Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Yet another new translation coming: The MEV



Charisma House announced this week its plans to release yet another English Bible translation (see this announcement).  This translation will be called "The Modern English Version" (MEV).

According to the press release, the MEV will be "the most modern translation produced of the KJV in 30 years."  That, however, is a rather strange statement.  Does this mean they are going to translate from the Hebrew and Greek originals or from the English text of the KJV?  I assume the quote is a misstatement and they intended to say that the MEB will offer a translation from the originals that will also attempt to be a revision or updating of the KJV.

The text that will be used in the translation is not mentioned.  The announcement does say that the translation intends to follow a "literal" approach.  By this I assume it means the MEV will follow the formal correspondance method.  It also says it plans to capitalize the references to God (as the NKJV already does) to maintain "reverence."

The press release also states:   "Editors of the MEV translation represent institutions such as the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Harvard University, Oral Roberts University, Westminster Theological Seminary and Yale University." Only three scholars associated with the project are mentioned by name:  Stanley M. Horton [a Pentecostal systematician from the AG tradition], senior editoral advisor; Jonathan M. Watt, adjunct professor at Reformed Presbyterian Seminary; and James F. Linzy, chief editor and chairman of the "Committee on Bible Translation" [sounds impressive, but I assume this is a publisher's in-house group].

The Lake Mary, Florida based Charisma House is a publisher of works in the charismatic tradition, noting on its website that is produces resources from the likes of John Hagee and Joyce Meyer (see here).

The introduction of the MEV will place another option in the already crowded English Bible field.  This version will apparently come with the twist that it may perhaps follow the TR (if, that is, it makes good on its expressed intent to follow the KJV--we'll see).  It seems to represent the continued Balkanization of the Bible market, since it will apparently be marketed to charismatic churches and their constituencies.  So, mainline Protestants can use the NRSV, new Calvinists the ESV, Southern Baptists the HCSB, non-denominational evangelicals the NIV, and, soon, charismatics the MEV.  The question is whether or not we really need another English Bible translation.  If the desire is to have a formal correspondance translation based on the traditional text that follows the general wording of the KJV (along with capitalized references to Deity), why not just use the NKJV?

To paraphrase Ecclesiasties, "Of the making of English Bible translations there appears to be no end...."

7 comments:

Phil Brown said...

It will be interesting to see how the project turns out. I am curious to see if they retain 1 John 5:7 in its entirety. There are some traditional text advocates who favor deleting that verse. I am no scholar, but I think it belongs given the textual arguments I have seen for it. There is also some good historical evidence for the "Comma Johanneum." (I am with Matthew Henry on that one.) Nevertheless, I am not sure if we need another modern English Bible. English hasn't changed that much in the last year! I do also think there will come a point where we will have to dig our heels in a little and look at teaching English in our churches. Many schools in the U.S. are not doing a very good job and they are letting "Pop Culture" teach the language to the next generation. You would be amazed at how many people don't know what the word Dispersion means as used in 1 Peter 1. Pastors may have to do a little work and become English teachers as well as Bible teachers.

Pastor Jeff said...

Phil,

Yes, I agree it will be interesting to see whether or not they follow the TR in the NT and include the comma. I also agree that such a translation is largely unnecessary.

I really like your idea about churches needing to consider teaching basic English. It has been eye opening to teach in the local cc and realize where many students are in their ability to comprehend and communicate after their public high school experience (and these are students who are, by and large, bright and able, but who have not yet had the opportunity to learn many of the basics). I recall that in Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" he contrasted the literacy of colonial era Americans who had little formal education but who diligently read the AV and could usually write beautifully with modern, image driven, semi-literate Americans (and he was writing before the internet revolution!). Anyhow, I like the idea of challenging our folk to reach up rather than dumbing everything down.

JTR

Armand said...

The KJV has offered so much in the form of literary excellence and majesty of language. I fear taht this is sacrificed at the altar of being current or culturally relevant.

My preference is to have the public reading of the text of Scripture to be majestic in tone and the KJV does this in our day. It sounds "set apart" if you will. I'd much rather the Word of God read in our hearing not sound like a magazine.

Eg., 1 Corinthians 16:13

ESV - Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

KJV - Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

"Quit ye like men", gotta love the good ole' KJV!

Pastor Jeff said...

Armand,

Better watch it. You're starting to sound like a wild-eyed KJV Only-ist. Smiles.


In seriousness, you make a great point. Aside from issues of text and translation philosophy, there is also the issue of literary and liturgical excellence.

One of the things I've appreciated about preaching from the KJV is the aphoristic quality of the language. As you note, in comparison to the often bland, pedestrian translations of modern works, like the ESV,the vivid, memorable phrasings in the KJV (spurred on, in particular, by its frequent "Anglo-Saxon" vocabulary choices) make it stand out.

I think one of the best descriptions of the superior literary aspects of the KJV are found in Leland Ryken's "The Legacy of the KJB" (Crossway, 2011)--and he was the literary stylist for the ESV! In that book, Ryken notes that whereas the Religion Departments have dumped the KJV, there is still one place in the University where it is held to be peerless--in the English Department. T. S. Eliot, for example, famously described modern translations as "an active agent of decadence."

JTR

Reilly said...

This is interesting! On their website, Charisma has a page where the MEV is lined up against KJV, NIV, NKJV, and ESV, in that order. They seem to purposely stick the MEV right next to the KJV so you can see just how closely the two line up. And, except for eliminating 1611 words, the MEV is EXACTLY the same. (For example, in John 3:16, the MEV uses "begotten," even though modern scholars agree it shouldn't be there.)

My feelings are definitely mixed. From what I see, their main priority seems to have been faithfulness to the KJV. That's great if you believe the KJV is inerrant, but if not, then, well...

Nonetheless, the translation looks beautiful. At the bottom of the MEV's website, there's a book you can buy (or preview on the web) that has Scripture portions from the MEV. I'll be sure to pick up a copy when it's released.

Anonymous said...

MEV lets you read Ephesians online so I tore into it...got to chapter 2:1 -

KJV says And you he hath quickened

Mev does not have that line at all...

why is that so??

Matt said...

In the KJV anytime a word or phrase is italicized it means that the translators added it to make it flow and it is not in the original Greek or Hebrew. If you will notice "hath he quickened" is italicized in the original KJV. The MEV decided not to put it in there, so apparently they were looking at the original Greek when they were translating.