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Comments on the MKJV and LITV

Below are assorted e-mails I have received commenting on The Modern King James Version (MKJV) and The Literal Translation of the Bible (LITV for "Literal Version"). These are two lesser known versions I recommend on various pages listed at Bible Versions Controversy. The e-mailers’ comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>Hi Gary,

I am very curious about Jay Green's academic background.  I can find no bio for him anywhere. Do you have any idea where he learned Hebrew and Greek?< 

As far as I know, he is self-taught in Hebrew and Greek. 

>  Has he ever worked for an organization like the American Bible Society or done  professional translation?<

I doubt that very much as he would disagree with the ABS's translation principles. And as far as know, the only translation he has done is his two versions.

>Thanks very much,

 You could try e-mailing Green directly. I believe he has his e-mail address on his Web site: Christian Literature World.


>Hi Gary.

I rejoice in Jesus that you are back with us again and in the LORD'S service, praise God! <

Thank you.

> Gary I was so saddened by Jay Greene's superiority position regarding the MKJV & LITV [see Jay P. Green Only Position]. I was just deciding to purchase the excellent MKJV or LITV, and now I am so dissuaded to do so by his wacky position. I just don’t know what to do regarding having a good and proper literal translation of the Scriptures now, and I would value your council in this very disturbing matter.<

What you express is the very thing I was afraid of in regards to Green's attitude. But I will say this, even though his attitude towards other versions is extreme, personally, I will continue to recommend his versions. They are both very good. The LITV is more literal than the MKJV, so that is probably the one you would want of the two.

> Gary, I was looking at the MKJV online and I noticed that the above Scripture [1Tim 4:10] has the word preserver rather than Saviour and, it is the same in Young's concordance. And I was wondering if this was a valid translation, then would you consider using this even in brackets within the text of the ALT Bible?

In Christ,

The only other version I found with "preserver" was Darby's Bible. Interestingly, the LITV has "deliverer." Checking the lexicons, they all give Savior, Deliver, or Rescuer as possible meanings. But Liddell and Scott's lexicon does have "preserver" as well. This meaning is based on usage in extra-biblical literature, as in the gods preserving people from disease.

So it is a possible meaning, but not the most common. So I will use "Savior" as the primary meaning in the ALT, but will bracket "Preserver" as a possible alternative meaning.

>Hi my name is Rocky, I am a little frustrated, I have e-mailed J. P. Green the translator of the Modern King James Version, and have not had a reply as yet.

Do you know of any where in Australia where I can buy the MKJV, if not, who can I buy it from in the States?

Please reply soon.

You can order the MKJV from Books-A-Million.

>Dear Mr. Zeolla, I have read most of the material on your website regarding Bible versions and have your book as well. I have always been in favor of the KJV because of the underlying Greek text and translation principles. The Strict Baptist (Calvinistic) chapel I attend has always used it, and that just served to strengthen my resolve. However, even though I've been reading the KJV for 10 years I still have problems understanding the archaic English.<

Which is, of course, one strong argument against a "KJV only" position. If you after ten years find the KJV difficult, think how difficult it would be for someone new to the Bible.

>Years ago I got Mr. J.P. Green's LITV and MKJV. Having inquired of the Trinitarian Bible Society [TBS] concerning these translations, their thoughts were negative, so I never really used them. Then I found your website and got a different perspective on things.<

Both the LITV and MKJV have gone through several editions. So you may find more recent editions to have corrected some problems in earlier versions. The versions on the Online Bible CD ROM are the earlier versions. But the flexible, leather back hardcopy versions are the most recent editions. I know I have noticed some differences between them where the hardcopy versions is an improvement over what is on the CD ROM.

> Having forgotten the reasons why the TBS put down these translations, I inquired again recently. Mr. George Anderson responded by saying that Mr. Green's translations have word order changes for no reason, that he translates participles badly in numerous places, often making them difficult to read and understand (Mark 16:1).<

Yes, the LITV is somewhat awkward in this verse; but I would say overall I have found the LITV to be much easier to read than the KJV.

As for word order, the LITV generally adheres much closer to the original than the KJV. In fact, most awkwardness in the LITV is due to this reason. But let try to explain how the LITV handles participles. I will use an example from my site:

Matt 2:10, "And seeing the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" (LITV).

Note the "...ing" ending of "seeing." This is how the LITV generally renders a participle. But compare this phrase in the KJV/ NKJV: "When they say the star ...."

