Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Book Review: The Voice New Testament

With the promise that one will “step into the story of Scripture,” Thomas Nelson has released a new Bible translation that essentially turns much of the New Testament into a screenplay using a method of translation known as dynamic equivalence. The text also includes some footnoting and a number of interpretative notes provided by either an “artist, musician, editor, writer [or] scholar.” The order of those titles might be indicative of something.

I suppose there is some usefulness to a work like this, but I would never commend it for anything other than supplemental study.  The first problem is dynamic equivalence. There is always something of this in translation work, but any Bible that sets out to link its work closely to modern culture is immediately outdated. By the time the thing goes to press the culture has moved on. The better route is to leave as much of the sticky and hard cultural items in place and cause the inquisitive reader to study. 

Someone will inevitably shoot back that leads to misunderstanding and that is certainly possible. But it is equally possible that the team of translators misunderstands something and by their excessive editing has enshrined error into an English translation. I would rather depend on the Spirit to enlighten the mind of the simple who faithfully read their whole Bible. It has been said before, but I will say it again. The old widow who has read her Bible every day for 75 years has a remarkable sense of what it all means… and a precise radar for error.

Read a Bible that makes you work it out rather than one that gives you all the answers. (Which is why I think your study Bible should always stay closed beside you while you are reading. Reference it when you have exhausted all your own ideas.)

(This book was provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)