Thinking Out Loud

April 16, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Pet Blessing Service

I’m writing this assuming everyone survived the prophetic implications of the blood moon, but maybe the April 15 income tax deadline is a form of judgment. 

As we do each Wednesday, clicking anything below will take you to PARSE where the links are live.

Paul Wilkinson writes the rest of the week at Thinking Out Loud, and edits the daily devotional Christianity 201 page.

Lettuce Pray from _ChristianHumor Twitter

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March 11, 2014

Comparing The Voice, The Message and The Living Bible

Bible translation issues

This is an article about three specific Bible versions, but has more to do with the form of each; the purpose is not to delve into specific translation issues associated with the use of words, phrases, sentences or the doctrinal implications of different translation practices.

Defining Terms

reach outThe Living Bible refers to the Bible originally begun in the 1960s by Ken Taylor to give his ten kids a better understanding of scripture at their suppertime family devotions. It is an English-to-English simplification of the ASV. This is not the same as the New Living Translation (NLT) though there is obviously shared history. The Living Bible is currently available for purchase in only two editions, a padded hardcover and an imitation leather anniversary edition. Anything else currently offered for sale is an NLT.

The Message BibleThe Message refers to the Bible written by Eugene Peterson beginning in the 1990s to help people not knowing the original languages a better feel for the dynamics and nuances of Biblical passages. It is Hebrew-to-English and Greek-to-English, so it is a translation (regardless what anyone tells you) but a translation that uses American colloquialisms and a conversational reading style.

The Voice BibleThe Voice is the most recent of the three and was developed over the last ten years by the Ecclesia Bible Society, and while it is also a translation, the translators worked with stylists (poets, playwrights and musicians) to create something that blended traditional approaches and some radical departures in form.

Similarities

All three Bibles were quickly embraced by people looking for an alternative, fresh take on the text, and therefore each has impacted a different generation. Similarly, all three were roundly criticized by traditionalists and conservatives as taking too many liberties or not being “Bible enough.” Some people simply have an automatic aversion to new translations, or are influenced by church leaders who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in all things.

All three were released in stages; The Living Bible began as a series of smaller books, Living Letters, Living Gospels and Living Psalms and Proverbs being three examples; The Message Old Testament came out as a series of four hardcover books; The Voice issued a variety of editions consisting of individual Bible books and two music CDs.

Completed versions of all three came out in 1971, 2003 and 2012 respectively, and all three spread in popularity through word-of-mouth recommendations.

Unique Characteristics

Today it’s hard to think of The Living Bible as radical, but several publishers rejected it, so Ken Taylor created Tyndale House Publishers and released Living Letters with a whopping print run of 2,000 copies in 1962. A year later, Billy Graham endorsed the project and gave away many times that number on his crusade telecasts. While sometimes a publishing company will work to fill a void by creating a Bible, this is a Bible that created a publishing company. By today’s standards, Taylor’s work wasn’t all that controversial, but his decision to render the Psalms as prose rather than poetry is one of the features that was later undone in the creation of the NLT.  Taylor was fortunate to have predated the internet; today bloggers would be lining up to dissect every jot and tittle, but at the time, it was a simply matter of you either liked it your didn’t. Tyndale House today publishes Randy Alcorn, Francine Rivers, James Dobson and the Left Behind series.

I once read an interview where Eugene Peterson was surprised when churches started using The Message as part of Sunday liturgy. He envisioned the project having more personal application. Besides taking a straight-forward, in-your-face approach to many Biblical images and narratives, The Message originally came to market sans verse numbers; the only allusion to them being guides at the top of the page where chapters cut across several pages. Later editions added verses numbers in varying degrees, but even today, the most numbered editions tend to group three or four verses together which is, in many respects, more consistent with what’s needed to render the English equivalent to the original texts. There are some among the Christian community who are more than willing to totally dismiss the project, but reading some of Peterson’s more recent writing helps me appreciate his clout as a Bible scholar that he brought to this project. The Message is published by NavPress, the book division of The Navigators discipleship ministry.

The Voice Bible in many respects honored the work done by the KJV translators in retaining two of their strategies. First, where words were added to the text they were set in italics to show that they were not to be found in the original languages.  Second, the aforementioned stylists were added to the mix to work with translators to bring about a finished product that sometimes goes out of its way to try to find new ways to restate old things (i.e. rendering Yahweh and Elohim as “Eternal One.”) But The Voice’s most unique contribution to the world of Bibles is its use of dramatic script (play) form wherever there is any type of dialog (see page sample image.) The Voice also borrows from The Amplified Bible in its application of word meanings in the italicized sections, and because of its desire to produce a dramatized script, what would normally be introductory or supplementary notes are embedded in the text between verses so as to give a type of stage direction. Unfortunately, The Voice also suffered at the hands of a vocal internet community that was as willing to pounce on a new translation as King-James-Only-ites were to decry the NIV. Trade distribution of The Voice is handled by Thomas Nelson.

Bible Translation Continuum

Why It Matters

It has been said that a religious group that does not impart its sacred writings to its children is one generation away from extinction. We live in an ADD-plagued, media-saturated, Biblically-illiterate world. Over the years publishers have tried to encourage new readers with everything from devotional Bibles to Biblezines. A kids edition was issued with a faux fir cover for girls and a lockable metal chest cover for boys.

Still, sometimes we need to address the translations themselves; to rethink the base texts on which creative editions can be based. Furthermore, the language itself is ever changing, always evolving. Just as the radio industry once offered a choice of a half dozen or so formats (pop, country, classical, progressive rock, etc.) today’s cultural fragmentation means there are now dozens of different types of music channels. Similarly, the days of all of us at small group Bible study reading from the translation are probably over.

So while the last few years have also brought us The Expanded Version, the HCSB and the ESV, which would appeal to former Amplified, NKJV and NASB readers respectively, we also need the creative vision of those willing to boldly go where no translation has gone before.

Ken Taylor, Eugene Peterson and the people at Ecclesia represent that kind of vision. Nobody is forcing anyone to read a particular version — people who dislike one of the above tend to dislike all three — but just as some visionaries said forty years ago that “it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people,” today we might add that “it takes all manner of translation styles to reach all types of people.”

Comments not directly on the specific topic of this article will not be printed. If you’ve come to this article with an agenda please comment elsewhere.

March 19, 2013

More From The Voice Bible

A few days ago we looked at the story behind the new translation. The “more” here refers to the excerpt from this Bible version I posted at Christianity 201 (C201) the sister blog of Thinking Out Loud.

I wanted to choose a section here that highlights the use of italics to provide details that embellish the text for non-Bible readers; the use of the theatrical script to indicate dialog; and the use of embedded commentary inserted into the text.

I also wanted something seasonal, so I chose this pre-Palm Sunday passage, Luke 20. This is better than anything I could have written today!!



20 One day when He was teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests, religious scholars, and elders came up and questioned Him.

Elders: Tell us by what authority You march into the temple and disrupt our worship. Who gave You this authority?

Jesus: Let Me ask you a question first. Tell Me this: was the ritual cleansing of baptism John did from God, or was it merely a human thing?

Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders (conferring together): If we say it was from God, then He’ll ask us why we didn’t believe John. If we say it was merely human, all the people will stone us because they are convinced that John was a true prophet.

So they said they didn’t know where John’s ritual washing came from.

Jesus: Well then, if you won’t answer My question, I won’t tell you by what authority I have acted.

The Voice BibleHe told the people another parable:

Jesus: A man planted a vineyard. He rented it to tenants and went for a long trip to another country. 10 At the harvest time, he sent a servant to the tenants so he could be paid his share of the vineyard’s fruit, but the tenants beat the servant and sent him away empty-handed. 11 The man sent another servant, and they beat him and treated him disgracefully and sent him away empty-handed too. 12 He sent a third servant who was injured and thrown out. 13 Then the vineyard owner said, “Now what am I going to do? I’ll send my much-loved son. They should treat him with respect.”

