Translated by Pastor Bob Helm
Xlibris, 802 pages, $23.99
“At a time when there are already many modern English Bible translations, potential readers may wonder, ‘Why another translation?’ In response, it needs to be stated that while no Bible translation is perfect, the Modern Evangelical Version is unique in certain respects. Specifically, it is intended to provide a bold witness to the good news (gospel) about Jesus Christ in modern colloquial English. Hence the title — Modern Evangelical Version.”
Translation aside, The New Testament: Modern Evangelical Version is a difficult Bible to read simply because labels and graphic markers are at a minimum, making it easy to become disoriented. If one turns to page 280, for example, the only place marker is a bold “Chapter 12” at the top of the page, followed by a “The New Testament” running head on the subsequent page; nothing in the headings suggests that this is the 12th chapter in the Gospel of John. Translator Robert Thomas Helm defines his work as a “dynamic equivalent” and a “conservative translation.” He believes that the six-day creation and the world-wide flood were historical events, in other words, and that a fidelity to meaning in each biblical passage “is more important than a wooden, overly literal translation.” Unlike the story nature of Eugene Peterson’s The Message, Helm’s translation retains the verses and marker language of a New King James translation, making his version of the New Testament – for the most part – both readable and reliable. The difficulty of Helm’s Modern Evangelical Translation lies with its uninspired, inaccessible formatting – a result, presumably, of Helm’s decision to self-publish and a low-budget print run.
Reviewed by Jennie A. Harrop