Book Review: The Voice Bible
By: Ecclesia Bible Society and Thomas Nelson
My first encounter with The Voice Bible was reviewing an early New Testament version a couple years ago. At that time, I had some reservations about the translation, which had to do mostly with interpretational liberties. I still have those reservations with the most recent release of the completed version, which contains both Old and New Testaments (sans Apocrypha).
Reservations aside, I think this translation version has much to offer and much to be commended. It is a fresh rendering, and I think with careful reading, can provide an eye-opening and heart-moving encounter with the God who is revealed through the retelling of this Story.
I think after spending time with both versions (the 2010 New Testament and the most recent 2012 release) my opinion remains the same with regard to the elements that I do not care for. I stand by these comments I wrote previously.
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 Bible, 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 even more than the present version.
Some things have been added that I think are very commendable; these are the works included in the appendices. I love the instruction on “Four Ways to Step into the story of Scripture” that includes teaching the way of Lectio Divina, stepping into the Liturgical Calendar for reading and meditation, and a 40-day retreat centered around a Scripture reading plan. There is also a 3-year reading plan, which provides guidance into the discipline of daily reading of Scripture and topical guides to both notes and Scriptures.
I am appreciative of the work that has gone into this translation and excited about using it in concert with my other translations and study Bibles. I think it is a worthy companion Bible for anyone seeking to grow in their knowledge and integration of God’s Story.