Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the voice--the coming of the ec bible

Hey, have ya'll heard that the EC is doing a translation (correction: retelling) of the Bible, or at least of parts of the New Testament? No kidding (though I wish I was). The project is called 'The Voice' (and if you come on the name 'The Voice' anywhere in the prologue-type writings in the book, you'll find it in bold. Excuse me if I don't do that, please).

What is this project? Here is the website

The Voice

I have "The Voice of Luke", a 'retelling' of the Gospel of Luke with some commentary, or at least comments, by Brian McLaren.

Here are some excerpts from the the preface to the book, concerning the project.

Previously most Bibles and biblical reference works were produced by professional scholars writiing in academic settings. The Voice uniquely represents collaborations among scholars, pastors, writers, musicians, poets, and other artists. The goal is to create the finest Bible products to help believers experience the joy and wonder of God's revelation. Four key words describe the vision of this project:

holistic// considers heart, soul, and mind
beautiful// achieves literary and artistic excellence
sensitive// respects cultural shifts and the need for accuracy
balanced// included theologically diverse writers and scholars

It's an interesting concept, it may even have some merit. I'm not sold on it, and frankly I wonder where "writers, musicians, poets, and other artists" can fit into a translation--excuse me, retelling--of the Gospels.

The four descriptive words cause the raising of eyebrows. 'Holistic' is a curious and even loaded word choice, but if it's what they describe, it could be ok. 'Beautiful' may be ok, as long as accuracy isn't sacrificed to achieve it. When 'sensitive' comes up, I see another loaded word, and here that loaded-ness may be something to consider. What does it mean to "respect cultural shifts"? By "accuracy", do they mean accuracy to the biblical text and it's meaning, or something else? It becomes even stronger, in fact almost off the meter, with 'balanced. What kinds of "theologically diverse writers and scholars" are we talking about? Who pics the representatives for this diversity? How "theologically diverse" are we talking? What are the limits to the diversity they are pursuing?

Are these fair questions? In answer to that, let me point out something. Isn't one of the bit things about EC/postmodernism that they think everything should questioned, everything should be doubted? I think it is. Considering that, then my question should be seen as fair. I'm not trying to be unfair, not trying to be leading nor suggestive. They are real questions, and considering the loaded-ness of their four descriptive words, I think these question should be asked, and more then that should be answered. Offering up a translation--I'm not going to play the 'retelling' game--of even a portion of the Gospel is asking for a lot of trust from people, so asking if it is fair to give them that trust is not unfair.

Words that are borrowed from another language or words that are not common outside of the thoelogical community (such as baptism, repentence, and salvation) are translated into more common terminology.

I may be nitpicking here, and if you think so treat it as such, but really, what does any of that mean? Maybe most people in English-speaking countries are ignorant of such terms ('ignorant' here not being used as a insult, simply as a descriptor), but I doubt it. Really, I doubt it a lot. Words like 'baptism' and 'salvation' are quite common, by all that I know. I'm not saying they know the word correctly in the theological sense, but the words themselves are not strange and alien words, and trying to 'dumb down' the scriptures to such an extend isn't really much of a compliment to them.

In addition, as we partnered biblical scholars and theologians with our writers, we intentionally built teams that did not share any single theological tradition. Their diversity has helped each of them not to be trapped within his or her own individual preconceptions, resulting in a faithful and fresh rendering of the Bible.

This goes back to the 'balanced' thing. Why are we to assume, or at least to accept, that such a 'diversity' as they claim has resulted in "a faithful...rendering of the Bible"? Who decides that it is 'faithful'? Who makes the choices when this 'diversity' results in serious disagreements?

It is all too common in many of our Protestant churches to have only a few verses of biblical text read in a service, and then that selection too often becomes a jumping-off point for a sermon that is at best peripherally related to, much less rooted in, the Bible itself.

Such insults are uncalled for, and only give a sense that these people think of themselves pretty highly.

There is finally a list of people involved in "The Voice of Luke". McLaren seems to have been the main writer, and two professors are listed as 'critical reviewers'. A bit of research will show that one of those professors is a part of what seems to be an EC church, Chris Seay's church in Houston. Among the other writers are people like Donald Miller, Phyllis Tickle, Leonard Sweet, and Chuck Smith Jr., people pretty heavily involved in EC. There are many other names mentions which I don't recognize, so while I can't say that it's overwhelmingly EC, I think it's pretty suggestive.

The list of names can be found on the website, but the site is a Flash site, so I cannot link to individual pages.

But as they say, the proof is in the eating. I suppose even a suspect cook, or set of cooks, could make a decent meal. I want to give some thoughts about "The Voice of Luke", as time goes by.

No comments: