When I was first asked to review The Voice, I answered in the affirmative. I thought it sounded familiar and when I asked about what it was (figuring I may know just what was coming) I was informed that indeed, it was the project Chris Seay, Lead Pastor of Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas and a group of Scholars and others who love the Lord were working on. A little over a year ago I had stumbled upon his Twitter account, liked what I saw, started to follow him, checked out his church web site and had read about the Ecclesia Bible Society and the translation that was in the works. The vision Pastor Chris had for The Voice goes back twenty years to early attempts in teaching the bible.
A few days later the book arrived and I dove right in. As I was encouraged to do after I came to knowledge of Jesus Christ as my savior in May of 1988, I opened to the fourth book of the New Testament, John and began my journey and walk with God through His word. Before I get to what I found in the Voice's rendering of the in the book of John, I will start at the beginning of how this “new translation” came about and the thoughts from some of who were involved.
I found that the contributors all put much time in as they labored, studied, fasted and prayed for God's leading in this venture. Chris Seay says “we have not taken the the task lightly, and throughout the process we have been changed.” I don't know about you, but when I pray before I read the scriptures I ask God to reveal, open my eyes and change me.... and by reviews end, I too was changed.
This next quote I like very much... “The Voice bible is a different sort of translation. It combines the relative strengths of scholars who are experts in the original languages (in the case of the New Testament Greek) and modern writers, musicians and poets who are skilled in their use of the English, our target language. Our idea was to set up a collaborative process whereby scholars and writers could work together to create a translation that was faithful and accurate to the original languages while at the same time beautiful and readable to our English-speaking audience.”
Chris also says that as you read “The Voice” you may feel as if you are being pursued or followed … stating that this pursuit is a distinguishing characteristic of of the Christian faith. He goes on to say that “God continues to speak to us through His Spirit and his scriptures” and invites us to “The Voice with an open heart. You will hear God as He whispers of His love to you.”
My intent of this first segment of the review is to outline my goals, pose some questions, give out information you may not be aware of regarding how the Bible came into being and the basic thought process on how I would go about such a (in my view) undertaking as performing a review of the New Testament.
Not sure of what to expect, I forged ahead with an open mind hoping I would be greatly surprised and motivated to read, read, read. The first thought that came to mind was “what will this be like?” In my years as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ I've read the NKJV, KJV, NIV, ASB, NASB, NLT and most recently been really into the New English Version. Other questions that cropped up in my mind where:
Would this translation stay true to the deity of Jesus Christ?
Would stories ie: Jesus saying He would “raise the temple in 3 days” or Peter hacking a man's ear off remain tha same?
Would the theme of He created, He spoke, He foretold, He came, He died, He rose, He lives, He redeemed, He saves, He is worthy, He alone is God, He loves us all etc. remains true throughout?
What I have found is that “The Voice” is, through and through a... hold on a minute! You thought I was going to layout my findings in one fell swoop. I can't give it up just yet. Let's continue on with some thoughts and points of the process I took.
One goal is to delve into every chapter and within each chapter the more popular sections and key teachings/commandments to see how well (based on what we find in KJV, NIV and other well used translations.) what I read in The Voice is similar, not too close or right on the money compared to what I have been reading and hearing for the last twenty four years. I am not a scholar, nor have I been to Seminary, however, I will use what I've been taught by the Holy Spirit in the scriptures along with what I've been taught and heard from such Pastors in the vein of Greg Laurie, Billy Graham, E.V. Hill, Chuck Smith, Charles Stanley, Bob Coy, Billy Ingram, Dr. Walter Martin, Adrian Rogers and Chuck Swindoll to name a few.
I will being checking for accuracy of the afore mentioned concerns on specifics and see if the flow, story line and conformity of the of scripture is maintained throughout. Remember, the Bible is the most accurately translated piece of literature every written. 66 books, written (as inspired by the Holy Spirit) by over 40 different authors, on 3 continents over a period of 1500 or 1600 (if memory serves me correct) years all fitting together without discrepancy or error as God gives us the story of Himself, His Son, His Spirit, His plan for our lives and the lives of others across time who loved, followed, despised, denied and wondered about just who this God of Abraham and the Bible is.
The Voice is a hybrid of word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation. Their explanation of just how they went about dealing with the difficulties any team of translators faces when “translating” is a great read in itself and I will leave it up to you, the reader, to go about that on your own.
My findings will be reported in two, maybe three parts, this being part 1 and I hope you enjoy what I have found. Breaking this review into a few segments also helps me (the slow reader I am) to glean (ha, to gather slowly...yes) much from what I read with the desire to comprehend as much as possible in a sitting. Here are verses from the books of Revelation and Romans so you can get a taste of what's in store before I go any further.
Revelation 14:7 - “Fear God. Give Him glory, for the time of judgment has arrived. Worship the One who fashioned heaven and earth and created the seas and the springs.”
Romans 8:1-3 – "Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed One, the Liberating King, 2 because when you live in the Anointed One, Jesus, a new law takes effect. The law of the Spirit of life breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death. 3 God did something the law could never do. You see, human flesh took its toll on God's law. In and of itself, the law is not weak; but the flesh weakens it. So to condemn the sin that was ruling in the flesh, God sent His own Son, bearing the likeness of sinful flesh, as a sin offering."
Well, what was your first impression, your initial thought? I know what mine was! Mine was gladness. From the very first words, I immediately found the flow very smooth and with the use of their “breaking out of story/behind the scenes snippet” sections, I could tell that my comprehension and retention would improve. In the next segment, I will explain how they "break out of story" with behind the scenes (history) snippets.
Well, for this segment, I am going to close by saying that I encourage you, know matter if it's the NIV, NKJV, KJV, NASB or what have you.... stay constant in reading God's word so you stay close to Him. Second, if you are looking for a re-charge, jump-start of just a simple change of pace and want to try a new translation of the Holy Bible.... give The Voice a try. Who knows, with the right search of the internet and a publisher's who's name I won't give out, hint, hint... you may find a FREE – down-loadable copy of The Voice removing any hindrance on your part of not trying The Voice because it will cost you money you're not willing to risk.
Well until next time... I pray you get full on His word and hear The Voice as you do.
For more information on The Voice New Testament or Pastor Chris Seay and Ecclesia Bible Society check out these links: