The Voice Bible: Step into the Story of Scripture… or is it “Bible Lite”?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This is touted as a fresh and new translation, combining the literal (word for word) and dynamic (thought for thought) methods of translation. It is an admirable effort. But for anyone who has spent any time at all in the Scriptures, the first readings feel like you’ve had ice water dumped on your face at 4 a.m.

“What IS this? The Bible?” It will be a bit of a shock.

The Voice reads more like a novel. The sentence structure and vocabulary are not in the cadence nor with the vocabulary that one expects to hear in Bible readings. There are no “Thees and Thous” to trip over. The words are contemporary in their language without sounding dated or forced. The text includes a lot of commentary that is embedded in the text. I found it a bit disconcerting and wonder if the reader will remember that not ALL of what is included in this translation is actually from the original languages, but have been inserted into the text.

The translators made an attempt to consider the meaning of the text when using pronouns and non-gendered wordings. Humanity is not always referred to as “man” but specific passages that appear to be to just for men or women are left engendered.

Lest you think they are heretics, 😉 God is still called a “He.” There is no feminine representation of the Divine at all, which should appease the publisher’s conservative base. There is no reason to ignore the theological fact that God is neither male nor female. There is just the common practice that describes God in masculine terms. I found it disquieting. (And if I missed a place where God was referred to as a “She” please feel free to correct me!)

I used my Kindle to read The Voice. The pages scroll fairly well and there were only a few places where there were strange gaps or hyphenations. This appears to be a well-known glitch in the Kindle app, though, not in the efile for this translation. The overall usage on the Kindle works well enough.

Of particular interest was the inclusion of some easy links to daily devotional readings. I tried a few of the Advent ones in December, and then skipped around to sample some in Lent. It is a plus to have these studies easily accessible on an e-reader, as sometimes the navigation around a Kindle version of a book can be clumsy.

After a few weeks of using The Voice, I found that I was ready to go back to a more “literal” translation. I think that this translation was an attempt to make the Scripture more accessible through common syntax and vocabulary. That is commendable. But to me it felt like more of a “screenplay Bible” than a translation of the biblical languages, particularly with all of the “back story” included in the text. For some specific applications, such as a Reader’s Theatre or dramatic readings of the Bible, The Voice has its uses. Whether it will be more than just a fad remains to be seen.

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