New King James Version

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New King James Version
NKJV Pew Bible (Hardcover, Black), Jan 2018.png
NKJV Pew Bible (Hardcover, Black)
Full nameNew King James Version
NT published1979
Complete Bible
Derived fromKing James Version (1769 Oxford ed.)
Textual basis
Translation typeFormal equivalence
Reading level9.0
Version revision1984
CopyrightThe Holy Bible, New King James Version
Copyright © 1982 by HarperCollins
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.[3]
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.[3]

The New King James Version (NKJV) is an English translation of the Bible. The complete NKJV Bible was published in 1982 by Thomas Nelson, now HarperCollins.[4] The NKJV is described by Thomas Nelson as being "scrupulously faithful to the original,[a] yet truly updated to enhance its clarity and readability."[5]


The NKJV translation project was conceived by Arthur Farstad. It was inaugurated in 1975 with two meetings (Nashville and Chicago) of 130 biblical scholars, pastors, and theologians. The men who were invited prepared the guidelines for the NKJV.

The aim of its translators was to update the vocabulary and grammar of the King James Version, while preserving the classic style and literary beauty of the original 1769 edition of the King James Version. The 130 translators believed in faithfulness to the original Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew texts including the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also agreed upon for most New King James Bibles were easier event descriptions, a history of each book, and added dictionary and updated concordance.

The text for the New Testament was published in 1979; the Psalms in 1980; and the full Bible in 1982. The project took seven years in total to complete.[6]


According to its preface, 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 Chayyim 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 original King James Version had used. As explained in the preface, notes in the center column acknowledge variations from Novum Testamentum Graece (designated NU after Nestle-Aland and United Bible Societies) and the Majority Text (designated M).

Translation philosophy[edit]

The translators have 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" used by many contemporary 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 replacement of early modern second-person pronouns, such as "thou" and "thine"; and corresponding verb forms, such as "speakest"; with their twentieth-century equivalents.

The Executive Editor of the NKJV, Arthur L. Farstad, addressed textual concerns in a book explaining the NKJV translation philosophy.[7] While defending the Majority Text (also called the Byzantine text-type), and claiming that the Textus Receptus is inferior to the Majority Text, he noted (p. 114) that the NKJV references significant discrepancies among text types in its marginal notes: "None of the three [textual] traditions on every page of the New Testament ... is labeled 'best' or 'most reliable.' The reader is permitted to make up his or her own mind about the correct reading."[7]

Related publications[edit]

The NKJV is the basis for the Orthodox Study Bible. The New Testament is largely the same, being based on the Textus Receptus (which the Eastern Orthodox consider most reliable). Although the Old Testament was translated from the Academy of St. Athanasius Septuagint (which the Orthodox consider an inspired text), it has been rendered in the NKJV fashion. In addition, the deuterocanonical books are included, which is the first time they have been modeled according to the New King James style, as the original NKJV, being a largely Protestant translation, did not include them.


The NKJV translation has become one of the best-selling Bibles in the USA. As of July 2022 it is listed as the sixth best selling Bible by the ESPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association).[8]

An unabridged audiobook version called "The Word of Promise Audio Bible" has been produced by the publisher. It is narrated by well-known celebrities and fully dramatized with music and sound effects.[9]

Gideons International, an organization that places Bibles in hotels and hospitals, at one stage used the NKJV translation along with the KJV, offering the KJV as the default translation and offering the NKJV when an organization asked for a Bible in newer English to be used.[10] After HarperCollins' acquisition of Thomas Nelson, however, the Gideons have chosen to start using the English Standard Version (ESV) instead of the NKJV.[11][12]


  1. ^ That is, the 1769 Oxford edition of the King James Version.


  1. ^ "Preface to the New King James Version". Archived from the original on August 23, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021. For the New King James Version the text used was the 1967/1977 Stuttgart edition of the Biblia Hebraica, with frequent comparisons being made with the Bomberg edition of 1524-25. The Septuagint (Greek) Version of the Old Testament and the Latin Vulgate also were consulted. In addition to referring to a variety of ancient versions of the Hebrew Scriptures, the New King James Version draws on the resources of relevant manuscripts from the Dead Sea caves.
  2. ^ "Preface to the New King James Version". Archived from the original on August 23, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021. The King James New Testament was based on the traditional text of the Greek-speaking churches, first published in 1516, and later called the Textus Receptus or Received Text. ... because the New King James Version is the fifth revision of a historic document translated from specific Greek texts, the editors decided to retain the traditional text in the body of the New Testament and to indicate major Critical and Majority Text variant readings in the footnotes.
  3. ^ The Holy Bible, New King James Version. Nashville: Nelson. 1982. ISBN 978-0840700537.
  4. ^ "New King James Version Bible". Thomas Nelson Bibles. Archived from the original on August 23, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
  5. ^ "New King James Version (NKJV Bible)". The Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
  6. ^ a b Arthur L. Farstad, "The New King James Version in the Great Tradition," 2nd edition, 1989, Thomas Nelson Publishers, ISBN 0-8407-3148-5.
  7. ^ "ESPA Best Sellers: Bible Translations". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. July 2022.
  8. ^ Groves, Martha (16 November 2009), "Stars lined up for elaborate audio Bible", Los Angeles Times
  9. ^ Cloud, David W. (2000-06-04). "Follow-up to Gideons and Modern Versions". Way of Life Literature. Archived from the original on December 11, 2001. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  10. ^ Staff (June 2013). "Development and Growth of the English Standard Version". The Gideons International. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
  11. ^ Klein, Peter. The Catholic Source Book, p. 146, Harcourt Religious Publishers, 2000. ISBN 0-15-950653-0

External links[edit]