Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: The Voice New Testament

As I am not familiar with Greek, Hebrew or serious Bible scholarship, I am not prepared to review translations on a serious level; however, as a Bible lover who is familiar with literature I can comment on the readability, dynamics and style of the text. On a literary level few Bible translations are as immediately dynamic and compelling as The Voice. The blend of poetry, idiom and genre forms creates a truly unique reading experience that outdoes The Message in drama and verve. It is consistently creative, at times over the top and often uncomfortably different from the familiar verses that are part of the foundation of our faith.

For many this will be an oddball translation, the kind you pick up a few times out of interest or reference, but don't read all the way through. For some, this will be the translation they have been waiting for and will toss reservations aside to make this their main reading Bible. However, this translation seems to be best suited for those who are familiar with the Bible and desire to look at it with new eyes. The diction and phrasing of The Voice seems to be intentionally different, intentionally leaning away from direct Greek and Hebrew equivalents in order to favor more colorful language. This results in an uncomfortable unfamiliarity that can be grating, but also can provide a fresh look at Scripture.

The Voice seems to be more conservative when it comes to the epistles, in fact I may favor it above other dynamic equivalence translations for some of the texts I use to evaluate whether or not I will like a translation. The editors take significant liberties with the form of the Gospels changing the form into a screenplay and adding a modern lilt to the dialogue. This makes it seem much more like a paraphrase in places and this makes The Voice feel like it has an inconsistent accuracy. It certainly seems that some portions of the text are stretched and played with far more than others; however significant additions and paraphrasing are identified with italics.

The Voice features in-text study notes which offer explanatory and descriptive comments on the Scripture. I would prefer if these were isolated from the text rather than embedded in the paragraph structure, but they are interesting and practical. In addition to the full text of the New Testament and notes comes a thorough preface to the translation, a "Step into the Story of Scripture" article, four daily reading plans, a topical guide to the study notes included in the text and an article on "The Titles of Jesus."

I would recommend The Voice before recommending The Message and I look forward to reading the whole New Testament in this translation; however I would caution all to keep a more mainstream translation handy to check alternate translations. I wouldn't suggest using this translation for study or for everyday, year in, year out use, but it's an excellent way to spice up your reading and enjoy a fresh perspective on the text. I highly recommend visiting and downloading the book of John to read for yourself.

In the beginning
1Before time itself was measured, the
Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
2This celestial Word remained ever present
with the Creator;
3His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in
4His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—
5A light that thrives in the depths of
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.

My thanks to Thomas Nelson for this complimentary review copy. I was not required to give a positive review but an honest review.


  1. To call Almighty God a mere voice is blasphemous. It is bad enough that the NIV bible removes scriptures pertaining to deity and the blood and fasting and many other serious things, but this book is a mixture of man's thought not the inspired word of God. How man can continue to take liberty with the Bible and the God breathed Holy Spirit inspired words is just beyond my understanding. The church no longer reveres and fears God or His Holy Word. I would fear for men's names being removed from the book of life for such a distortion of Gods word.