After a long time of prayer and exploration we recently changed from the KJV to the NKJV @ccfingerlakes. I’ve been raised on the KJV, pretty much used 1 or 2 Bibles my whole life. My first Bible was a Cambridge (teachers edition) that just means it had a dictionary in addition to the concordance and maps. It had a green colored calf skin cover. My dad bought it for me out of a Christian Bookstore in Laguna Beach California when we lived there. The other I’ve had for most of my life was a Scofield Study Bible. I have worn out plenty of those but by now I may not remember the chapter or verse but I remember what page it’s on, what column and if it’ near the top, center or bottom of the column. This has proved invaluable for personal counseling! For me moving to a different Bible is like stepping off of a cliff! So why? And why now? Personally, as I’ve been aging, I’ve been struggling enunciating the KJV words and I want to be as clear as I can and not a distraction. Also, we decided it would be more efficient if I didn’t have to first explain the old Elizabethan words. The NKJV is more like the language of the people, much like the Koine Greek in which the NT was written.
Even though we’ve explained this to the flock during a slow preparation and introduction, some have had some additional questions with regards to translations. I’m glad these members have asked these questions, they are Bereans for sure. What follows is the information I have passed on to them in an attempt to answer their questions.
What’s the difference in sources between the older translations and the modern translations? There are a couple of classes of manuscripts in existence today based on their location of origin. The “Byzantine” from which the Textus Receptus (Received Text) came from. There were at most 12 manuscripts that originated 12oo years after the time of the NT. Erasmus (During the Reformation period) used these for his Greek NT. Of course the O.T. was in good shape from the Jews. The KJV & NKJV comes from this as well, but as you can see 12 manuscripts and a 1200 year gap is significant.
The other class of manuscripts is the Alexandrian (they are older) but between them there are more differences. From these came the Sinai & Vaticanus.
Today we have another class of manuscripts “eclectic” because they come from all over due to so much archeology and discovery. Now we have about 6700 manuscripts and parts of manuscripts of the N.T. Our understanding of the Greek language is also much better than it was back in the 1600’s as well. From all of this come the NASB, the ESV and other modern translations. Again some are “formal equivalent” (word for word) and the not so good ones are “dynamic equivalent” (thought for thought) translations like the NIV. NKJV is a “formal equivalent” translation and preserves the sentence structure of the KJV.
Here are some links for you to take a look at:
This is from Faithlife the company that produces Logos Bible Software:
This is from Thomas Nelson explaining what they were aiming at with the NKJV translation:
This is from Southern Seminary that gives an overview of the manuscripts and translations:
This is Dr. James White that explains it in good detail: