NKJV Staying Power

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NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
There are some older threads that discuss this, but with the improved publication/marketing of the NKJV by Thomas Nelson, do you all think the NKJV has a good prospect of remaining in broad(ish) use for the foreseeable future? I use the ESV, and love it, but I'm slowly drifting back toward more of an MT/TR view and considering making the switch to the NKJV. However, whether this is right or wrong, I would rather stick with the ESV even given my textual disagreements if I will be the only one reading the NKJV in 20 years.

So what are your thoughts? Does the NKJV have a future ahead of it?

Before you suggest the KJV: I've tried the KJV in the past when I held a hardline TR view. I appreciate it, but don't intend to use it as my primary translation again.
 

Polanus1561

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is quite hyperbolic to think its possible you may be the only one to read the NKJV in 20 years. There is only one mainstream Modern language TR version which is the NKJV, the NKJV will not be easily abandoned as long as the TR/MT view is not abandoned (and it won't be). What about considering what version your church uses? However, I think the NKJV is quite rare in use in the PCA. Does that affect you now?

I do not think Nelson will abandon publishing the NKJV. Why would they? A revision would be odd too.
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
It is quite hyperbolic to think its possible you may be the only one to read the NKJV in 20 years. There is only one mainstream Modern language TR version which is the NKJV, the NKJV will not be easily abandoned as long as the TR/MT view is not abandoned (and it won't be). What about considering what version your church uses? However, I think the NKJV is quite rare in use in the PCA. Does that affect you now?

I do not think Nelson will abandon publishing the NKJV. Why would they? A revision would be odd too.
I was being intentionally hyperbolic, I apologize if that was unclear. What I'm thinking about is if it will continue to have a relatively broad usage. I guess you're probably also right that it will continue to be the modern language choice for the TR view, so its fortunes are probably tied to the fortunes of that view.

It's true that it doesn't seem to be popular in the PCA. Every PCA church I've attended uses the ESV; but it's similar enough that I'm considering making the switch for my own primary reading/study translation because of my lean toward the TR. I think I could probably follow along with someone reading from the ESV fairly easily, although I wouldn't mind having to carry an ESV to church anyway.
 

Polanus1561

Puritan Board Sophomore
If I may, you would also have to consider your future pastoral ministry (from your signature), in terms of translation choices. Another things is reading the NKJV, you have access to ESV/CT readings in the footnotes. Reading the ESV, you don't get TR readings.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
If I may, you would also have to consider your future pastoral ministry (from your signature), in terms of translation choices. Another things is reading the NKJV, you have access to ESV/CT readings in the footnotes. Reading the ESV, you don't get TR readings.
This is what I do. Get a NKJV with text notes and you have the best of both worlds. Similarly, you could get an ESV with text notes. Looking forward to the BSB as well that will be using the MT as it's base in the future.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I prefer the NKJV not because of the textual issues, but rather because, with the footnotes, it presents everything in an honest fashion, rather than taking a "my way or the highway" approach. I also find it highly readable, and it avoides some of the wokish issues seen in many "modern" translations.

That being said, since the ESV is the standard in our congregation (pew Bibles, most readings, etc) that's what I have on my phone and tablet.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
ESV versions never have textual notes like the NKJV. And the Berean? Bible is already out no?
No, not yet with the BSB. Also, my ESV seems to have pretty good notes, although I agree, not as detailed as the NKJV. My ESV is a reformation study bible though so a lot of the "notes" are actually part of the commentary.

Edit: upon further review, you are correct in that the ESV doesn't really come close in terms of notes. It is almost completely because of the commentary that there is anything at all.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Senior
One translation and set of notes that I've enjoyed using quite a bit recently in my personal Bible reading is the New English Translation. It's a critical text translation that is often interpretive but the notes are extensive and they almost always point out, explain, and defend their interpretive and text critical decisions while also showing in the notes a more literal reading or alternative interpretation (if making an interpretive decision) or the other text critical options and manuscript evidence (if making a text critical decision). While no translation is perfect there seems to be a deliberate awareness of that reality embedded in the roots of the project and their commitment to show their work and other options in the extensive notes.

The best part is it's all free online and their app is quite good! https://netbible.org/bible/
 

jw

j
Does anyone know when the Translation I Like Best translation is coming out, based on the very correct and perfect and objectively defined and agreed upon by Believers and Heathen Alike Oldest, Most Reliable, and Best Manuscripts? :stirpot:
 

NM_Presby

Puritan Board Freshman
One translation and set of notes that I've enjoyed using quite a bit recently in my personal Bible reading is the New English Translation. It's a critical text translation that is often interpretive but the notes are extensive and they almost always point out, explain, and defend their interpretive and text critical decisions while also showing in the notes a more literal reading or alternative interpretation (if making an interpretive decision) or the other text critical options and manuscript evidence (if making a text critical decision). While no translation is perfect there seems to be a deliberate awareness of that reality embedded in the roots of the project and their commitment to show their work and other options in the extensive notes.

The best part is it's all free online and their app is quite good! https://netbible.org/bible/
I like the NET as a resource, particularly for the notes, but I haven't been able to get into the translation as a primary reader. Also, as you noted, it is indeed CT and I'm considering this move primarily because I lean toward the TR.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
If the rankings are to be believed, the NKJV is clearly slipping. It used to be a solid #3 or #4 behind the NIV, KJV, and maybe NLT at times. Now it is behind the ESV and even the CSB at times, although I think Holman slashing prices of the CSB is a factor in its sales. So the NKJV has dropped from 3 or 4 to 5 or 6. (Alarmingly, the NLT has come in above the KJV in some recent rankings.) I'd have a hard time seeing the NKJV drop out of the top 10 when even the NASB (which is only a niche translation these days) appears in the top 10 at times. But fewer and fewer pastors and churches seem to be using the NKJV. It seems to have popularity in some charismatic circles. It seems to be much less popular among Reformed people and Southern Baptists than it was a decade or two ago. A lot of people who used to use it ended up switching to the ESV.

As for any NKJV update, this is a persistent concern given the controversial updates of the NIV and NASB in recent years. Nelson has said that there isn't even a NKJV committee currently. One wonders though if they might consider an update if the NKJV keeps slipping if the idea is that it is "outdated." However I think they may realize that the NKJV has appeal because it is a stable text, unlike the ESV which has gotten complaints for all of the updates which make memorization more difficult.
 
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Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I like the NET as a resource, particularly for the notes, but I haven't been able to get into the translation as a primary reader. Also, as you noted, it is indeed CT and I'm considering this move primarily because I lean toward the TR.
Not only that, but the NET translation is also less than reliable in other respects. It has "young woman" instead of "virgin" in Isaiah and other things that many conservatives might balk at.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't believe the NKJV has much staying power. I love it as my secondary translation and use it in lessons with my children, but I see it increasingly becoming something like the RSV.

There is so much profit to be made by publishing revisions and entirely new translations that given the fickleness of many to not settle on one particular translation and the general decline in reading comprehension the NKJV is neither new and exciting nor is it an easy read for an increasing number. I intend no disrespect towards the hard work of translators. However, given the volume of Bible sales in the U.S. it will be a hard temptation for publishers to resist capitalizing on.

For those who read the KJV I highly recommend the Dickson New Analytical Bible published in the 1950s-70s (?). I purchased a copy off Ebay last year and it is fantastic. I enjoy it so much that I recently picked up a second copy printed in 1950 in morocco leather for a bargain. I might have the better of the two rebound by Bradford Taliaferro at Retreasured Rebound Bibles and resell the second copy.
 

Anti-Babylon

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't believe the NKJV has much staying power. I love it as my secondary translation and use it in lessons with my children, but I see it increasingly becoming something like the RSV.

There is so much profit to be made by publishing revisions and entirely new translations that given the fickleness of many to not settle on one particular translation and the general decline in reading comprehension the NKJV is neither new and exciting nor is it an easy read for an increasing number. I intend no disrespect towards the hard work of translators. However, given the volume of Bible sales in the U.S. it will be a hard temptation for publishers to resist capitalizing on.

For those who read the KJV I highly recommend the Dickson New Analytical Bible published in the 1950s-70s (?). I purchased a copy off Ebay last year and it is fantastic. I enjoy it so much that I recently picked up a second copy printed in 1950 in morocco leather for a bargain. I might have the better of the two rebound by Bradford Taliaferro at Retreasured Rebound Bibles and resell the second copy.

KJV is my go-to for personal reading while I teach mostly with NASB and ESV.

My Thompson Chain KJV is getting worn out and I am keen on picking up a Dickson. You might have a buyer in the second copy here.

Thanks for the link for rebinding. My Thompson Chain KJV may need it soon.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I don't believe the NKJV has much staying power. I love it as my secondary translation and use it in lessons with my children, but I see it increasingly becoming something like the RSV.

There is so much profit to be made by publishing revisions and entirely new translations that given the fickleness of many to not settle on one particular translation and the general decline in reading comprehension the NKJV is neither new and exciting nor is it an easy read for an increasing number. I intend no disrespect towards the hard work of translators. However, given the volume of Bible sales in the U.S. it will be a hard temptation for publishers to resist capitalizing on.

For those who read the KJV I highly recommend the Dickson New Analytical Bible published in the 1950s-70s (?). I purchased a copy off Ebay last year and it is fantastic. I enjoy it so much that I recently picked up a second copy printed in 1950 in morocco leather for a bargain. I might have the better of the two rebound by Bradford Taliaferro at Retreasured Rebound Bibles and resell the second copy.
Nelson tried more paraphrastic versions in the 80s and 90s to no avail. I’m not sure if they are even in print now. Even though it has slipped a bit, the NKJV is their cash cow as much as the NIV is Zondervan’s. From a quality standpoint, what they are producing now is better than anything that has come out in that version in 30-40 years. It costs millions to come up with a new version from scratch.

We’ll see if the CSB continues to outsell the NKJV. I suspect some of that may be bulk sales to churches. I’ve run into few people who use it and don’t know any pastors locally who preach from it. Holman has also drastically slashed prices of the 2017 trying to make way for the 2020.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
Even though it has slipped a bit, the NKJV is their cash cow as much as the NIV is Zondervan’s. From a quality standpoint, what they are producing now is better than anything that has come out in that version in 30-40 years. It costs millions to come up with a new version from scratch.

Wholly agree. The NKJVs on the market today are of a MUCH higher quality than editions previously published. Both Nelson and Zondervan have done a great job in this regard.
 

danekristjan

Puritan Board Freshman
If the premium Bible community is an indication, I think the NKJV has staying power. Nelson continues to come out with many high quality editions and they are frequently selling out.

The problem is that it is not commonly a church Bible. Many individuals use it, but not as many congregations. Our congregation uses it, and I know another OPC that uses it in my state, but as a general rule, reformed churches are going to use ESV, NASB, and KJV in roughly that order. I can't think of many denominations or movements where the NKJV would be predominantly used.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
If the premium Bible community is an indication, I think the NKJV has staying power. Nelson continues to come out with many high quality editions and they are frequently selling out.

The problem is that it is not commonly a church Bible. Many individuals use it, but not as many congregations. Our congregation uses it, and I know another OPC that uses it in my state, but as a general rule, reformed churches are going to use ESV, NASB, and KJV in roughly that order. I can't think of many denominations or movements where the NKJV would be predominantly used.
It's a shame because the NKJV is a great translation. My NKJV with the translator notes is rapidly becoming my favorite translation to read from. Although I am still waiting for the LSB to release a reference edition.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
If the premium Bible community is an indication, I think the NKJV has staying power. Nelson continues to come out with many high quality editions and they are frequently selling out.

The problem is that it is not commonly a church Bible. Many individuals use it, but not as many congregations. Our congregation uses it, and I know another OPC that uses it in my state, but as a general rule, reformed churches are going to use ESV, NASB, and KJV in roughly that order. I can't think of many denominations or movements where the NKJV would be predominantly used.
There is strong demand for the NASB in the premium market, but little otherwise. (The NASB is usually in the Top 10 in $$ spent as opposed to the number of Bibles sold, where it is often not in the Top 10, and I'm thinking that probably doesn't include Schuyler and Allan.) So I wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock in NKJV premiums being an indication of demand for the version overall. That being said, there is still a lot more familiarity with the NKJV than with the NASB, at least among laypeople if not pastors. The good thing is that for around 15 years it was hard to find a decent NKJV at all, especially that wasn't a cover Bible. Between the time that the Signature Series was introduced and the HarperCollins reboot of 2018 (with Comfort Print and new designs) you were sometimes doing good to even find a NKJV Bible that had a sewn binding, much less other desirable features.

In recent years, I've concluded that some pastors might as well be ESV Only. Some seem to have little familiarity with other versions.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
It's a shame because the NKJV is a great translation. My NKJV with the translator notes is rapidly becoming my favorite translation to read from. Although I am still waiting for the LSB to release a reference edition.
That's another problem with the NKJV. Too many editions don't have all of the translator notes, including ones that you'd think would have them. I think Nelson might be getting better with this but I'm not totally sure. There may be more editions with them now simply because they have flooded the market with so many new editions in the past 4 years.
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
It is often concerning to me that in almost all of the discussions about translations, very few mention the role of the Church. If the Word of God is the basis of our faith and practice, shouldn't the Church (national or denominational) declare what translations it approves of (if not able to produce their own)? Why do we leave it to publishers who are not ordained or bound by any type of Church authority to decide what the Word of God is or how it should be translated? Most creeds/confessions start with a list of canonical books, which was determined by the Church (it would seem the text was not in dispute at that point), so why does the Church now not use its power and authority to commend a translation (or translations)? I am not suggesting that the Church declare a particular translation to be inspired (as some KJV-only types do), but they could/should certainly use their authority to guide the flock to the purest waters. As a Westminster subscriber, the Confession seems to indicate that when the Scriptures are "translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come" it should be under the Church's authority, as the proof texts come from 1 Corinthians 14:27–28 (translation of unknown languages in the Church). I have switched over to and been using the old Geneva Bible for many years now. It is a TR version that predates the KJV by a few years, so I don't have to worry about missing parts. The "thees" and "thous" help me understand many passages I might otherwise misinterpret (it is surprising how many times the singular vs. plural distinction is important). The notes are old but often as insightful as they are succinct. The vast majority of times I look up the original text because the translation seems odd, I find the translation to be accurate. And the Geneva Bible was adopted by the Scottish Church soon after 1560 for use in churches so it has the approval of what was a faithful Church at the time. Also, it was not written because the publisher(s) hoped it would be popular and make a huge profit (although it was and did!), it written by ordained men to give the Church a faithful translation. Shouldn't that be the primary judge of a translation's worthiness? (My apologies if this response takes this thread away from the originator's intent).
 

PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Also, it was not written because the publisher(s) hoped it would be popular and make a huge profit (although it was and did!), it written by ordained men to give the Church a faithful translation.

Careful brother. You’re implying that the NKJV (and ESV and other) publishers had bad motives in their work.

While I’d love to see a church-sponsored translation, we have so many good ones perhaps “the church“ could adopt one of them. (I would also bet many translators who get impugned are ordained ministers to boot.)

Folks, apart from a mighty move of the Spirit of God we‘re not going to see institutional Church unity in our lifetime. If that’s your prerequisite for accepting a new translation, you will by necessity never accept anything post 1611.
 

Polanus1561

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is often concerning to me that in almost all of the discussions about translations, very few mention the role of the Church. If the Word of God is the basis of our faith and practice, shouldn't the Church (national or denominational) declare what translations it approves of (if not able to produce their own)? Why do we leave it to publishers who are not ordained or bound by any type of Church authority to decide what the Word of God is or how it should be translated? Most creeds/confessions start with a list of canonical books, which was determined by the Church (it would seem the text was not in dispute at that point), so why does the Church now not use its power and authority to commend a translation (or translations)? I am not suggesting that the Church declare a particular translation to be inspired (as some KJV-only types do), but they could/should certainly use their authority to guide the flock to the purest waters. As a Westminster subscriber, the Confession seems to indicate that when the Scriptures are "translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come" it should be under the Church's authority, as the proof texts come from 1 Corinthians 14:27–28 (translation of unknown languages in the Church). I have switched over to and been using the old Geneva Bible for many years now. It is a TR version that predates the KJV by a few years, so I don't have to worry about missing parts. The "thees" and "thous" help me understand many passages I might otherwise misinterpret (it is surprising how many times the singular vs. plural distinction is important). The notes are old but often as insightful as they are succinct. The vast majority of times I look up the original text because the translation seems odd, I find the translation to be accurate. And the Geneva Bible was adopted by the Scottish Church soon after 1560 for use in churches so it has the approval of what was a faithful Church at the time. Also, it was not written because the publisher(s) hoped it would be popular and make a huge profit (although it was and did!), it written by ordained men to give the Church a faithful translation. Shouldn't that be the primary judge of a translation's worthiness? (My apologies if this response takes this thread away from the originator's intent).
Won't a denominational version imply all churches in the denomination hold onto that version? That would mean TR/Majority text pastors may have to give in to a CT version (assuming a denominational version is based on the CT). That could be a potential rift.
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
Careful brother. You’re implying that the NKJV (and ESV and other) publishers had bad motives in their work.

While I’d love to see a church-sponsored translation, we have so many good ones perhaps “the church“ could adopt one of them. (I would also bet many translators who get impugned are ordained ministers to boot.)

Folks, apart from a mighty move of the Spirit of God we‘re not going to see institutional Church unity in our lifetime. If that’s your prerequisite for accepting a new translation, you will by necessity never accept anything post 1611.
I should have been more careful to draw a distinction between "publishers" and "translators."

I believe there is a distinction between ordained men working for a publisher and/or parachurch business and ordained men working for the church/denomination that ordained them.

I am not sure what your vision of "institutional Church unity" is - my prayer each day is the mighty Spirit of God will bring nations to recognize Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords in my lifetime. Such nations and churches have adopted faithful translations (Scotland and then England in the English-speaking world) in the past and will again someday. But that does not need to be a prerequisite for accepting a new translation - any of the splintered branches of the visible Church (national or denominational) can (and should?) declare what translations it approves of if they are not able to produce their own.
 
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