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
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 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
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 20:43
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    @GediminasJeremiahGudelis: There's a Christianity.SE question for that: "Why are Christian books not public domain?" Commented Jul 24, 2013 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
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 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. Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 3:21

6 Answers 6


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.

  • 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. Commented Jul 24, 2013 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) Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 18:16
  • Thank you for your references. Could you please incorporate them into your answer via editing? That's the usual SE way. Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 18:21
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    Hope this is clearer and more helpful! Commented Jul 24, 2013 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. Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 20:12

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 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.


  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! Commented Jul 24, 2013 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.
    – Leandro
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 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? Commented Jul 24, 2013 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/…>.
    – Leandro
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 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. Commented Aug 10, 2013 at 21:28

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.

  • 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. Commented Jul 23, 2013 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"). Commented Jul 24, 2013 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... Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 6:38
  • @GediminasJeremiahGudelis You would quickly be able to tell if it is the KJV 1611 or the KJV 1769.
    – Narnian
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 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). Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 1:58

Since other answers respond well to your question, I will add only one point here. 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 introduce inaccuracy into Bible translations.

So, to directly answer your question, you should probably get both the NKJV (an excellent modern translation based on the Byzantine Majority Text that corrects many errors of the KJV) and the KJV (the only common English translation that reflects singular and plural "you", and also probably the most poetic English translation ever written).


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.


To do justice to this important question I would need to copy most of 60 A5 pages of text detailing a huge number of differences between it and the KJV, as produced by the Trinitarian Bible Society. At the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, they published two articles examining the NKJV, both of which were written by A. Hembd, MACS, Reformation International Theological Seminary. All I can do here is list some of the main queries that should cause concern to those wishing to avoid using a translation that contains theological corruptions to the word of God, the Bible, which the KJV is not guilty of. The KJV is not perfect; it does contain some errors and some inconsistencies. If you wish me to compare differences between it and the NKJV, I must confine myself to flagging up worrying points in the NJKV, for it is impossible to do an exhaustive comparison between the two in my answer to your question. The best thing you can do is contact the Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS) and ask them to post you these two printed articles, or to provide you with a link to their web-site where this matter appears.

Part 1 – October, November, December 2007 edition of the Quarterly Record, Issue No. 581, pages 9 to 44 At the outset a quote from Thomas Nelson (the publisher of the NKJV) shows their intention was to produce a mere language update of the AV (Authorised Version, which is the Trinitarian Bible Society designation of what others call the KJV). The TBS admits that “Relatively speaking, the NJKV is better than the other modern versions because its actual text is not based on the modern critical Greek text. Yet we must also state firmly that we do not deem it a faithful translation. Indeed, we cannot recommend it at all” then proceeds to “note its following grave defects:”

“In the New Testament, the NKJV presents a textual apparatus, alongside its translation, with readings from the Nestle-Aland critical Greek text, the text from which the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Version and the vast majority of modern versions are translated. The textual apparatus also includes variant readings from the so-called Byzantine majority text which is an edition of the Greek text edited by Zane Hodges and Arthur Farstad (Dr Farstad was also the editor of the new King James Version). The presentation of these variant readings would make it appear that the Textus Receptus is not reliable, and that therefore, by implication, the Authorised Version, which used the Textus Receptus in Greek for its New Testament translation, is itself suspect.”

“… The executive editor of the Old Testament of the NJKV does not advocate the Greek Textus Receptus at all; he is an advocate of the Nestle-Aland critical Greek text… the principal editor overall of the NKJV, Arthur L. Farstad, was also co-principal editor, along with Zane Hodges, of the Hodges-Farstad majority text, a Greek text that makes nearly 1,900 changes to the Textus Receptus.”

“Statement of the overall purpose of this paper

… 1. We shall show the critical text for what it is: a recovery of the Alexandrian text of the 4th century AD, which is an Egyptian revision and corruption of the Apostolic text. Therefore, we will affirm that it is wrong for the NKJV to include text-critical notes in its margin from this very corrupt text. We shall demonstrate the very corrupt state of the Egyptian text, by utilising the meticulous textual examinations of it by Herman Hoskier, especially from his work Codex B and its Allies, as well as from other sources. We shall demonstrate that the Egyptian or Alexandrian text was corrupted by the following things, among others: (1) it was corrupted by the superimposition of Coptic (i.e. Egyptian) spellings, grammatical structures, and word order upon the text; (2) it was corrupted in many places by the re-editing of the Apostolic Greek text to make it match the Coptic (Egyptian) text; (3) it was corrupted by the critical work of the early Church Father Origen and his followers, who often critically amended the text according to their mystical/allegorical interpretations of passages of Scripture; and finally, (4) it was corrupted by heretics in Egypt who emasculated the text in key places.

  1. In the second place, we shall demonstrate how the Church at large, after the persecutions of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and particularly after the Council of Nicea in the 4th century, began to revise their manuscript copies universally to the standard of the faithful apographs (copies descended directly from the originals) that were yet maintained in the apostolic churches of Asia Minor (which was the Byzantine Empire) and of Rome, and hence, set forth the rise of the Byzantine text to the ascendancy, and the universal rejection of the Egyptian text for the next 1,400 years.

  2. In the third place, we shall show how the Textus Receptus was the result of faithful men who laboured to see that the best text f rom the copies of the traditional text found its way into the printed editions, that many eyes were on the text to correct it, and that the Reformation fathers were right in eight passages in the Textus Receptus to follow a Greek minority reading when that reading was backed with nearly universal Latin support; and that thereby, through consulting an overwhelming Latin witness, the true readings were restored universally on the printed page.

  3. We in the fourth place shall show that the so-called Byzantine majority text of both Hodges and Farstad, and Pierpont and Robinson, are fatally flawed, in that, by their own confession, their editors relied primarily upon the work of Baron Hermann von Soden and his text of 1913. Herman Hoskier, an advocate of the traditional text in the Journal of Theological Studies indisputable proof that von Soden’s Greek text is, in his words, ‘honeycombed with errors’. Similarly, Frederick Wisse, who is himself very sympathetic of von Soden’s aims though frank about his inaccuracies, says that ‘…von Soden’s inaccuracies cannot be tolerated for any purpose. His apparatus is useless for a reconstruction of the text of the MSS he used’. Accordingly, we shall cite specific instances from both Hoskier and Wisse that fully demonstrate the errors and inaccuracies of the von Soden text, and therefore also of the Hodges-Farstad majority text and the Pierpont-Robinson majority text. Therefore, we must censure the NKJV for including the error-riddled readings of the so-called majority text in its margins.

  4. We shall then, as enabled, address the translational flaws of the NKJV in both the Old and New Testaments. We shall demonstrate that these flaws are not minor in nature but that, to the contrary, together with the marginal notes, they impact key doctrines of the Word of God: doctrines such as the hypostatic union of the two natures in Christ, the incarnation, the eternal generation of the Person of the Son, the divinity of Christ, and the eternal punishment of the wicked in hell.

  5. In the last place, we shall exhort our readers to cling to the tried and proven Authorised Version, and, where difficulties are encountered with archaic language, simply to use a commentary like Mathew Henry’s (which is now free online) to determine the meaning.”

Then the rest of the 26 pages of that first part (not including end-notes) and the entire second part of 32 pages examine in detail those six points. As I am working from two printed copies of the Quarterly Record, I would encourage you to go to www.tbsbibles.org or to email: [email protected] to get a direct link to those two articles. Then you will be able to determine for yourself the real extent of differences between the NKJV and the AV.

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