NKJV??

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reformed28

Puritan Board Freshman
I,m sure this is a question that has been discussed on the board in the past, but I was wondering why the NKJV doesn't seem to get as much discussion as other translations? It seems to me that most folks in reformed circles are using the ESV or KJV, which I do use the KJV and NKJV myself, while referencing the other translations. I guess my question is, since NKJV is mostly based on the TR, why it's not as popular as other modern translations?

Sorry if this is a redundant question, but just wondering!
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
My preference is for the NKJV for its retention of the poetry of the KJV with modern readability, but since the congregation of which I'm a member uses the ESV, that's my carry Bible and what I have on my Kindle.

To some extent, it's going to be a question of the texts used, rather than the English expression.
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think it is a good question. The NKJV is my regular Bible translation for both study and preaching.

Me too - I think every translation should have the textual notes relating to the other manuscript translations that the NKJV has, and it's a good compromise on KJV/modern language debate in my opinion.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I think it is a good question. The NKJV is my regular Bible translation for both study and preaching.

Me too - I think every translation should have the textual notes relating to the other manuscript translations that the NKJV has, and it's a good compromise on KJV/modern language debate in my opinion.

I agree. The textual notes have been very helpful in bible studies at church. Especially when folks notice a difference between what I have read and what is in their ESV/NASB/NIV etc...
 

Bethel

Puritan Board Freshman
I,m sure this is a question that has been discussed on the board in the past, but I was wondering why the NKJV doesn't seem to get as much discussion as other translations? It seems to me that most folks in reformed circles are using the ESV or KJV, which I do use the KJV and NKJV myself, while referencing the other translations. I guess my question is, since NKJV is mostly based on the TR, why it's not as popular as other modern translations?

Sorry if this is a redundant question, but just wondering!

Sad to say, but I think it has to do with marketing. The publishers of the NIV and ESV translations have done a much better job of convincing people that their version is the best (or in this case, one of the best).

I found this article by Michael Marlowe compelling: New King James Version We use the NKJV for our family devotionals and read alouds. However, this year, I've been reading more from the KJV for my personal study and decided to switch because I find this version more enjoyable and enriching (and I agree with the use of the underlying text).
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
From a layman's perspective, I read KJV, NKJV, NASB and the ESV. More or less in that order, depending on the day. The KJV is the one I prefer, because I grew up with it, and for the literary quality of the text. President Harry Truman, when asked what he thought of the new translations said,"They took the poetry out of the Bible."

I don't read dynamic equivalency translations such as the NIV although I have one. I am not in the ministry so reading aloud is not something I do, outside of Bible class, but I've read more than one pastor say that the ESV is superior for reading aloud. I do like the flow of the ESV. I've also read opinions that the NASB, because of the more literal translation, doesn't read as well aloud, and is 'stilted'. The reading aloud issue aside, I don't find the NASB stilted, and I like both the pre 1977, and the subsequent translation very much.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I've recently been reading the KJV (Revised Version) mostly just because I'm not as familiar with it as I am with the NKJV or the ESV. All of them are good translations, in my opinion.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Because R.L. Allan hasn't printed it up yet. :) Okay, that being said, after the NASB, the NKJV is my favorite translation. I prefer the textual basis of the NKJV. I use the NASB, but do my own translations from the TR and the Byz. If they differ, I use the TR or Byz. reading.

I believe the NKJV never gained a foothold because they didn't market themselves very much, and they don't seem to produce as large a variety as many other translations (NASB the same thing.) Unfortunately, most people don't think of the translation styles when purchasing a Bible -- they look at the cute flowers or other "cool" cover design.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
The King James Version (KJV) and Revised Version (RV) are two different translations; perhaps you meant the AV (Authorised Version), as the KJV is often referred to in Britain especially?
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
The King James Version (KJV) and Revised Version (RV) are two different translations; perhaps you meant the AV (Authorised Version), as the KJV is often referred to in Britain especially?

I think you're right---I was under the impression that the KJV had been revised in the 1800s, but looking slightly deeper, the only changes are in spelling (though my British edition does seem to have some differences from the standard American editions of the AV).
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
As someone who used the NKJV for 5 years or more of preaching, and now has used the ESV for 5+ years (and appreciates both) for me much of it comes down to publisher quality. The NKJV had the hard Providence to be exclusively a Nelson product. My experience has been that Nelson makes very bad Bibles. I went through four during a two year span of regularly preaching. In each instance the binding came undone. It was very annoying. It was also hard to get different type of Bibles. I'm not talking about "specialty" Bibles, but rather things like large print, basic study Bibles, non-red letter Bibles, etc. That was also frustrating, because my congregation would ask about things like a Reformed Study Bible, or non-red letter, and I could give them no options.

The ESV, on the other hand, may be too market savvy. It can feel forced at times, but they have a wide variety of types, excellent publishers (Allan!), and many helps (Study Bible, etc.). The ESV also has top rate smartphone/tablet apps, and an excellent website. It is very user friendly. Finally, so many church oriented materials (Sunday school, Bible study materials, etc.) have integration with the ESV, and not with the NKJV. Basically, the ESV won the race to replace the NIV. I'm glad for that (I dislike the NIV), but I would have also like if the NKJV would have won.

In the end, I find both translations good, and helpful. I consider them about equal - and often they have very close translation results. You all can attack me now, but the NASB is nearly inaccessible to youth and below (and most adults!) and the KJV has simply passed out of the common parlance for most. Both of those translations are excellent, but I look at translations for a combination of faithfulness and usability for the congregation. A great Bible that is not used is a bad Bible, in my opinion.
 

Elimelek

Puritan Board Freshman
Dear friends

As you may know, I prefer the critical text above the textus receptus. Though that is not the reason why I don't use the NKJV. Where I live the only NKJV that I've seen on the shelves of bookshops are Thomas Nelson gift editions. The quality and durability of these Bibles and their price makes it just not worthwhile. The reason I say it, was because I owned a NKJV a few years ago.

I won't go back to the NKJV. The ESV generally reads better and it is based on the ground texts I prefer.

Kind regards
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
I actually like the NKJV better than the ESV, in part for the wonderful textual footnotes, and in part for the fluidity of sound when it is read. But, it is a losing battle to try to overcome the momentum on the side of the ESV.

Fred nailed it as to the reasons for the success of the ESV: top-notch marketing (e.g., they still give away the Kindle version for FREE; have all of the "right" endorsements, etc.), various options, and quality bindings. For bindings, only my Signature series NKJV seems to have any durability to it. And, we live in an era where the critical text is the prohibitve favorite among conservative scholars.

Too bad, really. But, game, set, match . . . ESV.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Too bad, really. But, game, set, match . . . ESV.

But for how long? Seriously, do you see the ESV living up to its name and becoming the Standard Version of the English language as the KJV is now? That would be a real plus for the English speaking church. It would be nice if we all spoke the same language again.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I personally prefer the NKJV as well, although there are other good versions out there. It is true that there is not as much variety in NKJV Bibles, but if you can get your hands on a New Geneva Study Bible, which is the original version of the Reformation Study Bible only in NKJV, then you will have a great Bible. They are out of print, but can usually be found on Amazon or Ebay.
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
But for how long? Seriously, do you see the ESV living up to its name and becoming the Standard Version of the English language as the KJV is now? That would be a real plus for the English speaking church. It would be nice if we all spoke the same language again.

I do wonder if that will ever be the case again, sadly. I do think the ESV has a better 'chance' than most as it is not so dynamic as the NIV which was a non-starter for many.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
I personally prefer the NKJV as well, although there are other good versions out there. It is true that there is not as much variety in NKJV Bibles, but if you can get your hands on a New Geneva Study Bible, which is the original version of the Reformation Study Bible only in NKJV, then you will have a great Bible. They are out of print, but can usually be found on Amazon or Ebay.
Yes there is that one, or the RSB NKJV edition, which happens to be my own personal bible for study. The Thompson NKJV bindings hold up much better than the Nelson and it is versified not paragraph formatted.

