Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Voice

Recently I've jokingly had a discussion about the amount of Bibles that I own. My wife sarcastically asked, "how many Bibles does one person need?" While I agree that the average person doesn't need 20 different Bibles, my suggestion is that people who want to engage in deeper study (above simply reading) that they have at least 2. You need one good translation, and one good Study Bible. I also suggest that they check out ones that are written in easier language, which until recently consisted of pretty much either The Message or The Living Bible. These are paraphrases, and cannot be depended on for a good translation. I also usually promote the Amplified Bible since it tries to keep the feel of the original language.

Here are my top Bibles I use:
1) The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (NRSV)-- Got me through 2 religion degrees
2) Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture (NIV)-- A fantastic Bible that takes you into the context and history of the Bible.
3) The NoteWorthy New Testament (TNIV)-- This small leather-bound Bible has every other page blank for note-taking, a lot like my beloved Moleskine notebooks.
My latest Bible is the reason for this post. It is a newer Bible (only NT so far) that I was really skeptical about, but it has recently won me over.

The Voice

This is a new project that tries to recapture the feel of the original texts with the accuracy of translation. This translation is called a Dynamic Translation, which means it is short of a paraphrase, but still not as accurate and academic as some of the best translations. However, it is easy to read, and it's language is beautiful. They partnered good writers (Leonard Sweet, Donald Miller, Sara Groves, Matt Wertz, Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, and more) With renowned Biblical scholars. This means that the commentary notes are insightful, and the language is poetic where it should be poetry, conversation where it should be dialog, and well-written narrative where narratives are being told.

The People picked to work on this Bible come from all across the spectrum in their beliefs. The Voice truly feels balanced (and by the credits I would say that each "side" has had just as much input). It is Holistic. It does a fantastic job of trying to capture the holistic understanding of spirituality, as well as the holistic meanings usually lost to our 21st century readings of loaded words.

For instance, Acts 2: 42-47 does not use the word saved/salvation. I know that that right there will turn many hard-core evangelicals off, but it is a more contextually honest translation and feeling of the text. It replaces the phrase, "...those being saved." to, "everyone who was experiencing liberation." That doesn't mean that the word "saved" is not a correct way to translate there, but Paul is speaking about something far bigger (the work and teachings of Jesus) than the connotation of the word "saved" usually means for us today. Paul is speaking about more than just eternal security, but those being liberated into a new life. I truly like the choices of wording in The Voice for the most part.

I had already done my research of context and translation for our Bible Study last week (which included this passage in Acts), and then went and read the passages in The Voice. Along with the commentary, I truly was struck with how readable, discussable, and insightful this translation is. This is one of the most accessible Bibles I have ever read, and will be a constant resource for my personal study, as well as teaching/leading/discussing Bible Study.

The Voice features:
Screenplay-like format, ideal for public readings and group studies
Insightful commentary within the passages (not a "Study Bible" or
truly a "Devotional Bible")
Book introductions that are concise, but spot on and very informative in
contextualizing the book

I encourage people to check this out. To grab it, and let it grab you! Again, it shouldn't replace a good academic translation, but it can be a great constant companion, and truly a Bible that is hard to put down! My hope is that they continue on with an OT, and it can't get here soon enough!

Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

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