Filed under Christianity
All English Bibles are translations, for the original manuscripts were written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. There are various textual and linguistic factors that determine what makes a good translation, but the most important of these is starting with the highest quality copy of the original manuscripts that is available.
Since the publication of the King James Version (KJV) in 1611, much progress has been made in determining what the original manuscripts said. Today we are much, much closer to having accurate copies of the originals than even the best scholars were in the 17th century. In fact, it is clear now that there were many mistakes in the manuscripts that the KJV translation was based on. This is why the KJV and its revision, the New King James Version (NKJV), are today a poor choice of translation for people who are concerned to find out what the writers of the Bible meant when they wrote it.
The following is an excerpt from page 40 of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (2003) explaining the problems with the KJV and the NKJV.
The KJV for a long time was the most widely used translation in the world; it is also a classic expression of the English language. Indeed, it coined phrases that will be forever embedded in our language (“coals of fire,” “the skin of my teeth,” “tongues of fire”). However, for the New Testament, the only Greek text available to the 1611 translators was based on late manuscripts, which had accumulated the mistakes of over a thousand years of copying. Few of these mistakes – and we must note that there are many of them – make any difference to us doctrinally, but they often do make a difference in the meaning of specific texts. Recognising that the English of the KJV was not longer a living language – and thoroughly dissatisfied with its modern revision (RSV/NRSV) – it was decide by some to “update” the KJV by ridding it of its “archaic” way of speaking. But in so doing, the NKJV revisers eliminated the best feature of the KJV (its marvellous expression of the English language) and kept the worst (its flawed text).
This is why for study you should use almost any modern translation rather than the KJV or the NKJV.