Some Cambridge versions are available:

NKJV-Cambridge : EvangelicalBible.com

Also the deluxe Minister's version of the NKJV by Hendrickson has a decent binding (also own this one):

Amazon.com: Minister's Bible-NKJV-Deluxe (9781598561142): Hendrickson Publishers: Books

AMR
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I think every translation should have the textual notes relating to the other manuscript translations that the NKJV has

Rev. Wallace,

I'd be interested to discuss this point. I wouldn't feel comfortable giving an unbeliever or a new believer a Bible that had a bunch of notes about varying manuscripts if I had the option of giving him one that didn't. Those notes may be useful for pastors and educated laymen, but for others they can be an unnecessary hindrance toward receiving the Word with faith. I'm a bit skeptical that the average believer really needs to have all those variants in front of him, unless he is willing to study Greek and manuscript history. I will study those things eventually out of mere interest, but one very accurate English translation, along with a pastor educated in the original languages to minister the Word to me, is enough. In your pastoral experience, have you found that this has not been a problem?

Thanks,
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
But for how long? Seriously, do you see the ESV living up to its name and becoming the Standard Version of the English language as the KJV is now? That would be a real plus for the English speaking church. It would be nice if we all spoke the same language again.

I do wonder if that will ever be the case again, sadly. I do think the ESV has a better 'chance' than most as it is not so dynamic as the NIV which was a non-starter for many.

At the very least, I think it may become the standard for the Reformed world.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
It is already the standard of the Reformed Intelligentsia. I can't think of anyone other than Joel Beeke that does not use the ESV among the more well known theologians/scholars/professors/writers.
 

PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
The NKJV has qualities that - In my humble opinion - could make it the best candidate to truly be a "New Authorized Version" for the modern church. It's my personal favorite - it reads well, the theology is thoroughly Bible Christian, it is conformable to the old AV in many ways, and while it uses the TR/Byzantine text as the standard, it does refer to the others. I think it's got the best of all worlds, except for marketing and binding quality.

Incidentally, I could say almost as good about the ESV for the Critical Text, except they're better made and marketed.
 

Gloria Dei

Puritan Board Freshman
Well, personally the NKJV is my go-to Bible for comparing different texts like the CT with the TR or MT... In that sense, it is great, and reads quite wonderfully while still being decently literal. Overall though, I prefer the ESV while just reading, as I prefer the CT, but both are great translations. I believe the NKJV is not being discussed as much because it is so similar to the KJV, although it isn't an exact modern redo of it.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
The NKJV is my favorite modern translation as well.

With regard to quality editions, there is supposed to be an Allan edition in the works, but it's supposed to be based on a Holman text block that has maybe 8 pt. print. If it has red letters there's no way I'm going to shell out that kind of $$ for one. The only "black letter" NKJV's I can think of are the MacArthur Study Bible, the NKJV Study Bible and the recently published single column edition. There is a Cambridge Pitt Minion NKJV edition but it has red letters, as most Cambridge editions do these days. I see there is a Cambridge Wide Margin edition too. The Thompson Chain Reference should be better quality than Nelson but I've seen people complain that Kirkbride's construction isn't what it used to be either.

Nelson's construction used to be a lot better but at some point over the past 15 years or so they figured out the people will still buy even if the quality is low. (Perhaps that's a reflection of people buying Bibles that don't get used much except on Sundays.) I've seen NKJV's from the early 90's that were Smyth sewn. That even includes a hardcover Study Bible that I have that is copyright 1991. Now you can't find a leather bound Nelson Bible in any translation that is sewn, with the exception maybe of commemorative KJV editions from 2011. My NKJV MacArthur that I bought in 1999 is sewn and has a high quality genuine leather binding. By contrast, my wife's that was purchased about 3 years ago is much more worn out, and it's not from more use. I do have a glued NKJV edition that I bought around 2002 that hasn't started falling apart yet. Maybe it just has more glue than some others! I notice the spine is more flexible (without breaking) than some other glued editions from various publishers, so that is probably a big help.

I haven't kept up with it lately, but the most recent CBA list of bestsellers still has the NKJV outselling the ESV. I've never seen the ESV outsell the NKJV on that list. But ominously the NLT is #2 in unit sales! But I don't know if that the usual breakdown now or if it's just a one month anomaly. When I would check it a year or two ago, typically it would be NIV, KJV, NKJV, NLT and maybe ESV at number 5. But the NLT is a big seller regardless.

Maybe the NKJV isn't used much in Presbyterian and Reformed churches. That was my experience when I was in those circles (PCA, OPC and EPC.) I don't recall ever seeing anyone preach from it as opposed to the NASB, NIV and ESV. Even there, the NKJV New Geneva/Reformation Study Bible never caught on the way the ESV one has.

