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I am planing to get one of these translations for my personal use. If these are too different from one another, I would like to get both.

I love to compare (for my personal study) different versions (even different languages within the same version) of Bible. I own many Bibles, but as of KJV or NKJV I presently do not own any translation. This is why I want to get some knowledge about each before deciding which one I will get...

I have read a Wiki webpage about NKJV, but the results there are not enough, as I'm not about modernized English language. I'm interested for the accuracy to the original scriptures.

What are the differences between NKJV and KJV translations?

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By the way, one option you have is to get the parallel text edition which has both KJV and NKJV. –  James T Jul 23 '13 at 19:51
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There are many places worldwide to get a Bible for free, but that particular hardcover dual-text edition from a US-based publisher costs $19.97 plus postage. I don't work for the publisher so I have no control over their decisions. –  James T Jul 23 '13 at 20:43
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@GediminasJeremiahGudelis: There's a Christianity.SE question for that: "Why are Christian books not public domain?" –  Philip Schaff Jul 24 '13 at 0:33
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Could you explain the reason for the jehovahs-witness tag on this? Is there a reason for it? I'm inclined to remove it as it seems irrelevant –  wax eagle Jul 24 '13 at 2:47
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Jehovah's Witnesses mainly used KJV Bible before translating their own NWT version. And, as for extend, in many cases still using KJV for (comparing?) with their Bible. Though they could answer something about the topic. If you say it's irrelevant, feel free to edit and remove the Tag from my answer. –  Gediminas Jeremiah Gudelis Jul 24 '13 at 3:21

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you are interested in accuracy, the NKJV is the way to go, since it corrects errors present in all other editions of the KJV. Some are errors in the manuscripts used, some are translation errors, some are typographical errors present in the original 1611 edition (when compared to the translators’ notes), some typographical errors introduced in subsequent editions such as the 1769 one, some are changes of meaning in words since 1611.

On the other hand, if you want to know exactly what the original translators intended, you would be better off with the New Cambridge paragraph Bible, which compared the 1611 edition with the translators notes to fix errors usually thought to be translation errors, but were actually introduced by the editors and printers.

As you already have other translations, you are probably already aware of this, but it bears repetition: due to the low quality of the then‐available manuscripts as compared to those available nowadays, almost any modern translation will be more faithful to the original languages. The best ones following the Tyndale/KJV style are probably the ESV and the NRSV; the TNIV is probably the best one in current language, but you should also consult a more dynamic translation such as the REB or the GNB2.

Sources:

  1. White, James, The King James version-only controversy.

  2. Fee; Stuart, How to read the Bible for all its worth, 1st chapter, ‘How to choose a translation’.

  3. The introduction to The New Cambridge paragraph Bible.

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Could you please provide some references for your otherwise great answer? Thank you! –  Adrian Keister Jul 24 '13 at 15:54
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Unfortunately this is just the kind of field where it can be difficult to separate wheat from the tare, specially online. This is information which I collected also online, but mainly from: 1. White, James, The King James version-only controversy. 2. Fee; Stuart, How to read the Bible for all its worth, 1st chapter, ‘How to choose a translation’. 3. The introduction to The New Cambridge paragraph Bible. –  lfd Jul 24 '13 at 16:54
    
@lfd, You have a great sources to refer from. Could you please enlighten me where could I get one Fee; Stuart, How to read the Bible for all its worth, 1st chapter, ‘How to choose a translation' copy for myself? –  Gediminas Jeremiah Gudelis Jul 24 '13 at 19:12
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Fee, Gordon D; Stuart, Douglas How to read the Bible for all its worth, 3rd ed., Zondervan, ISBN 978‐0‐310‐24604‐6, US$ 16.99 can be found nearly everywhere. I think I got mine from The Book Depository, and saw it offered at Amazon too. Christian Books Distributor is a sure be. BTW, they say little about the ESV, which I favour; perhaps because it is relatively recent. It is discussed by de Young, Kevin, Why Our Church Switched to the ESV <thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/09/06/…;. –  lfd Jul 24 '13 at 19:31
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I agree with this; however, I still think that the original is KJV is more useful than the NKJV for getting historical interpretations—not to mention the true historic literary value. I concur with getting the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible for this. As for the NKJV, I think its slight accuracy edge is negligible: it doesn't fix the basis of the KJV, and so other modern translations are better in that regard. At the same time, it doesn't have the true historical value of the original. As a sole translation, the question is different. –  John Peyton Aug 10 '13 at 21:28

The two translations are probably similar enough that you don’t need to get both.

I would recommend getting the KJV because of its historical importance. In your studies, it will be useful to get a historical perspective on passages, as well as a taste of truly traditional language.

I wouldn’t advise getting the NKJV in your particular case: anything it has that the KJV doesn’t will probably be in another modern translation. Those other modern translations will have other advantages in scholarship and readability; the NKJV won’t have these because it was intended as a touch-up of the KJV.

This isn’t to put down the NKJV; it’s perfectly adequate as a single translation. However, given that you’re using others as well, it doesn’t have anything that makes it stand out as excellent in a particular way, as the KJV does because of its historical and literary value. The purpose of the NKJV was to make the KJV slightly more readable and correct a few possible errors in translation; some users may find that helpful. The KJV, on the other hand, was the most-used translation for centuries and occupies an important place in the history of the Bible in English—and indeed, the English language.

For example, excerpting from Bible Researcher: Though the NKJV “followed the essentially literal method of translation”, it “is less literal than the NASB […] because of renderings carried over from the KJV”. In other words, where literalness might be a plus, it isn’t because of its heritage. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the literary weight of the original KJV. Quoting John Richard Green, another page on the same website says, “As a mere literary monument the [KJV] remains the noblest language of the English tongue, while its perpetual use made of it from the instant of its appearance the standard of our language.”


Disclaimer: In linking to any site, I do not necessarily subscribe to any or all of the author’s opinions.

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Could you please provide some references for your answer? C.SE is more interested in the opinions of groups of people than individuals - not to be mean or anything, but that's what this site is all about. –  Adrian Keister Jul 24 '13 at 17:12
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Excerpting from bible-researcher.com/nkjv.html, for instance: Though the NKJV “followed the essentially literal method of translation”, it “is less literal than the NASB […] because of renderings carried over from the KJV”. In other words, where literalness might be a plus, it isn’t because of its heritage. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the literary weight of the original KJV. “As a mere literary monument the [KJV] remains the noblest language of the English tongue, while its perpetual use made of it from the instant of its appearance the standard of our language.” (John Richard Green) –  John Peyton Jul 24 '13 at 18:16
    
Thank you for your references. Could you please incorporate them into your answer via editing? That's the usual SE way. –  Adrian Keister Jul 24 '13 at 18:21
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Hope this is clearer and more helpful! –  John Peyton Jul 24 '13 at 18:32
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@GediminasJeremiahGudelis The KJV uses ‘Jehovah’ a few times, mostly in compounds (e.g. ‘Jehovah-jireh’; it also uses ‘Jah’ once in the Psalms. The NKJV uses neither and opts for consistency. This isn't a big deal for me: if you want a translation that uses Jehovah/Yahweh when translating יהוה, the KJV doesn't provide a huge advantage. It only uses Jehovah (or Jah) when it's especially apt in the context, which specifically refers to the ‘Name’ of God. The NKJV is only changing a small number of places for consistency, and is not much worse or better. –  John Peyton Jul 24 '13 at 20:12

The NKJV is probably the most similar translation to the KJV of any of the modern translations. It should be noted that the KJV you are probably referring to is the latest update of 1769 and not the original 1611. The translations that predate the KJV 1611, like the Bishop's Bible or Coverdale Bible, will likely be more similar to that than any of the modern translations.

That being said, the Greek New Testament manuscripts used by the KJV and NKJV are the same or very close to it. The Hebrew manuscripts are apparently different, although my understanding is that the differences are very minor.

Thus, the versions will be quite similar. I would suggest that it will be similar enough to just use the NKJV, although you might be interested to pick up a KJV 1611 in the original script at some point or view one online.

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Thanks for the details. I wasn't even aware that KJV of 1611 different from that one of 1769. I'm planing to find (perhaps online version) Parallel version of both translations. –  Gediminas Jeremiah Gudelis Jul 23 '13 at 20:40
    
@GediminasJeremiahGudelis Bible Gateway allows parallel versions. Genesis 1 I'm not sure whether they use 1611 or 1769 KJV, although there are two versions of that ("KJV" and "Authorised Version"). –  Andrew Leach Jul 24 '13 at 6:18
    
Thanks for this link. I love to compare (for my personal study) different versions (even different languages within the same version) of Bible. I own many Bibles, but as of KJV or NKJV I presently do not own any translation. This is why I want to get some knowledge about each before deciding which one I will get... –  Gediminas Jeremiah Gudelis Jul 24 '13 at 6:38
    
