A Review of Today's English Version (T E V)-New Testament

Luther W. Martin
Rolla, Missouri

The American Bible Society has underwritten the cost of translating, publishing and circulating "Todays English Version,'' with the additional title of "Good News For Modern Man." This use of the word "News" serves as the theme for the cover design of the book, with the mastheads of several widely circulated newspapers reproduced on the cover, such as The Atlanta Journal, The New York Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald. Perhaps my prejudice is showing, but this, in my estimation, tends to lower the Gospel (Good News) of Christ to the level of a common newspaper. I do not think that such was intended by the Society, nevertheless, in this era of diminished respect for God's Word, anything that would detract from its heavenly source is unfortunate and unwise.

Excerpt from Preface of 1966 Edition.

"As a distinctly new translation, it does not conform to traditional vocabulary or style, but seeks to express the meaning of the Greek text in words and forms accepted as standard by people everywhere who employ English as a means of communication."

Excerpt from Preface of 1967 Edition.

"The present text of the T E V is the second edition (1967), which incorporates a number of changes made to bring the translation into closer agreement with the Greek text, . . ." (Page vi).

"Since the T E V, as originally published, contained no alternative renderings, it was felt that potentially ambiguous language in the Greek should be translated quite explicitly. This required, of course, that a decision be made as to the meaning intended by the original writer, even where no interpreter can be dogmatic about his choice.."

"In the T E V. therefore, there are many places where supplementary information not textually present in the originals supplied, in an attempt to make the text convey as much information to today's readers as the original text conveyed to the first readers." (Page vii).

The above quotations contain some revealing admissions: (1) potentially ambiguous language (in the Greek) should be translated quite explicitly. And, (2) supplementary information NOT TEXTUALLY PRESENT IN THE ORIGINAL is supplied, in order to convey more to today's readers. Both of these two admissions Point up the weaknesses and flaws in Today% English Version.

Lest I be accused of being totally prejudiced, let me state that there are numerous clear and refreshing renderings in the T E V... but its obvious faults more than neutralize its good points. For example, a ten gallon milk can may contain over nine gallons of good Jersey milk, but who wants it when a dead mouse is found floating on the top.., or worse yet, sunk to the bottom of the can.

Better Translations are Produced by Groups.

Forty-seven translators were engaged .for seven years in the translation of the King James Version. The 1881 English Revised Version utilized fifty-two translators, while their American counterparts totaled an additional twenty-seven translators. The "two-heads-are-better-than-one" policy can certainly be demonstrated when one compares ANY one-man translation with the American Standard Version (1901) which still stands as one of the very best in the English language.

Matthew 10:32-33 A Poor Rendering.

"Whoever confesses publicly that he belongs to me, I will do the same for him before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies publicly that he belongs to me, then I will deny him before my Father in heaven." (T E V, 1966 Edition)

Even the United Bible Society Greek text, 7 from which the above is translated, does not contain Greek words equivalent to the expression "belongs to," This expression reminds me of the old time (and unscriptural) Baptist confession, that "God for Christ's sake has pardoned my sins, etc." We are to confess CHRIST, not ourselves, in rendering obedience to the Gospel.

Matt. 16:18-19 An Erroneous Rendering.

"And so I tell you: you are a rock, Peter, sad on this rock I will build my church. Not even death will ever be able to overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven; what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven." (T E V, 1966, Edition)

The foregoing version specifically defines Peter as the rock foundation upon which the church is built, and it transfers spiritual authority from heaven down to earth, with heaven supposedly seconding whatever is first taught on earth. Now, let us read from the New American Standard Version:

"And I also say to you that you are Peter, (Petros, a stone), and upon this rock (petra, large rock, bed-rock), I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (A side column reference contains the information condemning Peter being a small stone, a pebble, while Christ's church is founded upon the bed rock of Christ's divinity, which Peter had just confessed. L.W.M.) Notice also, that the Greek tense portrays Peter and the apostles as teaching upon the earth that which heaven has already authored and approved. The same objection to the T E V rendering of Matt. 16:18 can also be made to its handling of Matt. 18:18.

