New King James Version
From Textus Receptus
It is generally acknowledged that the problems which are associated with the NKJV are not as numerous or as serious as those found in other versions such as the New International Version, the Revised English Bible or the Good News Bible. The NKJV does not omit dozens of verses, hundreds of phrases and words as is done in these other versions. It is not a loose translation or a paraphrase. However, the problems of the NKJV are significant in the light of the claim by its publishers and others that it is an accurate improvement of the AV and thus should replace the AV. The version includes many doubt producing footnotes, which favor critical text readings.
The NKJV was published in three stages:
Gideons International, an organization that places Bibles in hotels and hospitals, uses the NKJV translation.
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 Book of 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
According to the preface of the New King James Version (p. v-vi), the NKJV uses the 1967/1977 Stuttgart edition of the Biblia Hebraica for the Old Testament, with frequent comparisons made to the Ben Hayyim edition of the Mikraot Gedolot published by Bomberg in 1524-25, which was used for the King James Version. Both the Old Testament text of the NKJV and that of the KJV come from the ben Asher text (known as the Masoretic Text). However, the 1967/1977 Stuttgart edition of the Biblia Hebraica used by the NKJV uses an earlier manuscript (the Leningrad Manuscript B19a) than that of the KJV.
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 translation principles of translation used in the original King James Version, which the NKJV revisers call "complete equivalence" in contrast to "dynamic equivalence" used by many other modern translations.
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").
One criticism of the NKJV is that it is rendered in a language format that has never been 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 Jacobean language, the NKJV sounds neither Jacobean nor particularly modern. Also many of the double meanings in many of the verses have now been lost.
A second 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 manuscripts and documents which have since been discovered or largly rejected by the church, i.e. Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Since these manuscripts, most of which - for the New Testament - reflect an Alexandrian text-type, are argued by most of today's biblical scholars to be more reliable, the NKJV's adherence to the Majority Text (which has ties to the Textus Receptus) is accused of violating 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.
However, not all textual critics agree that the earliest manuscripts are the most accurate. Alternative readings based on other texts do appear as footnotes in the New King James Version, and unlike other translations (such as the New International Version), the NKJV does not contain value comments like "the best manuscripts add, etc." Instead, the footnotes simply state which manuscript sets do not contain the passage (similar to the approach previously taken by the New World Translation) of the Jehovah's Witnesses. However, 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. The NKJV holds to a loose stance for the Textus Receptus and Masoretic Text, but incorporates other corrupt manuscripts in its footnotes and follows corrupt definitions from other versions, which in doing so, reveals their belief that the KJV is in error in 1000’s of places.
The Hebrew Text that the NKJV is translated from is slightly different from the Masoretic text used by the KJV. The KJV is primarily translated from the Bomberg edition (1524-25) of the Masoretic text prepared by Jacob ben Chayyim. The NKJV uses the 1967/77 Stuttgart edition of the Biblia Hebraica, with frequent comparisons made with the Bomberg edition of 1525. In addition the NKJV consulted, the LXX or Septuagint Greek Old Testament, the Latin Vulgate a variety of ancient versions of the Hebrew Scriptures, as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls (NKJV preface, p.vi).
A bridge translation to Westcott and Hort
Pastor Kirk DiVietro of Franklin Massachusetts, sent an email to David Cloud of Way of Life Ministries in January of 2005 that reveals the hidden agenda behind the publication of the New King James Version. David Cloud prefaced Kirk DiVietro's letter with the following statement:
- Kirk DiVietro, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Franklin, Massachusetts, attended one of the Thomas Nelson planning meetings that prepared the way for the publication of the New King James. He testified to me that the Thomas Nelson representative plainly stated that their goal with the NKJV was to create a bridge to the modern versions, to break down the resistance of those who still revere the KJV. Following is Bro. DiVietro’s testimony as he gave it to me by e-mail on January 9, 2005:
- “Over 20 years ago I attended a pre-publication meeting of the NKJV held by the Thomas Nelson People and hosted by the Hackman’s Bible Bookstore in Allentown, PA. I am personal friends with the owners who took great delight in seating me next to the brother of the main translator of the NIV. The meeting was attended by over 300 college professors and pastors. At the meeting we were treated to a slide presentation of the history of the English bible and in particular the King James Bible and its several revisions.
- During the presentation of the NKJV the Thomas Nelson representative made a statement which to the best of my memory was, ‘We are all educated people here. We would never say this to our people, but we all know that the King James Version is a poor translation based on poor texts. But every attempt to give your people a better Bible has failed. They just won’t accept them. So we have gone back and done a revision of the King James Version, a fifth revision. Hopefully it will serve as a transitional bridge to eventually get your people to accept a more accurate Bible.’
