‘The Voice’: New Bible translation focuses on dialogue

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The name Jesus Christ doesn’t appear in “The Voice,” a new translation of the Bible. Nor do … Continued

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — 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, said 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.

Seven years in the making, “The Voice” is the latest entry into the crowded field of English Bible translations.

Unlike the updated New International Version or the Common English Bible — both released last year — much of “The Voice” is formatted like a screenplay or novel. Translators cut out the “he said” and “they said” and focused on dialogue.

So in Matthew 15, when Jesus walks on the water, scaring his followers, their reaction is immediate:

Disciple: “It’s a ghost!”

Another Disciple: “A ghost? What will we do?”

Jesus: “Be still. It is I; you have nothing to fear.”

“I hope we get people to see the Bible — not as an ancient text that’s worn out — but as a story that they participate in and find their lives in,” Capes said.

The title for “The Voice” came from the New Testament Gospel 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,” said that translation better captures what logos means.

Mike Norris of Franklin Road Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., disagrees. His congregation follows the belief that the King James Bible is the most accurate translation in English. Other translations, he says, don’t stick to a word-for-word translation.

“They say the other translations are easier to read and more accurate,” he said. “We disagree.”

(Smietana also reports for The Tennessean in Nashville. Heidi Hall of The Tennessean also contributed to this story.)

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  • loudubin

    Golly Gee.. I guess God needed help to say it the right way. He is really thankful…arghhhhhhhhhhhh

    For those who are willing to study a little bit, the translations used for centuries have stated the Gospel in a way that all those who search the scriptures can find in them Gods plan of Salvation, God justifies the ungodly and remains righteous in doing so. Jesus paid the debt in full we owed but could not pay,

    The doctrine of salvation is repentance from dead works and faith toward God.

    We cant earn if, dont deserve it, and its all from Gods side not ours.

    I dont think I am wrong but the focus of the Bible is on God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. Not dialogue.

    The Bible shows mankind left to our own ways cannot restrain sin,

  • TDJ-Vivificat

    Only the biblically illiterate think that “Christ” is Jesus’ surname. Dumbing down Scripture will not cure biblical illiteracy.

  • DAdeSilva

    The people behind “the Voice” are not dumbing down Scripture. They are trying to make the original languages communicate fully in 21st-century English. “Christ” may still communicate to people raised in the church, but what does it mean to people whose parents never took them to church? So “the Voice” translates the Greek word Christos, rather than merely representing the Greek word in English letters (called “transliteration,” which is how “Christ” came into the English language in the first place). “Anointed one” is a good translation, and not a dumbing down. “Chosen agent” would be another. Let’s not fault “the Voice” for being thorough in its job of translation. (For the record, I agree that “voice” as in “spoken word” is a great way to bring John 1 to fresh life, or perhaps “in the beginning, the word was speaking.”)

    For what it’s worth, I write this as a professor of New Testament and Greek who has also been personally involved with two major Bible translation projects (the ESV Apocrypha and the CEB Apocrypha and select New Testament books).