Matt. 25:1.13--Parable of the Ten Virgins.

The translator of the T E V, Robert U. Bratcher, uses the term "girls" in place Of the Greek word parthenois, which actually means "virgins." It is from this term that the word "Parthenon" relates, referring to the temple of virgins. The T E V does use the word "virgin" in Matt 1:23. Why it is not consistent in this rendering, I do not know.

Coarse Language and Swear in the T.E.V.?

In Matt. 26:74, Peter is made to say: "May God punish me if I am not telling the truth! I do not know that man." Just then a rooster crowed. The Greek text says that Peter began to curse and to swear ... but the Greek gives no sample of an oath  yet the T.E.V. inserts, "May God punish me if I am not telling the truth!" This is NOT translating.., it is paraphrasing! It is ADDING TO the inspired Word of God. Mark 14: 71 is the same.

In Acts 8:20, Peter is made to say to Simon the Sorcerer, "May you and your money go to hell, for thinking that you can buy God's gift with money!" This is far more vulgar than "Thy money perish with thee!" as used in the King James Version.

"Faith Alone" (Sectarian Doctrine) Inserted.

"For the gospel reveals how God puts men right with himself: it is through faith alone, from beginning to end. As the scripture says, 'He who is put right with God through faith shall live.'" (Rom. 1:173 Note that the translator says, "It is through FAITH ALONE" "However, the T.E.V. in James 2:24 reads: "So you see that a man is put right with God by what he does and not because of his faith alone." So, by such unfortunate renderings, the translator has Scripture contradicting Scripture. Such a practice dethrones inspiration!

The Term "Christian" Inserted About Two Dozen Extra Times!

In the Greek text, the work Christianos is found only three times. In each case it is a proper noun, and refers only to those individuals who have believed in, and rendered obedience to, the teachings of Christ. (See Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and I Peter 4:16.) The TEV carelessly makes an abuse of the name Christian, by inserting it where it is not found in the Greek, and by assigning an adjective form to it, such as: "Christian brothers" -Rom. 16:14; "Christian greetings"--Rom. 16:22; "Christian faith"--I Cor. 3:1; "Christian man, woman, wife, husband, and partner"--I Cor. 7:12-16; "Christian marriage"--I Cor. 7:39; "Christian converts"--I Cor. 16:15; "Christian churches"--Gal. 1: 22; "Christian message"--Gal. 6: 2; and several others.

"Strange Sounds" In Acts 19: 6.

"Paul placed his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them; they talked with strange sounds and also spoke God's word." (Acts 19:6.) The use of "strange sounds" plays right into the hands of those false teachers who stress the idea of jabber and jargon in place of a foreign language which is simply "unknown" to the natural ability of the speaker or hearer. During the first century A.D. the Holy Spirit equipped the apostles, and those upon whom the apostles laid their hands, with the ability to teach in other languages, in order to enhance the spread of the gospel.

Another Sectarian Rendering--Acts 22:16

"And now, why wait any longer? Get up mad be baptized and have your sins washed away by calling on his name." (Acts 22:16) In this instance, the translator attributes the remission of sins to the action "BY calling on his name."

Romans 10: 9-10 Another Questionable Passage.

"If you confess with your lips, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For we believe in our hearts and are put right with God; we confess with our lips and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10.) The above rendering fails to take into account the continuing action involved in this passage. The King James and American Standard Versions both recognize this continuative action, when they render "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Belief and the oral confession of Christ are both steps in becoming a follower of Christ, but to assert that "Belief... puts us right with God" is to adulterate God's word. Belief plus obedience is necessary!


Today's English Version lacks much in being faithful to the original text. Certainly versions in current English are in order, but they can at least render the koine Greek as accurately as possible into our modern English, without adding to or taking from the Greek text. The best recent translation, in this writer's opinion, is the New American Standard Version.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV, 22, pp. 10-12

April 9, 1970