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Jim Pierce

Thank you for writing this series. I look forward to reading them all.

Lublub

What a cult factory. Maybe this version should be renamed "The Wind of God" after its butchering of John 3.

Rev. Z. Bartels

Thanks for this. I've added a link to this series on my own blog (twelve60.blogspot.com). I am appalled at the lack of respect for the text. This hack-job makes The Message look like the 1901 ASV!

akira Kurosawa

I had no idea that this translation had even been put out.

From the passages that you have paralleled Chris, wow, that is alot of liberty they are taking with the original text. It almost becomes impossible to see how the two are related.

Looking forward to seeing the rest of your commentary.

Chris Rosebrough

Akira,

Thanks. I'm afraid my future installments are far worse than this first installment.

It is a very serious thing when Christian leaders twist and manipulate God's word. This "Bible" is practically the worst that I've ever experienced. My heart breaks for those caught up in the Emergent church. They are not being told the truth.

J. Dart

The Voice, The Message...can we just do "the Bible?" In all seriousness, might you post here The Voice's version of the Beatitudes? The interpretive leaps that were taken there in The Message were likewise generally biased toward a contemporary American evangelical theology and ultimately misleading.

smurr

looks like this artical and your goal was simular to the people towards the disciples establishing the early church.

Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Acts 5:33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

What if the "voice" isnt wrong and you are. Does that mean you are kicking against the goads?

steve

Jim Pierce

What if the "voice" isnt wrong and you are. Does that mean you are kicking against the goads?

steve

"The Voice" is wrong. We can have certainty about God's word; although, that is an unpopular idea amongst Emergents. Go figure.

Chris Rosebrough

Smurr,


Comparing this 'Bible Translation' to the beginnings of Christianity doesn't make a lick of sense. There are objective ways to determine whether or not this 'translation' is true and it has nothing to do with waiting and seeing. It has to do with opening the scriptures, particularly the original languages and doing comparison and translation work. There are no what ifs in this situation. Either The Voice is correctly translating God's Word or it isn't.

I recommend that you take some classes on Biblical Greek and Hebrew. Having even a cursory knowledge of those languages will clear things up for you very very quickly.

Theresa

I find nothing more annoying in the conversations about EC than the fact that our elders are teaching us to listen to the critics but boycot the sources. I do not accuse you of doing this, Chris. That is why I am pasting this here for you all to read before you decide.

Houston Chronicle on The Voice New Testament
Friday, October 24, 2008 at 8:36pm
New Testament translation presents dialogue in screenplay format
By FRITZ LANHAM Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Oct. 24, 2008, 4:51PM

David Capes, a professor at Houston Baptist University, and Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia Church, put together a team to collaborate on a new translation of the Bible called The Voice.

David Capes relishes the recent comment by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards: "I read the Bible sometimes," the gnarly Richards said, "but I find it deadly boring."
"What we're trying to say is, Keith, we understand," Capes says. "But don't give up yet. This is a beautiful story, an amazing story."
Bringing people like Richards to the Bible requires a new way of presenting Scripture, Capes contends. It requires a translation that speaks to modern sensibilities, to modern ways of processing information, and to modern ignorance of many Biblical terms.
To that end Capes, a professor of Greek and New Testament at Houston Baptist University, together with Chris Seay, pastor of the nondenominational Ecclesia Church in Houston, put together a team of more than 80 writers, scholars, poets and songwriters to collaborate on a new translation of the Bible. They've titled it The Voice. The complete New Testament will be released next week by Thomas Nelson, the Nashville-based Christian publishing house. The goal is to release the Old Testament by fall 2010.
"There are great translations out there, but we live in a new day, with a new audience," says Capes, also an elder at Ecclesia. "So this is meant to address that audience."
Seay brought the idea for the project to Capes about four years ago. Capes was immediately interested but cautioned his friend, "This is not something you do on the way to something else. This is the something else. This is a huge deal, one that will take years of your life."
What motivated Seay was his feeling that existing translations didn't capture the uniqueness and literary beauty of the Bible and didn't convey the narrative force of the original.
Both he and Capes say they want to break people's habit of viewing the Bible as a set of principles and prescriptions. It's a story, a grand drama of redemption, Capes says. "What we have in Scripture is a great story of love and forgiveness, of a great fall and how God is going about repairing the world. Jesus himself was a master storyteller."
Seay echoes that, calling the Bible "a grand narrative, filled with beautiful stories. Pastors have to become better at telling the story of Scripture."
The target audience comprises believers who are left cold by traditional styles of worship and Bible-reading, particularly people in their 20s and 30s.
Capes notes that about 20 million Christians participate in alternative Christian communities — they meet in theaters and storefronts instead of traditional sanctuaries and they approach worship differently.
"They have a different way of thinking about these things spiritually," he says. Traditional Bibles with their black covers, abstruse notes, and page after page of dense type can be off-putting to them.
"We realize that younger people, whether they're Christians or not, long to read the Bible," Seay says, "because they realize it's historically and culturally significant — and I believe the greatest literature you could ever read."
Seay emphasizes he doesn't equate accessibility with voguish slang or fourth-grade-level prose.
"What we're looking for is almost like the King James version," he says. "We're looking for a more literary rendering that will stand the test of time. Our take is, if it's written beautifully and calls you into the narrative, that when you finish a chapter you really want to read the next chapter to see what's going to happen, then more people in their 20s and 30s will end up reading the Bible."
To ease the reading experience the Voice's translators have introduced several elements. They set up dialogue in screenplay format, with the speaker's name, then his spoken words without quotation marks. That eliminates the "Jesus saids" and "Peter saids."
Sprinkled liberally throughout are boxed notes that elucidate in non-academic language what a "pharisee" is, for example, or why Jesus sought to recruit disciples. "It helps fill in the blanks for ... people who've never been to the text before," Capes says.
Here and there the translators add words and phrases not in the original to clarify something. The introduced language is italicized so readers can recognize it for what it is.
"It's way to get people reading the Bible," Capes says of the format changes. "The Voice is also intended to encourage the practice of reading the Bible aloud, and making that an important part of the worship service."
So why call it The Voice?
Initially the idea was to call it The Word, says James F. Couch Jr., vice president for translation development at Thomas Nelson. Couch, along with Capes and Seay, went over every word of the text.
But as organizers discussed the title, they decided The Voice "really did reflect hearing God's voice through Scripture," Couch says.
Though not invariably collaborative affairs, Bible translations are often so. The King James translation, for example, has fair claim to being the greatest cultural achievement by committee.
The Voice's New Testament project brought together 11 Bible scholars and more than a dozen writers. Contributors communicated sometimes in person, often via e-mail or videoconference. The writers include Brian McLaren and Lauren Winner, best known for their popular books on religion and spirituality, as well as Greg Garrett, who has written secular fiction. Capes and Seay are also contributing writers.
Surprisingly, the writers rather than the scholars were tasked with producing the first draft. "We asked the writers to get started, to work from the original if they could, or if they couldn't, to work from translations, and to provide their own version," Capes says.
Then a scholar, working from the Greek or Hebrew, adjusted the translation to capture the nuances of the original. The draft went back and forth several more times between scholars and writers and reviewers. Typically more than 14 people looked at a book before it was pronounced ready for print.
The translators tried to capture the different writing styles of the New Testament authors, something other translations tend to gloss over, Couch says. "In the Greek texts, each of the four Gospels is very different. Luke writes a very polished Greek. Mark is cruder ... Rather than try to homogenize the text, we try to differentiate them."
Seay and Capes say the translation doesn't hew to any narrow denominational or theological line. Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans and nondenominational Christians participated. Capes says he's talking to Catholics about joining the work.
Thomas Nelson is releasing the complete New Testament in a healthy first printing of 65,000. The book comes in two formats — cloth over flexible cover ($34.99) and paperback ($19.99).
Seay, who has just returned from a tour in which he introduced The Voice in churches and at a conference, says he's been overwhelmed by the response. The book's format makes extended reading-aloud easier. People can sit around and each take the part of a biblical character.
"In small groups and Bible studies that seems to be really catching on," he says. "We're glad that it gives people a new way to interact with the Scriptures."

