The good people at Thomas Nelson have asked this blog and 99 others to review The Voice: New Testament. I informed them that I was a part of the project, and they said that was OK. So, here we go.
I’m holding in my hand – actually it’s sitting on my desk – a new copy of The Voice: New Testament. The Voice brings together some of the best contemporary Christian writers in an
attempt to tell the story of scripture. The Voice attempts to be a “fresh retelling” for a “new generation.”
Let’s peel back the cover and see if the writer’s and editor’s goals were indeed met.
Let’s begin with the look of it. The Voice constructs for itself four primary goals. It seeks to be “holistic, beautiful, sensitive and balanced.” I think they hit the nail on the head in terms of beauty. Bible publishers have gone through a great deal of trouble in recent years to make Bible visually appealing. There are Bibles that appeal to all sub-groups – men, woman, kids, teenagers, soldier’s, any and everyone. It is obvious that The Voice’s design is geared toward people who appreciate simple beauty. Both the cloth leather and the paperback boast simply covers that look both contemporary and durable. The one significant drawback to the cloth leather version are the words “The Voice: New Testament” etched across the front leather panel. Perhaps for most people this won’t be a problem for most people, but I have this quirck about my Bibles not looking like Bibles. Trust me, I’m not ashamed of the Bible, I’ve carried one in my backpack since I was 14, I just prefer Bible that don’t look like Bibles.
Hopefully in future editions, Thomas Nelson and Chris Seay will decide to go with an all leather version. I suspect that this will be dependent on sales. After all, The Voice is designed for young and new Christians who might hesitate at spending $40-$50 bucks for one testament. My NRSV Study Bible that I use for scholarly work and study cost $100, not many people are willing to pony-up that much. One of the pluses of the cloth-leather version is that the cloth feels extremely durable. This is a toss in the back-pack, throw in the laptop bag kind of Bible – great for traveling and a highly mobile generation.
Beside the cover, the inside page are both tough and visually appealing. In fact, the look and feel of the pages is the very first thing people notice. So far, I’ve received comments ranging from “neat” to “beautiful.” Interestingly, women seem to love it. Todd Hunter told me that his wife hijacked his, and Jack Garland, a local attorney, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic professor told me, “My wife will love this.” However, it doesn’t have a “chick” feel, so don’t worry about that. Rather it has a beauty to it, which highlights, I think, the fact the pages themselves are part of telling a beautiful story.
In terms of the individual books of the New Testament, The Voice is fairly standard. Bypassing the early mistakes of Eugene Peterson’s The Message, The Voice does give both chapter and verse. In some case, in order to not interrupt continuous thoughts, verses are paired together. Fortunately, aesthetics don’t get in the way. The Voice makes it easy to find chapter and verse. Folks new to scripture will find this helpful when using The Voice in Bible studies.
You will not be disappointed in the look of The Voice. Next time, we’ll turn to a look at how the gospels are handled in The Voice.