A few weeks ago I joined Booksneeze in order the have the privilege of reviewing new books from Thomas Nelson Publishers. The book is provided free and is mine to keep after I’ve done the review. Since I love to read voraciously it is simply a good deal on both ends.
The first book I chose to review is a new translation of the New Testament. I received my copy of The Voice about three weeks ago. It is a nice handy size – not too big, not too small. It is easy to carry with me in my book bag. At first glance I wasn’t sure I liked it but once I got used to the screenplay type format I found I enjoyed the overall look of the layout. It employs many language devices that certainly make it unique and quite different from standard versions of the Bible. With that said, it is simply telling the stories of the Bible in a modern, more poetic and story telling version as they claim. However due to that fact, I must express concern.
The Voice claims to be “A Scripture Project to rediscover the story of the Bible”. The vision of the project was to be holistic: considering heart, soul and mind, beautiful: achieving literary and artistic excellence, sensitive: respecting cultural shifts and the need for accuracy, and balanced: including theologically diverse writers and scholars. For the most part I would agree that these goals were met with the following exception(s) being made.
While I understand the vision of The Voice’s creators to respect cultural shifts I found myself offended at the attempt to what I would call “minimize” words like baptism, repentance and salvation; choosing instead to “select words that would stimulate fresh thinking rather than reinforce unexamined assumptions”. Whatever that means (unexamined assumptions). The idea that these words are not common outside of the theological community is fairly stated, yet, these words in their full meaning and understanding are an important part of the truth of the Word of God. For example in Matthew 3 the words “ritually cleansed” are used as a substitution for the word baptism. Out of curiosity I did a simple Google search using those two words. And I found that outside of the two Wikipedia entries that came up first, there were many more entries that were on New Age, Wiccan, or Idol worship on the first three pages than there were on an explanation of what that would mean to someone reading a New Testament for the very first time. Should that person reading it as their Bible for the very first time not understand the usage of this phrase do a simple google search as I did and read some of what they find, they would find themselves in thorough confusion. I would and did.
As the authors begin the book of John the translation from “In the beginning was the Word………” to “Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God. This celestial Voice remained ever present with the Creator, His speech shaped the entire cosmos. Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him.” creates for me an illusion of some fairy tale type of sound that is God. I see too much poetic license in the Voice and not enough of the Sovereignty of God. I see a romanticized version that would fit very well in many of today’s culturally relevant churches.
The Bible is not simply a book of stories. It is a guide for life; full of wisdom, truth and guidance in living our day to day life. If by choosing The Voice to be your “stand on” version, I would give it a total thumbs down. It’s pretty yes; it reads well to their target audience in my opinion; the goal was met to tell it in story form; and yet the Voice strays too far from scriptural diligence for me to endorse it for anything more than a “book” to read. It is not a Bible, it is a story book; told in a romanticized, postmodern, “feel good” style.