As I've told my regular readers several times over the years, I collect different translations of the Bible -- not because they are rare and pricey but because I love to compare and contrast the way various translation teams render the original Hebrew and Greek (and a bit of Aramaic) into English. When I speak of Greek in the Bible I'm naturally referring to the New Testament, not the Hebrew Scriptures. (You see a small cross-section of my Bibles in the photo here today.)
So recently I've been exploring a brand new translation of the New Testament -- The Voice Bible. I first mentioned it in this weekend post but today I want to dig a big deeper. (And to note that what caused the sloppy media coverage of this project was that some journalists decided that because the translation team chose to use "anointed one" or another term as the English translation for the Greek that usually gets translated as "Christ," this was a Jesus-less Bible. That's just goofy.)
The website for the Voice project describes the wording of the text as "a dynamic equivalent translation." That means it is not a literal word for word translation. Rather, it seeks to capture the original writers' passions, inflections, context and tones. And this new translation seeks to make the Bible read more like a story.
Whenever I try to get a sense of a new translation of the New Testament, I first go to the opening chapter of the Gospel of John because of its soaring, metaphorical poetry in which the Christ is described as the "logos," or word, of God.
Here is what the Voice Bible does with that beginning:
Before time itself was measured, the
Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
2 This celestial Word remained ever present
with the Creator;
3 His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in
4 His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—
5 A light that thrives in the depths of
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.
I find that fresh and engaging. And when I looked at who the translators and contributing writers were I was, thus, not shocked to find listed there some of the most creative Christian leaders of the Emergent Church Movement -- Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle and Kansas City's own Tim Keel -- among them.
When I asked Tim what he especially liked about the new translation, he said: "I had the opportunity to work on the book of Nehemiah and the book of Ruth, both of which are favorites. I especially like the sense I get when I read it that I am in an unfolding drama. Part of that is due to the format and the way it is laid out like a screenplay. But the language work that was done to translate words and ideas taken for granted into something more fresh and closer to the text (e.g., 'Christ' as 'Liberating King') is a big part of that, too."
Another thing I like about The Voice Bible is its text notes found boxed right in the midst of the text. For instance, in the Matthew 2 story of the magi coming to find the infant Jesus and bearing gifts for him, this note appears:
These are exceptionally good gifts,
for gold is what is given a king, and
Jesus is the King of kings; incense
is what you expect to be given a
priest, and Jesus is the High Priest
of all high priests; myrrh ointment
is used to heal, and Jesus is a
healer. But myrrh is also used to
embalm corpses—and Jesus was
born to die.
So -- especially if you are Christian -- explore this new translation. From the website I was able to download a free copy of it and save it as a pdf file.
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WAR ON RELIGION UPDATE
I mentioned here yesterday that if you want to find a real war on religion, you can look at many countries outside the U.S. And here, sadly, is another new example -- attacks on Christian churches in Nigeria.
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P.S.: Kansas City's Brian Ellison, pastor of Parkville Presbyterian Church and occasional host of "Up to Date" on KCUR radio, will become executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians in August. The Covenant Network's special focus is furthering the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the Presbyterian Church (USA). It's good and important work and the network is blessed to be getting Brian as its leader.
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ANOTHER P.S: My latest Presbyterian Outlook column now is online. To read it click here.