. Let the 'sea' lick its edges.”
|The Bible in English|
Title page to the King James Version