Monday, October 27, 2008

The Voice of (Un)Reason

I'm not even sure where to begin with this one.

Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia Church in Houston, TX has teamed up with 11 "Bible scholars" and more then a dozen writers, including Greg Garrett, a secular fiction writer and emerging church leader Brian MaClaren to collaborate on a new translation called The Voice, which presents the Bible in a screenplay format.

If you are unfamiliar with Eccelsia Church, they are locally known for their Taft St. Coffee Shop. A coffee shop dedicated to the arts (i.e. music, art, books, coffee, etc.). According to their website, Ecclesia Church "oversees all aspects of Taft". I've visited Taft St. Coffee frequently in the past. This is the same coffee shop that wanted to create a "safe environment" by discouraging other Christians from holding Bible studies in their shop for fear of scaring off unbelieving customers; this is the same coffee shop that promotes and carries Skeptic Magazine, a publication that has often opposed and ridiculed any and everything Christian; and this is the same coffee shop that constantly features books from emerging leaders such as Brian MacLaren and Rob Bell.

AND according to the doctrinal statement on their website, they "embrace the mystery of faith"...sounds suspiciously postmodern and emergent to me.

Despite their belief that faith is a mystery, Chris Seay felt compelled that it was time for yet another loose Bible translation. According to David Capes, who was one of the scholars involved, a recent comment made by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards compelled the new translation, which reads like a movie script. Richards claimed he read the Bible sometimes but found it "deadly boring" and Capes responds with a sympathetic (or pathetic) "we understand." That's right...here we have a secular artist calling God's word boring, and then we have a "Bible scholar" agreeing with him. In fact, they even have an entire website shamelessly titled "dontgiveupkeith" dedicated to their cause.

Capes goes on to say that we must present Scripture in a brand new way if we are ever to bring people like Richards to the Bible. In other words, we change the presentation of God's word so it appeals to the carnal mind of a human being.

Capes and Seay also suggest that the "literary beauty" of the Bible is missed in today's translations. Rather than reading the Bible as "principles and prescriptions" they would rather have people view the Bible as "a story, a grand drama of redemption."

Capes then says, "Traditional Bibles with their black covers, abstruse notes, and page after page of dense type can be off-putting to them." He is referring to a younger generation that wants to approach worshipping God differently.

To make it even worse, the "translators" add words and phrases not found in the original translation. And they do this all in the name of being relevant.

"It's a way to get people reading the Bible", says Capes.

And what do they hope to accomplish?

"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."

Did you get that-if it's written beautifully? Apparently God got it wrong the first time and needs a team of translators to come in and make His word more attractive to a younger generation.

According to Capes, they hoped to come up with something similar to what the King James Version captured, which was translated by scholars largely dependent upon translations by William Tyndale. But Tyndale had a far more noble cause,

"I had perceived by experience, 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, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text."

And.

"I defie the Pope and all his lawes. If God spare my life, ere many yeares I wyl cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doust. "

His laboring to translate God's word was driven by a passion to have the most common of all people to read and understand the meaning of the text...he had no interest in dressing it up so it would be more pleasing to the eyes of a sinful man.

The word of God is not merely a story to be read like a playwright or movie script! Have we such a low view of the Scriptures that we think we can make it look prettier or more attractive by changing and adding to the words? We should esteem the words of His mouth more than our necessary food and delight and desire it as a newborn baby desires the sincere milk of the word (Job 23:12, Psalm 119:35, 1 Peter 2:2). Why? Because we have a passion to know God more and grow daily in our salvation. Not simply to find out "what happens next".

And if Seay is so concerned with bringing people to know God's word, then do as the Scriptures say and teach and preach the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). Rather than changing the Bible to appear more attractive to the world, Seay should proclaim the word of the Lord, that is sharper than any two-edged sword that penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). And with this preaching, God promises that his Word will not return void. Let God's word change the hearts and minds of men rather than changing God's word for the minds of men. Only then will people like Keith Richards have a sincere desire for the truth of God and His word.

*all quotes taken from The Houston Chronicle's article Scripture gets a new Voice

6 comments:

mel-e said...