What the KJV and NKJV have done is made a "decision" on how the participle is used. In this case they are taking it in a temporal sense. But it could also be rendered "After." Another possibility is to take it in a casual sense and render it as "Because." Any one of these is possible.

Altogether, there are about a dozen different, possible ways in which a participle can be rendered. Context generally limits the number of choices that "fit" but still, it comes down to a translator's decision. In the above example, it really does not make much of a difference; but in other cases such decisions can make a difference.

Now, in seminary, were taught to make such decisions. But what Green has done in essence is decided not to choose and take the easiest rendering. Is this wrong? Well, what it does eliminate any possibility of the translator injecting his own interpretation into the text.

For me, I find Green's rendering very helpful. I know when I see an "... ing" word it is a participle. I then know I then need to decide for myself in what sense it is being used. For the average reader, it would help to compare a more standard version.

Thus, on my site, I recommend comparing more than one version of the Bible. For me, I use the NKJV primarily and the LITV secondarily.

> He also said he omits the historical present tense (making a present tense verb in past time historical narrative to give the reader a "you are there" perspective).<

It is different; but again not necessarily wrong. The NASB puts an asterisk besides such tenses. Is that better? Again, it is a translator decision.

As indicated in the discussion on participles, Green generally uses the "simplest" rendering. The same is true of his handling of genitives and other grammatical forms. Again, I don't believe this makes it wrong; just indicates a need to compare versions.

> He said that compared with other unsuccessful attempts to revise the AV or to make it more readable (such as the English text of the New Scofield Reference Bible) Mr. Green's translations are very inferior.<

"unsuccessful"? "inferior?" given the choice, I would take the LITV over the KJV anytime. In fact, right now I am trying to find a Bible application for my new Handheld PC running WinCE (which is what I am typing on right now). The only one currently available is the CEBible. It currently is available in the KJV, NASB, and NIV.

Needless to say, the latter two are out. So should I go with the KJV? I don't think so. As you indicate, it simply is too difficult to read. And storage space is such on a H/PC that there is only room for one version. So I do not not want to purchase the KJV and be "stuck" with it.

So I sent an e-mail to the company and suggested they add either the NKJV or LITV. They wrote back and said they had contacted Thomas Nelson about the NKJV but had not heard back from them but would try again.

They also said they would check into the LITV. Now, I would prefer to have the NKJV; but if Nelson won't give them copyright permission and Green will, then I will have no qualms in getting the LITV version.

> He also said that Mr. Green's understanding of both Greek and Hebrew perhaps can be best stated as "schoolboy Greek and Hebrew". Several scholars Mr. Anderson had spoken with concerning Mr. Green's work said he did not have the necessary language tools to do an adequate job.<

I am not sure of Green's schooling. It may be that he is "self-taught." But I do know this, on several occasions I have sent Green suggestions on how to improve a translation of a particular verse and he has been very receptive. In fact, recently I did an in-depth study of the Gospel of John in the LITV using the latest edition of Green's interlinear.

I noted some possible improvements as I was going though and e-mailed them to him. He e-mailed me back and said the suggestions got to him just in time. They were just working on an update version of John to be released separately as an evangelism tool. He said he would incorporate some of these suggestions into the new edition.

Now, try that with Thomas Nelson or the publishers of any other versions. I would guess your suggestions would fall on deaf ears.

My point being, the LITV has been very much a "group" effort. Green has taken suggestions over the years on how to improve it from readers. In fact, my name appears on the "Acknowledgements" page on the new edition of the NT interlinear (although my name is misspelled "Zeola" - I use two "l's").

> Now here's a personal observation: in his preface he states that he he has, in places (in the LITV) "assigned different sentence structure, even supplying new subject and verb in italics in order to aid the reader to quickly gain the sense." This doesn't sound like formal equivalence to me, but closer to the dynamic equivalence used by modern translators.<

All translations do this to some extent, including the KJV. The text would simply be unreadable if it wasn't done. Try reading the words in an interlinear underneath the Greek and you will see what I mean. However, the LITV does it much less than other versions and consistently uses italics or brackets when adding words not actually in the Hebrew or Greek texts. You will not find the latter in dynamic equivalence versions.

> Do you have any constructive comments concerning Mr. Anderson's evaluations and my observation?<

I think the above should suffice.

