I had the great good fortune to read a couple of new Bible translations and communicate, albeit briefly, with their creators for an article that will appear in Publishers Weekly Religion BookLine (10/28). In both cases, the translators are poets in their own right. Not only that, but both have worked for decades with these biblical texts, one with the Hebrew Hebrew Bible, the other with the Greek New Testament. The results -- beautiful, thought-provoking renderings with more poetry than English translations normally reflect.
David Rosenberg's A Literary Bible doesn't translate the entire Hebrew Bible but concentrates on texts that Rosenberg has worked on for years (he translated the so-called "J" literary strand of the Pentateuch that Harold Bloom interpreted in their controversial Book of J published in 1990). In determining what to include, Rosenberg says, "The test for me was complexity, layers of allusion, and Hebraic joie de vivre (for lack of a Yiddishism) or its flip side, a soulful blues." Rosenberg's translation is loose, as he strives to reproduce in modern readers the effect that he supposes the texts had on their original audience.
Barnstone's The Restored New Testament has brief, engaging, and illuminating essays at the beginning and before his translation of each New Testament biblical book (and with Marvin Meyer he includes the gnostic gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Judas) that help readers not only appreciate the Jewish foundations of these texts but also to understand their profound significance. With a gentle openness that focuses the readers' attention on the texts at hand rather than on the work of his own craft, Barnstone masterfully draws readers in to that first century world. Without fanfare, he makes the texts sing.