Modern English Version (MEV): A Brief Review

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
I have a great interest in Bible translations. Although I know all too well that there is no perfect translation, every now and then a translation catches my attention. This time, it is the Modern English Version (MEV). My thoughts are below and organized by topic.

The Publisher: One of the concerns of this translation—and one of the reasons, I think, it hasn't gained much ground—is because of the publisher, Passio, which seems to be a subsidiary of Charisma House. However, as far as I can tell, Passio only published the translation; they did not produce it. The organization that produced the translation—the ones who actually did the work and compiled the translation team—is the Military Bible Association.

The Translation Team: While the senior editorial advisor was Stanley Horton, a charismatic systematic theologian, the actual translation chief editor was James Linzey. Furthermore,I looked up every major sectional editor (Pentateuch, Gospels, etc.), and they all seem quite credentialed, and all are active is pastoral and academic settings. There is even a 1689 Reformed Baptist and a RPCNA pastor on the editorial committee, both holding PhDs. While many of the names on the team seem unknown, the scholarship seems strong.

The Translation: I am actually surprised by how good this translation is. I have a few thoughts:

Bias: I find absolutely no charismatic bias in the translation whatsoever. If I have found any bias, it is in the often-mentioned 2 Thess. 2:7 capitalization of "He," which also is found in the NKJV.​
Quality of Translation: The translation is a formal equivalence translation. I have found that it is less literalistic (not less literal) than the NKJV. I think it improves on the language and clarity of the NKJV. For example, compare the two renderings of Romans 1:12:​
NKJV: "...that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me."​
MEV: "This is so that I may be encouraged together with you by each other’s faith, both yours and mine."​
In my opinion, the NKJV is clunky and unwieldy here. It just isn't pleasant to read at all. The MEV is a marked improvement. It is also noteworthy that the MEV is now one of only three major translations that does not use "gender accurate" language when it comes especially to words like ἀδελφοί ("brothers"). I know there are various opinions about this. And I am still unsure which "side" I fall on, but I appreciate this choice by the MEV.​
Textual Basis: The translation team says in the preface, "The Modern English Version is a translation of the Textus Receptus and the Jacob ben Hayyim edition of the Masoretic Text, using the King James Version as the base manuscript."​
Italics: Some have criticized this translation for not using italics. As a matter of fact, it does use italics. And I actually think it uses them better than any other translation. For example, anyone who studies Hebrew and Greek knows that "to be" verbs are often physically absent, but "to be" is still "there." These languages, unlike English, do not need explicit "to be" verbs to communicate predication. Historically, when a "to be" verb is missing, translations like the NKJV will put the verb in italics. But this is actually misleading because, again, the "to be," while not there in an actual word, is still there syntactically. So, no word is being added. The MEV only uses italics when it actually adds a word. Here is an example from Genesis 3:12:​
The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate."​
Here, the word "fruit" is actually added, so the translators indicate such. I did notice there was one weird instance of words being added in Esther 1:1:​
Now in the days of Ahasuerus, also called Xerxes, who reigned from India to Ethiopia, over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces...​
I found this choice to be odd. The good thing is, though, that with their sparing (and I think more accurate) use of italics, when words are in italics, I know they were actually added.​

Overall Thoughts: I am actually very impressed with this translation. I like that it uses the Textus Receptus as a textual base, since I lean more toward that school of thought. I like that it is a solid and mostly bias-less translation. I like that it is easier to read than the NKJV while still maintaining a high degree of accuracy. I don't like that, because of the publisher, this is not a widely-used translation, and will probably never be mainstream. I have never met anyone who uses it. I also don't like that the MEV has very few textual footnotes. This is a glaring disadvantage when compared to the NKJV, which abounds with footnotes. But, overall, I think this is a translation I will be using quite a bit.

If I have any other thoughts, I will add them below.
 
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Zach

Puritan Board Junior
Very helpful information and summary! I include the MEV in a list of translations I read when I'm preparing to preach from a passage but I can't remember why I included it and most of this information is stuff I didn't know or didn't remember. Thanks!
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Bravo! This was a lot of fun to read Taylor. I love the review.

