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What is the New King James Version (NKJV)?

New King James Version, NKJV audio

Commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 130 respected Bible scholars, church leaders, and lay Christians worked for seven years to create a completely new, modern translation of Scripture, yet one that would retain the accuracy, purity and stylistic beauty of the original Authorized Version or King James Version. According to Thomas Nelson, the translators were unyieldingly faithful to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts, applying the most recent research in archaeology, linguistics, and textual studies. The NKJV was published in three stages: New Testament in 1979, the New Testament and the Psalms in 1980, and the complete Bible in 1982.

New King James Version - Translation method
Although the NKJV uses substantially the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the original KJV, it indicates where more commonly accepted manuscripts differ. The New King James Version also uses the Textus Receptus ("Received Text") for the New Testament, just as the King James Version had used. The translators have also sought to follow the principles of translation used in the original KJV, which the NKJV revisers call "complete equivalence" in contrast to "dynamic equivalence" or “thought-for-thought” used by many other modern translations, such as the New International Version.

New King James Version - Pros and Cons
The strength of the New King James Version is in how it updates the archaic language of the KJV while maintaining much of its beauty and eloquence. The New King James Version is very literal in its rendering, resulting in a very good “word-for-word” translation. The weaknesses of the New King James Version are (1) its use of the Textus Receptus instead of more modern manuscript compilations and (2) its commitment to “complete equivalence,” which can sometimes result in the concepts behind the literal words not being communicated adequately.

New King James Version - Sample Verses
John 1:1,14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”

Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Titus 2:13 – “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”

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What is the New King James Version (NKJV)?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022