The Voice of the Psalms

imageThe Voice is an interesting translation project unlike the others currently available. The bible market has been dominated by literal, word for word and paraphrase translations, all produced by scholars working in the ancient languages and seeking to produce a Bible that aligns closely with the original apparatus while smoothing the syntax to varying degrees. While some translations have been idiomatically freer, few translation committees have taken the input of artists, poets and authors of fiction and given them free reign to retell God’s story in the scriptures. The Ecclesia Bible Society does, and its work is to create a series of new translations for modern readers. The scriptures that result from the project are meant to appeal to a current day audience by retelling the story using modern language and imagery that brings inspiration to modern ears similar to that the Hebrew poetry brought to ancient listeners.

The Voice of the Psalms is a ‘retelling’ of the Psalter that intends to restore the beauty of the original Hebrew poetry for the modern reader. I tend to be conservative in my approach to the Bible and the translations that I will use in the pulpit or for teaching but I can appreciate a Bible in a different voice that offers benefits for my devotional life. The Voice is just such a translation. By and large, the Psalms in The Voice are faithful to the structure and pace of an ESV or NIV with re-phrasings or rewordings to bring out a depth that straight translation might not highlight.

A familiar example that readers can compare is the 23rd Psalm, which many will know by heart. The NIV verses are:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (vv 1-3)

The Voice verses read:

The Eternal One is my shepherd, He cares for me always.

He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water.

He soothes my fears;

He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name. (vv 1-3)

The Voice’s poetic presentation offers a new approach to a well known scripture. Devotional reading of familiar passages can be empty as they threaten to leave our heart by rote rather than with prayerful consideration. The Voice encourages us to pause, to consider the language and images, and perhaps to find the freedom to write the psalms to the Father in our own language.  The book won’t accompany me to preach except for illustrative purposes but I feel very comfortable in recommending this  volume for personal prayer and reading. God is blessed when the creativity embedded in His people is released.


This volume was graciously provided by Thomas Nelson for review.

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