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Wise Words #1

I’m oft reminded of the wise words I’ve come to memorize and live by over my life. (I’ll post wise sayings every now and then.)These sayings, for whatever reason, have exploded in my mind and I will never forget them. Today’s wise words are from one of my heroes, Martin Luther King, Jr.

“In the end, it is not the words of our enemies that we will remember; it is the silence of our friends.”

The Voice: New Testament Part 2 – The Gospels

Now that we’ve reviewed the look of The Voice: New Testament we turn to examining how The Voice handles the gospels.

Let’s begin with what I like about the way the gospels were handled. First, Chris’ choice regarding who would best retell each gospel was genius. Lauren Winner penned Matthew, which is fitting given that she is Jewish. Greg Garret retells Mark, Brian McLaren retells Luke, and later Acts, of course, and Chris Seay takes on John’s gospel. It should be said at the outset that the gospels, neither in older versions of the Bible or this one, was written by one person. And having people retell gospels that somewhat reflect their authors biography and interest adds significantly to the depth of the project.

As you read through The Voice you will notice words in both italics and in boxes. These words are explanatory. For instance, as Lauren retells Matthew 5, she highlights that Jesus is referencing material found in Deuteronomy. I love the fact that this note is not tucked away in a bottom footnote. Rather she has incorporated it into the text. This is not “Bible Reading For Dummies,” rather the writers take seriously the addition of material that the originally audience would have known that 21st Century readers don’t.

Second, the gospel narratives are told in screenplay (or play) form. As a high school student, I loved reading plays because it seemed like I could more easily enter the written world, and it seemed like the reading went faster. As I read through the gospels I noticed that I had not sat down and read through the gospels in that manner in years. Though I knew the story, it was coming alive again for me. What’s more, in the screenplay format, staging directions are given, like (everyone talking at once) or (overhearing them). I truly felt like I was watching something unfold. It wasn’t unlike watching one of your favorite movies; you know the story and what’s coming, but you’re just drawn into the story because it’s told so well.

Unfortunately, the screenplay format makes it difficult to use The Voice with an audience if there is no Keynote or PowerPoint available. As you read the gospels to people, you have to come up with a way to explain who is talking, because the text doesn’t do that. There’s no, “Then Jesus said…” It can be used with an audience, I do it every week, but you have to be created. If you teach a weekly Bible study, I suggest you just buy one for everyone in attendance.

Before you call me a corporate shell for The Voice, I want to highlight one BIG thing I do not like about it. Here it is: Baptism is called “Ritual Cleansing.” Here I show my church of Christ heritage and Restoration Movement bias. In the footnotes, ritual cleansing is referred to as baptism, but I think that baptism is such a meaningful and beautiful image that it should have been retained.

As a contributor to the project, I know that there are some things that are “decided” in terms of language. I suspect that is what happened here because the term is used consistently throughout the gospels. For instance, in Old Testament references to God, we were asked to use “The Eternal One.” These changes are made for many different reasons, and to coddle Sean Palmer’s sentimental regard for the word “baptism” certainly wasn’t one of them. However, the term “ritual cleansing” makes baptism sound more pedestrian and effectual that I believe it is.

In total, the gospels are wonderful, particularly Matthew. And while much of the advertising around The Voice is about emerging generations and new Christians as a young man, but old Christian I found that the gospels inspired in me a desire to re-enter this timeless story.

P.S. If you would like to order a copy of The Voice e-mail me and I will add you to my bulk order. You’ll pay a seriously reduced price plus whatever it cost me to mail it to you wherever you are.

The Voice Review Part 1

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

New Testament Cloth/Leather Version

The Voice: New Testament Cloth/Leather Version

 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.

New Testament Paperback Edition

The Voice: New Testament Paperback Edition

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. 

Sneak Peeks

I’ve got two sneak peeks of interest today. First, you can see the 1st episode of this season’s 30 Rock, starring Tina Fey here. It’s a complete episode, you don’t want to miss it. Second, I’m now holding my copy of The Voice: New Testament. I’ll go into further details about The Voice next week, but so far I like most of what I’ve seen. I’m now speaking, teaching, and preaching out of it almost exclusively. 


In & Out

A strange thing happens when you’re not blogging: You keep coming up with blog ideas! When I’m actively blogging I spend traffic time and shaving time thinking about the blog, but when there is no blog to write, there are ideas aplenty.

For instance, here are some blog ideas that nevere turned into blogs because of my short hiatus from blogging.

1. Olympics: (A) Why can male beach volleyball players perform fine in a sleevless t-shirt and long shorts, but the woman have to wear…well, they wear next to nothing? This also bring up the question of why sportsradio callers need to talk about the “hotness” level of professional athletes. (B) Does the Chinese Olympic Committee think we really can’t tell what a 16-year-old is suppossed to look like? (C) How big of a fool does Michael Phelps’ dad feel like now? His son is the greatest Olympian ever, but he left them when Michael was a boy. Smooth move, Ex-Lax. Think about that when your ex-wife is making bank doing Chunky Soup commercials next month.

2. Presidential Politics: Many Christian people I know have taken criticism for supporting Obama from their conservative friends and blog readers. Some wonder: How can you support a candidate who is “pro-abortion” (they use “pro-abortion” as if people are hosting mall kiosk asking poor, unwed mothers-to-be to sign-up)? I believe there is a discussion to be had concerning life issues, but I would ask everyone to sign-up in iTunes for the Catalyst Podcast and listen to the interview with Mike Huckabee (who I so wish had won the Republican nomination).

In essence, Huckabee says – as he will in his forthcoming book in the fall – that some Christians and Christian leaders have sold out some of their beliefs for political access. He challenges Christian to be concerned about “Life” issues which include, but are not limited to, abortion. He talks about race and grace in an interesting way that more Christians need to engage. Of particular interest are his reflections concerning clemency for criminals. He comes across as a gracious man who is actully concerned about life, not just dictating how others live theirs. Plus, Huckabee adds, too many Christian vote on the issue of abortion and “do nothing else” concerning life issues.

3. Canonical Theism. A professor of mine, Dr. Frederick Aquino, was a contributing writer to the book, Canonical Theism: A Proposal for Theology and Church. It is a fascinating read which opens the Bible, Theology and the Church in new and exciting ways. If you read academic theology, pick-up this book!

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