Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review: The Voice: New Testament

The Voice Bible translation is a fresh, so-called dynamic translation of the Scriptures. Ecclesia Bible Society and Thomas Nelson Publishers brought together a team of scholars, pastors, writers, musicians, poets and other artists to revive the language of the Bible to modern day standards. Second important goal was to respect the different styles in the books: poetry, laws, genealogy, parables, history, speeches, sermons and proverbs, to name a few.

Rather than a word-for-word translation or a pure thought-for-thought paraphrase (like The Book / Living Bible) the story of the Bible is retold in a form as fluid as modern literary works, yet remaining painstakingly true to the original Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew texts. To help the reader understand how the new rendering of a passage compares to the original texts, several indicators are embedded within the text. The text also has:
Italicized information added to help contemporary readers understand what the original readers would have known intuitively
  • In-text commentary notes include cultural, historical, theological, or devotional thoughts
  • Screenplay format, ideal for public readings and group studies
  • Book introductions
No attempt was made to make The Voice gender neutral or gender inclusive. The sense of the text is followed and translation is done with context in mind. So, adelphoi becomes "brothers and sisters" in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, but the warnings against loose women in Proverbs 5-7 are clearly aimed at young men.

Another important choice was made in translating Christos, transliterating as Christ, but rendered as "God's Anointed", "The Anointed" or `The Anointed One".

Four different reading plans are offered to step into the whole story of God: readings to celebrate Advent, readings for Lent and Easter, read the New Testament in 24 weeks and 40 days with God (daily reading for personal growth).

I have been reading through this translation of the New Testament this year in addition to my regular readings in the NIV . I particularly enjoy the italicized poetic additions to the translations. Due to the typesetting, these are easily distinguished as paraphrase or interpretive departures from the koine Greek. I do find a few of the interpretative choices a little clunky (consistently replacing Messiah with "Anointed One", and references to Christ as "the liberating King"). But I acknowledge that this discomfort is due largely in part to my familiarity with other translations, and I am sympathetic to these choices, as the translation team surely deployed these phrases consistently to instill in the reader the importance of specific theological themes they feel have been neglected.

In addition to the translation itself, the brief book introductions and the study notes are helpful, and are written in clear, accessible language.

I would recommend The Voice as an alternative translation for study and devotional reading. Take a step back, read through it as though encountering the text for the first time, and fall in love with the story of the New Testament once again.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. 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." 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recipe: Sloppy Joes My Way(veggie loaded)

My children and my husband all enjoy a good sloppy Joe sandwich. The way I usually make them is to douse some ground beef in spices, Worcestershire sauce, and lots and lots of ketchup.

Recently I came up with this healthy version that incorporates lots of veggies and healthier seasoning options.

1 pound 93% lean ground beef( you can substitute veggie crumbles or ground turkey if you choose)
4 ounces chopped Baby Bella mushrooms
1 red onion, finely chopped 
1 can of diced or chopped green chiles
1 can of Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced tomatoes
1 small can of Contadina Italian Tomato Paste
1 cup vegetable broth or stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander

Brown ground beef in a skillet and then add garlic, onion, and mushrooms and cook on medium until onions are fragrant and soft.  Add spices and cook for a couple of minutes, mixing to incorporate the flavors.  Next add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chiles, and vegetable broth - mixing well. Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce gets thicker.

Serving Suggestion: Serve on toasted whole grain bun or  warm whole grain corn tortilla. Optionally top with low-fat cheese or  a dollop fat free, plain Greek yogurt

Book Review: The Founder's Key

"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments... They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature by the hand of Divinity itself." This quote from Alexander Hamilton is a fitting metaphor for Larry Arnn's book, The Founders' Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It. The rights defined by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America exist on a plane above lawmaking and nation building. The rights of liberty, independence, and self-determination are natural laws, acknowledged in the fiber and structure of America's founding documents.

The President of Hillsdale College, Larry Arnn, has issued this short book (123 pages plus 93 pages of foundational readings) to explain the connection between the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

Recently, a number of authors have argued that the Declaration and Constitution are opposed to each other. One argument used to promote this idea is the issue of slavery. The Declaration states that all are created equal, whereas the Constitution protects the institution of slavery. Dr. Arnn provides a detailed explanation of this seeming contradiction, noting that, among other indications, the following actions showed that the Founders were (at most) reluctant supporters of slavery:

1. George Washington did not abuse his slaves, and he took steps to ensure that they would be freed upon his death.
2. The Founders limited and eventually outlawed the importation of slaves from abroad.
3. They abolished slavery in a majority of the original states.
4. And, they forbade the expansion of slavery into areas where it had not been originally permitted.

The most critical part of this book is the author's discussion of what amounts to a fourth branch of the federal government: the Administrative State. The various Departments in Washington, DC, amount to an unelected, unaccountable government that has absolute power which, according to Lord Acton, "tends to corrupt absolutely." Dr. Arnn does not hold out any hope for a rapid dissolution of this growing bureaucratic arm of the State, but he does provide guidelines for bringing it under the control of the governed.

James Madison, writing in Federalist Paper Number 62, stated that "It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?"

The income tax code, health care reform, financial reform, etc. are so complex that literally no ordinary citizen can comprehend them. We can thank the Fourth Branch of government for these labyrinthine gems. The Regulatory System cannot be rolled back overnight, but when we are sliding toward a cliff we should at least turn off the engine and/or apply the brakes. Arnn shows the way to begin this process; not to do so is to take a risk that we cannot afford to take.

Arnn regards the delicate topics with the confidence and authority befitting the power of divinity innate in America's founding. He shares concepts that are enlightening and ennobling. His insights are fresh and immediate. Every page emanates with hope that we can reclaim the liberties intended in our nation's law. The language is direct, to the point. It doesn't read like a rebuttal on attacks to liberty, but rather as a guide to the underlying issues upon which divine rights are constituted.

Part II includes the Declaration and the Constitution, and several of the Federalist Papers. The slender volume packs a lot of information in a spirit of openness that is easy to read and understand.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. 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."