Nov 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever. (Psalm 118:21-29 NIV)

Nov 22, 2011

Thanksgiving and the Eucharist

If you've read my blog at all, you probably know of my appreciation for the church calendar. I think that it is a fantastic way to create regular spiritual rhythms throughout the year. The church year is actually about to begin with the first Sunday of Advent on November 27. Before Advent begins, however, there is another holiday that is not a church holiday. This Thursday is Thanksgiving, a day packed with food, football, family, and afternoon naps. It is supposed to be a day of being thankful for what we have and what we've been given. Thanksgiving is not a church holiday, but I believe that it ought to be.

Since Jesus instituted it, the church has had it's own Thanksgiving feast. This feast, however, is not celebrated only once a year. Many churches celebrate this thanksgiving every week. The celebration that I am talking about is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is now know to many as the Lord's Supper or Communion. The name "eucharist" is a from Greek word and means "thanksgiving." The celebration of the Lord's supper includes a time of giving thanks to God for what he has done for us.

I find it oddly appropriate that before the church calendar begins, millions celebrate a day of thanksgiving.  Before we begin the church holiday cycle again, it seems providential that we set aside a day of thanksgiving and give thanks one more time for what God has done this past year. I would encourage you to be intentional about what you are thankful for this thanksgiving. I'm not saying that everyone should celebrate communion on Thanksgiving day, but we should be remembering what we should be the most thankful for, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus on the Cross. No matter what has happened in the past year, we can thank God for Jesus' sacrifice. We should regularly give thanks like we should regularly discuss Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. But just like Christmas and Easter, the church should set aside a day to throw a large party to give thanks to God for what he has done. So before we enter the season anticipation, give thanks to the Lord for what he has done.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." Ps. 106:1

Nov 6, 2011

Scripture as Story: A Review of The Voice New Testament

This semester I have been teaching Principles of Bible Study 1 at LCU. One of the things that I have been trying to emphasize to my students is the fact that God's revelation comes to us through the medium of story. There are letters, laws, poems, proverbs, and prophetic visions, but the overwhelming sense of Scripture is that it is a story. God's story of how he created the world, we broke creation, he sent his Son to fix it, and how ultimately he will come to restore the world and live with us. This new Bible, simply called The Voice, aims at helping us see scripture as a story. It is a new approach to scripture that combines the efforts of Biblical scholars and Christian writers and musicians in an effort to give us a more dramatic and story like version of the Bible. They have taken great care to translate the Greek as best as possible to communicate the meaning of the text. This is done in conjunction with artists who give the words some depth to engage the reader. Simply, The Voice is a dynamic equivalent translation of the Bible that aims as presenting the Bible artfully.

There are a lot of things that I like about this translation. First, I believe that it is more useful than a paraphrase like The Message. While the Message has been helpful to many, it is the work of one man, while the Voice is a collaboration of many scholars, artists, and pastors which adds to the strength of the translation. Also, when reading sections of the Voice, I was struck by how similar it was to typical Bible translations and yet at the same time it was easier to read than many translations. While it is easier to read like a paraphrase, it doesn't read like a typical paraphrase. It still feels like it is using language that would be familiar to someone who has read the Bible and yet easier to understand for those who do not have much experience with the Bible. In the way that it is written, it would be a great translation to read on a Sunday Morning, especially if you want to "dramatize" the Bible. It has been translated with the help of writers and musicians, it makes for an already dramatized version. The dialogue in the voice even appears in play like format. Since I am on a team that plans Sunday morning worship services, I will be adding readings from the Voice translation when a more dynamic reading is needed.

For those who are worried about the of translation from Greek to English, I think the Voice offers one of the best paraphrase/dynamic equivalents thus far. The majority of the text comes from the Greek text. On occasion they will add in phrases that either aid in understanding or emphasize something in the text that may not be in the Greek text. These additions are in italics so that it is easy to see when these additions have been made. As far as how it has been translated, there were times that I wonder why they changed from the typical wording (like John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Voice"), but so far I have not found anything that concerns me about the way it has been translated.

Overall, I think that this is a fantastic addition to anyone's Bible reading. I, personally, cannot wait for the entire Bible to be released next year and I hope that it will be available for Logos so that I can have it in that form. I even purchased their translation of the Psalms because I think that it will be helpful in worship planning. This Bible is useful for anyone new to Scripture or just trying to get a fresh artistic look at the Bible. If you are eager to read it, they have John available on their website I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to wait until the whole Bible is available, but I would encourage you to purchase it at some point.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”