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In 1604, at the request of King James I of England, representatives from the Church of England and leading English Puritans gathered together to discuss issues affecting the church in their day. Among those items for consideration was whether God would have them undertake the creation of a new Bible for the English-speaking world. King James approved plans for a new translation, and work began in 1607.
Nearly 50 of the day's finest scholars, all from the Church of England, were organized into six groups for the task. Using the Bishop's Bible of 1568 as the basis for this revision, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew and the New Testament from Greek. The completed work was then peer-reviewed before being sent to bishops and other church leaders for their examination, and ultimately to King James for his approval.
In 1611, the King James Version Bible, also known as the Authorized Version, was published. Because of the printing technology available at the time, various misprints, variations in spelling, and other inconsistencies were common in early editions. Therefore, subsequent updates were necessary in 1613, 1629, and 1638. But the revisions made at Cambridge in 1762 and at Oxford in 1769 standardized the text, ensuring that the King James Version would remain immensely readable for generations to come.
Today, more than 400 years since its initial publication, the bestselling King James Version Bible continues to inspire, encourage, and strengthen people from all walks of life. The KJV is considered one of the most influential and beautiful works of literature in the English language and continues to be the favorite translation for millions of Christians.
Thin, lightweight, readable. Thomas Nelson's completely new lineup of KJV Thinline Text Bibles strike the perfect balance of readability and portability. Featuring a beautiful new typesetting and an exciting selection of elegantly redesigned covers, including cloth over board, Thomas Nelson's new Thinline category raises the bar for KJV text Bibles.
KJV in Comparison to Other Translations
Frequently Asked Questions
- How did the King James version come about?James VI of Scotland took over the English throne from the Tudors in A.D. 1603. He was promptly crowned King James I of England. At that time, the number of English translations of the Bible caused disunity in the kingdom.
In January of 1604, James I called a conference of theologians and churchmen at Hampton Court in order to hear and then resolve things that were amiss in the church. He sought to deal with ecclesiastical grievances of all sorts. A number of those present pressed the new king for a new translation—one that would take the place of both the Geneva Bible and the Bishops' Bible (so named because a group of Anglican bishops revised it), as well as thwart the Catholic challenge symbolized by the Douai-Rheims Bible. The actual proposal for a new translation came from a Puritan, Dr. John Reynolds, president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. King James I was agreeable to the proposal.
- What is the Translation Philosophy and Procedure?The KJV is a word-for-word translation—though, many would say, not unbendingly so. In producing this translation, there were six panels of translators appointed by King James I, two meeting at Oxford, two at Cambridge, and two at Westminster. A total of 54 translators were involved in the project, and began their work in 1604. Of these six panels, two oversaw the translation of the New Testament, three oversaw the translation of the Old Testament, and one oversaw the translation of the Apocrypha. The six groups worked separately, and once their work was complete, it was sent to the other panels for comment and revision. The chief members of the six panels then met to make final decisions on all suggested revisions.
The translation procedure was based upon fifteen rules that were given to the team of 54 translators. For instance, the first rule states: "The ordinary Bible read in the Church, commonly called the Bishops' Bible, [was] to be followed, and as little altered as the truth of the original will permit." The sixth rule stipulates that no marginal notes be affixed "but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text." All 54 translators adhered to all fifteen rules.
- What was the goal of the translators?The original Preface of the KJV tells us that the goal of the translation team was not to make "a new translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one... but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones one principal good one." So, dependence on the work of previous translators is acknowledged. The original title page of the KJV even states that it was made "with the former translations diligently compared and revised."
- How is the 1611 version different from the KJV Bible today?Since its initial publication, the King James Version has undergone three revisions, incorporating more than 100,000 changes. The most careful and comprehensive revision was published in 1769. The KJV is well known for its archaic language, using such terms as Thee, Thou, and ye, and verbs often ending in "-eth" and "-est" (loveth and doest). This is one reason some love the KJV. The language seems so elegant.
In 1975, more than two-hundred years since the King James Version's last update, the boldest and most extensive revision in the history of modern Bible publishing began. With a 130-person team of Greek, Hebrew, and English scholars, editors, church leaders, and Christian laity Thomas Nelson Publishers sought to preserve the accuracy and poetry of the King James Version, but in a language that the everyday person could understand. In 1979 the NKJV New Testament was finished, releasing only the Book of Psalms in 1980. In 1982, the New King James Version was released in its entirety, seven years after its commission, making it the fifth major revision to the beloved King James Version.
The NKJV preserves the authority and accuracy, as well as the rhythm and beauty, of the original King James Version while making it understandable to current readers.
The NKJV preserves the traditional literary quality of the King James Version. As the latest revision of the time-honored 1611 Bible, it deliberately seeks to maintain the sound, language, and rhythm that lovers of the Bible have come to expect, while modernizing when necessary to prevent misunderstanding.
The NKJV translates from the traditional texts of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, and it has footnotes wherever variations are found in critical texts that would affect the wording of the English translation. The translation method is "complete equivalence," which is sometimes known as formal equivalence. It gives the meaning clearly in natural English while maintaining as much of the wording and grammar of the original languages as possible.
The NKJV is written in today's language for today's reader. All of the accuracy and beauty in the world wouldn't mean much if it couldn't be understood. To achieve maximum clarity, the NKJV uses modern English that is dignified but natural.
The Woman's Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God's truth for balance, hope, and transformation. Special features designed to speak to a woman's heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman's identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.
Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, fully revised features, and articles by respected thinkers and teachers like Anne Graham Lotz, Dee Brestin, Hannah Anderson, Jen Wilkin, and Jen Pollock Michel, The Woman s Study Bible is more relevant than ever to women of all ages and backgrounds. Since the publication of the first edition of The Woman's Study Bible under the editorial guidance of Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, this landmark study Bible has sold over 1.5 million copies.
Features Include: Beautiful full-color design throughout Detailed biblical character portraits of over 100 biblical women Extensive verse-by-verse study notes Over 300 in-text articles on relevant topics 18 inspiring essays from respected women like Book introductions and outlines Dozens of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees Hundreds of insightful quotes from godly women throughout history Set of full-page maps of the biblical world Topical index Concordance .
NKJV in Comparison to Other Translations
"People often ask me why I use the New King James translation of the Bible. First and foremost, it's because I like an exact equivalency translation—one that is meticulous with the text of the original languages. This is not to say that other translations or paraphrases of the Bible don't present the truth; they do. It is to say that in my study, when I want to grow in the Word of God and know I'm reading it exactly the way it came out of the Bible, the New King James Version is the translation I choose."
Dr. Jack W. Hayford (Founder and President, The King's University)
"The idea of revising or updating the beloved King James Bible isn't a shocking, new idea at all. The current edition is the fifth revision of 1769. In the New King James Version, the 1611 Bible has been systematically-and prayerfully-analyzed and revised word-by-word under stringent guidelines to ensure that the original meaning of God's Word is preserved in understandable language."
Dr. James D. Price (Temple Baptist Theological Seminary, Chattanooga, Tennessee)
"I'm fond of the New King James Version and decided to use this translation for the START! Bible because it's easy for new believers to understand. I've been preaching from the NKJV for years. It holds to the poetic and accurate qualities of the King James Version, but yet it uses modern words that give a clear understanding of God's Word."
Greg Laurie (Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship)
"When writing articles and insights offering guidance for couples to accompany the Bible, it was our hope to maintain the poetry and beauty found in the King James Version Bible and a clarity understood in today's language. The New King James Version allowed just that. This accurate and faithful translation can inspire couples to let God become a stirring presence in their marriage and allow them to experience a richness that only He can bring."
Dennis and Barbara Rainey
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the goal of the New King James Version?The goal of the New King James Version is to preserve and improve the King James Version, restoring its originally intended meaning.
- Who were the translators and scholars for the New King James Project?A 130-person team, including Greek, Hebrew, and English scholars, editors, church leaders, and Christian laity, was commissioned to work on the project. Each pledged commitment to the basic aims of the project, signing a statement of faith declaring a belief that the Scriptures in their entirety are the inspired Word of God, free from error in their original autographs. The process was very similar to the one which produced the beloved 1611 King James Version, but today's technology allowed for higher levels of accuracy and easier communication among the scholars.
- Is the New King James geared to a particular denominational interest?No. One goal was to produce, once again, a King James Version worthy of universal trust and acceptance as the text for all English-speaking Christians. The international team who worked on this version was made up of conservative scholars, editors, and laity representing a broad cross-section of Bible-oriented Christianity.
- How does the New King James Bible version compare with other modern translations?Based on the more recently discovered texts, some modern translations omit some of the phrases and verses found in the original King James Version. The scholars of the New King James Version retained every verse of the original King James. Significant textual variations are footnoted, showing the source of every variant reading.
- Were any scholarly checks built into the translation process to guard against possible error?Yes. Scholars were assigned specific Old and New Testament books based on their areas of expertise. They submitted their work to the Executive Editors for the Old and New Testaments, who next gave it to the English Editor to be checked for grammatical accuracy, literary beauty, and effective communication of content. Throughout the entire editing process, the work was regularly reviewed by the clergy and lay advisers on the British Oversight Committee and the North American Overview Committee. The final exhaustive process was carried out by a separate Executive Review Committee for each Testament.
- How long did the revision take? How much did a project of this magnitude cost?Altogether it took seven years to produce the complete New King James Version. (Coincidentally, the original 1611 translation also took seven years to complete.) The New King James Version represents an investment of over $4.5 million. All of those costs have been paid by Thomas Nelson Publishers.