14 But when the tenants recognized the owner’s son, they said, “Here’s our chance to actually own this vineyard! Let’s kill the owner’s heir so we can claim this place as our own!” 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and murdered him. What do you think the owner will do to these scoundrels?

16 I’ll tell you what he’ll do; he’ll come and wipe those tenants out, and he’ll give the vineyard to others.

Crowd: No! God forbid that this should happen!

Jesus: 17 Why then do the Hebrew Scriptures contain these words:

The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the very stone
    that holds together the entire foundation?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to fragments, and if that stone falls on anyone, he will be ground to dust.

19 That was the last straw for the religious scholars and the chief priests; they were ready to attack Him right then and there. But they couldn’t for fear of public opinion, and they realized that Jesus, through this parable, had exposed their violent intentions.

Since they can’t use overt violence against Him, they develop a covert plan.

20 They would keep Him under constant surveillance. They would send spies, pretending to ask sincere questions, listening for something they could seize upon that would justify His arrest and condemnation under the governor’s authority.

In addition to the Pharisees, there is a religious sect in Roman-occupied Israel called the Sadducees. They are religious conservatives holding to an ancient tradition in Judaism that doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Their disbelief in an afterlife seems to make them conclude, “There’s only one life, and this is it, so you’d better play it safe.” That means they are very happy to collaborate with the Romans—and make a healthy profit—rather than risk any kind of rebellion or revolt. For this reason, they are closely allied with another group called the Herodians, allies of Caesar’s puppet king Herod. Their contemporaries, the Pharisees, who believe in an afterlife, are more prone to risk their lives in a rebellion since they hope martyrs will be rewarded with resurrection. For this reason, the Pharisees are closely allied with the Zealots, who are more overtly revolutionary. Each group tries to trap Jesus, but He turns the tables on them, using each encounter to shed more light on the message of the kingdom of God. In case after case, Jesus brings His hearers to the heart of the matter; and again and again, the bottom-line issue is money.

Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders: 21 Teacher, we respect You because You speak and teach only what is right, You show no partiality to anyone, and You truly teach the way of God. 22 So—is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar’s occupying regime, or should we refuse?

23 He saw through their transparent trick.

Jesus: [Why are you trying to trick Me?] 24 Show Me a coin. Whose image and name are on this coin?

Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders: Caesar’s.

Jesus: 25 Well then, you should give to Caesar whatever is Caesar’s, and you should give to God whatever is God’s.

26 Once again they failed to humiliate Him in public or catch Him in a punishable offense. They were confounded by His reply and couldn’t say anything in response.

27 Another group came to test Him—this time from the Sadducees, a rival party of the Pharisees, who believe that there is no resurrection.

Sadducees: 28 Teacher, Moses wrote in the Hebrew Scriptures that a man must marry his brother’s wife and the new couple should bear children for his brother if his brother dies without heirs. 29 Well, once there were seven brothers, and the first took a wife and then died without fathering children. 30 The second [took her as his wife and then he died childless,] 31 and then the third, and so on through the seven. They all died leaving no children. 32 Finally the woman died too. 33 Here’s our question: in the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since all seven had her for a while? Will she be the wife of seven men at once?

Jesus: 34 The children of this era marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain the resurrection of the dead in the coming era do not marry and are not given in marriage. 36 They are beyond mortality; they are on the level of heavenly messengers; they are children of God and children of the resurrection. 37 Since you brought up the issue of resurrection, even Moses made clear in the passage about the burning bush that the dead are, in fact, raised. After all, he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 38 By Moses’ time, they were all dead, but God isn’t God of the dead, but of the living. So all live to God.

Religious Scholars: 39 Teacher, that was a good answer.

40 After this no one had the courage to ask Him any more questions. 41 But He asked them a question.

Jesus: How is it that people say the Anointed One is David’s descendant? 42 Don’t you remember how David himself wrote in the psalms,

    The Master said to my master:
        “Sit here at My right hand,
        in the place of honor and power.
43     And I will gather Your enemies together,
        lead them in on hands and knees,
        and You will rest Your feet on their backs.”