Because of the years, and because I did not write it down, I cannot give you the speaker’s name and I cannot promise you that this is word for word correct, but the meeting so seared my spirit that I have never picked up and opened a NKJV. I can tell you that this is absolutely the substance and nearly the exact words of what was said.”
The accuracy of Pastor Kirk DiVietro's recollection regarding the Thomas Nelson representative's statement, "We would never say this to our people, but we all know that the King James Version is a poor translation based on poor texts" is confirmed by the New King James Version editors: It was the editors' conviction that the use of footnotes would encourage further inquiry by readers. They also recognized that it was easier for the average reader to delete something he or she felt was not properly a part of the text than to insert a word or phrase which had been left out by the revisers.
The New King James Version translators included nine scholars who had been in the translation team of the New International Version, which was based upon the faulty Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, and which also used Dynamic Equivalence. The influence of the nine NIV translators and their deviant philosophy and theology is clearly seen in the similar errors within the NKJV. Because the NKJV is primarily based upon the Textus Receptus, and follows a formal equivalence, these errors are less, however, the influence is still there in translational methodology and insertion of small words only found in the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament.
Dr. James D. Price was the executive editor of the Old Testament of the New King James Version. Price was formerly Chairman and Professor of the Department of Old Testament, Temple Baptist Theological Seminary, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Price has been retired since 2005.
'Not a TR Advocate'
"..he admitted to me that he is not committed to the Received Text and that he supports the modern critical text in general:
- ‘I am not a TR advocate. I happen to believe that God has preserved the autographic text in the whole body of evidence that He has preserved, not merely through the textual decisions of a committee of fallible men based on a handful of late manuscripts. The modern critical texts like NA26/27 (Nestle-Aland) and UBS (United Bible Societies) provide a list of the variations that have entered the manuscript traditions, and they provide the evidence that supports the different variants. In the apparatus they have left nothing out, the evidence is there. The apparatus indicates where possible additions, omissions, and alterations have occurred… I am not at war with the conservative modern versions [such as the New International Version and the New American Standard Version]’. (James Price, e-mail to David Cloud, April 30, 1996).
The above demonstrates how the executive editor of the Old Testament of the New King James Version does not advocate the Greek Textus Receptus; but rather that he is an advocate of the Nestle-Aland critical Greek text.
The overall principal editor of the New King James Version, Arthur L. Farstad, was also coprincipal editor, along with Zane Hodges, of the Hodges-Farstad majority text, a Greek text that makes nearly 1,900 changes to the Textus Receptus. This fact could lead us to answer why the editors of the New King James desired to show us with their textual apparatus of alternate Greek readings in the footnotes, because they do not believe in the Textus Receptus, but approve alternate readings and other Greek texts!
Arthur L. Farstad
Dr Farstad stated in his preface to the New King James:
- "Today, scholars agree that the science of New Testament textual criticism is in a state of flux. Very few scholars still favour the Textus Receptus as such, and then often for its historical prestige as the text of Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, and the King James Version. For about a century most have followed a Critical Text (so called because it is edited according to specific principles of textual criticism) which depends heavily upon the Alexandrian type of text. More recently many have abandoned this Critical Text (which is quite similar to the one edited by Westcott and Hort) for one that is more eclectic. Finally, a small but growing number of scholars prefer the majority text, which is close to the traditional text except in the Revelation." Dr. Arthur Farstad, (Chairman of the NKJV Executive Review Committee)
Thus, we see that Dr Farstad deprecates the Textus Receptus. New Testament textual criticism is in a state of flux, he tells us; the old is no longer good, he implies. Very few scholars still favour that old-fashioned Textus Receptus, which was once universally recognised by the Church as the providentially preserved and pure text of all ages, and which once held universal sway as the Byzantine text for 1,400 years, the last nearly five hundred years as the printed Textus Receptus. But no, we must now set aside that old-fashioned text; we must turn instead to the Greek texts favoured by the REAL scholars: either to the critical text, which is favoured by most, or to the new so called Byzantine majority text which is favoured by an increasing minority of scholars. Thus, the editors of the NKJV will now do us a great favour by setting forth to us these better readings in the margin, these better readings which they have given in English in the margin, these better readings which overthrow and undermine the authority of the translation from the Textus Receptus we see in the main body of the text.