Just out of curiousity...is there anyone out there who thinks that you can change the words or Scripture and it's ok? I'm curious to know what the reasoning is behind the "getting people to like the Bible" idea at the expense of God's name. If they didn't like it when Jesus preached it then why would people get the impression that the Keith Richard's of the world should come running? And forgive me but why would someone like Keith Richard's influence me to the extent that I would doubt the way GOD himself has made his holy ways known to me? I guess if this new translation is as bad as THE MESSAGE we have some serious false converts coming our way :/

Rich you said:The word of God is not merely a story to be read like a playwright or movie script!

The Bible is one of the greatest drama's ever told, from beginning to end I am fascinated with how God presents, not just His son, but the cloud of witnesses that have shown us how to contend for the faith. If anyone out there is bored with the Bible PLEASE find a good commentary and read it for all it's worth. God provided the book it's up to you to use it in the right way.

CD-Host said...

I like to notify people when I link to them. I linked to you in my Review of The Voice translation

L said...

Unless you're a Greek scholar then you can't get the true flavor of what the New Testament is actually saying. The words in English just don't cut it at showing what the author meant sometimes.

It's not just the language that has changed, it's the time too. We live in a completely different world from the authors of the NT. We don't think the same way. We don't act the same way. Our focuses are different from theirs and our experience of life is radically different. So, how can your everyday reader truly understand without some explanation?

Don't say go and read a good commentary. Firstly, finding a good one is hard enough, and secondly, reading a commentary is just someone's translation of what they read anyway. You are interpreting another persons interpretation of their chosen translation of the NT (or potentially you are reading their interpretation of the original manuscript).

Now, I don't think that people should change what is being said to reinforce their own ideas but I do think that a translation which interprets what the author was trying to say and bringing out the message of it is a good thing.

Rich said...

Unless you're a Greek scholar then you can't get the true flavor of what the New Testament is actually saying. The words in English just don't cut it at showing what the author meant sometimes."

Yes, it would be beneficial to learn the Greek language-even just the basics of Greek and there are plenty of courses out there that do this. However, there are literal translations available (ESV, NASB) that use the most reliable manuscripts and seek to honor the original text. God has preserved his word and we have men who have tirelessly given themselves to translating it into our language without changing the original meaning.

"It's not just the language that has changed, it's the time too. We live in a completely different world from the authors of the NT. We don't think the same way. We don't act the same way. Our focuses are different from theirs and our experience of life is radically different. So, how can your everyday reader truly understand without some explanation?"

Yes, our culture and language are very different and do change but this does not justify changing God’s word to suit man’s preferences. Your point only stresses the need to rightly divide the word of truth and understand the writer’s culture, rather than produce a translation that, overall, changes the author’s original meaning and imposes our own ideas, experiences, etc. onto the text.

"Don't say go and read a good commentary. Firstly, finding a good one is hard enough, and secondly, reading a commentary is just someone's translation of what they read anyway. You are interpreting another persons interpretation of their chosen translation of the NT (or potentially you are reading their interpretation of the original manuscript)."

A commentary is one of many tools that can assist us in understanding Scripture. A Bible dictionary, lexicon, and a concordance can also help us. Ultimately, as readers of God’s holy word, we should seek to understand the author’s intended meaning and these are all tools that are useful in doing so and enhance the time we spend in Scripture.

"Now, I don't think that people should change what is being said to reinforce their own ideas but I do think that a translation which interprets what the author was trying to say and bringing out the message of it is a good thing."

I agree completely. That is why the “Voice” translation is not a good translation, along with many other versions *cough* the message *cough* that undermine the truth of Scripture by importing our own ideas into the God’s word, which only muddles the text.

But by God’s grace, we have received the concise, completed, and clear revelation of our Savior and His redeeming love towards the saints! Through the Holy Spirit and men that have been raised up by God, we can understand and thus grow to love our God through His word!

Anonymous said...

Now who is it that thinks Tyndale trasnlated the KJV?

Rich said...

Anonymous-cleaned up the language a little.