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New King James Version
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New King James Version

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The New King James Version (NKJV) is a modern Bible translation by Thomas Nelson (Nashville). The NKJV New Testament was printed in 1979 and the complete Bible in 1982. It updates the vocabulary and grammar of the King James Version, while preserving the classic style and beauty. Although it uses the same Hebrew and Greek language texts as the original, it indicates where other manuscripts differ.

The New King James Version is a revision of the King James version that does not make any alterations on the basis of a revised Greek or Hebrew text, 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 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 with some conservative Presbyterians. The men who were invited to these meetings prepared the guidelines for the NKJV.

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 personal pronouns “thou,” “ye,” “thy,” and “thine.” Verbal endings and verb forms were also modernized in the NKJV.

The 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 (so much so that one can follow along from a person reading from one version with the other, which was intentional), the NKJV at times has been accused of putting modern words into arcahic orders. Unlike the English Revised and American Standard Versions, which sought to take advantage of modern scholarship but leave the overall text to be worded in archaic Elizabethan language, the NKJV sounds neither Elizabethan nor particularly modern. This is apparently just what the translators intended, so it seems likely that they would agree with this criticism, taking it as a compliment.