MEV Further Thoughts

Large Print MEV

Almost two years ago I purchased an Modern English Version (MEV) Bible. Then I provided serveral posts about the translation itself. See: MEV Part 1, MEV Part 2, MEV Readability. One of my criticisms was the size of the print: small print size is not exaggerating. I could not use it on a daily basis.

So two weeks ago I purchased the Large Print MEV. What a difference in reading! It is readable even in low light environments. I have been reading it every day for 10+ days.  The size of the Bible is not a burden to carry. I could also use regularly in teaching/preaching without the size or weight being a problem. My preference is a single column text, but MEV does not come with it. But I will happily read this large print Bible.

The bleed through seems less of a problem, not being a distraction at all (it looks worse in this photo than in real life). I also noticed that the red letter in this font works well. I am not a fan of red letter editions due to readability problems. But this is one of the best red-letter choices (font design, size, and red color choice). The paper color is a faint off-white, which makes reading easier.

MEV view of red letter text
MEV view of red letter text

There is one drawback to making it as large print, the editors removed all cross references (see above photo). In an ideal world, a little smaller print with those retained would be best. But that is a technical publishing issue.

Now that I can read it easily, I am reading it daily for devotional reading. But I am also reading to see if there are any translation issues. One stuck out immediately (reading John 1-3).

Translation Choice: Only or Only-begotten

The Greek word, μονογενής, had been traditionally translated as “only begotten” (KJV, NKJV, NAS) while many more contemporary translations have used one of the following translation choices: “one and only son” or “unique son” or “only son” (NRSV, TSV, NIV, NET, HCSB, NLT, GW).

BDAG (2000) offers this about the divided view of which is the best translation choice:

μονογενὴς υἱός is used only of Jesus. The renderings only, unique may be quite adequate for all its occurrences here

[Several scholars] prefer to regard μονογενὴς as somewhat heightened in mng. in J and 1J to only-begotten or begotten of the Only One, in view of the emphasis on γεννᾶσθαι ἐκ θεοῦ (J 1:13 al.); in this case it would be analogous to πρωτότοκος (Ro 8:29; Col 1:15 al.)

NET has an translation note:

Or “of the unique one.” Although this word is often translated “only begotten,” such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clem. 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant., 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham’s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means “one-of-a-kind” and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God, Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).

Since MEV follow the KJV text base and generally its translation choices, I discovered it wasn’t as clear-cut as I thought.

μονογενής in MEV

The Greek word appears 9 times in the NT. I am comparing MEV choice in translation to NKJV since they share a common heritage

Luke 7:12 

NKJV: a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother;

MEV: a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother

Luke 8:42

NKJV: for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

MEV: for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

Luke 9:38 

NKJV: saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child.”

MEV: saying, “Teacher, I beg You, look upon my son, for he is my only child.

John 1:14  

NKJV: and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

MEV and we saw His glory, the glory as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:18 

NKJV  The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

MEV  The only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known

John 3:16 

NKJV For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,

MEV For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son

John 3:18 

NKJV because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

MEV because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God

Heb 11:17 

NKJV he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son [Isaac],

MEV he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son [Isaac]

1 John 4:9 

NKJV  God has sent His only begotten Son into the world.

MEV God sent His only begotten Son into the world

The two that stuck out in mind are John 1:14, and 18. Why change in those two verses to “only Son” and yet in John 3:16, 18 use “only begotten Son”? It would seem that when dealing with the same author and there are four verses that deal with the same concept, and Greek word, why not translate all four the same way “only begotten” as in NKJV, or “one and only” as in most modern translations.

I would question both NKJV and MEV in translating Heb. 11:17 as “only begotten.” It would be more consistent with the translation decisions in the Lukan passages listed above.

More Thoughts

Overall, I am still impressed with the translation choices. Even a small change in John 1:14 seems like a positive using “and we saw His glory” rather than “and we beheld His glory.”

Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian

2 thoughts on “MEV Further Thoughts”

  1. My guess for the choice made in the Hebrews 11 text is the assumption that the author views Isaac as a type of Christ, thus the desire to make the connection with John 3:16.


    1. Phillip, I understand the theology of it and agree with it. But as a translation choice, not quite so sure it is legitimate


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