HomeCategoriesContact UsPrivacy Policy
New King James Version (NKJV) Bible


The NKJV translation project, which was conceived by Arthur Farstad, was inaugurated in 1975 with two meetings (Nashville and Chicago) of 68 interested persons, most of them prominent Baptists but also including some conservative Presbyterians. The men who were invited to these meetings prepared the guidelines for the NKJV. The New Testament was published in 1979, the Psalms in 1980, and the full NKJV Bible in 1982.

The aim of its translators was to update the vocabulary and grammar of the King James Version, while preserving the classic style and beauty of the 1611 version. Although it uses substantially the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the original KJV, it indicates where more commonly accepted manuscripts differ.

Update to King James Version

The New King James Version is an update of the King James Version that does not make any alterations on the basis of the Greek New Testament or Hebrew Old Testament texts established by modern scholarship, but adheres to the readings presumed to underlie the King James Version. The revisers have also sought to follow the principles of translation used in the original King James Version, which the NKJV revisers call "complete equivalence" in contrast to "dynamic equivalence."

The task of updating the English of the KJV involved significant changes in word order, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. One of the most significant features of the NKJV was its abandonment of the second person pronouns “thou,” "thee," “ye,” “thy,” and “thine.” Verb forms were also modernized in the NKJV (for example, "speaks" rather than "speaketh").


Language Style
One major criticism of the NKJV is that it is rendered in a language that no one has ever really spoken. By maintaining much of the Elizabethan structure and syntax of the KJV (an intentional effect on the part of the revisers, who intended for a reader to be able to follow along in one version as the other version is read aloud), the NKJV at times has been criticized for putting modern words into archaic orders. Unlike the Revised Version of 1881-85 and American Standard Version of 1901, which sought to take advantage of modern scholarship but left the overall text worded in archaic Elizabethan language, the NKJV sounds neither Elizabethan nor particularly modern.

Underlying texts
A second major criticism involves the fact that it is based, as noted above, solely upon the ancient texts available during the time of King James and not on earlier manuscripts and documents which have since been discovered. Since these manuscripts, most of which reflect an Alexandrian text-type, are argued by most of today's scholars to be more reliable, the NKJV's adherence to the Textus Receptus seems to many to violate the spirit of open scholarship and open inquiry, and to ascribe a level of perfection to the documents available to the 17th century scholars that they would not have claimed for them. (Regarding this point see David Dewey, A User's Guide to Bible Translations, pp. 162-3, where he quotes strong criticism of the NKJV's textual basis by Steven Sheeley and Robert Nash.) NKJV supporters note that alternative readings based on other texts do appear as footnotes, though this is unlikely to placate those who feel that the "Johannine Comma" (at 1 John 5:7), for example, is not a legitimate portion of scripture and should not be treated as such.

King James Only Adherents
Adherents of the so-called "King-James-Only Movement," on the other hand, see the New King James Version as something less than a true successor to the 1611 version. Such supporters argue that, because the NKJV makes scores of changes to the meaning of the 1611 translators, it is not a simple "updating" but actually constitutes a new version. To take just one example, Acts 17:22, in which Paul in the KJV calls the men of Athens "too superstitious," is changed in the NKJV to have the apostle call them "very religious," consistent with the rendering of most contemporary versions.

Another example is, 2 TIMOTHY 2:15 where in the KJV it says "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." while the NKJV says "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Misunderstanding the original and now outdated meaning of the word "study," the critics complain "no longer do we need to 'study'!" The older meaning of the verb "study," which is used here, is "to do something studiously or diligently" ("He studiously avoided her gaze") instead of the modern meaning, "to read and learn." Because of changes like this, staunch supporters of the 1611 version do not feel that the NKJV is an acceptable substitute. However, other people feel that these examples merely prove that the original KJV is unacceptable for common use, because the modern reader assumes only the modern definitions of common words and is thus misled about the actual meaning of the original text!

One example of a criticism along these lines is provided by M.H. Reynolds.

At the same time, many churches and evangelical groups have embraced the NKJV as an acceptable compromise between the original KJV and a Bible with more contemporary wording.


How To Memorize The Scriptures Easily and Quickly!