What is the New King James Version of the Bible?

what is the new king james version of the bible

In the realm of biblical scholarship, the New King James Version (NKJV) stands as a bridge between tradition and modernity.

Crafted to preserve the stylistic beauty of the original King James Version (KJV) while incorporating contemporary language, the NKJV offers a meticulous balance.

It’s the fruit of rigorous academic effort, reflecting a deep reverence for scripture with linguistic precision. This version’s genesis and philosophy highlight a commitment to clarity without sacrificing the text’s historical authenticity.

History of the NKJV Bible

Initiating the most significant revision of the KJV since the 1611 publication, Thomas Nelson Publishers embarked on the creation of the New King James Version (NKJV) to modernize the language of the original text while maintaining its classic essence.

The NKJV development was marked by a meticulous translation process, involving a diverse team of scholars who sought to uphold the textual integrity of the venerable KJV.

This undertaking had a profound impact on readers, offering them Scripture in contemporary, yet reverent language. It quickly gained popularity among those desiring fidelity to the original KJV, but it wasn’t without criticism.

Some purists contested the need for modernization, arguing it detracted from the Bible’s historic grandeur. Nevertheless, the NKJV remains a significant milestone in biblical literature.

NKJV Timeline

The New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible, a meticulous modernization of the original 1611 King James text, was released in stages starting with the New Testament in 1979.

The NKJV timeline reflects a structured printing process, culminating in the release of notable editions that have significantly influenced its impact and reception in the theological community.

Key milestones include:

  • 1979: NKJV New Testament unveiled by Thomas Nelson Publishers.
  • 1980: The Book of Psalms emerges in NKJV format.
  • 1982: Full NKJV Bible is made available to the public.
  • Subsequent years: Various study editions and specialized versions enhance accessibility.
  • Ongoing: The NKJV continues to be embraced and scrutinized within scholarly and lay circles alike.

This timeline marks the NKJV as a pivotal evolution in the life of the sacred text.

Why the New King James Version?

Building on its well-established timeline, the New King James Version offers a modern translation that remains faithful to the original text while providing clarity for contemporary readers.

The creators of this version recognized the necessity of overcoming language barriers to maintain translation accuracy. They aimed for a meticulous balance between preservation of the biblical text and readability for the modern audience.

Addressing shifts in linguistic usage and the evolution of the English language, the New King James Version enhances the reader’s comprehension without sacrificing the integrity of the Scriptures. This translation thus serves as a bridge, connecting the theological richness of the past with the accessibility required by present-day believers, ensuring the Word remains a living, discernible guide for faith and practice.

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Translation Philosophy

Underpinning the New King James Version is a translation philosophy that prioritizes fidelity to the original manuscripts while ensuring the text remains clear and accessible in modern English. This approach balances:

  • Translation accuracy: Faithfully rendering the original language texts into contemporary English.
  • Language modernization: Updating archaic terms without sacrificing the text’s meaning or style.
  • Literary beauty: Retaining the poetic and dignified qualities of the KJV.
  • Scholarly review: Involving a diverse team of theologians and linguists to scrutinize every verse.
  • Complete equivalence: Striving for a word-for-word translation that aligns closely with the source materials.

This meticulous process results in a version that isn’t only reliable for in-depth study but also resonates with the timeless elegance characteristic of the revered King James Version.

Word-for-Word vs. Thought-for-Thought Translations

An image of the bible translation spectrum; On the word-for-word or "formal equivalence" side from left to right reads NASB aka New American Standard Bible, ESV aka English Standard Version, KJV aka King James Version, NKJV aka New King James Version and CSB aka Christian Standard Bible. On the thought-for-though or "dynamic equivalence" side from left to right reads NIV aka New International Version and NLT aka New Living Translation.

A word-for-word Bible translation, also known as a formal equivalence (or literal) translation, closely follows the original language structure and vocabulary, aiming to replicate the exact wording as much as possible. This approach maintains the original syntax and word order, preserving the textual nuances of the original text.

A thought-for-thought Bible translation, often called a dynamic equivalence translation, focuses on conveying the meaning and intent of the original text rather than adhering strictly to the exact words. This method prioritizes the comprehension of the text’s core message in the target language, sometimes at the expense of literal accuracy.

Both the NKJV and KJV are examples of word-for-word translations.

The KJV is known for its literary and poetic style, closely mirroring the Hebrew and Greek texts. The NKJV, a modern revision of the KJV, also follows a word-for-word approach but updates the archaic language and grammar to enhance readability while maintaining the stylistic and literary quality of the original KJV.

NKJV and KJV Verses Compared

Matthew 6:34, NKJV

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up

Matthew 6:34, KJV

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

1 Corinthians 13:4, KJV

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up