If you are still reading, I applaud your desire to know both sides before making a decision. Frankly, people will believe what they want to believe, and who they want to believe, no matter what anyone else tells them. But if you can think for yourself, you have won my respect regardless of what it is you actually think. God bless you guys.

Chris Rosebrough

Theresa,

Did you think I was suppressing the other side? (I wasn't cause I link directly to the official website of The Voice in this post)

Like you I want people to examine the evidence and to think critically. I have no problem with Seay's desire to make a translation that is readable for modern (sorry I meant Post-Modern) readers.

The problem is that this 'translation' suffers from some serious short-comings. The proof is always in the pudding. Since these, scholars, poets, and fiction writers have produced an actual product, that product is fair game for scholarly review and criticism. I am offering my scholarly critique and opinions of this product.

Truth be told, posting a news story from Houston Chronicle does not qualify as a rebuttal to any of the criticisms that I've leveled against The Voice.

Would you care to comment on or defend The Voice's translation of John 1:9-14? I'm particularly interested in anyone who would like to mount a scholarly defense of The Voice's translation of verses 11 and 13?

Todd

I think we are delving into the realm of "another gospel" as Paul mentions in Galatians. Since that is the case, we have a duty as Christians to defend and preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rebuking in love, those who are in error.

th

Steve K.

Chris,

When Brian McLaren, or some other such Emergent leader, starts requiring (somehow) that we all MUST read The Voice (and ONLY The Voice) and requires (somehow) that we LITERALLY interpret it word-for-word, and in doing so tells that we can ONLY attain salvation this way and are the ONLY true Christians on the planet ... then I think the use of the word "cult" would be justified.

Until then, I think you're using overblown rhetoric here to create fear of something that God is doing in our time to renew the Church. The Voice is a thought-for-thought contemporary interpretation of Scripture, like The Message, created to engage people and draw them back into God's Word. It is not a word-for-word literal translation like the ESV. So I think you're comparing apples to oranges with your three-column chart. Of course they are adding stuff in that is not in the original Greek -- it's an interpretation!

But then again, I am an Emergent, so I've already had a few big swigs of the Kool-Aid, and of course I think it tastes pretty refreshing. It kinda tastes like apples AND oranges, actually. ;-)

I'll be interested to read your further updates on this, though. Thanks for engaging with it, even if we happen to disagree.

Shalom,
Steve K.

Lublub

Steve,

The concepts behind emergent thinking are compelling, as are many other things such as the New Perspectives on Paul. Very interesting engaging stuff. But when you closely scrutinize what these leaders are saying, you realize that they are grasping around in the dark. They are blind. These men do not understand the gospel. Their darkened understanding is leading them to try to find meaning in Christianity any way they can.
When they encounter the gospel their ears and eyes are closed to it, and it rolls off them like a duck's back.
So they search and search for some kind of meaning in the text, because they are totally oblivious to the core thrust, the glad tidings, the amazing news, the incredible fact that Christ has sacrificed himself to purchase our escape from God's just wrath.

If you ask a Christian what "the good news" is, they might tell you that God poured out the full measure of his wrath on Christ in order to show us his incredible mercy and forgiveness.

If you ask an emergent what "the good news" is they might say that it is artistic, and beautiful, and exciting, and noble, and wise, and made up all the promises of God combined with beauty and wisdom of Jesus.

O.H. Lee

As one competent in biblical language, this is the exact reason why I say: There's no such thing as bible translations--only bible commentaries.

The question then is, does the text accurately reflect the origional Greek? The answer here is clearly, no; especially how it takes massive liberties with the passive voice. I read whole sections of this. It's no longer a bible but propoganda for pop-Christianity, and an unfaithful commentary disembodied from the original text.

Sean Michael

Steve K:

Actually, I think the point here is exactly that the three-column chart seems to be comparing apples to oranges. Regardless of whether a translation is meant to be word-for-word or thought-for-thought, it ought to accurately reflect what the original manuscript says -- otherwise it is no longer a valid translation but merely a bunch of worthless hot air. Word-for-word or not, a passage by passage comparison (such as the one displayed here) with another accurate translation should not reveal the discrepancies that are here revealed and which, as has already been stated, are entirely unjustified by the original text.

I agree that we need to find a way to get more people to read, understand, and love the Bible, but mistranslating it is certainly not the way to go. What you and a lot of others seem to be entirely forgetting is the whole reason we read the Bible in the first place: It is the divinely inspired Word of God. We read it, therefore, to know what God has said and to learn as much about Him as we possibly can, so that we might better love and serve Him. Hence, a translation ought to reveal to us the original words and concepts as transparently as possible because, again, we are not reading a storybook to have a good time but the actual Scriptures of Almighty God so that we can better know Him. The Voice utterly fails to accurately convey what was originally written, and therefore it does not simply "give a new perspective" to God's Word; it distorts and obfuscates it -- replacing the Scriptures of God with the (totally different) thoughts of a few men.

I agree that the church needs renewing, and I even believe it is happening in some places. The Emergent Church, however, is apparently not one of them. Renewal would mean a getting-back-to-the-roots sort of thing, which would mean a more serious focus on real theology and going back to what the Bible really says about things. The Voice is not a turn back to the true Source of Christianity but rather a giant leap away from Him.

Again, remember that the point of a translation is to allow people who can't read the original language to still know what was said. When you compare The Voice (or The Message, although it's a little less obvious) with a better translation (or with the originals, if you can read them), it becomes obvious that it does not say even the same thing, and that is exactly the problem. If it is not saying the same thing, then it is not a faithful translation of the Bible, and anyone reading it as a Bible will be confused and misled. The Bible contains the words of the most high God, before Whom every knee must bow and to Whom every tongue will one day confess -- the God Who will judge us all. We are fools if we think that we can distort His Words and yet escape His wrath. He has given us one plan for salvation; to wander from that or to twist it and teach it wrongly is to mock Him and send ourselves and others to hell.

The importance of a Bible translation's absolute accuracy cannot be overstated.

Peace and love to all in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
~Sean Michael

John from Down Under

Steve K. Please allow me this small introduction to make a point.

I am a Greek born Australian who grew up speaking Greek at home and was educated in the Greek language until I finished high school. Naturally, it is a lot easier for me to grasp the meaning of the NT text than someone who doesn’t speak Greek. It also took me 5 years before I started reading English translations from the time I had become a Christian. This ‘advantage’ has been a blessing in many ways but is also painful when I see the original text being butchered. (End of introduction)

Your point is VALID that ‘The Voice’ is an interpretation and NOT a translation. The basic dictionary definition of the word ‘interpretation’ (not that you don’t know but for the sake of the point you made) is: an explanation of the meaning of another's artistic or creative work. If the goal of this project was to interpret the meaning of the original, they haven’t. As a work of interpretation –not translation- it is a mis-interpretation.

[I feel really awkward defending Chris Rosebrough’s views here because I normally disagree with him on so many things. But truth is not biased]

This is where I believe ‘The Voice’ has gone wrong. Here are a couple of examples of the difference between translation and interpretation. The old King Jimmy says ‘God is not a respecter of persons’ (Acts 10:34), and ‘How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?’ (John 7:15)

As a Greek speaking reader, I can tell you that both these examples are ACCURATE and LITERAL translations of the original text. However as accurate as they may be, they are problematic to English speaking readers as they don’t make a lot of sense and require further explanation. Here’s where interpretation comes in. What Acts 10:34 means is that ‘God is not partial’, and modern translations like ESV and NIV have found the nearest English equivalent interpretation. Likewise John 7:15 has been interpreted by NIV and ESV as ‘How did this man get such learning without having studied?’ Even in modern everyday Greek someone who ‘knows letters’ simply means that the person is educated. It is an expression unique to that language.

Hence, interpretation is needed as much as translation because no two languages are the same. Bilingual people like me continually face the challenge of thinking in one language while trying to speak another. For example, if you ‘think Spanish’ when trying to speak English it will come out wrong and vice versa.

However, this is NOT what ‘The Voice’ has done. They have gone a lot further and introduced foreign concepts into the text that CHANGE the meaning NOT INTERPRET it. If they also believe that the italicised text is in their opinion what ‘the original readers of the gospel would have expected it to mean’ I can tell you CATEGORICALLY that to Greek ears that couldn’t be further from the truth. So I’m not sure who did the homework on this particular point.

