How do you get the Bible across to the growing number of people who’ve never picked up a Bible in their lives? How do you get people not simply to read the Word of God, but to hear his voice?
The Voice is a response to that need: the need to get the word of God to people who’ve never heard of the initials KJV, NIV, ESV and wouldn’t care about them if they did. These are people who need not so much to read the printed words of the Bible, as to hear the spoken word of God. And that’s a need for the converted as well as the not yet. If this is your need too, The Voice might be the Bible you’ve been waiting for.
The Voice is what Bible scholars call a ‘dynamic equivalence translation’ and what the rest of us call a paraphrase, though some use much less complimentary words. Basically, the translators and editors have produced a Bible that gives the modern sense of the original words rather than each word’s literal accuracy. You could say they’ve made a Bible that reaches the 21st century’s heart rather than its brain. Whatever you think of their method, what you end up with is a Bible that reads easily and flows like a story using words, ideas and forms of speech that ordinary people use today.
You do have to trust the good intentions of those involved – for any Bible translation – or set your mind to learning ancient Greek and Hebrew. Translations identified simply by their initials are the product of noted Bible scholars labouring under close scrutiny and to a tight working brief. A criticism of works like The Message and The Word On The Street is that they’re largely the product on one mind working to its own individual inspiration. The Voice is a bit of both. Yes, it is the inspiration of relatively few minds, but it’s also the product of more than 26 translators, and a further 52 creative communicators including pastors, teachers, poets, singers and even counsellors.
It’s the inclusion of this larger group that gives The Voice its character and its out-on-the-street relevance. The text is lively and compelling. Its narratives and poetry invite the reader and listener body, mind and soul, into the story of God. If you’re working with people who’ve never picked up a Bible in their lives, and haven’t a clue what KJV, NIV, ESV mean, then this might be the breakthrough Bible your small group - or even whole church, has been waiting for. And because it’s designed to give voice to your evangelism, it reads aloud easily too - whether by one person, a group, or in the read-around style of a screenplay rehearsal.
More conventional devotees won’t like the casual style, and it is a bit ‘transatlantic’ in its tone. But then so is much of what we watch, hear and read anyway. In a sense that just makes The Voice even more relevant. For me, it doesn’t go far enough in adopting ordinary, modern speech, but then it won’t date so quickly either. Compared to The Message and certainly The Street Bible, it is relatively ‘safe’. But for those picking up Bible for the first time, it is what hearing the voice of God is supposed to be: simply dangerous. – Les Ellison
October 12th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison