Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Voice: A new Bible with a new controversy? Hardly

On Tuesday a I provided a link to a USA Today article about a new Bible translation called "The Voice." At the time I noted that, according to the article, the name "Jesus Christ" does not appear nor do "angels" or "apostles." I added a line about how I can hear the conspiracy theorists already.

Tuesday was a busy day for me and I didn't have time to go into more detail about the "voice." And I thought that the USA Today article did a good job of explaining what the translation was doing. For instance, instead of  calling Jesus "Christ" they often call him "anointed one," which is 100% accurate and probably works better than "Christ" since most people don't know that Christos is the Greek word for anointed one.  Angels are called messengers, also very accurate, and apostles are called emissaries, which also works well.

But it appears that some have already assumed that what the translators have done is take Christ out of the Bible. In fact, many of the news outlets have encouraged this by using the headlines "The Voice Bible Takes 'Christ' Out of the Bible." Only later in the article do you discover that Jesus is still in the Bible. What did happen is that the translators wrote this Bible like a screen play so that it would be more accessible to those who don't normally read the Bible.

I played around on the translation's website Hear the Voice. You can search the Voice and compare it to other translations. I admit, this translation will not be for everyone, but no translation ever is. It is targeted at a specific audience, as are most translations. But it may be what helps some people better understand what they are reading. What this is NOT is a deep, dark conspiracy to destroy the Bible and enslave the minds of unsuspecting Christians in preparation for the Antichrist. It is an attempt to do what translators have been doing since the first gospel writers put the Aramaic words of Jesus into Greek. It is an attempt to make the Bible accessible and understandable.

Here are two videos that you may find interesting. The first is the promo-video from the Hear the Voice website. The second is a CNN interview with David Capes a translator on the project. Whatever you think of this translation, please keep in mind that it is not a conspiracy.


  1. Thanks for the info. I like the concept and what seems to be intentional and solid translation.

  2. And, is Peter stone?

  3. John,
    Thanks for posting about the translation. I was the lead scholar on the project. CNN and USA Today stirred up a bit of controversy, which is much to do about nothing. Still it gives us a chance to talk about the fact that CHRISTOS is not a name but an honorific title (like Messiah, but our intended audience would not have understood that either).

    We limit transliteration as you noticed (aggelos, by the way is normally "heavenly messenger" not just "messenger; apostolos is "emissary"). No Peter isn't stone. Since Petros is a name and not a title. Names are transliterated, which is common practice. Titles, however, should be, we think, translated. Our explanatory paraphrase of the title "CHRISTOS" is "the Liberating King." While CHRISTOS means "anointed one" we added the explanatory phrase 26 times in strategic places to underscore the fact that Jesus is God's agent, descended from David's royal line, whose task is to liberate the cosmos from sin, death, corruption, and oppression. How do you put that in a word? You don't. You tell the story.