The Voice (sorry, not the tv show!)

When it comes to the Bible, you may think the last thing we need is another translation. I mean really, the Bible (or portions of it) has been translated into over 2,000 languages and there have been over 450 attempts to render this centuries-old book into English from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek. Why more?

Part of the reason is when our culture changes, so does our language and primary ways of understanding. We don’t say “Thou” and “Thee” so why should our Bibles!?! The reason for new translations, then, is to adapt to change.

But a big challenge, then, is who decides what and how we adapt our translations of the Bible? Typically, it’s the “experts.” Linguistic experts in Hebrew and Greek along with Old and New Testament scholars work diligently to translate the text in a manner faithful to the original text. All of this while also attempting to communicate clearly to the modern reader. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

A recent translation, The Voice - New Testament, takes this process a step further. Instead of only experts in language and Bible, this translation combines biblical expertise with cultural expertise - artists, poets, writers, musicians, and others.

In our dynamic 21st Century culture, The Voice attempts to recognize the cultural interest in narrative and translate the Bible accordingly. It represents “a Scripture project to rediscover the story of the Bible.”

For the most part I think they achieve their goal. Each book reflects a distinctive style, reflecting the diversity of New Testament writers. Italic additions within the text add clarity to difficult nuances we’d otherwise miss. Dialogue is creatively presented in a screen-play format. Take the Greatest Commandment as an example:
Pharisees: Teacher, of all the laws, which commandment is the greatest?

Jesus (quoting Scripture): “Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes.
While some of the updated titles for Jesus and God weren’t my favorite in terms of readability (e.g. “Eternal One” and “Anointed One”), such shifts do force the reader to examine the meanings behind the names and titles we use for God and Jesus.

Overall, The Voice offers a fresh and creative perspective on an age-old text. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a 21st Century-angle on the Bible that takes biblical and language scholarship seriously but through the lens of artistic expression.


"New Testament has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson".

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