Apparently, according to these "NEW" King James men, the Textus Receptus is no longer to be regarded as the providentially preserved Greek text because it was compiled by a ‘committee of fallible men’ using ‘a few late manuscripts’, as Dr Price has told us. If, as we are told by Dr Farstad (who was co-editor of the Hodges-Farstad majority Greek text which is at major variance with the Textus Receptus in over 1,000 places), that scholars today hold for the most part to either the critical text or the majority text and therefore those texts are better than the Textus Receptus, then one of those texts and a translation made from one of those texts should be what we read. Therefore, it follows that the NKJV's main contributors consider that the Textus Receptus, and its faithful translation, the Authorised Version, should be set aside for the “new” Greek.
Marion H. Reynolds Jr. of the Fundamental Evangelistic Association said:
- “The duplicity of the NKJV scholars is also a matter for concern. Although each scholar was asked to subscribe to a statement confirming his belief in the plenary, divine, verbal inspiration of the original autographs (none of which exist today), the question of whether or not they also believed in the divine preservation of the divinely inspired originals was not an issue as it should have been. Dr. Arthur Farstad, chairman of the NKJV Executive Review Committee which had the responsibility of final text approval, stated that this committee was about equally divided as to which was the better Greek New Testament text-the Textus Receptus or the Westcott-Hort. Apparently none of them believed that either text was the Divinely preserved Word of God. Yet, all of them participated in a project to "protect and preserve the purity and accuracy" of the original KJV based on the TR. Is not this duplicity of the worst kind, coming from supposedly evangelical scholars?”
King James Only belief
Proponents of the "King-James-Only Movement" see the New King James Version as something less than a true successor to the KJV. Proponents view the NKJV as making significant changes to the meaning of the KJV translators. For example, Acts 17:22, in which Paul in the KJV calls the men of Athens "too superstitious", is interpreted in the NKJV to have Paul call them "very religious".
Some King James Only proponants teach that the NKJV logo is an occult symbol, and this symbol has been called by Texe Marrs as "Satan's fingerprint". But when the original King James Version of 1611 is examined, it has mason handshakes throughout (masonry was not cultic until the late 1700's) and similar triangular symbology representing the trinity etc.. which has also been adoped by the occult (as almost every symbol has). David Bray combines several anachronistc Mason and Rosicrucian conspiracy theories to claim that the 1611 version has occult symbology . While many see the symbol as a serious issue as there are believers who believe that such symbols are demonic, many believers do not think so, and in the defence of the KJV and comparing it to the NKJV this would be a side issue rather than that comparing the actual words written.
The NKJV’s 774 footnotes cast doubt on which verses are inspired. The New King James Version casts doubt on the authenticity of 873 verses in the New Testament. While the NKJV claims to be translated from the Textus Receptus the 'NU' denotes the Nestles/United Bible Society's Greek text, which is basically the same as Westcott and Hort readings. `M' denotes the Hodges-Farstad-Nelson Majority Greek text. According to the New King James Version preface:
Where significant variations occur in the New Testament Greek Manuscripts, textual notes are classified as follows:
NU-Text These variations from the traditional text generally represent the Alexandrian or Egyptian type of text [the oldest, but sometimes questioned text]. They are found in the Critical Text published in the Twenty-sixth edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (N) and in the United Bible Society's third edition (U), hence the acronym "NU-text."
M-Text This symbol indicates points of variation in the Majority Text from the traditional text [a consensus of most Greek manuscripts]. It should be noted that M stands for whatever reading is printed in the published Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text, whether supported by overwhelming, strong, or only a divided majority textual tradition.
- "It was the editors' conviction that the use of footnotes would encourage further inquiry by readers. They also recognized that it was easier for the average reader to delete something he or she felt was not properly a part of the text than to insert a word or phrase which had been left out by the revisers."
(Quote source: History of the King James Bible, page 1235 of the the New King James Version, copyright 1979, 1980, 1982)
D. A. Waite said:
- “The diabolical nature of the New King James Version shows itself in their printing all the various readings of the Greek text in the footnotes. They print all sides and take their stand in favor of none of them. By so doing, they confuse the readers. The editors have made no decision as to what God’s Words really are.” (Defending the King James Bible, p. 125).
William P. Grady said:
- “When a study is made of the footnote section in the NKJV, one discovers a classic example of compromise. Understanding the self-centered nature of today’s carnal believers, Nelson Publishers decided to let their customers have a literal choice between three different Greek readings!… Can you imagine the confusion being wrought among laypeople as they suddenly discover their new responsibilities to become textual critics?” (Final Authority, p. 304)
See NKJV Footnotes
See Also NKJV Preface
Changes from the KJV
- That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; (KJV)
- Blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. (NKJV)
Paul clearly taught the promises to Abraham and his seed were to a singular seed, which meant Jesus, not the Jews. But the NKJV has changed the Old Testament reading to "descendants," completely contradicting Paul's argument in Galatians 3:16:
- Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Even the NKJV reads very much the same as the KJV here:
- Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
This translational error produces the false teaching of salvation by race rather than grace. It clearly demonstates that the NKJV Old Testament is not an accurate Scripture and has massive contradictions. The promises to Abraham and his seed are in Gen 12:7; 13:15-16; 15:5,13,18; 17:8-10,19; 21:12; 22:17-18; and 24:7. This is heresy and causes a contradiction sufficient enough to condemn the entire NKJV as flawed. Didn't one of the 130 NKJV scholars read the context, or cross check the verses?
