I had the privilege recently of sharing about the Voice project at Houston Graduate School of Theology. This school is doing great things in Houston to prepare men and women for lives of service to the church and the world. The president, Dr. James Furr, understands the times and is leading HGST to become a key place in America where students can explore significant aspects of the missional movement. The acting provost, Dr. Chuck Pitts, was one of our scholar-reviewers on key books like Psalms and Jeremiah. Dr. Pitts has added to this blog, most recently a meditation on Psalm 8.
Everywhere I go to talk about this project I meet men and women with interesting stories to tell. After I spoke at HGST, a woman came up with a story which struck at the heart of The Voice Bible.
Patti is a tall and elegant woman. She moves with the grace of a dancer because earlier in life she danced ballet. She shared a story with me. I’d like to share it with you.
One day as the company of dancers was in rehearsal, they danced and danced their toes off on a newly choreographed piece. Afterward, they were standing around the choreographer—Madame Bess—who was about 80 years old at the time. They were trying to catch their breathes and waiting for some feedback. Madame Bess sat quietly, thinking. Finally, she said, “Do it again, but this time . . . make it beautiful.”
Here is what Patti said she learned that day:
That was the moment I learned dance was more than steps. Dance was more than technique -- yes, we had to know the steps and have great technique, but there was something more needed to make it DANCE. We actually had to shed the steps, stop thinking of them, and breathe into "make it beautiful."
There are many Bible translations which have sought to achieve a kind of technical perfection and accuracy but have missed the beauty inherent within the story. Our goal with The Voice was to produce an accurate translation that was at the same time beautiful. I wish I had heard Patti’s story earlier. There were times in the project when I could have used it. Times when I could have said to a writer or scholar puzzling over a pericope or laboring over a few lines something like, “Do it again. This time . . . make it beautiful.”
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Patti Henry is the author of a terrific book entitled, The Emotionally Unavailable Man: A Blueprint for Healing. You can learn more about her work and ministry from her website: