The Bible is a unique collection of books… obviously. Language as a whole is incredibly complex, commenced with the tower of Babel itself. So when it comes to translating a language that is 2000 years old (for the New Testament), it’s a great challenge to try and translate, not only words, but idioms, intonations, and known impressions. Perhaps that’s why Islam refuses to hold a translation of the Qur’an as valid, and why there are so many English variations of the original Biblical Scripture.

The Voice is another translation to add to the long list of English translations. Coming from circles including people like Brian McLaren, The Voice was bound to stir up some question or controversy over its validity as a theological source. Such an attempt echoes the controversy surrounding Eugene Peterson’s translation of The Message. So many felt it was not a valid translation of the original language, refusing to even call it a “translation.” “It’s a paraphrase!” I’ve heard proclaimed. Yet any scholar using the original language documents must translate the words into English.

I must say I’m impressed by The Voice. I think it’s a unique and original angle to take on Biblical translation, and in the overview given at the beginning of the book for why the Ecclesia Bible Society chose the methods they did, I could not see any questionable motives for what they have come up with. Turning to creative writers, rather than only theologians to come up with this new version raises some red flags, but it shows in the translation itself that they have tried to attain to the original language very closely. This is one way in which The Voice and The Message differ. While Peterson’s translation has its place among the many versions, it is a “loose” translation where whole sentences and paragraphs are translated as a whole idea. The Voice makes it very clear where they have added words by using italicization, giving it almost an Amplified Bible feel. Commentary is given within the scripture itself, but is clearly divided into text boxes to show the division.

The question then becomes for me, Is this a translation I would use to preach a sermon from, or read aloud in front of a congregation? The answer for me is no.

Anything outside of a small word variation when reading aloud would likely be quickly scoffed at, tossed aside as invalid and not true to its Scriptural origins. Too many would likely be offended and the purpose of using the scripture publicly would be lost. I do, however, think this is a great addition to anyone’s devotional life.

Perhaps this is why Thomas Nelson has clearly labeled this version as “Personal Devotional.” I would recommend The Voice for such purposes.

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