A lot of Baptists use the NKJV. But overall, I won't be surprised to see the ESV start outselling the NKJV in the next few years. The younger Baptists I know predominately use the ESV. While there are certainly exceptions, typically the men who preach from the NKJV are older, maybe 40+ if not 50+ on average. I know at least one preacher who has switched from the KJV straight to the ESV without stopping in between with the NKJV. A lot of preachers still use the NASB too, but that's probably mostly men who cut their teeth on that version.

Crossway seems to have figured out that people prefer quality. That's something they have now over Nelson and Zondervan. (Holman is better than those two, with most editions being sewn albeit almost all in red letter.) When the ESV was first released in 2001 their construction was no better than Nelson's and was worse in some cases. The first ESV I had started falling apart after a year or two and it wasn't really my go to Bible. Now even the ESV Value Thinline has a sewn binding, although it has no ribbon marker. (Does omitting the ribbon really save that much $$ for them?) More of their editions have "black letter" too. They've also been receptive to input in that regard.

While it's certainly no literary masterpiece, I don't think the NASB is as bad as some assert unless the person is has difficulty reading in general. (But that's in the eye of the beholder as well.) The 1995 version reads smoother than the 1977. I find that in most cases it doesn't read that poorly until you compare it to another version. It reads better than it sounds. That being said, the vocabulary of the NASB is sometimes more modern than the NKJV and occasionally moreso than the ESV, which sometimes favors what some would consider to be somewhat archaic poetic expressions over more modern phraseology. It's the sentence structure of the NASB that is more awkward. And I've never really been able to stomach its translation of the Psalms compared to other versions. But that's due more to aesthetics than inaccessibility.

All of the formal equivalent editions are going to look relatively inaccessible next to the NIV, HCSB or NLT. One reason that I abandoned the NAS in favor of the NKJV was continually seeing footnotes in the NASB that said Lit. xyz and seeing that rendering in the text of the NKJV, with the NKJV usually being more memorable as well. This seemed to be more pronounced in the OT but can also be seen in the NT with the NKJV literally translating Hebrew expressions like "gird up the loins of your mind" whereas the NASB will have something more modern and accessible like "prepare your minds for action."

Even though I prefer the Byzantine text, for some reason when reading the NASB I've tended to have more "Aha" moments than with any other version. (It seems to happen most often in the Epistles.) Maybe that's because I don't read it as much anymore or because the language is less familiar to me (albeit more modern in some cases) than the NKJV or KJV.

Someone had linked to Michael Marlowe's site. The NKJV review there is a revision of his original article. His original one was rather negative because he favors the critical text. But obviously he's reevaluated and recognizes the merits of the NKJV now, textual issues aside. The ESV article is actually a little more negative now than it was initially.
 
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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Someone had linked to Michael Marlowe's site. The NKJV review there is a revision of his original article. His original one was rather negative because he favors the critical text. But obviously he's reevaluated and recognizes the merits of the NKJV now, textual issues aside. The ESV article is actually a little more negative now than it was initially.
After quite a tear through the ESV, he recommended the NASB or the NKJV as the "most useful for detailed and careful study". See conclusions at bottom of page here, which was dated about two years before he even updated the NKJV review. ;)

AMR
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Someone had linked to Michael Marlowe's site. The NKJV review there is a revision of his original article. His original one was rather negative because he favors the critical text. But obviously he's reevaluated and recognizes the merits of the NKJV now, textual issues aside. The ESV article is actually a little more negative now than it was initially.
After quite a tear through the ESV, he recommended the NASB or the NKJV as the "most useful for detailed and careful study". See conclusions at bottom of page here, which was dated about two years before he even updated the NKJV review. ;)

AMR

Thanks for bringing that up. I now remember seeing that and wondering if he was in the process of changing his mind about the NKJV, the NT textual issue notwithstanding. If I recall correctly in his previous review he stated that he couldn't recommend the NKJV because of its textual basis, but I may be confusing that with another site. Even though I don't know any Greek, based on the footnotes in both versions I could tell that the NKJV was more literal than the NASB in some cases, (like the ones I noted above) and Marlowe notes this in his revised review. I'm guessing he will further revise the article on the ESV now that the 2011 text edition has been released. Perhaps a updated review of the HCSB could be forthcoming as well given its recent revision.
 
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