The Voice Translation – Recapturing the Bible’s Oral Tradition


This past week it was my privilege to speak at the East Coast Worship Conference in Pennsylvania. The conference asked me to do a keynote address on leadership and I also led a Workshop on our new Bible translation, The Voice.

I’ll post my leadership keynote at another time.

What I want to share was the fantastic experience of the workshop. Before jumping into it, let me give you some context.

The BIble, before King James, before Gutenberg,and other pioneers of the printed page, survived mainly by the tradition of reading Scripture aloud. There are several references, for example, of Jesus reading Scripture in the Temple. Yes, it was captured on a scroll, but the main way people experienced the Bible was through hearing it, not reading it. Even after the printing press began churning out the Bible, the oral tradition of Scripture continued for centuries as books were expensive and the common family just could not afford one and the liturgy of most churches set aside time for reading Scripture aloud to the whole assembly.

In today’s world we have a proliferation of printed Bible products in every size, shape and price. And we have a significant change in the liturgy of many churches that excludes that appointed time allotted for the specific reading aloud of the Sacred Text (sometimes in concert with a Lexionary and sometimes just as a focus where the whole congregation stands for the reading of the Word). Both of these changes have been made at the sacrifice of the oral experience of the Bible.

The Bible is a powerful book and there’s no experience like hearing it read. “The Word of Promise: New Testament Audio Bible” (Thomas Nelson) is an example of how the audio presentation can knock your socks off.

The Nelson team created The Voice translation with this perspective in mind. Specifically, the screen-play format, the linguistic and historical information included in italics, and the contextualization that is present in the commentary makes The Voice ideal for public reading and understanding.

So, in our Workshop this week we created an impromptu reading of Scripture using The Voice. We gave some attendees selected parts as they entered the workshop and we read four separate passages from Scritpure. It was amazing as we together experienced the Word by hearing it. We heard so many positive comments and every reader realized the ease of doing this and the positive effect it had.

So I encourage you to think about using The Voice in this way. Reading it out loud is unique and will impact your congregation or small group. Plus, because of how it’s formatted readers will not feel intimidated or confused. It all comes together nicely.

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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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