THE BIGGER PROBLEM though is again the consumer mentality in Christians wanting to introduce new ‘products’ that appeal to the consumer (seeker/unchurched/unbeliever etc). Why are we so obsessed with trying to make everything so easy for people? We emasculate people from thinking for themselves and this slows their growth. Part of the fun of studying the Bible is to read several translations and compare so you get a broader understanding. Research and discovery are more fulfilling than having it served packaged in styrofoam containers ready for consumption. But that’s a Gen-Y thing, we want everything ready and we want it now with minimum effort on our behalf.

Some food for thought.

J.P.

Steve, Theresa, and co.,

1) Is "The Voice" an accurate translation of the original Greek text?

2) Or perhaps I should just ask, is it possible to translate Greek into English?

3) Do you even think it matters?

Because if you don't think this matters, then ...

Peter Hamm

I am on record as being one who thinks that you take some liberties in your criticism of "emergents"...

...apparently, not this time. (I have to wonder if these people are deliberately trying to tick people off.)

I am probably "emergent" and I'm a big fan of some of the folks involved in this "translation", but, like the Message (also from someone whose writing I admire very much), this seems like it might be an unnecessary and potentially confusing product. The examples cited above are a great example that shows a big problem.

One of the things that many "emergents" bring up often is that we should "embrace the mystery" of Scripture rather than try to understand things that are impossible to fully understand (the trinity for instance). I agree with some of that, especially in places like the opening of John's gospel. They have tried to make it easier to understand... at the expense of sound biblical translation (I only know enough Greek to be dangerous, but even I can see the problems here).

I intend to get my own copy, and I fully expect to dislike it as much as you do. It will eventually gather dust next to my mostly unused copy of "The Message", an interesting commentary on Scripture, but a translation or paraphrase? No.

The Highland Host

The point about a translation is to translate, not to add what we think the writer should have said. In other words, a translator's task is limited to rendering the original as faithfully as possible in the receptor language. It's not the place for imagination or creativity. 'The Voice' is not a translation at all, it is a very loose paraphrase that takes hugely unwarranted liberties with the text.

As for the Emergent claim to be 'renewing' the Church, and to be 'postmodern', I have made a study of Henry Drummond and a number of other late Victorian liberals in the Free Church of Scotland. They sound pretty much like the Emergents, calling for 'mystery', and faulting those who think that the Gospel can be summed up in propositional statements (I didn't even know that I spoke in propositional statements until I went to Seminary!). The effect a hundred years ago was terrible, I have little hope that doing the same thing now will have a better effect. Indeed, it seems that this sums up my definition of insane optimism, making the same mistake over and over with the expectation that it will have a different effect.

I'm not one of 'the elders', I'm under thirty. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to extract some propositional truth from the Bible to commit an act of violence on my congregation to-morrow!!!

Daniel Chew

O.H. Lee,

"As one competent in biblical language, this is the exact reason why I say: There's no such thing as bible translations--only bible commentaries."

Looks like you are one of the anything-goes crowd who do not know how to differentiate between lexical interpretation and conceptual interpretation, as Leland Ryken expounded in his article in the book Translating Truth by Grudem et al.

Fact #1: There is a difference between translation and interpretation.
Fact #2: All Dynamic Equivalence (D-E) translations distort God's Word in some way or another
Fact #3: The Voice is the logical conclusion of the D-E philosophy as worked out through the interpretative matrix of the Emergents.
Fact #4: All that the D-E proponents can say is that they disagree with the interpretation and think that it is in error, but their position commits them to arguing about conceptual error without having anything to say about translational error.

Bill

A question for you Chris. Or others can answer it as well. Since we are talking about paraphrase translations.

What do you guys thing about the most popular dynamic translation of them all, the New Living Translation (NLT)? I just started to read the new testament and love it. I used to be a KJV guy, then NASB or ESV, bur translations like the NLT do clearly state the gospel. Do you guys agree?

Kelly

There may be clear statements of the gospel floating around in the Voice, but we ought to be concerned about misleading statements and flat-out bad translation work, in this or any translation.

We should also be concerned about the generation gap we've developed in our consumeristic society, within churches themselves. It sounds as though those Christians who embrace the Voice are actively despising perfectly understandable (and more accurate) English translations of the Bible, not to mention anything they perceive to be out-of-date, unentertaining, or requiring a person to think too much or learn something new. These sorts of projects only enable people to become increasingly lazy in their faith.

But it's all so "beautiful" and storyrific.

Steve Newell

Bill,

The key question is "What is the Gospel?". What does The Voice, or in that manor any other paraphrase, describe that the gospel. If the The Voice cannot get this question correct, then it's absolutely meaningless from the standpoint of salvation.

drew

Reading the prefaces indicates they've gone wrong from the start:

"First, accomplished writers create an English rendering; then, respected Bible scholars adjust the rendering to align the manuscript with the original texts."

This raises all kinds of questions: What Vorlage (if not the GNT) are the "accomplished writers" using? If they're consulting an English translation, the Voice Translation goes from Greek to English to "accomplished writer" tweaking to only then consulting "the original texts" to the finished product. This is surely backwards: re-interpreting English translated from Greek which is tweaked by Greek to arrive at English. Woah. No wonder they're arriving at outlandish translations/interpretations.

Moreover, we primarily English readers already have a hard time enough trying to recognize OT allusions in the NT (intertextuality or whatever's the best term) without replacing terms like "Messiah" with "the Liberator." Indeed this is only one aspect of the expected Messiah.

