A perusal of the shelves of any bookstore, whether Christian or secular, will find one inundated with a multitude Bible translations. Amid these many available translations arrives a final edition of The Voice. According to the official website:
The Voice helps people connect with Scripture, so it can impact their lives. It’s ideal for those who are interested in spirituality, and want their spirituality to be real in their lives and relationships. The Voice helps them to encounter “the glory of the Lord” and be “transformed by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). Source
This latest translation, however, makes some interesting omissions from the well-known Biblical text. USA Today reports:
The name Jesus Christ doesn’t appear in The Voice, a new translation of the Bible. Nor do words such as angel or apostle. Instead, angel is rendered as messenger and apostle as emissary. Jesus Christ is Jesus the Anointed One or the liberating king.
That’s a more accurate translation for modern American readers, says David Capes, lead scholar for The Voice, a complete edition released this month by publishing company Thomas Nelson. Capes says that many people, even those who’ve gone to church for years, don’t realize that the word “Christ” is a title.
“They think that Jesus is his first name and Christ is his last name,” says Capes, who teaches the New Testament at Houston Baptist University in Texas.
Reporting on this same story, the Christian Post notes:
Frank Couch, Thomas Nelson’s lead editor on the project, told The Christian Post that the purpose of The Voice was to make the Gospel message easier to understand for modern audiences.
“The Voice has not claimed to be more accurate than any other translation, rather it is more easily understood than any other translation,” said Couch.
The Voice, published by Thomas Nelson, first appeared in 2008 as The Voice New Testament. Upon initial publication, the new translation was not without critics. Chris Rosebrough, Christian apologist and host of the radio show, Fighting for the Faith, expressed his concerns over this translation early on. A primary consideration for Rosebrough was the fact that the creative writing team for The Voice boasts several key leaders in the Emergent Church, including Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Leonard Sweet and Chris Seay.
Rosebrough, then, took The Voice to task not long after it began to appear on store shelves. Writing at the time at Extreme Theology, in the first of two posts, Rosebrough offered a side-by-side comparison of John 1:9–13, and in doing so attempted to demonstrate that,
The Voice claims that it is “based on the earliest and best manuscripts from the original languages.” However, it employs the use of italicized words that the translators admit are not in the original text. They claim that those italicized “words or sentences may contain information that would have been obvious to those originally addressed in the Gospel or letter and are meant to help the reader better understand the text without having to stop and read footnotes.” It is primarily through this device that The Voice smuggles false doctrine and teaching into the Biblical text. Source
The official website of The Voice, however, explains these additions to the text as “amplification[s] of God’s voice:”
By expressing the inspired text in the unique voices of the original biblical authors with all their personality, passion, grit, humor, and beauty, The Voice begins to recapture how the first readers would have encountered the Scripture. This results in an amplification of the voice of God so it is more clearly heard by today’s readers – almost as clearly as when He first revealed His truth. Source
With the full completion of this translation, The Voice is being reintroduced to the public this week. Appearing on CNN Newsroom, David Capes said that the purpose behind the project was to create a Bible that people “not only want to own, but also want to read.” In response to criticism regarding the omission of the word “Christ,” Capes explained that the team “made a strategic decision early in the process not to transliterate anything,” which is why the decision was made to use phrases such as “the Anointed One” rather than simply, “Christ.”
Even the name of this translation finds itself flirting with controversy, as it stems from a unique rendering of the familiar text of John 1:1.
The title for The Voice came from the New Testament book of John and from the Greek word logos. It’s usually translated as “word” in verses such as John 1:1, which reads: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” in the New International Version, one of the most popular English translations.
In The Voice, that passage reads: “Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God.” Frank Couch, the executive editor and publisher of The Voice, says that translation better captures what logos means.
Gene Veith, Provost and Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, disagrees with The Voice’s translation of this term. It also is interesting to note that, up until this time, the major Bible translations have unanimously translated the Greek word logos in John 1:1 as “Word.”
It is always a noble cause to seek to see people read and be transformed by the Word of God. Of course, it may be argued that such a phenomenon, by the work of the Holy Spirit, has been happening for centuries without omissions or “amplifications” to the text such that The Voice seems to employ.