Have you heard of The Voice Bible? Arguably the most contemporary rendition of the Bible into English in the last hundred years, I think it is safe to say that not since the KJV was first published, and NRSV and NASB translations were put together, has a translation of the Bible made such efforts to be both colloquially understandable while remaining theologically consistent.
That being said, The Story of the Voice is a detailed account of the efforts that went into this amazing Bible translation. It sets out to offer accountability for those who have dared to translate the word of God, and attempts to allay concerns over “liberal” versus “conservative” translations. The book is both a defense and a diary, which is undoubtedly part of its beauty. The authors, all three people who were involved in the translation process, weave the origins of the project, the process and the personality of the individuals involved into a narrative account of a group of people who wanted to take God’s Word and offer it to the world in a beautiful and refreshing way. One of Seay’s earliest comments in this process captures the idea well:
Stories that were told to emerging generations of God’s goodness by their grandparents and tribal leaders were later recorded and assembled to form the Christian scriptures. Too often the passion, grit, humor, and beauty has been lost in the translation process. [The Voice] seeks to recapture what was lost… (p. 9).
One of the things that has drawn me to this project, and is seen clearly in The Story of the Voice is that no one is putting a translation down. The authors don’t belittle the KJV in order to make their point about a particular passage. Instead, they treat these forerunners with respect and then offer solid reasoning as to why they thought it was time for a change. A good picture of this is seen in the section about picking a title. They do a direct comparison of various renditions of John 1:1, and then offer a small NASB concordance to demonstrate the variety of the Greek word logos (which is ultimately where they derived their title from).
The chapter that I appreciated the most was “The Translation Philosophy,” which deals with the claim that the translators had taken “Christ” out of the Bible. This is one of the most common complaints I’ve seen, but I think Capes and Seay offer a solid rationale behind their decision to translate “Christ” into English, rather than treat it as a last name. The book rightly asserts that “no single English word or phrase captures the richness of the term Messiah or Christos,” (p. 58).While it did take me some initial getting used to, reading that Jesus is “the Anointed One” or “the Liberating King” has become second nature. Throughout the book, the authors gladly take criticism, and answer it as best they can.
A humble book, is size and tone, The Story of the Voice is easily one of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long time. It challenged my preconceptions and slayed the idols of tradition I have inadvertently clung to. Not only do I regularly recommend that people give The Voice Bible a try, but now I will be suggesting this one as well. In fact, if you’re a skeptic, start here. The Story of the Voice will sharpen your mind and melt your heart.
Come. Journey with us.