Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Voice

I recently received a complimentary copy of The Voice: New Testament from Thomas Nelson publishers. The project founder is Chris Seay, an active figure in the emerging church movement. Nelson's 2006 press release stated that this project would eventually cover the entire Bible. Currently, only the New Testament has been released. It is laid out in two column format with paragraphs split somewhat like a script. Speakers’ names mark the beginning of the paragraphs.

Immediately upon reading the book of John, I had many complaints. I will list just a few here.

This version adds and changes words to support the "voice" theme (“Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God” John 1:1). It isn’t clear if the theme or the translation came first. Reading more than a few chapters quickly leads one to the conclusion that the themes were in mind before the “translating” began. Translating logos as “voice” is certainly unique. I question whether it is accurate or helpful in any way.

It appears that some syncretistic theology is peeking through this version as well. Eastern mythical concepts such as the concept "inner calling" are inserted into the text. An example is found in 1 John 1:11-12 where it reads “Though the Voice utters only truth, His own people, who have heard the voice before, rebuff this inner calling and refuse to listen. But those who hear and trust the beckoning of the Divine Voice and embrace Him, they shall be reborn as Children of God; He bestows this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God's will. Because we are born of this world, we can only be reborn to God by accepting His call.

Theological changes are made to the text such as inserting "by accepting his call" in 1 John 1:13. It might be appropriate to add such things as marginal notes. But inserting them directly into the text shows a desire to change the text according to a theological bias. The more of this that occurs in a translation the worse the translation becomes. Interpretation belongs with the reader, the teacher and the preacher.

Words in italics supposedly contain information "that would have been obvious to the those originally addressed" by the Scripture and are intended "to help the reader better understand the text.” Reading only a few verses leads me to suggest that italics show areas where the “translators” want to change or at least re-interpret the meaning of the text.

Rather than titling this “The Voice: New Testament,” it should be title “The Voice: Emergent Church Theological Document.” This is not a careful translation of the New Testament, nor is it an honest attempt to render the scriptures in the language of our day. It contains too much theological bias, syncretistic inclusions and strange renderings for it to be of any practical use. It made an interesting addition to my collection of Bible versions, but I would not recommend this to anyone for any other purpose.

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