Updating the Bible?!: Working with Biblical Texts for Corporate Worship

I’m not sure that I’ve felt more on the edge of potential blasphemy than when I was serving on the Scripture Worship Resources Committee for Voices Together! After all, who am I to go messing with a book that has served as the church’s holy text for thousands of years? As a member of this committee, I found the task of choosing, translating, and adapting biblical texts for use in worship to be both a profoundly meaningful and exceedingly daunting experience.

Over the course of nearly two years, I spent countless hours video conferencing with Dr. Derek Suderman (Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Theological Studies, Conrad Grebel University College), Dr. Allan Rudy-Froese (Associate Professor of Christian Proclamation, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary), and Sarah Johnson (Worship Resources Editor, Voices Together). The four of us pored over the breadth of the biblical canon, debated the finer points of translation theory, imagined ourselves into countless worship settings, and sought the Spirit’s guidance as we constructed the Scripture worship resources for Voices Together.

In this behind-the-scenes glimpse into the committee’s work, I want to highlight some of the processes of choosing, translating, and adapting biblical texts for inclusion in Voices Together. Despite my fear of flirting with the line between blasphemy and appropriate engagement with the Bible, my experience with this work reinforced for me the importance of these ancient words of Scripture for the continued identity of worshipping communities today.

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