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“The Voice” — Another Mangled Bible Translation

April 19th, 2012
Marketing Advertising Blog — VuManhThang.Com

New Bible translation called ‘The Voice’ focuses on dialogue
ENI-12-0223
By Bob Smietana — ENInews/RNS
Nashville, Tennessee, 18 April (ENInews)–The name Jesus Christ doesn’t appear in “The Voice,” a new translation of the Bible. Nor do words such as angel or apostle. Instead, angel is rendered as “messenger” and apostle as “emissary.” Jesus Christ is “Jesus the Anointed One” or the “liberating king.”
That’s a more accurate translation for modern readers, said David Capes, lead scholar for “The Voice,” a complete edition released this month by publishing company Thomas Nelson, reports Religion News Service via USA Today. Capes says that many people, even those who’ve gone to church for years, don’t realize that the word “Christ” is a title.
“They think that Jesus is his first name and Christ is his last name,” said Capes, who teaches the New Testament at Houston Baptist University in Texas.
Seven years in the making, “The Voice” is the latest entry into the crowded field of English Bible translations. Unlike the updated New International Version or the Common English Bible — both released last year — much of “The Voice” is formatted like a screenplay or novel. Translators cut out the “he said” and “they said” and focused on dialogue.
So in Matthew 15, when Jesus walks on the water, scaring his followers, their reaction is immediate:
    Disciple: “It’s a ghost!”
    Another Disciple: “A ghost? What will we do?”
    Jesus: “Be still. It is I; you have nothing to fear.”
“I hope we get people to see the Bible not as an ancient text that’s worn out but as a story that they participate in and find their lives in,” Capes said.
The title for “The Voice” came from the New Testament Gospel of John and from the Greek word logos. It’s usually translated as “word” in verses such as John 1:1, which reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” in the New International Version, one of the most popular English translations.
In “The Voice,” that passage reads: “Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God.” Frank Couch, the executive editor and publisher of “The Voice,” said that translation better captures what logos means.
Mike Norris of Franklin Road Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, disagrees. His congregation follows the belief that the King James Bible is the most accurate translation in English. Other translations, he says, don’t stick to a word-for-word translation.
“They say the other translations are easier to read and more accurate,” he said. “We disagree.”
(Smietana also reports for The Tennessean in Nashville. Heidi Hall of The Tennessean also contributed to this story.)
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  1. Anonymous
    April 19th, 2012 at 11:05 | #1

    While I may not agree with this translation, or even the necessity for it, I feel blessed that we have many options available. When I hear people debate about translations, I like to remember that in Jesus’ time, there likely were only a few copies of scripture anywhere in the world. In Luther’s time, there likely were only a few bibles in each city. In today’s world, I have a several copies in my house, multiple bible apps on my phone, and audio versions for the car. I can go to nearly any bookstore, or online, and purchase a bible inexpensively. I’m amazed at the wealth of information in a book like TLSB, and the time and effort it goes to produce it, but how relatively inexpensive it is. I’m very thankful for this.

    • April 19th, 2012 at 11:16 | #2

      While I can understand what you are saying and know you are saying this sincerely, I believe that precisely because we do now have translations, we need to be extremely careful not to use “translations” that truly do mangle and distort God’s Word, as does “The Voice.”

      By the way, next time you comment on my blog, please sign and use your real name. Thanks.

  2. Jesse
    April 19th, 2012 at 13:11 | #3

    As the one caller on Issues Etc. earlier this week pointed out: It’s pretty telling that this paraphrase is called the Voice and not the Word.

  3. Patrick
    April 19th, 2012 at 14:38 | #4

    I bought “The Voice” NT for a class I had at a Christian (non-Lutheran) college. I recently went through my books during my move and looked through it. It was so bad in translation, I decided to throw it away instead of try and resell it to someone.

  4. Karen Keil
    April 19th, 2012 at 14:39 | #5

    This post reminds me of the book, The Vanishing Word: The Veneration of Visual Imagery in the Postmodern World (Focal Point) [Paperback], by Arthur W. Hunt III, which documents the replacing of the written word in favor of the image, both visual and audio. “The Voice” being used instead of the “The Word” is rather telling.

    The Amazon book description says in part: “This book examines trends in today’s culture and churches that lead away from a word-centered world and into an image-soaked world ripe for propaganda and a demagogue.”

    Understanding the written word is hard work; getting information via image in visual and audio form is easier and more persuasive is my observation.

    I prefer the written word and depend on it more, partly due to hearing loss, partly due to have something solid and firm to look at and analyze. It bugs me about the trendency to put important information in audio form which makes it much harder for me. I know I’m speaking from my personal perspective, but even so, I see many hearing people not wanting to read anything I bring to their attention but want an audio summary from me.

    I have the NT version of The Voice so know what that is about and how it deals with Bible passages, and have no interest in the complete edition. Time would be better spent in the solid and accurate translations like the NKJV, ESV, NASB, and others like them.

  5. Cassandra Hale
    April 19th, 2012 at 15:27 | #6

    @Anonymous
    It is no longer a privelege when it it abused. We have become a laughingstock to the Atheist community, and I have friends/family who are atheists. The question I hear most often is, “Why do you Christians need so many Bible versions?” Think about it, and it is rather ridiculous. And, remember, Thomas Nelson already publishes the New Century Version, which is a very simplified version, so where is the need?? Why aren’t we taking all the money used to create these new versions and pouring them into translation work for countries still starving for God’s Word?? It is a profit-driven “market”. I am not a KJV onlyist, but the plethora of versions in the past 50 years, since the KJV was abandoned by many for its common use in the church at large, is just sad and quite disgusting. I was an English major in college. The English language has NOT changed that much. If my children can hear the word “man” and know instantly it means both men and women, then there’s a problem. I think we’ve relied upon translators to do what we are capable of doing–reading/figuring out the text/definitions/etc. We are a lazy generation. I realize there are those who struggle with reading as well, but even then that person can have understanding of the passages they are reading by the power of the Holy Spirit and by Pastor’s doing their job as well–expositing. I hope that the ESV offers this for many. The continuity has been lost for so long, and just when you think it has been recaptured with the NIV, that changes as well. I just grow weary of explaining why we Christians seem to be so ignorant that we constantly need more and more simplified texts to help us grow in our faith. Again, it’s trend and market driven. Sad.

  6. Rev. Allen Bergstrazer
    April 19th, 2012 at 21:13 | #7

    The substitution of ‘voice’ for ‘Word’ indicates either a failure on the part of renderers of this dynamic equivalent to understand the theological significance of the Greek word ‘logos’ or it indicates that they do not care. Either way that makes this a version that should be avoided.

  7. Nils
    May 6th, 2012 at 18:41 | #8

    When I saw this, I had to double-check the meaning of λογός, and after staring long and hard at the definition of the word (check it here at Perseus’ online LSJ: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=logos&la=greek#lexicon), I can’t see it being used in any context like what this new translation purports. I fear that this will just continue the trend of dumbing-down the Bible to the point that it will say whatever its translators want it to say (which is a scary thought). We don’t need the Bible dumbed down for us–those words are there for a reason in the Greek and Hebrew; removing English equivalents or over-simplifying the text takes something away from it that was meant to be there. Same problem with the new 2011 NIV; I use 1984 personally, and I don’t find it to be too bad of a translation (though I also like ESV), but the 2011 dumbs down and sanitizes the text too much. Are there mistakes in a lot of translations (like the King James)? Sure, and thus all the more incentive to make an attempt to be true to the text. Better to err on the side of verisimilitude than to make misleading translations.

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