I would enjoy reading more threads on the various translations that are out there. Do you have any other reviews forthcoming?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Wow, thanks for the encouragement, brothers. It means a lot.

Do you have any other reviews forthcoming?
Not at the moment. I just decided to do this one last minute. I have been reading out of the MEV for a bit, and I was surprised at how much I like it. I noticed that there are not really any discussions of it here, so I decided to post something.
 

J.L. Allen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks, Taylor. I primarily use the KJV for my own study and personal devotions. My kids use both the KJV and the NKJV because my wife uses the latter. Although I really do like the KJV, I've been curious if any modern translation based on the same underlying text would be beneficial. Some of them seem to be pet projects. So, this review was helpful.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the interesting review. Out of interest, why would a paucity of textual footnotes be a glaring disadvantage? I'd have thought that for the average reader that would actually be an advantage. If the translators are committed to the TR school of thought (and to their translation) then why would they feel the need to footnote all the CT variants, for example? Less footnotes leads to more clarity and less confusion for the average reader. I get that for scholarly purposes a multitude of footnotes can be useful, but that's not the primary use of a bible translation, and presumably scholars can do their own scholarship anyway.

I'm not decrying footnote altogether by the way, and I'm not sure how few you mean by very few for the MEV, but just another perspective on that point.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I like that it uses the Textus Receptus as a textual base, since I lean more toward that school of thought.
This is not the forum to discuss textual criticism so this is just a quick question. I know you studied at TEDS where Don Carson's views on textual criticism are well known - he is esteemed for giving a scholarly defense of the critical text. Have your convictions drawn you to the Texus Receptus rather than the Byzantine Priority text? I ask as someone grappling with the issue myself.

[If this discussion requires a few paragraphs we can start a new post, but it was meant to be a quick question :) ]
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
This is not the forum to discuss textual criticism so this is just a quick question. I know you studied at TEDS where Don Carson's views on textual criticism are well known - he is esteemed for giving a scholarly defense of the critical text. Have your convictions drawn you to the Texus Receptus rather than the Byzantine Priority text? I ask as someone grappling with the issue myself.

[If this discussion requires a few paragraphs we can start a new post, but it was meant to be a quick question :) ]
Honestly, regarding the TR/BYZ debate, I’m even less sure about it. But, for right now, it doesn’t matter. There isn’t a mainstream translation of the Byzantine/Majority Text. I suppose there’s the World English Bible. And while it’s okay, it still has quirks and a weirdness that bothers me. It’s even less mainstream than the MEV.

The sad fact is that those who favor the Byzantine/Majority Text are limited to TR translations. But the differences are small, anyway.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Honestly, regarding the TR/BYZ debate, I’m even less sure about it. But, for right now, it doesn’t matter. There isn’t a mainstream translation of the Byzantine/Majority Text. I suppose there’s the World English Bible. And while it’s okay, it still has quirks and a weirdness that bothers me. It’s even less mainstream than the MEV.

We've used the WEB in family worship the last two years (started with Genesis, nearly finished with Isaiah) and I agree that most of the time it's pretty serviceable but there are some quirks and times when the flow isn't the best. As we've discussed in the past, I'm a fan of the methodology behind the Byzantine Priority and wish it was more recognized.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
I suppose there’s the World English Bible. And while it’s okay, it still has quirks and a weirdness that bothers me. It’s even less mainstream than the MEV.

We've used the WEB in family worship the last two years (started with Genesis, nearly finished with Isaiah) and I agree that most of the time it's pretty serviceable but there are some quirks and times when the flow isn't the best.