Finally, though they claim "it is time to bring the body of Christ together again around the Bible" (page one of Preface) they unnecessarily distant themselves--yay, cut themselves off--from the last millennia of Christianity by removing words like "baptism" and "repentance." I'm afraid more so than already people won't have a clue what they're talking about in their striving to be understood, contemporary and non-divisive.

O.H. Lee

Daniel Chew,

You have grossly missed my point, though I am glad you engaged what you thought I said. I was, in retrospect, quite unclear.

I have serious problems with the “D-E” crowd who use translation to push their interpretations of the text. My criticism is of the popular translation mill that will pump out false translations to meet a market of heretical itching ears. It seems in modern English Bibles, one has to be perpetually on guard against the point-of-view of the publisher. And the ultimate consequence of this is a lay body that accepts the interpretation because “Bible” is in the title.

Therefore, my lament was not that translations are in all cases *exclusively* commentaries, but that it is popular intent to market them as such. Dynamic Equivalent is now the name of the game to mislead the Church, that is, translation is now all about interpretation instead of presenting the text as it was intended. I tried to express this in my concluding statements that translations have the obligation and the ability to properly convey (embody) true lexical meaning.

So, in this market-driven desire to print faulty translations, I cynically (which is what wasn’t made clear by me) remark: “There’s no such thing as Bible translations, only Bible commentaries”.

I can certainly see how my statement could be misunderstood. Thanks for calling me on my unclear speech. Again, I agree with you that The Voice is a distortion and, furthermore, I am far from the “anything goes crowd”.

Jeremy

Great post Chris,

Here is my current thought on the Emergent movement, and I find it very backwards to all that is taught in scripture. Their ideologies are that you have to become the culture, even in the grossest forms to somehow reach them.

Their failure is that Christ says, "I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH". Therefore what is to be preached? Paul instructed Timothy to preach doctrine as it was the only thing that would propagate true salvation.

I am in my 20's and have other brothers in Christ that are the same age, and we have been saved through teachers such as John MacArthur, Silva and others who preach the word without apology.

My point is this. According to the Emergent/Post-Modern thought I should have in no way have responded to a form of traditional preaching that was NOT saturated in the culture, but as Paul says, "Not as the word of man, but for what it really is, the word of God.

Their theories on reaching a wicked and perverse generation are up-side down. And the mass majority listening will not hear the true Gospel of repentance.

Ebenezer Gerbuil

The Fact is that this book is nothing more than a new book that plagiarizes parts of the bible. Its not the bible. Its a new book altogether, and should be called as such.

O.H. Lee

Daniel Chew,

You have grossly missed my point, though I am glad you engaged what you thought I said. I was, in retrospect, quite unclear.

I have serious problems with the “D-E” crowd who use translation to push their interpretations of the text. My criticism is of the popular translation mill that will pump out false translations to meet a market of heretical itching ears. It seems in modern English Bibles, one has to be perpetually on guard against the point-of-view of the publisher. And the ultimate consequence of this is a lay body that accepts the interpretation because “Bible” is in the title.

Therefore, my lament was not that translations are in all cases *exclusively* commentaries, but that it is popular intent to market them as such. Dynamic Equivalent is now the name of the game to mislead the Church, that is, translation is now all about interpretation instead of presenting the text as it was intended. I tried to express this in my concluding statements that translations have the obligation and the ability to properly convey (embody) true lexical meaning.

So, in this market-driven desire to print faulty translations, I cynically (which is what wasn’t made clear by me) remark: “There’s no such thing as Bible translations, only Bible commentaries”.

I can certainly see how my statement could be misunderstood. Thanks for calling me on my unclear speech. Again, I agree with you that The Voice is a distortion and, furthermore, I am far from the “anything goes crowd”.

Martin Luther

"και τον λογον αυτου ουκ εχετε μενοντα εν υμιν οτι ον απεστειλεν εκεινος τουτω υμεις ου πιστευετε. ερευνατε τας γραφας οτι υμεις δοκειτε εν αυταις ζωην αιωνιον εχειν και εκειναι εισιν αι μαρτυρουσαι περι εμου. και ου θελετε ελθειν προς με ινα ζωην εχητε."
John 5:38-40

Show me one time Jesus was interested in the literal translation of the OT texts! He was interested in the dynamic message of the Kingdom. You'll maintain your strict literalist positions and miss Jesus completely! It's more than a little humorous that you reject "eastern" religious influences--Where do you think Palestine is located. First class religous idiot.

Mike

Fact #1: There is a difference between translation and interpretation.
Fact #2: All Dynamic Equivalence (D-E) translations distort God's Word in some way or another
Fact #3: The Voice is the logical conclusion of the D-E philosophy as worked out through the interpretative matrix of the Emergents.
Fact #4: All that the D-E proponents can say is that they disagree with the interpretation and think that it is in error, but their position commits them to arguing about conceptual error without having anything to say about translational error.

As a linguist who has studied Greek, language in general, communication theory, translation theory, semantics, and meaning, I must say that these "facts" reflect very little knowledge of what it takes to transfer the meaning of the original text into another language. I am also not any sort of postmodernist or emergent anything. I am a translator. I do not care for the voice - I think its crap, but that doesn't give anyone the excuse to think that dynamic (which is the wrong word, the correct one is "functional") translation distort scripture. Please forgive me for saying so, but that's show a complete lack of awareness of how language and meaning function.

