Review: The Voice New Testament

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The Voice™ is the product of the best minds in this emerging generation of Christian leaders. Together they are helping young people fall in love with the Scriptures. Instead of confining God’s Word in the framework of biblical criticism, The Voice™ highlights the beauty of God’s communication to His people. In The Voice™, the voice of God is heard as clearly as when He first revealed His truth. This is the first-ever complete New Testament in The Voice™ translation. Writers include Chris Seay, Lauren Winner, Brian McLaren, Greg Garrett, David B. Capes, and others.

Features include:

  • Bronze, highlighted text
  • Screenplay-like format, ideal for public readings and group studies
  • Devotional commentary
  • Book introductions

You can find my others posts on The Voice here.

When one reads a new translation for the first time, the instinct is to compare it to a favorite old translation. By proof-texting comparisons, one discovers real quick where a new translation errors in relation to the pre-existing one. That is the wrong method to take, especially with such a translation as the Voice.

It bills itself as a dynamic translation, meaning that it is not literal, word for word (NKJV; ESV). Instead, it tries to incorporate modern, cultural, English into the translation which I believe often times removes meaning or changes the intended meaning. One such example is the substitution for Christ with Liberating King. It’s ability to change things, such as John the Baptize into John the Prophet, and baptism into ceremonial/ritual washing leaves me reaching for another translation. But, the appeal of this translation is not to match up with existing theology but serve as a bridge between competing viewpoints among mainstream, even pentecostal, and the emergent churches. To properly understand and appreciate The Voice, we must look at the purpose of it and try to see the translation through that. Even by doing that, I find that I have significant problems with the translation.

Does it have its good points? Yes, The Voice does. I think it serves the purpose well of creating a narrative style reading of the New Testament which is helpful in our modern culture, in trying to reach those who only can understand things through that style. Further, it is interesting to read passages which have the dialogue highlighted and provided in such a way to cause the reader to become a little engaged in what is going on – to see it as more than a story but an action.

This is a translation best spoken as it showcases the translation style better when it is heard rather than read.

This edition of The Voice New Testament is paperback and larger than the usual novel size. The pages are yellowed slightly with gold adding to the highlighted areas. Commentary is small, but adds just enough to help the reader understand the situation better. It does include italics to alert the reader when something is added beyond the normal translation style. Further, footnotes, often giving more literal readings, are included. These footnotes are a detraction for the reader and while I can understand including them in other translation, it gives the feel that The Voice seeks to straddle the fence a bit.

This is not a translation meant for serious study, but can be used for serious reading. If you are an emergent, you might find this translation more than useful. If you want to read the New Testament as a narrative, engaging in dialogue, then you should get a copy. If you are expecting a traditional DE translation, such as the NLT, then this is not the translation for you.

I want to thank Thomas Nelson for this review copy.

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7 Replies to “Review: The Voice New Testament”

  1. Erm, what kind of credentials does Lauren Winner have to be translating anything? According to the (rather out of date) biography on her website, she is revising her dissertation on household religious practices in 18th century Virginia. While that indicates to me that she’s done graduate-level work in preparation for a Ph.D, it doesn’t indicate that she has any experience with, uh, Greek.

    I imagine the same could be said about many of the other contributors–I’m wondering if they weren’t just handed a book or a portion of a book and told to rewrite it to sound more contemporary. That’s not a translation, that’s a paraphrase and was the thing that really caused problems for the old Living Bible. (But I still have the LB my grandparents gave me at high school graduation over 30 years ago, I treasure it.)

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