(Photo: Thomas Nelson Publishing)
A new translation of the Bible into English does not contain the name "Jesus Christ" nor the word "angel." It also prefers the word "emissary" over "apostle."
The Voice, a Bible that replaces "Jesus Christ" with terms like "Jesus the Anointed One," had its complete edition released by Thomas Nelson Publishing last month.
Frank Couch, Thomas Nelson's lead editor on the project, told The Christian Post that the purpose of The Voice was to make the Gospel message easier to understand for modern audiences.
"The Voice has not claimed to be more accurate than any other translation, rather it is more easily understood than any other translation," said Couch.
"When translators are limiting themselves to conveying the complete essence of a word from the Hebrew or the Greek with one English word they have difficulty bringing in the nuances held in the original language."
Because other translations have more literal renderings, Couch believed they are "why it has been necessary for commentators and preachers to spend so much time explaining what the words in the original language mean before the lay reader can understand fully a text of Scripture."
"Because we have a more expansive translating technique we can more fully develop the English translation and thus bring out the more difficult nuances found in the original language," he explained.
The scholars and authors who collaborated on the translation say their intention was to help readers "hear God speaking."
"One of the byproducts of the information age in the church has been its focus on biblical knowledge. Many Bibles reflect this, packed with informative notes, charts, and graphs. While there's nothing wrong with having a deep knowledge; a personal connection and deep relationship are far better," according to hearthevoice.com. "The Voice is focused on helping readers find (or rediscover) this connection with Him. Scripture is presented not as an academic document, but as an engaging story."
The idea for The Voice came in January 2004, when Thomas Nelson Publishing met with the Ecclesia Bible Society, whose leadership includes pastor Chris Seay of the Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas. The project came in portions, with the complete New Testament according to The Voice being released in 2009.
The name comes from the Bible translation's rendering of the Greek Word logos in John 1:1. Although the typical English Bible translates logos to "Word," in this translation it is rendered "Voice." The first verse of John, which in the NIV reads "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" becomes "Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking. The Voice was and is God."
A new video posted on the translation's Facebook further highlights that "The Voice offers an opportunity to hear afresh by telling the stories that have always been in the Bible in a beautiful and poetic way." It is written in screenplay format "so it's easy to follow or act out in a group."
Despite the approval of a major publisher like Thomas Nelson, which also sells other more established translations of the Bible, The Voice is not without its opponents, including many critical online reviews.
On the website "Life More Abundant," poster "Coralie" commented that the format of The Voice, which includes commentary in the body of the text, was a concern.
"The … effect of the inclusion of midstream commentary is the blurring of the line between inspired word and human opinion," wrote Coralie.
"My fear in our postmodern world is not that a new reader would take the commentary as the very word of God, but that he would read the words of God with the casual ease of another form of commentary."
The blog "Extreme Theology," an apologetics website, declared that The Voice was a "distorted version of the Bible."
"Unfortunately, not since the release of the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation of the Greek Scriptures in 1950 has there been a bible published that so blatantly mangles and distorts God's Word in order to support a peculiar and aberrant theological agenda," reads a review on ET's site.