Just got my hands on the world’s latest Bible translation of the New Testament: The Voice from Thomas Nelson Publishers – in joint production with the Ecclesia Bible Society, headed by Chris Seay. For the academics and Bible nerds out there, be warned, you’re in for a ride.
That’s because The Voice is more of a retelling of the Bible for the new generation than a new academic translation of the text. After the first time you sit down with the Voice Bible, you’ll notice some really distinctive devices that are used:
- screenplay formatting so that you know who’s talking and with what type of tone, attitude or force of message
- color-highlighted text to help readers follow along with what’s going on in the passage
- devotional commentary intentionally using modern day language and concepts
- explanatory book introductions and notes within chapters gives context and details normally found in footnotes – again put in plain English
The “translation committee” drew from traditional academic scholars, pastors, writers, musicians, poets, and other artists. The collaborator list includes heavyweights such as Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet. They have the standard ivy tower theologians on the list too so that critics can be satiated, or at least rebuffed. Because of this unusual cast of characters, the final product captures your attention from the first words you read aloud (which by the way is also one of the assumptions in the writing – that it will be read aloud in public settings similar to the oral tradition of the text) whether in public worship, in more intimate bible study groups, or even when you are reading it by yourself.
But sometimes it’s better to see it than hear it. Here’s an example of just how differently The Voice audaciously retells the story:
THE VOICE TRANSLATION : John 3:16-17
16 For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. 17 Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction.
THE NRSV TRANSLATION : John 3:16-17
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
See the difference? Personally, I found this translation refreshing. While the publisher claims it is written so that it can easily be read aloud, I really like how The Voice is attentive to the reading experience. I did not find myself re-reading parts of a chapter over and over as I do sometimes with other translations.
The Voice Bible which Thomas Nelson sent to me as a review copy was a paperback with heavy off-white pages. It is well laid out visually. Even though it has screen play foratting, etc, it reads really well — not one verse at a time for reference, but read — as in sit down and read the book just as if it any of your other narrative books in your library. And unlike the NIV, this translation is pretty accessible in the fact that it is available for 8 bucks on Amazon right now. (Supposedly all profits also go to missions-based activities/ministries too).
If you like The Voice NT, they are working on the OT translation as we speak. In fact, you can get the [NT + Psalms + Proverbs] during the summer of 2010 (pre-orders already being taken).
Is this a replacement for your NRSV, ESV or RSV Bible? Probably not just yet. But is it a dynamic voice you should add to your casual Bible study praxis or study group discussions? Definitely YES.
QUESTION: What translation of the Bible do you own or carry with you?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”