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The Voice New Testament from Ecclesia Bible Society

February 3, 2010

This is perhaps the most awkward book review I have done, to date. Perhaps that is fitting since The Voice New Testament is perhaps the most awkward Bible I have read, to date. I will admit that sounded more negative than I intended. Don’t stop now; I’ll explain.

This Bible is a project of the Ecclesia Bible Society. It is led by Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas. Ecclesia Church is very arts oriented and that is reflected in this Bible.

This is an all-new version of the New Testament. Is it a translation? Is it a paraphrase? Neither? Both? (Can you tell I am equivocating a little?) If there has ever been a hybrid of a translation and paraphrase, this is it. What does that mean? I’m glad you asked. It is a translation of the biblical text. There was a team of scholars with real Ph.D.’s and everything. There is also a lot of added explanatory material. And unlike a study bible where the added material is footnoted or referenced at the bottom or side of the page, this material is interwoven into the text. The added explanatory material is in italics, which makes it easy to distinguish from the translated text. This has the benefit of making your reading less disjointed by stopping and going to the bottom of the page repeatedly. The danger is that man’s words could be seen as equal with God’s. There are also a huge number of sidebar notes to further explain or clarify the text. These sidebar notes were not written by the scholars but by a group of Christian artists, authors, singers, and songwriters. This is the arts community that Ecclesia supports.

Is it a good New Testament? Do I like it? Overall, I would have to say yes. And this surprised me. Some of the writers/artists are definitely part of the “emerging church” camp, which is another discussion, entirely. This Bible is definitely not appropriate for real study or to teach from. I do think it would be a great Bible to read for private devotions. The notes are well written and easy to read. This is one of the most understandable Bibles I have read in a while. With certain reservations, I would recommend The Voice New Testament.

More information about The Voice New Testament can be found at Thomas Nelson’s product page. I am a member of BookSneeze.

Have you read The Voice New Testament? What do you think about it? Is there a need for this Bible version? Is it helpful, or does it only dilute the Scripture?

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8 Comments
  1. I can see why you volleyed back & forth in your description. It does seem like a cool concept to have the commentary interwoven into the words you read…but at the same time, that could be a problem as well. I think I’d like it, though. Interesting sounding!

  2. wjcollier3 permalink

    overall, i really like it…for devotional use. one other thing that i find a little hard for me to read about it is that they don’t use the term “christ” or “messiah”. they have chosen to translate it as it would be understood in a first century context as “liberator king”. it is still accurate, it is just a phrase i am not used to using. i still give the bible high marks…for devotional use!

  3. jaime guillermo permalink

    i have read a book the last witness,an accont of Jesus last day on earth,and they quote some verses from the voice,i think its ok the translation,it brings fresh eyes to the reader and its great,but of course we have to compare it with the kjv,asv,niv and other translation just to be sure,yes its like both translation and devotional

  4. Barclay Newman permalink

    I have many issues with this NT, but I will illustrate only one that involves gender insensitivity: It is written,“Man does not live by bread alone. Rather, he lives on every word that comes from the
    mouth of the Eternal One.” (Mt 4.4)

    Moreover, I’ve never heard any Hollywood Voice refer to a “male child” (Gen 4.1), especially since the hearing of an oral text cannot distinguish between “male” and “mail.”

    Overall, I would qualify this text as more of a “Belch” than a “Voice.”

    Barclay Newman

    • Thanks for taking the time to read the review and leave a comment.

      I am not sure I understand your example regarding “gender insensitivity”. Do you not like that it says “Man” instead of something more inclusive–“People”, “No one lives by”, etc.–or that it refers to God using the phrase “Eternal One”? I am also not sure where “Hollywood Voice” comes in. It is not an oral text or an audio recording, but rather a printed text like most any other Bible.

      Please don’t misunderstand. I am not giving The Voice an unreserved endorsement. That being said, I do believe it deserves a place alongside most modern Bible translations.

      Thanks again for leaving a comment. Please feel free to do so anytime!

  5. Toby permalink

    I don’t believe most any one going through the effort of having the bible paraphrased or translated. does so to purposely mislead people. And yet every one has an ax to grind. Fundamentally, there is nothing wrong with that. Why would King James, for example ask for an English translation when there was one in existence already? Why in such a hurry and why three? It is for this reason, as a lay person, I don’t like to put any format on an pedestal but read as many versions as possible. Strangely enough the text I always open to in any translation or paraphrase is Ps 121: 1+2 and to my surprise The Voice has really let me down. In fact very few translations have gotten these verses correct. The Voice translated it overtly opposite to what its intend was. The Psalmist often uses the method of writing by way of point and counter point. ” It is hot not but cold, high not low etc. In this passage he is asking ” Do I lift up my eyes to the hills? Is that where my help comes from? He then answers his own question as counter point by saying ” No, I look to the Lord God on high who created heaven and earth. The Voice makes it sound like the help comes from the mountain groves that the pagans looked to for help. The word “whence” in the KJV is actually a question, not a statement. To bad they missed that one, like so many other versions or languages. I like the format otherwise. It is one more tool to enrich our lives

    • Toby,
      Thanks for commenting on this review. I think your point is valid. I also think Psalm 121 is a fair test. That being said, EVERY translation fouls something up. I would not forsake a translation over that. I think The Voice definitely has a place at the table. Also, please bear in mind that when I reviewed my copy, only the New Testament was out. I would like to pick up a copy of the completed translation. Please comment anytime.
      John

  6. Margaret M. Kranich permalink

    I am not a Biblical scholar, but have taught Sunday School and am now leading a Christian Studies Group in a retirement community. In all the years I have read parts of the Bible and attempted to study them, I have never read the entire Bible, in former translations, from cover to cover. One day I came across The Voice – New Testament, and for the first time read the entire New Testament. I then asked for, and received, the entire Bible, in the form of “The Voice”, and have since read it all the way through for the first time. I am now close to reading the entire Bible, as translated in The Voice, for the second time. At last I have found a translation that I can find easy to read in modern day ways of saying things, and that is easy to understand! It has expanded my understanding of so many parts of the Bible that I once found obtuse and therefore discouraged me from reading it through.
    Of course, I found a few little phrases, in modern speaking, a bit odd to be a part of the Bible, such as “Are you kidding?” or “OK”, but they have not been an obstruction to my reading. In fact, probably some similar phrases in Aramaic or Greek may have turned up in earlier manuscripts, and we were just not used to reading the modern translation that may have been omitted by former scholars who possibly thought them too glib to put into a Bible translation.
    I especially like the explanations that I find throughout this Bible, and the footnotes are often very helpful in reminding me of the expressions that are in former translations.
    I plan to give this translation, The Voice, to each of my adult children for Christmas, and perhaps, they, too, will succeed in reading the Bible from cover to cover.

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