Fact #1 is false. Any change from one language to another requires interpretation - ANY CHANGE. When you translate even a single word someone always interprets. Since we're in John, let's look at λόγος (logos). What does it mean? One might say that it means word. That's it, right? No interpretation there. Not a chance. To accurately translate the word from Greek, we must look at its usage. Let's see what the lexicon says about λόγος.

Louw & Nida suggest there are ten different senses of the word:

1: "that which has been stated or said, with primary focus upon the content of the communication—‘word, saying, message, statement, question.’"
2: "the act of speaking—speaking, speech.’"
3: " the content of what is preached about Christ or about the good news—‘what is preached, gospel.’"
4: "a relatively formal and systematic treatment of a subject—‘treatise, book, account.’"
5: "a title for Jesus in the Gospel of John as a reference to the content of God’s revelation and as a verbal echo of the use of the verbs meaning ‘to speak’ in Genesis 1 and in many utterances of the prophets—‘Word, Message.’"
6: "a record of assets and liabilities—‘account, credit, debit.’"
7: "a reason, with the implication of some verbal formulation—‘reason.’"
8: "a happening to which one may refer—‘matter, thing, event.’"
9: "that which is thought to be true but is not necessarily so—‘appearance, to seem to be.’"
10: "a formal declaration of charges against someone in court—‘charges, accusation, declaration of wrongdoing.’"

Now when a translator chooses one of these definitions to apply to a given instance of the word in the text, he makes an interpretive decision. "Now wait a moment," you say, "Look at definition #5." I'm not making an interpretation, the lexicon says what John means. Now that's true, if a translator follows that route and simply takes the definition that the lexicon uses, he's not making an interpretation. But someone still is. And in this case, its the the compile of the lexicon. If the translator goes that route, then he's simply allowing the authors who dug through the usage of λόγος to make the decision for them. That's still interpretation. Its just someone else's. Let's hope they got it right - for the sake of the people using your translation.

Fact #2 is false. Or I should say, its too limited. ALL translation of any kind distorts the source text. Our Greek commenter in the comment above could surely tell you that even the ESV fails to convey all the meaning of the original text - And I'd being will to say that even translations that update the New Testament into Modern Greek loose some of the original meaning. That's because language is culturally conditioned. There is not good way to translate the Greek phrase typically rendered "casting lots" into English because we don't have "lots." The closest cultural equivalent is "drawing straws." But translating such phrases that way would misrepresent the cultural activity. Or consider an example from the ESV - Psalm 1:1

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners..."

In English the phrase, "stand in the way of sinners" conveys the idea of blocking someone from going somewhere or doing something. We stand in people's way as a preventative measure. But in Hebrew, the idiom means the exact opposite. To stand in the way of someone in Hebrew means to follow along after them, doing what they do. Now you might say that someone whose been in the church will be taught that. But why should the meaning of a translation have to be explained or taught? If you have to explain the meaning after you translate, doesn't that destroy the point? Isn't the purpose of translation to convey meaning? All translations distort meaning.

Fact #3 is false. The claim that The Voice is the logical conclusion of Dymanic translation simply proves that the person wrote the "fact" doesn't truly know what Dymanic translation is. And in fact, that term "dynamic" itself hasn't been used by translators since the 80's because the term caused so much misunderstanding for those who weren't professional translators. The correct term is "Functional Equivalence Translation." And this method (not philosophy) of translation is based on the work of hundreds of translations in hundreds of languages around the world. Here are the fundamental principles of Functional Equivalence translation theory:

1: Each language possesses certain distinctive characteristics which give it a special character, e.g. word-building capacities, unique patterns of phrase order, techniques for linking clauses into sentences, markers of discourse, and special discourse types of poetry, proverbs, and song. Each language is rich in vocabulary for areas of cultural focus and the specialties of people.

2: To communicate effectively [which, I hope everyone can agree is the goal of translation] one must respect the genius [see #1] of each language.

3: Anything that can be said in one language can be said in another, unless the form is an essential element of the message. For the average person the potential and actual equivalence of languages is perhaps the most debated point about translation. He does not see how people who have no snow can understand a passage in the Bible that speaks about "white as snow." If the people do not know snow, how can they have a word for it? And if they do not have a word for it, then how can the Bible be translated? ... The point is that snow as an object [grammatically speaking] is not crucial to the message.

4: To preserve the content of the message the form must be changed. This is quite apparent when we look at words λόγος "word, message, etc." No English word looks or sounds like that Greek word and has the same meaning. The form of words must be changed. It follows quite easily that the form of phrases much be changed and that the form of clause must be changed. Translators must as the question, how do native speakers of the target language express this meaning. What if a language doesn't have participles? Does it become harder to translate Paul's letters which are full of them? No, because the meanings expressed by participles are expressed by other forms - the forms must be changed.

5: The languages of the Bible are subjct to the same limitations as any other natural languages. Greek and Hebrew are sipmly languages, like any other languages, and they are to be understood and analyzed in the same manner as other ancient tongues. They both possess extraordinarily effective means of communication, even as all languages do.

6: The writers of the Biblical books expected to be understood (even the author of Psalm 1:1).

7: The translator must attempt to reproduce the meaning of a passage as understood by the writer. This is true regardless of the form of the target translation. And this foundational principle of Functional translation theory make makes it impossible for a translation such as The Voice to be the logical conclusion of the D-E philosophy - regardless of who is working it out emergent or otherwise the Voice cannot be a Functional translation if it fails to convey the passage as understood by the writer.

