MEV: Clear, Reverent, Accurate, or Meh?

The newly announced Modern English Version of the Bible (MEV) is described on its website as “Clear, Reverent, Accurate”. But James McGrath is unimpressed, calling it The Meh Version. Indeed there seems to be little new here, as far as one can tell from the few samples given.

The MEV is also described on the website as “The most modern word-for-word translation produced since the King James tradition within the last 30 years.” If that sentence is typical of the logic and grammar of the MEV, then it is certainly neither clear nor accurate. Well, what exactly are they claiming? If by “most modern” they mean “newest”, well, I guess that is true, but it tells us nothing about the quality.

Looking a little more closely, I found the following:

The MEV 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.

The MEV is a literal word-for-word translation. It is also often referred to as a formal correspondence translation.

The Committee on Bible Translation began their work on the MEV in 2005 and completed it in 2013.

CLEAR: Literal translation (word-for-word, not thought-for-thought), with capitalized references of God. Historical facts and events are expressed without distortion. At the same time the translation is done in such a way that readers of all backgrounds may understand the message that the original author was communicating to the original audience.

REVERENT: Every effort is made to ensure that no political, ideological, social, cultural, or theological agenda is allowed to distort the translation.

ACCURATE: The Scriptures are accurately translated without loss, change, compromise, embellishments or distortions of the meaning of the original text.


However, one of the testimonials is as follows:

It was with great enthusiasm that I took on the request to update books from the 1611 King James Bible with the modern English vernacular …

Another one:

A new, precise update of the King James Version has been glaringly necessary. …

So which is this, a translation of the named Greek and Hebrew texts, or an update or paraphrase of KJV?

I’m sorry, but I agree with McGrath’s “Meh”. If you want a modern language literal translation of the same base texts, the World English Bible is probably a better bet – and is in the public domain. But no doubt the publishers of MEV will make quite a lot of money with their nicely presented printed editions like their SpiritLed Woman Bibles. Sadly Bible translation, at least in English, now seems to be not so much Christian ministry as business.


12 thoughts on “MEV: Clear, Reverent, Accurate, or Meh?

  1. davidbrainerd2 says:

    What I don’t like is when they make a new translation and don’t put it online. If its a good translation, I’ll buy it. But it would be nice to be able to see it first. After all, its not like this is a new novel somebody wrote. Its the Bible. … Like anybody is really going to read the text online only and not buy it in book form.

    That being said, their comparison chart at the MEV website shows for Gensis 4:1 “Adam had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived, gave birth to Cain and said, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.'” Instant loss. … I’d rather stick with the NKJV/KJV, or even the NRSV which uses “knew” too. Translators need to quit trying to make the Bible R or X rated. I was shocked when I first read the NIV on this verse. “Adam made love to his wife.” …

  2. James Snapp, Jr. says:

    The World English BIble NT is not translated from the same base-text as the KJV and NKJV and, now, the MEV. The others are based on (very slightly different iterations of) the Textus Receptus. The WEB is based on the Byzantine Text.

  3. James Snapp, Jr. says:

    “But James McGrath is” —
    Hold it right there. First explain why I should be concerned that a Bible translation does, or does not, satisfy a liberal professor who does not believe that Jesus is coming back.

  4. Peter Kirk says:

    James, thank you for the clarification concerning base the base text for WEB, which is slightly different from that of MEV.

    I am not endorsing James McGrath’s theology. I mention him only because it was from his post about MEV that I found out about this new version. Also, as it happens, although I do believe that Jesus is coming back, my opinion of MEV is similar to McGrath’s.

  5. davidbrainerd2 says:

    I’ve seen maybe 5 copies of this in stores overall. 2 at a Crossway and 2 at Walmart, and I’m throwing in an extra 1 just in case I saw another. In other words, it doesn’t seem like its going to become too popular. I noticed that in Psalms certain passages the KJV had right but the NKJV gets wrong, this thing follows the NKJV. Yawn. I’m referring mainly to the passage in Psalm 139 where the KJV along with the Jewish translations shows that its about how David’s member or body parts were written in God’s book and formed day by day in the womb, whereas the modern translations change it to this idea of our whole life being written out in detail in God’s book before we’re born. MEV follows NKJV in following all the bad translations on this one.

  6. Peter Kirk says:

    David, thank you for your comment. You have seen maybe 5 more copies than I have. Unfortunately I don’t have time at the moment to research the issue with Psalm 139.

  7. Darren Wheeler says:

    Thank you for your article concerning this translation. I sometimes read the MEV translation when going through Bible study, maybe somewhat out of curiosity, based upon their claims of using the Textus Receptus as a source text. The KJV-only debate is centered upon the texts used in the various translations. So, when they said they used the Textus Receptus as their base text from which to produce this translation, it caught my attention (they also used the “Jacob ben Hayyim edition of the Masoretic Text”). In response to the lack of online availability; (and please forgive me, I don’t intend this as an endorsement nor promotion of this particular website… I am just passing along info) includes it in their many available translations from which you can choose when reading scripture.

    Has anyone ever undertaken an effort to truly create an English translation, in the modern vernacular, using the exact, same, base-source documents as did the translators of the KJV?

  8. Peter Kirk says:

    Darren, thank you for your comment on this old post. Bear in mind that the Textus Receptus is the New Testament only. There seems to be some uncertainty about the textual basis of the KJV Old Testament, but it is often said to have been the Jacob ben Hayyim edition of the Masoretic Text. So most likely the MEV translators have at least tried to “create an English translation, in the modern vernacular, using the exact, same, base-source documents as did the translators of the KJV”.

    I am pleased that this version is now available online.

  9. Randy Whited says:

    I have taken a little time and dug in a little. What I find is a lot of the changes from the AV is not much different than the old American standard. But in my opinion even if someone ( which they never have ) took the AV ( Authorized Version or KJV ) and only changed one word, it would be no less than butchering the Word of God. If I can’t fully believe every word of the Bible I hold under my arm, what good is it? I will tell you. It’s no good! It’s hard enough to study out a book that I believe every word is pure in ( just as it promises ) , without trying to figure out what parts are pure and what is not. In the KJV or AV, whenever the translators added a word it is italicized so the reader knows it. None of the other versions that I have seen has done this, they could not care less if you know what came from the textus receptis and what man has added. I am going to stick with my old King James, the Word of God, the only version authorized by a king, the only version you can walk into a dollar store and pick up for a couple bucks, the one uncontested for over three hundred years as the word of God. I’ve studied it out and I know it is the Bible God promises over over and over to preserve ( psalm 12:6-7 ). Amos prophesied that there would be a famine in the land, not of the Word of God, but of hearing the Word of God . And I believe this is just what Amos was seeing. Genesis 3 “ yea hath God said “?

  10. wendygeib24 says:

    The new Literal Standard Version is also Textus Receptus, but I think they incorporate other sources on occasion. I’ve really enjoyed the rich language of it, and that it’s word-for-word. It has some of the similar distinctives of the MEV, but also has some of its own. I’m always on the hunt for a translation that has the antique-y power of the KJV, but in contemporary english.

  11. Stephen JK says:

    one could check out the KJVER by whitakerhouse.

    from this site:
    The KJVER® (King James Version Easy Read® ) is “The Trusted King James in an Easy Read Format.” It enhances the readability of the classic, beloved KJV by updating some 17th-century English words to their 21st-century equivalents while maintaining the meaning and integrity of the KJV translation. The KJVER® Bible uses the original 1611 King James Version text (based on the Textus Receptus rather than the revised 1881 Greek and Hebrew text). While some of the language has been updated, it still contains the phrases and words that you grew up with and perhaps even memorized.

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