The Changing Word
POSTED: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 9:47am
UPDATED: Sunday, July 15, 2012 - 1:12pm
"To love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, all your power and all your mind. And to love your neighbor as yourself."
When you think of the Bible, this is probably what you have in mind.
"Judge not lest ye be judged. For you will be judged by the standards that you yourself shall apply."
This is probably not what you had in mind.
And this is probably not what you have in mind.
"It's all about the man, Jesus of Nazareth. He was a mighty prophet. He did amazing miracles and preached a powerful message in the sight of God and everyone around.
It's a new version of the most sacred book in the western world.
And it's stirred up more than a few critics.
It's called…The Voice.
And it doesn't read like your usual Bible, but more like this…
"When he sits down at the table for dinner, he takes the bread in his hands, he gives thanks for it and then he breaks it and gives it to them. At that instant, two things happen instantaneously. They're eyes are opened so they recognize him, and he instantly vanishes."
When I was growing up in the old Episcopal church, there were a few things you could count on every Sunday. Those great old hymns by the Wesley Brothers, the old 1927 Book of Common Prayer, and the King James Bible.
Well, now you're more likely to hear guitars at the service, and the prayer book has been updated. But can you really update the Bible?
"What we've done is translate it but we've tried to put it on a shelf that people could get to, because a lot of people don't understand the Bible.
David Capes is a Professor of Religious Studies at Houston Baptist University.
And he was the lead scholar on the new Bible Translation called The Voice.
"What we did uniquely with this is said to ourselves, you know, the Bible has a lot of great poetry, why not have poets work with scholars to rediscover the beauty and the cadence of the language again? The Bible contains a lot of great stories, so why not have novelists and storytellers work with scholars? Scholars are good on the technical pieces, but we're not very good with the beauty of language and the cadence."
But some are not convinced.
Chris Roseborough edits the blog, Extreme Theology.
"You know, when I look at the passages they've come up with, especially Romans or the Gospel of John, it's obvious they started with their own theology first, and then adapted the so-called translation to their theology rather than let the bible itself speak for itself. And the Jesus they've created in this Voice, is more akin to some post-modern, pantheistic guru than he is to the Jesus of history."
"That's always a question," says Capes. "That's always a concern. But we had 14 different levels of review as we were moving forward. And the people at the very top of the review process were very conservative people. Just because it's easier to understand doesn't mean that it has to be watered down."
And yes, the language might strike some as a bit…modern.
"Life is fleeting, like a passing mist. It is like trying to catch hold of a breath, all vanishes like a vapor."
"The issue for us is that the language has changed in the last 400 years," Capes says. " And we're trying to make the beauty and the truth of the scriptures available to more and more people. We didn't do it for veteran Bible readers. We did it for people who never picked it up before. There's one statistic that says, of the people in church right now, 15 years old, about 60% of them will not come back to church after college. We've aimed at that audience, so that they can have a Bible for themselves, that speaks to them, that speaks their language. That demands of them and shows them relevance in their world, the world that they live in."