Last Fall I had the pleasure to review a new translation of the bible known as The Voice. At the time, only the New Testament was available. No longer is that so. Thomas Nelson, a well respected publishing house within the Christian community, now offers a full bible in The Voice translation.
In short, The Voice is a dynamic blend of translation and paraphrase, reading like a cross between The Message and the ESV. The translation team was composed of scholars, musicians, poets, and other artists to accentuate the narrative style found within the bible as opposed to the traditional formal style. The Voice is designed to be read aloud, formatted such that it's like reading a script for a play. It really is amazing how the narrative flows by reading aloud.
Translation is something that I take very seriously, be it for a bible or for a classic Russian Dostoevsky novel. It is a daunting task to translate a work, and nothing will ever fully translate 100% true to the author's original intent. One typically must either rely on word-for-word translations, compromising the tone of the work, or rely on a tonal translation and take some liberties with word choice. Here, Thomas Nelson explains that
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.
As I was already familiar with the New Testament, I chose to read from the Old Testament for this review. I chose Deuteronomy, curious to see how things would be handled. In short, I was blown away. When Jesus was being tempted by the Enemy in the desert, one of His responses to Satan was quoting part of Deuteronomy 8:3, a familiar verse to many. Compare the ESV translation to The Voice below and see what you think.
- ...man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Dt 8:3 ESV)
- What makes you truly alive is not the bread you eat but following every word that comes from the mouth of the Eternal One. (Dt 8:3, The Voice)
These essentially say the same thing, yes, but the wording of the second one has much more of an impact to me. Perhaps it's because I'm so familiar with the ESV wording that its meaning has been lost over time, almost becoming cliche if I'm reading casually. However, as The Voice is unlike any other bible I've ever read, this verse really jumped out at me. In fact, the entire book seemed to be full of these little gems. Am I simply reading more critically because this is a new translation? Yes, that's probably somewhat true, but I'm also noticing things that I'd never noticed before, too, picking up on certain phrases and words.
The ESV is still my go to bible, and I suppose it always will be. I love the care that went into that particular translation, and I feel that it is the clearest translation for me to read and study. That said, The Voice is an excellent reference to have and read from simultaneously, and doing this has yielded incredible insight to God's Word. If you're interested in a bible reading experience, look no further than The Voice.
FTC Thingy: I got this fo' free! Holla. All I had to do was write an honest review, which I did. I did not request any cookies this time around, and I did not receive any cookies this time around, either. Go figure.