@GediminasJeremiahGudelis You would quickly be able to tell if it is the KJV 1611 or the KJV 1769. –  Narnian Jul 24 '13 at 12:04
    
The KJV 1769 is actually really close to the KJV 1611. Most of the words are the same; the vast majority of differences are in spelling, punctuation, use of typefaces, and marginal notes. If I read aloud from the KJV 1611 and you followed along in the KJV 1769, you probably wouldn't notice the difference for a while. All editions of the KJV are different enough from other early English translations that the differences would definitely be apparent within a few verses (or less). –  John Peyton Jul 26 '13 at 1:58

If you don't care about modernized English, then there is one important difference that few people tend to note. The KJV has one superiority over every single modern translation I've ever seen (including the NKJV): it correctly uses "thees" and "thous" to reflect the singular versus plural "you" in English. Thus, if you want to read an English translation and instantly know, "Is the 'you' here singular or plural?" then look at the KJV:

  • Thou means singular you as a subject, e.g. Thou, my friend, readest my response.
  • Thee means singular you as an object, e.g. I give my response to thee, my friend.
  • Ye means plural you as a subject, e.g. Ye, my friends, doth read my response.
  • You means plural you as an object, e.g. I give my response to you, my friends.

(Yes, it is counterintuitive that thou and ye are paired as subject pronouns, whereas thee and you are paired as object pronouns. But who ever said KJV English was easy?)

As far as I know, the KJV is the only common English translation to maintain these distinctions, distinctions that exist in the Hebrew and Greek texts. Note that several 19th and 20th-century translations use "Thee" and "Thou" to refer respectfully to God. There is no basis for this religious practice in the Hebrew and Greek texts--they have no special pronouns for addressing deity. Such usages add inaccuracy to the Bible.

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The major difference between the KJV and the NKJV, is that the King James Version 1611-1769 (the Authorized Version, so called) was written by the Bishops of the Church of England specifically to support the Ecclesiology and doctrine of that Church. American versions of the KJV are different, and not authorized to be read in the CofE. The Queens publishers are authorized to print the only version of the KJV approved to be read in the Liturgy.

The NKJV is an American publication that was written using similar language to the KJV (to become a modernized 17th. cent. English), but which was not written by Bishops of the CofE, and not approved to be read in the Liturgy of the CofE. It is a Bible that is translated by two Cambridge scholars in the first instance - one a very scholarly Bishop, the other a very distinguished Greek translator. Their work became the basis for all the post Darwinian Bibles that we have today - I use this term because it was the publication of Darwins theory (1859), that forced theologians to strengthen their position on Creationism, which incidentally led to the discovery of two ancient Greek Bibles (Sinaiticus 1859, Vaticanus 1859), one in the Vatican archives where it had lain since the 11th. cent., and one at the Monastery at St Catherine's on Mount Sinai, where pages were being used as fire starters. Vaticanus was the primary text used by Westcott and Hort to make a translation into modern Greek in 1881. This translation was used to produce the English translation called the Revised Version, which spawned the American Revised Standard Version, and countless others including the NKJV (1962) and of course the NIV.

Now, that is the background to the NKJV, and KJV. Here is the advice on which to choose.

I have 28 Bibles for reference (electronic of course) but I tend to stick to Bibles written before 1881 (the date of first publication of the RV NT). The most useful is the Authorized version of the King James Bible printed by the Queen's printers - by the Oxford printer for the USA. Almost all the 19th. cent. commentaries and Lectionaries (Strong's etc.) are keyed to the phrases in this Bible. So, when you read the commentaries you can look the verses up and find the same words in the Bible.

The other Bible is the Duoay-Rheims English translation of the Vulgate Bible which was written in Classical Latin in the late 4th.cent from Old Latin manuscripts primarily, but compared to Hebrew Torah, and the Greek Septuagint from "Origen's Hexapla" of the 3rd. cent. King James version (AV 1769) and the DRV teach the same theology.

The word order and sentence structure of Bibles after 1881 are different enough from the standard Commentaries (of which there exist more than a thousand), that it makes it difficult to grasp the significance of the comment, when the text of a particular Bible is worded differently.

One thing to be wary of is a "study bible" because often the commentary is geared to the doctrine a particular religious group and then drafted into another Bible where it is not relevant.

Note: Bibles have been commissioned to support particular doctrines. You cannot use a Roman Catholic Bible to support non-Catholic doctrine. And Protestant Bibles cannot be read in the Catholic church Liturgy, nor in Anglican liturgy ("liturgy" applies to the order of Sunday Service.)

For an introduction to this, go to my non-commercial web site.

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