44 Did you hear that? David calls his son “Lord.” Elders don’t defer to those who are younger in that way. How is David’s son also “Lord”?

45 Jesus turned to His disciples, speaking loudly enough for the others to hear.

Jesus: 46 Beware of the religious scholars. They like to parade around in long robes. They love being greeted in the marketplaces. They love taking the best seats in the synagogues. They adore being seated around the head table at banquets. 47 But in their greed they rob widows of their houses and cover up their greed with long pretentious prayers. Their condemnation will be all the worse because of their hypocrisy.

March 14, 2013

The Voice Bible: The Rest of the Story

I have to admit here that while The Voice Bible translation has been something I’ve been aware of for a decade, it has largely been flying under my radar. For that I apologize, because The Voice is exactly the type of thing I like to celebrate here at Thinking Out Loud. This is a translation, but one that involved a mix of theologians and academics with the likes of poets, playwrights and music composers.

The Story of The VoiceWhat has sparked a change in my perspective is twofold. First, the announcement from BibleGateway.com that they would be including The Voice among their list of online translations. If nothing else, this establishes a certain legitimacy. But then, an offer to review The Story of The Voice, a behind-the-scenes insider peek at the making of this new Bible.

Such books are often propagandist. Leland Ryken’s little booklet, Choosing a Bible is basically an unabashed self-promotional tool for the ESV. The book equivalent of paid programming, with all the hyperbole you would expect. But others, like How to Choose a Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss are like a crash course in translation, allowing you to peer over the shoulder of translators as they wrestle with difficult passages, sentences, phrases and even single words. The Story of The Voice fits into that latter, more balanced and informative category.

Again here, I have to say I’m sorry for arriving late to this party. This translation is due all the expectancy we had a decade earlier when The Message came to print. It’s a milestone in Bible translation and possibly the first translation dedicated wholly to meeting the needs of a generation that is not Bible-literate. In many ways The Message paved the way for a Bible like The Voice.

But the companion book also shows that the translators did not exactly treat the King James Version with disdain; often referring back to how its phrasing reverberates even in a contemporary culture. There are frequent references to the NIV as the currently most popular, to the NASB for its status the most ‘literal,’ but also to the KJV for being perhaps the most pervasive of any Bible in the last five hundred years or more.

Ironically, like the KJV, the aims of The Voice translators were literary as well as theological, but The Voice team felt that similarities in style in previous Bibles has robbed them of the unique style with which each Bible book speaks; the background and intent of each author. So in the case of the gospels, to provide an authenticity to each writer, translators were chosen with backgrounds complementary to the Biblical book they were assigned.

In addition, The Voice has added some words and phrases — in italics, as did the KJV — to make passages clear to people unfamiliar with the story. In many cases, these insertions are quite liberal in terms of length. But even more surprising to some is the use of embedded commentary; notes that are placed in indented boxes within the core text, rather than at the bottom of the page.

In my excitement over all this translation brings, my task at hand is reviewing the companion book, and I must say that it is a story unto itself, which defines Chris Seay’s original vision and the ups and downs of the process by which The Voice came to market. Containing chapters which focus on particular aspects of the project, The Story of The Voice is available now in a 150-page paperback from Thomas Nelson at $9.99 US. The Bible itself is what you really want to get your hands on, especially if there is someone in your sphere of contacts who has had no previous exposure to church or scriptures.

Read an excerpt from The Voice: Click here.

February 27, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Bart Simpson - Love Wins

Link and the world links with you…  The cartoon? See item 4 below:

For Heaven's Sake - Feb 4 2013

May 16, 2012

Wednesday Link List

If you missed the bonus edition of the link list this week, be sure to click over to Monday.

