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." 

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