All these points were directly taken (with commentary) from Eugene A. Nida and Charles R. Taber's The Theory and Practice of Translation (Leiden: Brill, 1974), 3-8.

Fact #4 is false I find it interesting that this claim is made when the writer show so little awareness of what Functional Equivalence translation truly. The fact is, the F-E translation process, as performed by such international translation organizations such as Wycliffe/SIL, the United Bible Society, Pioneers Bible Translators etc., have multiple error checking sessions where translations are checked and checked for translation errors for every single book of scripture. This results in probably hundreds of translation error check even for s single New Testament, much less the Old!

Get your facts straight about F-E translation before you talk about it. Go reading something written about translation from someone who are studied linguistics, translation, and communication.

Mike

Get your facts straight about F-E translation before you talk about it. Go reading something written about translation from someone who are[sic] studied linguistics, translation, and communication.

If I'm going to say that perhaps I should also tell myself to proof read before leaving long comments...oh dear.

St. Blogwen

Chris R. and commentors before me have satisfactorily dealt with the dangerous theological shortcomings of The Voice. So I'll touch on what may (may!) be a lesser matter: Is it really true that "poets, songwriters, and storytellers" were involved in the production of this paraphrase? If Chris' first paragraph and the Houston Chronicle article cited above had not said so, I would have thought this hamfisted rendition had been perpetrated by someone who'd never read a line of poetry in his life, someone wholly tone-deaf to rhythm, flow, and the richness of meaning inherent in a well-chosen word. Read the original Greek, if you can! That's poetry for you! That's beauty in simplicity and the simplicity of beauty! The ESV cited comes close to it; for this passage I prefer the KJV or the NKJV. But this overloaded, klunky Voice? There's no poetry here, only a misguided human scheme to convince the gullible that at last Seay, McLaren & Co. have arrived to reveal what the Holy Spirit really meant, if He'd only had them around to tell Him how to put it.

This project is of a piece with a trend I've observed elsewhere in the (post) modern church: That our rejection of the supernatural, transcendent, monergetic God in favor of sham Saviors and casual Christs seems connected to our loss of the ability to recognize or create transcendence in the natural sphere. It's as if our refusal to hear the poetry in God's unadorned voice makes it hard for us to hear or make poetry in our own.

John from Down Under

Mike, initially I thought this was going to be another intellectual rant which is common on these blogs but I’m glad I read through. You made some salient points.

As a bilingual Greek-English person I concur that NO English translation is totally accurate. They all have holes in them. I also concur that modern Greek translations indeed lose some of the original meaning. In modern Greek you need to add more words to express what you would in classical Greek with only one word. Meaning in classical Greek words is very concentrated.

As mentioned in my previous post, it took me 5 years to pick up my first English translation, because I was attending a Greek speaking church in Sydney and had no need to. Because my brain was already programmed /coded in Greek (any bilingual person can attest to this) I was ‘processing’ what I was reading in English through a ‘Greek mindset’. The differences to me therefore were starker than someone who only read an English Bible.

I then appreciated how daunting the task of Bible translators must have been and I was intrigued to find out how Tyndale found it as the first translator of the Bible into English. He allegedly remarked that he felt “woefully inadequate to convey the richness of the Greek into English”. [As you would know, classical Greek and especially the Attic Dialect is very specific and has a word for everything]

Translating from an ancient, original and rich language, to a modern, hybrid and grammatically less structured language is not exactly apples and apples. However, Tyndale’s purpose was to make it as plain as possible for people to understand and especially the uneducated. He said: “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives the plough to know more of the Scriptures than you do”. His goal was to cater for the lowest common denominator and it appears he was driven by this conviction. (the Bible was not written for theologians, a fact many bloggers here tend to forget) He stated the he “perceived how that it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth except the Scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue.”

He also acknowledged the complexity and variances of the translated text. “Understand therefore, that one thing in the scripture representeth divers things” he said. But more to your point, that any translation effort involves a degree of interpretation and is therefore subject to the interpreter’s understanding. Tyndale also made this public declaration:
“I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God's Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me”

Now let’s zoom out and look at the bigger picture, as I am concerned that amidst our combined verbosity we may have lost focus of the issue at hand.


  1. EVERY translation involves a degree of interpretation
  2. The Voice has gone too far with theirs and has been seasoned with New Age seasoning. The samples I’ve seen thus far are more New-Agey than an Enya CD and fluffier than a Maltese poodle. NEVERTHELESS……
  3. The Bible has been translated into thousands of languages, many of which are tribal. Undoubtedly many of those translations are probably “less than perfect” with many gaps in them.
  4. Despite these imperfect attempts GOD STILL SAVES PEOPLE in those countries (newsflash!

    One of the gripes I have with this site is that we veer off into analysis paralysis. I fully support the public proclamations and unmasking of false teachings and doctrine but we go so far into our rantings that we portray biblical understanding so out-of-reach like an exclusive membership to a prestigious Country Club. The NT was written in common everyday language (at the time) for common folks not PhD academia and I’m sure that God had the ‘least of our brothers’ in mind too. Somehow the early church ‘managed’ before professional theologians came on the scene.

    Great post though Mike. I appreciate your effort to bring some balance to this debate.

Mike

I do apologize for going a little of topic. I get easily frustrated when people go around criticizing D-E/F-E translation methodology - but that was in the comments, not the post itself I had already noticed that the author put "Dynamic" in quotes. Especially when criticisms are based on the words of Leland Ryken - a man who doesn't know either of the Biblical languages.

