I have a deep love for the Bible. From time to time, I am asked for my thoughts and opinions on various translations. I often respond by asking what the reader is looking for. Accessible language? Scholarly precision? Word-for-word translation? Age specific? Helpful notes and study helps? Binding, aesthetics, layout, and feel? Reputation? Inclusive language? Paraphrase? The list goes on, and on, and on.
There is no shortage of Bibles available for purchase, and in our family, we have a host of Bibles adorning our shelves. The Voice New Testament: Revised & Updated, a fresh translation that has been produced by the Ecclesia Bible Society, came my way via Thomas Nelson publishers. Claiming to be a blend of scholarly excellence and prosaic/poetic gloss, The Voice brings new life to old stories, invigorating the imagination through the combined use of the academic and the commonplace.
I have been reading through this translation of the New Testament this year in addition to my regular readings in the NIV and NRSV. 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 had a conversation with Stephen Proctor regarding The Voice last week. Here is our exchange:
@worshipVJ I've enjoyed it, reading through Romans and will be making my way through the NT. Some interesting nuances.— Ben Simpson (@bsimpson) March 25, 2012
@worshipVJ They put the paraphrase in italics, so it is easy to see where it differentiated between the scholarly and poetic.— Ben Simpson (@bsimpson) March 25, 2012