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The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

The Voice”, a new translation of the New Testament, was published in 2008, but I only recently became aware of it through some scathing reviews such as this from Chris Rosebrough at Extreme Theology:

I recently purchased a copy of this fresh “dynamic translation” of Bible and spent some time doing comparative work with key passages of the New Testament from The Voice, The ESV and the Greek text. Sadly I must report that this new Emergent “translation” is so far off the mark that I think one could reasonably argue that by producing their own distorted version of the Bible the Emergent church has crossed the line from being a ‘movement’ to actually becoming a cult.”

Rosebrough dissects an sample passage from John 1:9-14, and makes some comments which seem valid at a microscopic level, but miss the point of what the team behind “The Voice” are trying to achieve. Rosebrough is quick to criticise ‘The Voice’ for incorporating into their translation a worldview which he evidently disagrees with, but seems unaware that his own approach to biblical translation is equally reflective of a particular worldview.

I’m wondering if anyone else has come across “The Voice” or reactions to it?

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Re: The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

I picked up a Voice about a year ago.  I thought I’d like the screenplay format, but truthfully … it got old.  I’ve “borrowed” the approach for use in worship, but typically pick a translation like the Revised Good News or the Message and put it in the screenplay version.  As far as accuracy, I appreciate the fact that they italicize extraneous information, but sometimes the normal font text is not a very strong translation.  I still pick it up for the comments now and then … those stir up ideas, but otherwise it’s on my shelf next to the New Century Version.

Re: The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

Personally, I prefer and by far the original version!


Re: The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

I own a copy of “The Voice New Testament” and have read through some of the books. The way I understand it, it should be regarded as something between a paraphrase and a dynamic translation. I enjoyed reading from it, although I don’t always agree with the tendency in specific passages. The renderings seem colored by the theology of the various “contributing writers”, and I think it’s important that the reader of the text is not regarded as totally unbiased. I still feel that the writers/translators (assisted by scholarly opinoion) try to do justice to the text.

I read through Rosebrough’s follow-up post on Romans 3:21-26. My main impression is that he is critisizing “The Voice” for not having the same theological bias as himself. Rosebrough seems to subscribe to a particular American brand of Lutheranism (I am neither American nor Lutheran myself), and any rendering that does not follow this bias is invalid. “The Voice” seems to follow NT Wright’s views in Romans 3, and that seems to be Rosebrough’s main concern about the rendering.

In his comments about emergent being a movement or a church I think Rosebrough completely misses the mark. I don’t think anyone within the emerging church will regard “The Voice” as THE authoriative Bible translations, like i.e in the Jehova’s witnesses.

I would love to see a review of “The Voice” or books that are part of the project on opensource theology.

Re: The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

Another problem I found with Rosebrough is for both passages I found that he reviewed, John 1:9-14 and Romans 3:21-26, the “contributing writer” is Chris Seay. This means that he is not picking up on the multiplicity of voices involved in the project.

Re: The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

I believe that the only contributing writers that should be in the Bible are the people who wrote it when God told them to. The Book of Revelation clearly warns against writings such as The Voice and by the way, there is no room for bias or personal opinion when it comes to the Bible. It is was it is and the Word is Word no matter who thinks what of it. casino online

Re: The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

Unfortunately, George, my NT Greek is not great and my Hebrew is non-existent, so I have to rely on translators. It intrigues me that God entrusted telling His story to so many different people in so many different ways in the first place, and I like to think that He loves it when we keep trying to find relevant and fresh ways to tell the Good News. It’s why a project like The Voice interests me- thanks to those who have commented on it. 

Re: The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

The question here is what the voice is claiming to be.

If it is claiming to be a Bible translation then it needs to be evaluated as a not very good Bible translation because it supplements the original text with far more material than is required to understand that text in translation.

If it is claiming to be a paraphrase or commentary on the Bible and the writrs are up front that what they are giving is their understanding of the implications of the Bible text not merely the text itself then it’s fine.

The problem is not the book itself but, really, with the fact that it claims to be a Bible translation when, on any normal understanding of the word ‘translation’ it isn’t. If an interpreter at the UN changed Barak Obama’s words into French with this level of alteration and addition I feel the French ambassador would not be impressed with the ‘translation’ he had received.

Re: The Voice- an emergent Bible translation?

I don’t have a copy of The Voice, but I do have the last eyewitness, a Voice for John’s depiction of Jesus’s final week.  It describes itself on the back as “A beautiful retelling of the last week in the life of Jesus Christ”.  It goes on to say:

It includes first person commentary told in John’s voice with comments from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  The compelling story gives the reader the sense of being around a campfire with first century believers, hearing the story directly from John.”

Nothing about this screams “translation,” nor does it seem to be intended to work at the “scholarly” level.  It makes a few obvious suppositions about authorship, audience, and scriptural intent, but these are done straightforwardly and directly.  It doesn’t seem as if they are looking to replace your pulpit Bible or even your copy of The Message with a newer, hipper translation of the text.  It doesn’t seem to be doing anything so destructive or pointed as that.  It actually seems to be organized to help the reader better engage the nature of the story and the place the reader has in understanding and retelling it.

I expect that the writers might be surprised that we would even be discussing this as a translation and not as a devotional/study aid with a broader interest.

Drew Downs+

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