- In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him. (KJV)
- In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him. (NKJV)
Clearly the NKJV is false by its own admission here via the parallel account in 2 Chronicles in the NKJV itself:
- 2 Chronicles 35:20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Charchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.
The KJV is nearly identical to it:
- 2 Chronicles 35:20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him.
Pharaoh Necho of Egypt fought against Assyria during the days of Josiah. King Josiah was killed in a battle at Megiddo, when he went against Pharaoh unadvisedly. But the NKJV changes the entire history to make Pharaoh Necho an ally of Assyria in one place to deny the inspired history and to contradict itself in another place. If the account in Kings is true in the NKJV, then what of Chronicles in the NKJV? Why didn't any of the 130 translators notice this?
- For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids. (KJV)
- For how great is their goodness and how great their beauty! Grain shall make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women. (NKJV)
The NKJV here is praising Israel for their goodness and beauty instead of God for His. How can this be a "New" KJV? It totally changes the meaning.
- The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (KJV)
- The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (NKJV)
"Generation" means to be generated or to be placed in time, where the origination of the eternal Christ's body occurred, and the Word became flesh. Christ was not generated from man, but through Mary and from God, linking to verse 18. The genealogy mentioned is of Joseph, and not Jesus. Thus the New King James Version's translation is faulty having "The genealogy of Jesus Christ" because Christ had no earthly genealogy except through His mother.
- Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (KJV)
- Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (NKJV)
Is the was to life narrow or difficult? The NKJV makes the way to life difficult, whereas the KJV correctly says that the road is narrow.
- Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. (KJV)
- Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. (NKJV)
Why does the NKJV demote the worship of Jesus to only kneeling down?
- For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (KJV)
- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (NKJV)
There are two errors in this verse. The first part claims that the message of the Gospel is foolishness, whereas the KJV speaks about the method, preaching, being foolish, not the message. The second part is promoting works based salvation. Are we saved, or being saved? It creates a confusion.
- For verily he took not on him the nature of angels ;but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (KJV)
- For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. (NKJV)
- For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. (KJV)
- For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? (NKJV)
The KJV clearly says that "some" i.e. most of the older generation of Israel, "howbeit not all" meaning Joshua and Caleb, "did provoke." The NKJV says that everyone who came out of Egypt rebelled. This is clearly mistranslated and ruins the basic Old Testament historical narrative.
- For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (KJV)
- For by one offering He has perfected forever, those who are being sanctified. (NKJV)
This unnecessary change in the NKJV conforms to heretical works based gospels, such as that taught by Rome, which claim that salvation is a process. The NKJV completely destroys the concept that when a person is in Jesus Christ the believer is already perfected and sanctified. The NKJV, on the other hand, creates confusion and a person is being sanctified. The NKJV is certainly not a "new" KJV here but another translation entirely.
- Arthur Farstad
- James Price
- NKJV Translators
- King James Version
- 21st Century King James Version
- The New KJV is a Hack Job Translation by Will Kinney
- A Bible Believer's Response to James Price's book King James Onlyism - a New Sect by Will Kinney
- 1. Preface to the New King James Version
- 2. An Examination of the New King James version (PDF) by the Trinitarian Bible Society (page 11.)
Will Kinney Articles on the NKJV
- Is the NKJV the same as the KJB?
- NKJV Word Changes
- Don’t Go On Safari with a NKJV translator
- A comparative study between the KJB and the NKJV in 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah
- A thorough examination of the differences between the KJB and the NKJV in the Book of Proverbs
Trinitarian Bible Society articles on the NKJV
- The New King James Version: An Examination of the NKJV, part 1 pdf
- The New King James Version: An Examination of the NKJV, part 2 pdf
- The New King James Version: A Critique (A123) pdf
- The New King James Version and the Song of Solomon pdf
- The New King James Version: What today's Christian needs to know about the NKJV (A110) pdf
- New King James Version Is It the Word of God?
- Official NKJV website
- Free Bible software with full NKJV at www.BerBible.org
- Bible Gateway.com, online text of the NKJV with links to the text of each chapter