>The Voice: A New Translation of the Bible

Thomas Nelson, a Nashville-based Christian publishing house, is announcing the release of a new translation of the Bible called The Voice. The complete New Testament will be released next week and the complete Old Testament will be released by fall 2010.

Here is how David Capes, one of the editors of The Voice, describes the intent of this new Bible in an article published in HoustonBelief.com:

“What we’re looking for is almost like the King James version,” he says. “We’re looking for a more literary rendering that will stand the test of time. Our take is, if it’s written beautifully and calls you into the narrative, that when you finish a chapter you really want to read the next chapter to see what’s going to happen, then more people in their 20s and 30s will end up reading the Bible.”

The article continues describing the intent of The Voice:

To ease the reading experience The Voice‘s translators have introduced several elements. They set up dialogue in screenplay format, with the speaker’s name, then his spoken words without quotation marks. That eliminates the “Jesus saids” and “Peter saids.”

Sprinkled liberally throughout are boxed notes that elucidate in non-academic language what a “pharisee” is, for example, or why Jesus sought to recruit disciples. “It helps fill in the blanks for … people who’ve never been to the text before,” Capes says.

Here and there the translators add words and phrases not in the original to clarify something. The introduced language is italicized so readers can recognize it for what it is.

The article then describes how The Voice came into being:

The Voice‘s New Testament project brought together 11 Bible scholars and more than a dozen writers. Contributors communicated sometimes in person, often via e-mail or videoconference. The writers include Brian McLaren and Lauren Winner, best known for their popular books on religion and spirituality, as well as Greg Garrett, who has written secular fiction. Capes and Seay are also contributing writers.

Surprisingly, the writers rather than the scholars were tasked with producing the first draft. “We asked the writers to get started, to work from the original if they could, or if they couldn’t, to work from translations, and to provide their own version,” Capes says.

Then a scholar, working from the Greek or Hebrew, adjusted the translation to capture the nuances of the original. The draft went back and forth several more times between scholars and writers and reviewers. Typically more than 14 people looked at a book before it was pronounced ready for print.

What is interesting about this new translation is that “writers rather than the scholars were tasked with producing the first draft.” Then, scholars, “working from the Greek or Hebrew, adjusted the translation to capture the nuances of the original.”

This process of translation says a lot about The Voice. However, one has to wait until the release of this new translation to pass judgment on its merits.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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