You four summarizing points in our lengthy comments are excellent as well and I can agree wholeheartedly with all of them.

I have a high respect for the intuition of native Greek speakers, even if they're 2000 years removed from the original text. Greek has changed surprisingly little compared to English in the past couple hundred or Latin which as branched into many other languages.

Daniel Chew

O.H. Lee:

As I have mentioned on my blog: thanks for clearifying what you meant in that comment of yours. I ma glad that you are not one of those who embrace the erroneous D-E translational methodology which has caused havoc within the Church.

Daniel Chew

Mike:

I have responded to your lengthy comment here.

Daniel Chew

John:

1) EVERY translation involves a degree of interpretation

Agreed. As I have mentioned in my reply to Mike however, what kind of interpretation are we talking about: lexical or conceptual?

3) The Bible has been translated into thousands of languages, many of which are tribal. Undoubtedly many of those translations are probably “less than perfect” with many gaps in them.
4) Despite these imperfect attempts GOD STILL SAVES PEOPLE in those countries (newsflash!

Agreed. Last I know, God does not need perfect or even good bibles translation to save people. Does this mean that we should use sub-standard Bible translations? No.

Bill

Steve wrote: Bill,The key question is "What is the Gospel?". What does The Voice, or in that manor any other paraphrase, describe that the gospel. If the The Voice cannot get this question correct, then it's absolutely meaningless from the standpoint of salvation.

Bill: Steve, i was referring to the New Living Translation. I asked for an opinion on the NLT because it's the second best selling translation after the NIV. With regard to "The Voice" I'm not planning to use the translation, but I just started to use the NLT for the first time and din't find it too bad.

Larry

Lets go ahead and remove Jesus from Salvation and go and do internal prayer, meditation and Christian yoga as this will make us better people. After all the Bible is really saying the same thing as the sutras and gita. What a bunch of junk! This is the biggest hatchet job since the JW NWV.

Theophilus

Wow.. that's pretty absurd. Makes me want to brush up on my Greek. Thanks for he heads up.

Theophilus

Wow.. that's pretty absurd. Makes me want to brush up on my Greek. Thanks for he heads up.

Nick Ruiz

Thanks for this article. Personally, I lean more on the emergent side when it comes to social issues (primarily due to several key failures of the modern church), I agree with your arguments regarding scriptural integrity. I would certainly call this "translation" more of a commentary, and thus, it should be regarded with skepticism in its application as the sole text used to understand God's word. Personally, I wouldn't see much harm in a person reading it as a fresh perspective on scripture that they know well, but I would be wary of it as a means of teaching new believers or people who are "just entering the conversation."

I agree with the opinion that we don't need a new "translation" like this to communicate God's promises. Personally, I think one should read the scripture carefully to understand what the author is trying to communicate to us about the nature of God; subsequently, once the reader understands what that message is, they can go ahead and try to communicate that message by drawing upon their own gifts and experiences to corroborate that truth.

So what do you think? Is it possible to be emergent, while still accepting Wesley's "Quadrilateral"?

JJ

Ok. Guys you have done enough cursing the darkness... How do we light a candle? .

How do we get to the point of "Research and discovery" rather than the "packaged in styrofoam containers ready for consumption."? I prefer buying a cup of coffee rather than brewing a whole pot.

Is the Voice their answer to the question of "How to make the bible so more people will read it?".

Thanks Chris for the side by side comparison.

Brian

As a young person, a student of the Word, and a non-denomonational christian, I feel that the Voice, just like the Message before it, is a thought provoking piece of art. I dont feel that it should be your exclusive point of reference, however used with other true translations, it can be a useful tool. I own a copy of the Voice and the Message, and the ESV, and the NKJV, and the NIV, and the NASB.... the list continues, but used in moderation can be effective and helpful.

Jacob

You remind me of the Republicans in congress. "No! No! No!" But you propose no alternative that will speak to people who find your "correct" translations incomprehensible and boring. Show me something you approve of that will do what "The Voice" is attempting to do. Then I'll listen to you.

Ben

I agree - some of the points you made were justified... but then: did any of you ever compare the old testament quotes you find in the new with the original versions (or what we might think to be closer to the original versions)? THIS is liberty with the text! (http://www.bible-researcher.com/quote01.html)
even harder to swallow: their boundaries of the canon seem to only vaguely resemble ours - read the epistle of judas...

so what's my point?
who ever said liberty with the text IN ITSELF is bad? every good translation includes a serious amount of interpretation because it tries to transport the MEANING of a text. and that means you have to have an understanding of it - which can be incredibly hard, esp when it comes to passages like john 1. and yes, of course these interpretations can be distorted and wrong. go for it. tear them apart, critizise! correction, that's what we all need.
but if you challenge the idea of: taking the text, trying to understand it, use this understanding to produce a version in the language of laymen. if you attack the idea in itself- then please go (at least!) as far back as to dr. martin luther and tell him how dead wrong he was (btw: luther is another good example for liberty with the text). or maybe you should start of by telling paul and the other apostles to please NOT make use of the septuagint but instead to be a bit more strict ("extreme"?) when quoting scriptures.

frank jones

'...because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world.' Genesis 11:9 (NIV for those who care)

it seems as if its working...

Please remember to ask God to speak to you through the word regardless of your language as the original greek scholars were only human.

love
Frank

Brandon

Adding a tag to hopefully close the italics so that this becomes more readable...

tn20Piper

Some distinguished students should read your research connected with this good topic and just order the thesis titles from the dissertation writing service.

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