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Posts Tagged "‘The Voice’ New Testament translation":

A New Study Bible

Translating the Bible

Those whose mother tongue is Arabic sometimes say rather smugly that no one else can truly understand the Koran, for they have to read it in translation. Those who say that the Bible is the literal word of God need perhaps also to take this into consideration: unless they can read and understand the Bible in its original Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac, they are having to rely on the translations and interpretations of others. The Italians say ‘traduttore=traditore‘, in other words ‘a translator is a traitor‘. This is perhaps an overly dramatic way of expressing the problem, but problem there is.


Choosing a Bible

Just in my lifetime there have been an enormous number of new translations of the bible. Arguably the main Protestant ones have been:

  • RSV Revised Standard Version (1952)
  • NEB New English Bible (1961-NT)
  • GNT Good News Bible (1976)
  • NIV New International Version (1978)
  • NRSV New Revised Standard Version (1989)
  • CEV Contemporary English Version (1995)
  • MSG The Message (2002)


Why do you read the bible? When do you read the bible? And when do you hear the bible?

Depending on how you answer these questions, there will be a bible version to suit you.  To take my choices as an example – (though others will obviously choose differently): why do I read the bible? Well, why did Popeye eat his spinach? I don’t mean to be facetious, but for me the bible is meat, drink and spiritual sustenance.

Whether I am listening to the bible being read in church, or whether I am alone reading it for the inspiration of its message and beauty of its language, I very much prefer the Revised Standard Version or, for the best-loved passages, the King James version itself.


Study Bibles

However, many of us also read the bible together in a house group, or study it on our own, teasing out the meaning. This is when some of the newer versions come into their own. Particularly in the Old Testament, but also occasionally in the New, it is all too easy to get hung up on a particular phrase whose meaning is obscure and spend a long time pondering its meaning. Instead, I suggest you take a leap. A leap of faith, if you like, in the translators who have laboured long to bring you the meaning of the text.

There is always ‘The Message‘, by Eugene Peterson. A previous reviewer of ‘The Voice’ compares the two:

It makes me think a little of The Message, and I like The Message… The Message was never intended to be read as The Word of God but as something to get people excited about God’s word and help them to think about it in today’s language. Eugene Peterson was quoted as saying, “When I’m in a congregation where somebody uses [The Message] in the Scripture reading, it makes me a little uneasy. I would never recommend it be used as saying, “Hear the Word of God from The Message.” But it surprises me how many do!” On the cover of The Voice it says, STEP INTO THE STORY OF SCRIPTURE. See it as just that, and I like it, see it as the STORY of Scripture. Use it to inspire you to dig deeper into The Word, but don’t use it as your only source for God’s Word.

What ‘The Voice’ translation of the New Testament offers, and the reason I am now adopting it as my own study bible, is that it is so readable. Although there is a reading plan at the beginning, allowing you to complete it in a set period, you could just as easily settle down to read it like any other book. The reason for its readability is that, whereas most translations attempt to even out the styles of the different authors in sentence structure and vocabulary, The Voice leaves the individual ‘voice’ to come through. And its narrative carries you on.

The editorial team included established writers, as well as biblical scholars, and together they have achieved a fluent whole. Where a dialogue is being described, the text appears as a playlet (allowing study groups easily to replicate the events as they must have occurred in real life, rather than as part of the narrative of a story.)

I recommend strongly that you try it.


The publishers, Thomas Nelson and the Ecclesia Bible Society, say:


The Voice™  Bible translation is a faithful dynamic translation of the Scriptures done as a collage of compelling narratives, poetry, song, truth, and wisdom. The Voice calls the reader to step into the whole story of Scripture and experience the joy and wonder of God’s revelation. Created for and by a church in great transition, The Voice uniquely represents collaboration among scholars, pastors, writers, musicians, poets, and other artists, giving great attention to the beauty of the narrative. The heart of The Voice is retelling the story of the Bible in a form as fluid as modern literary works yet remaining painstakingly true to the original manuscripts. This translation promotes the public reading of longer sections of Scripture—followed by thoughtful engagement with the biblical narrative in its richness and fullness and dramatic flow…

Features include:

  • 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
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