Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Voice NT, a Review

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but oftentimes, the bible can come across as stuffy.  Especially if you're reading an older translation.  Conversely, there are many translations that are paraphrases, and while these are beneficial at times, they are also problematic, too.  The Voice is unique in that it's a translation, not a paraphrase, and yet it reads similarly to a paraphrase.  Or, as the publishers would put it:
While care has been taken to accurately translate the individual words from the original texts, careful attention to how the idioms of the original languages are understood in English has also been taken. But it doesn't stop there; The Voice considers the narrative links that help us to understand the drama and passion of story that is present in the original languages. The tone of the writing, the format of the page, and the directness of the dialog allows the tradition of passing down the biblical narrative to come through in The Voice.
I took a liking to The Voice when I was reading Chris Seay's Gospel According to Jesus.  In that book, all of the quoted Scripture came from The Voice.  I'd never heard of the translation before, but I loved the way it sounded.  Now, as it turns out, Chris Seay is among the many contributors to the translation.  In short, the allure of The Voice is that it's a translation made from a diverse group of translators, as opposed to wizened scholars who spend all their time in academia.  In addition to scholars, translators include poets, musicians, story tellers, and other forms of art.  These individuals all seek to maintain the original feeling of the Word, and in my opinion, The Voice reflects this passion.

One interesting formatting choice particularly caught my eye with The Voice.  Whenever anyone speaks, the columns break like a script.  We're given something like "Peter: ......"  This works very well when you have a group people going around, back and forth.  Typically, from my experience, most translations don't necessarily follow the "One Speaker Per Paragraph" rule.

Another interesting gem with this bible is that there are numerous study notes interspersed throughout the text.  Some may be personal challenges, applications for life, or maybe just a clarification about something cultural that we may no understand.  Whatever the case, these supplemental notes make The Voice even more practical for reading.

Similarly, there are also many supplemental words added to the main text as well.  These words are indicated with italics and are added to help the Reader understand the events even better.  On one hand, most of these italics could be treated as parentheticals and skipping them would not generally affect understanding.  On the other hand, these italics are an integral part of what gives The Voice its identity.  Some traditionalists/purists may scoff at these additions, claiming that the translators are adding to the Word.  I don't think this is the case, but the possibility does exist.

Another thing I really liked was the word choice translators used for certain words.  One example is logos.  Typically, we read John 1 as "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  While those behind The Voice appreciate this, they also feel like translating logos into Word doesn't quite grasp the full mmmph behind it.  Many in our culture are desensitized, and something was chosen more active than Word.  So we've got Voice.  Christos is another great example, especially when you consider that so many people think Jesus' last name was Christ.    

Currently, only the New Testament is available in this translation.  It's a cheap paperback you can pick up at your local bookstore if you're interested, or you could also order online.  Furthermore, if you're interested in sampling The Voice (and I think you should at least sample it), you can download a free chapter from the website (here).  The entire bible will be available next Spring, and hopefully I'll be able to get my hands on a review copy.  In the end, The Voice has not supplanted my beloved ESV, but it's definitely taken a spot within easy reach.  It was designed to be read aloud, and this is obvious and useful for when Keisha and I do any reading.  

FTC Thingy:  This book was provided for free by Thomas Nelson Publishers via Booksneeze in exchange for my honest-to-goodness review.  No moneys were traded.  No stocks.  No socks.  No rocks.  No gym memberships.  And despite my constant pleas for accompanying cookies--oatmeal with raisins sounds good right about now--I've yet to receive any.  One of these days...


ibeeeg said...

This sounds interesting. I just downloaded a sample - the book of John. I am an avid liker of NIV but can see uses for other translations. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

logankstewart said...

Oddly enough, I've never owned an NIV. That's my wife's primary translation, though she really likes The Voice quite a bit, too. (She also likes the NLT.) I hope you enjoy John!