HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Holy Bible: Modern Literal Version
Co-editor: G. Allen Walker
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Suitable for anyone
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Walker, G. Allen, Co-editor. Holy Bible: Modern Literal Version (published in 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform). I would not normally do a review of a Bible translation, but someone sent me a copy of this version and asked for my evaluation. It is listed at Amazon as “by God (Author).” Of course, all true Bible believers acknowledge that God is the author of the original Bible, but they also understand that fallible men do the translating. I have not had a chance to go over the Modern Literal Version with a fine tooth comb, but I have looked at it enough to form some opinions. It calls itself “The World’s Most Accurate English Translation.” I am always a bit leery of such grandiose claims, especially since qualities such as accuracy are often, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. First of all, at least right now, even though it says “Holy Bible,” this is only the New Testament. Unlike the King James and New King James versions which use the Textus Receptus, and most of the other, later common translations which use the critical Alexandrian text following the work of Wescott and Hort as published by the United Bible Societies, the MLV is based on the Majority Text compiled and arranged by Maurice A. Robinson and William Pierpont.
Two of the first questions I always ask about a translation is, “Who did the translating and why?” The MLV began in 1987 when a young Christian wanted to find an accurate modern English translation. A Bible study group of which this new Christian was a part was doing Greek word studies with the idea of developing a computerized revision of the 1901 American Standard Version but later decided to create a new modern English literal version. Thus, a group of workers, computer owners, and scholars devoted time, advice, software, money, and work to the project. At least 59 experts in the original language have contributed the work needed to make the translation a reality, and many others, about 232, have also helped with large amounts of proofreading, etc. That is all I know. No list of names and credentials was given, nor could I find one online. “The MLV was the first translation to use the power of the computer.” To be honest, it somewhat reads like a translation made by a computer. “The goal of the MLV was not to make it perfect everyday English, but to try to make it understandable to the majority of English speaking people, while remaining literal.” This is evidently quite true, and the result is that, as someone noted, the language is recognizable but doesn’t flow at all. It also results in some odd renderings, such as “stick-around in the city of Jerusalem” (Luke 24:49); “singing and singing-praise in your hearts” (Ephesians 5:19); “Noah,…being scared, prepared an ark” (Hebrews 11:7); and “do not receive him into your house and do not say hello to him” (2 John verse 9). There are a few inconsistencies. The MLV does not capitalize pronouns that appear to be referring to God to avoid inserting the translators’ opinion into the translation because the Greek does not make such distinctions. That is fine, but it does capitalize the word “Spirit” when it appears to refer to the Holy Spirit even though the Greek makes no distinction here either, and this tends to insert the translators’ judgment into the text.
I did read a few reviews where people warned that the version contains false teachings because it is pushing a theological bias. Unfortunately, the only actual example anyone gave was that rendering Matthew 3:11 as “I indeed immerse you in water” instead of “I indeed baptize you in water” somehow “belies a pre-conceived theological axe that the creators wish to grind, one being that baptism is necessary for salvation.” No, that is simply what the words mean and what the original text says. “The primary goal is to keep the MLV free from theological concerns and traditions by translating the text as literally as possible while retaining modern language and readability. The ‘Open Source’ approach is also a great ‘checks and balance’ system. The MLV is NOT under the control of any denomination or publishing company and is not the current work of any either that is why it can be sold for no profit.” In fact, “The Modern Literal Version Bible is considered ‘finished,’ although it has been open for revision by anyone since 1998.” I am not sure that I quite understand fully how it is possible to be finished yet still open (updated editions are released from time to time). However, the bottom line is that from what I have seen so far, it is a reasonably accurate translation, but it will never replace the standard versions. It may be useful for private study, but due to the way in which the notes and cross references are included in the text, it would be hard to use for public reading.