Is it OK to leave “Christ” out of the Bible?

Posted on April 20, 2012


Thomas Nelson Publishing has just released The Voice Bible, a new translation that totally avoids using words like “Christ” or “angel.” One contributor to the project, Dr. Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, is quoted in a Christian Post article as saying, “although the word ‘Christ’ does not appear in the text, the meaning of the word is still present in the form of the term ‘Anointed One,’ which was frequently used in its place.” Another substitution is the use of “messenger” to replace “angel.” Dr. Bock goes on to say, “I do think there can be value in laying out Scripture in a fresh way so people hear it afresh, provided it does not take liberties with the text.”

The Christian Post article is headlined, “Theologians OK With Bible Translation Replacing ‘Jesus Christ,’ ‘Angel’.” Well, some theologians may be OK with it, but I’m not sure I am.

In Rev 22:8 (NKJV) the apostle John reports that “I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.” I can imagine a reader of The Voice Bible wondering why anyone would feel an urge to fall down and worship a messenger. And given that many people, including artisans and workmen, were anointed in the OT especially, does designating Jesus as “Anointed One” really convey any sense of His uniqueness and majesty?

I have not had opportunity to read any of The Voice Bible. But the articles I’ve seen about it make me wonder if the “commonizing” of the language of Scripture does not miss important elements of meaning that are pervasive, if not explicitly stated, in more traditional renderings. Does a translation like this really help biblically uninformed people (apparently the target audience) grasp the transcendence and majesty of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? And does it equip new readers of Scripture (for whom this translation may well become “The Bible”) to effectively join in community with the vast majority of English speaking Christians, whose faith language will continue to be built around words like “Christ” and “angel”?

I am skeptical.