The Bible, as a screenplay?

Well, it's happened again! No, you haven't wasted another perfectly good hour listening to Car Talk on NPR with Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, but Thomas Nelson Publishers, has decided to publish yet another translation of the Bible. 

According to CBS News website, this new translation from Thomas Nelson Publishers, dubbed, The Voice, is "written like a screenplay." (New Bible translation has screenplay format - CBS News) As a result, passages like Genesis 3 include "staging directions" that attempt to describe the actions of each character in a passage. 

"Adam (pointing at the woman): It was she! The woman You gave me as a companion put the fruit in my hands, and I ate it.
"God (to the woman): What have you done?
"Eve: It was the serpent! He tricked me, and I ate."
Later, Eve bears her first son, Cain.
"Eve (excited): Look, I have created a new human, a male child, with the help of the Eternal."
While this could be quite funny if it were a joke, since it's not, at least one obvious question needs to be asked.  "Do we really need another translation of the Bible?" Well, no, not really. In a world that already contains an over abundance of translations (Bible Gateway supports twenty-one different English translation, and there many others not included on their site), another translation simply muddies the waters of scriptural understanding even more, and thus, continues to undermine the authority of Scripture.

Nevertheless, publishers like Thomas Nelson continue to set aside their so called, "commitment to Scripture" in pursuit of the almighty dollar, because ultimately, that's what this is all about. It's about making money. It's about getting gullible people to buy yet another version of the Bible, "so it can impact their lives" (The Voice, Hear the Voice, Do we really need another Bible translation?)

As The Voice website explains, "The Voice invites a generation of story-lovers to step into the Bible through a fresh expression of its timeless narrative. It recaptures the passion, grit, humor, and beauty that is often lost in the translation process. Readers will enter into the story of Scripture more deeply, and discover that they can actually hear God's voice speaking into their lives." (The Voice, Hear the Voice, Why it exists.)

Of course, helping others understand scripture better is an honorable goal. No Christian will argue with that. Unfortunately, new translations, like The Voice, can actually undermine that goal. In an attempt to be "easier to read," and "more contemporary," such translations add words and use terms that can ultimately change a passages' meaning, depending on the reader's personal understandings and experiences. 

As a result, instead of helping people understand scripture better, they actually understand it worse than they would have, had they invested the time and energy into studying a more accurate translation. 

What's more, when they do take the time to compare their "readable" version to other, more accurate translations, they often walk away confused when they find two versions of the same passage that appear to say different things. My good friend, Dawn, has voiced this frustration on more than one occasion,  and I know she is not alone.

In a way, having so many translations is like trying to have a conversation with someone in a room filled with people who are all trying to carry on conversations at the same time. That very thing  happened to me just last week at a Chamber of Commerce event. As I talked with friends and met new people, I found it painfully difficult to hear what anyone was saying because there were so many competing voices (no pun intended) in the room. Everything sounded muddled.

Of course, different versions of the Bible are not exactly, "competing voices," since they all point to Christ and generally say the same thing. Nevertheless, when they use such contrasting approaches to translating the text, they can come to starkly different conclusions, and that can be confusing, especially to a new believer trying to sort out what scripture says and how it applies to their lives today.

Suffice to say, though I am not some sort of closet, "King James Only" proponent, I'm not a huge fan of new translations. In fact, I really wish publishing companies would stop to think about the potential damage, they are doing to the clarity and authority of God's word, before throwing another translation into the mix, so they can make a quick buck. Until then, reader be warned. "Easier to read, and contemporary" (he typed with all urgency) "does not always mean better."