  • Quotation of the day, from Arminius, after whom Arminianism is named: ““Next to the study of the Scriptures which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries…” (appropriately, as quoted on an Arminian blog.)
  • Canadian author, apologist and television host Grant Jeffrey passed away on the weekend. His independent publishing catalog was purchased years ago by Random House subsidiary Waterbrook Press, with Wikipedia listing 34 titles including one scheduled for next January.
  • At Age 30, Chris Galanos is the youngest person to pastor a megachurch in the United States. Needless to say, it’s in Texas.
  • If you have ever struggled to sing the bridge to “Blessed Be The Name” — the “You give and take away” part — you might resonate with this article and many comments.
  • On the 20th anniversary of New Wineskins magazine, Keith Brenton deals with the emotional issues that arise when one reaches a crossroads in terms of their committment to their church home. To stay or to go, that is the question. 
  • Julie Clawson learns the hard way that when you’re in the fitting room trying on swimsuits, you’re a captive audience for the woman who wants to stand outside the door and share her faith. Not sure if this would work at the menswear store.
  • Lots of Bible-related links today; that’s a good thing, right? Now picture yourself sitting alone in your room reading your Bible. In the grander scheme of things, you’re not really alone.
  • Francis Chan makes a rather provocative statement about mission and worship, and — just like Andy Stanley’s fifteen minutes of controversy last week — the words get wrenched from the heart of what he’s saying. Gee…that’s never happened before.
  • How does a Bible translator feel when a new English version is introduced, knowing so many people still don’t have a Bible or even a complete New Testament in their language.
  • The Amish weren’t supposed to have cars, but did anybody say they couldn’t fly? In a community where the official ruling was still pending, a young man takes up flying in 1917, and where the Great War is going on, he also is an exception to the practice of exemption from military duty. All this makes The Wings of Morning a rather interesting looking novel.
  • The Gay issue. It’s the toughest challenge the church has faced in years. And each gay person is going to have contact — good or bad — with professing Christians. And for every 17 interactions, you have to hope one of us gets it right.
  • Pete Wilson boards a helicopter for a flyover of a piece of property central to a complete relocation of Cross Point in Nashville, and also celebrates a God-blessed history in this 15-minute video.
  • Sports Department: Victor Goetz is a championship golfer, however he’s also quite blind. He typically finishes with a score of 105. He also earned a Paralympic gold medal in lawn bowling.
  • Pop goes the music department: A new Owl City EP released yesterday with help from Matt Thiessen of Relient K.
  • A Lutheran (LCC) pastor thinks you can preach a perfect sermon but still get a failing grade if you’ve answered all the wrong questions or left people with the wrong mandate.
  • Michael Hyatt sits down with the originators of a rather unique new English Bible translation, The Voice. This edition uses a dramatic script format where applicable, and I’m hoping at some point to get a copy so we can delve into it here in much more detail. (There’s a page sample from one month ago at this blog when the usual suspects got upset about a particular phrase translation choice.)
  • For those who follow the Fundy Follies, Right Wing Watch blog is doing a series based on the student handbook at Liberty University; this link deals with the policy of random drug testing. Too bad thought-monitoring hasn’t been invented yet.
  • Which is a great lead-in to twelve easy steps the rest of us can follow that provide an absolute guarantee that we’ll never be mistaken for a Fundy.
  • ‘You and I in a little toy shop, buy a bag of balloons for the Bibles we bought…’ — They weren’t red balloons, but they carried Bibles into North Korea, and GPS tracking devices verified that they reached the target.
  • You’ve seen the line, “If you love Jesus click ‘like.'” Does that mean that if I don’t click, I don’t love Jesus? Is Facebook theology becoming shallow, or were the FB-ers who post this drivel spiritually shallow to begin with?
  • Now then, as to that Archie comic above. If you’re old enough to remember the “even then it was awkward evangelism” Spire Christian Comics and want to relive those memories, Carp’s Place has them waiting for you on .pdf files…
  • …And since one Archie deserves another, I thought we’d end with TV favorite 1970’s bigot, Archie Bunker; and if you dare, a link to Archie reading the creation story from Genesis, which isn’t quite the same as Linus reading the Christmas story.

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