Book Review: the Voice

voice translationI received a copy of the Voice New Testament from Thomas Nelson for review. I’m not sure if I like it or not. My first impressions are a mixed bag; there are definitely some things that I like, but there are also things that I do not like. Let me explain my reasons…

It goes without saying this is a personal review and my opinion only; however, I’m a bit of a translation junkie when it comes to Bibles and the Greatest Story Ever Told. I love reading different translations and versions…always excited to read a “fresh” retelling of the Story. I’m always a little bit leery when the story seems “too fresh.” While I haven’t gone cover-to-cover in the Voice New Testament, it seems there are some portions that are, in my opinion, too fresh. By this I mean, there might be some biased interpretation, or so it seems by the way the reader is led through interpretive “call out” boxes and italicized statements placed in the text for inference. This isn’t necessarily wrong or bad, but I don’t particularly care for it (personally). I find that it can be misleading when trying to accurately understand the text; not always, but sometimes. In fairness to the Voice, I feel the same way about most study Bibles. Also, with respect to the translation team, they do qualify the nature of the italicized statements and the call-out boxes and instruct the reader these elements are not in the original texts.

I appreciate the “spirit” behind the translation. I also respect the teams that have put in work to make the translation. I enjoy the flow and screenplay format of the reading; I found it to be very fluid and easy to follow…definitely as though I were reading a story rather than a verse by verse recounting. There were no repetitious stumbling through the verses, chapters, and books; this made the reading easy and pleasant too. I do think a chronological approach to this work might be something I’d enjoy more than the present version.

I want to spend more time with the Voice, but my recommendations for now are as follows: I recommend it with a few caveats. I don’t think it should be a primary study Bible; I don’t care for the liberties taken that I observe when I place the Voice alongside versions like the ESV, NSRV, and even NIV, and NLT. I think it would serve very well as a devotional-supplemental reader (once again, the authors and publishers call this a “personal devotional Bible”) as it is titled in point-of-sale material. I’m up in the air as to whether I’d recommend it for curious seekers or not. I’d probably be more inclined to determine that on a case by case basis. I think if it did not have the call-outs and italicized inferences I might be more open to those recommendations…especially when I consider other dynamic translations and paraphrased Bibles that would serve this same purpose without leading interpretation.

All in all, I plan to spend more time with it, do additional side-by-side comparisons with other Bible translations and checking some of the “call-outs” and italicized inferences with my study Bibles and commentaries. I will update my review at a later date when I have had the opportunity to be more thorough. In the interim, try it, you may enjoy it. Mine is just one opinion, and even with my points of contention, there are many things that I still like.

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