>I respect the TBS and support it; but also know many of the men on the board have a sentimental attachment to the KJV and this may cloud their thinking. Mr. Anderson has taught formal training, taught textual criticism at the college level and worked at TBS for 18 years. I'm sure he's very conservative. Any comments would be most appreciated!


Most definitely their thinking may be "clouded." Once you get used to the "sound" of a particular version any deviation from it seems "wrong." I know that I am so used to the NKJV and LITV that anytime I read something that is different from them my immediate reaction is to assume the other rendering is wrong. But I have to remind myself that is how KJV only people operate.

What needs to be done is to compare the Hebrew or Greek. And much more often than not I find the NKJV and/ or LITV have better renderings than the alternative. Hence why I use them. But there are rare times when another rendering might be better. So I must remember not to give a gut-level rejection of a rendering just because it sounds different from what I am used to.

I hope the above is helpful!

>Dear Gary, I've been enjoying the various offerings on your Darkness to Light site; I am especially interested in Bible versions and translations. I sent for the MKJV last week and got it yesterday.

What a disappointment. In just an hour's browsing, I saw these gaffes:

1. Psalm 126:3 "Great things did the Lord to work with us and we are glad." Good grief! What was wrong with the KJV or NKJV ("The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad.")

2. Bad grammar in John 10:34: "Jesus answered them, Has it not written in your law . . . "

John 9:19: "Is this your son, whom you say was born blind?" [should be "who," not "whom," and it was correct before Mr. Green "corrected" it.

John 8:26: "And I speak to the world those things what I heard of Him."

This doesn't even scratch the surface. I'm going back to my NKJV. I wasted my money.


I am sorry you were disappointed with the MKJV. I would suggest you send these comments to Mr. Green. He has been very receptive to me in the past when I have sent him suggestions on how to improve a translation in the MKJV or LITV.

Contact information can be found on the Web site for his ministry: Christian Literature World.

>Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus,

I purchased first a copy of the MKJV about 7 months ago and had to return it because there were several typo's including some thee's and thou's left in. When I returned it I was not altogether too impressed with the MKJV because I had noticed that the translator hadn't actually translated correctly in some areas but held more closely the rendering and reading of the KJV. So I asked for a copy of the LITV instead since this was suppose to be more accurate. The headaches trying to get it was something else. It took 6 1/2 months to finally get it due to printing and binding issues. They had told me that it would only be a few weeks...!<

Sorry about your problems with the exchange; but I really don’t have anything to do with the sale and distribution of the MKJV, or any version I recommend on my site for that matter.

>However I do enjoy the LITV for its more literalness and the faithful rendering of the YHWH as Jehovah, though I would have preferred Yahweh above it. Yet I do find it in some cased awkward in that well of course because of the literalness and as well as some of the words that Mr. Green chooses to use as well as some of the structures.

I also am weary of trying to find scriptures that I know in the KJV but not the exact location and not able to find it because they do not have a basic concordance at all. Now this is readily omitted if we have the Online Bible (which I do not) however this is not convenient for when you are not near a computer. Even in the even of sharing the word with someone becomes an inconvenient challenge.

Thus I use the LITV for reference in my Bible studies and in articles that I may write; but I finally have given up and have decided to carry with me at all time and to minister out of the NKJV (only correcting it if necessary from the Greek/Hebrew and the LITV).

It is far more of a less hassle to deal with the NKJV than with what I feel is inconsistent work of the MKJV and the rigged LITV with both having no concordance

In the Lord Jesus

I also use the NKJV as my primary Bible and the LITV as my secondary Bible. My reasons for doing so are similar to yours, as I express in several articles on my site. See, for instance, the following article where I mention the lack of a concordance, along with cross-references in the MKJV and LITV: Bible Versions and Bible Programs.

You might also be interested in the following article I just posted. In it I compare select verses in Exodus from the KJV with the NKJV and LITV: Difficult Terms in the KJV.

Note: On my site, when referring to the MKJV, I generally say it is somewhat more accurate than the NKJV; but also somewhat more difficult to read. As a result of the above two e-mails, I double-checked the MKJV. And yes, it can be awkward at times. So I adjusted my comments about it to say that along with being more difficult to read than the NKJV, that it can also be awkward at times. But I do still feel it is a very worthwhile version, especially if used as a secondary version for comparison purposes.

The above E-mail Exchanges were posted on this Web site July 28, 1998.

Bible Versions Controversy: MKJV & LITV
Bible Versions Controversy

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