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O Me of Little Faith

Back to our series on recycled content from Pocket Guide to the Bible. Earlier entries: the King James Version, the Revised Standard Version, the Jerusalem Bible, the New American Bible, The Living Bible, the NIV. Today? The NKJV.

The New King James Version (NKJV)

First published in: 1982, by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Translation style: Formal Equivalence

Quick description: A brand-new translation made to keep the same phrasing and feel of the old King James. By keeping that pedigreed name on the cover, the publishers hoped to attract any loyal KJV readers looking for something a little less stuffy. Or, in the case of the NIV haters, something a little less demonic.

[Update: Apparently, the NKJV may now be considered just as demonic as the heretical NIV. Sigh.]

Why you should read it: The NKJV is a good, solid, accurate translation with familiar phrasing and wordplay. It sticks closely to the original languages, which is why serious Bible scholars tend to like it.

Not so fast: But because it’s more concerned with accuracy than with readability, it ends up jamming modern words into archaic sentence structure, which is kinda weird. Also, it translates from the same documents available to the original King James translators — notably Erasmus’ Textus Receptus — rather than more trustworthy earlier documents and texts (though it does indicate where some manuscripts differ).

Example:
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4)

“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 3:16)

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