I am unfamiliar with the WEB. I'll have to look into it. Perhaps that would make a good "brief review" thread! ;)
 

StevieG

Puritan Board Freshman
How closely does the MEV stick with the KJV in it's use of the TR? In other words is this simply taking the KJV and only updating the language or are there any changes in readings? I'm only really starting to study up on all of this myself, but one thing I keep hearing about the NKJV is that while it mainly uses the same manuscripts, it does occasionally deviate to make use of modern findings. Although again, not sure how frequently this is the case.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Here is a 2019 review of the MEV provided by Jeff Riddle and an earlier post of his from 2013 responding to the Charisma House announcement promoting the MEV if anyone is interested.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks, B.L., Riddle's article is good. I did not like the MEV's translation of Matt 17:15, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

KJV, "Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water."

The Greek is, σεληνιάζομαι selēniazomai; middle voice or passive from a presumed derivative of [Strong's] 4582; to be moon-struck, i.e. crazy: — be a lunatic. Back then they didn't know what epilepsy really was. The parallel passages, as well as Matthew's, makes it clear it was a demon at work.

I also don't like the MEV translation of Heb 2:16, "For surely He does not help the angels, but He helps the seed of Abraham." Whereas the KJV reads, "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." (italicized supplied by the AV translators for clarity).

In truth the LORD does help the angels – He gives them their strength and life – and the context is that in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that is, have their human nature.

The MEV is not a bad translation, though, but the AV is more accurate.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks for the interesting review. Out of interest, why would a paucity of textual footnotes be a glaring disadvantage? I'd have thought that for the average reader that would actually be an advantage. If the translators are committed to the TR school of thought (and to their translation) then why would they feel the need to footnote all the CT variants, for example? Less footnotes leads to more clarity and less confusion for the average reader. I get that for scholarly purposes a multitude of footnotes can be useful, but that's not the primary use of a bible translation, and presumably scholars can do their own scholarship anyway.

I'm not decrying footnote altogether by the way, and I'm not sure how few you mean by very few for the MEV, but just another perspective on that point.
I really appreciate the footnotes in the KJV, though a lot of modern editions don't include them. And most of them aren't manuscript based but around translation choice.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
I really appreciate the footnotes in the KJV, though a lot of modern editions don't include them. And most of them aren't manuscript based but around translation choice.
Yes, I do too. As I said, I'm not disparaging footnotes, especially not ones giving alternative translation choices for the underlying text, just don't think the absence of them is a big deal to the average reader.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I am unfamiliar with the WEB. I'll have to look into it. Perhaps that would make a good "brief review" thread! ;)
It's a revision of the old ASV, but they changed the textual basis of the NT to one of the Byzantine/Majority texts. I used to consult it occasionally years ago back when I used e-Sword. But I think it may have undergone some refinement since then and I haven't looked at it in maybe 15 years or more. It has always been in the public domain, so whatever else can be said about the WEB, they aren't in it for the money.

 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
In one of the Bible groups on Facebook, someone posted the other day that the MEV project is basically defunct at this point and that it is going out of print. I don't know if you can take that to the bank, but regrettable or not, I doubt we'll see this version get any more prominent than it already is. Beyond the issue of the people behind it, (if you dig a little deeper, you'll see that the Southern Baptist(s) involved are also charismatic) I've heard that the text has a bunch of typos, although that's certainly not something that is unprecedented in Bible publication.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
In one of the Bible groups on Facebook, someone posted the other day that the MEV project is basically defunct at this point and that it is going out of print. I don't know if you can take that to the bank, but regrettable or not, I doubt we'll see this version get any more prominent than it already is. Beyond the issue of the people behind it, (if you dig a little deeper, you'll see that the Southern Baptist(s) involved are also charismatic) I've heard that the text has a bunch of typos, although that's certainly not something that is unprecedented in Bible publication.
I noticed some typos, too. I don’t get the feeling there will be an update to fix them.

There is also this little curiosity I failed to mention in the OP. The MEV translates (rightly, in my opinion) μονογενης as “only begotten” in every instance except John 1:14 and 1:18. It’s such an odd thing.
 

C4MERON

Puritan Board Freshman
I have only just heard of this translation. A brother just today showed me a copy he purchased and we had a look at it together this evening. I must say I am quite impressed. The minister in our church has begun to quite from it alongside the KJV.
 
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