What’s wrong with the KJV/NKJV?

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.


2 Responses to “What’s wrong with the KJV/NKJV?”

  1. I have a very good friend who has recently gone back to the KJV for exactly the reason that it’s based on an older Greek text. His reasoning? “The Greek text we have today is a product of secular academia; the text the KJV is based on is the last time the Greek text was prepared by Christians who believed in the authority of Scripture.” I don’t buy the argument (common grace, anyone?) but it was interesting to hear.

  2. See, I don’t disagree that the KJV is slightly flawed, but this article suggests that it is somehow the most flawed text of all. I don’t claim to be some major bible scholar, but there are entire missing verses out of a couple popular modern translations that entirely change doctrinal meanings, and yet you suggest that the KJV is the worst to read of them all.

    If you’d like to visit a website to compare the translations, you can go to: bible.cc (if I’m allowed to link?) and for looking up individually biblegateway.com is a pretty good source.

    In a great deal of the translations, the end of the lords prayer is missing, the most important part. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” Some of them contain it and some of them don’t. That’s kind of an important part to me.

    Many of the newer translations and revisions also don’t include the second half of Matthew 27:35. The part where it explains that them casting lots for his clothes fulfilled a prophecy. These are sort of important parts connecting our Saviour to the Jewish Prophets.

    These are just 2 examples out of Matthew that show errors in many manuscripts. I’d genuinely be interested in seeing the errors in the KJV, but to me, it seems the others are even worse so far.

    Don’t think I’m trashing every bible except the KJV, but I am simply making the statement that you saying the KJV is chock full of errors and that every bible is better than the KJV, is like me telling you that every prophet was good except Jeremiah because he is full of errors.

    When you get past the grammatical mistakes, you can see that every book was penned by men, (but no one can prove Hebrews, just sayin’.) and it will be full of grammatical errors, its when we have good intentions and try to “fix it up a little” and then we start getting bolder and fixing it up a little here, changing it up a little there, and you end up with a completely different product when it comes to details! Then you’ve put more of mans hand in it than there was before. And the whole point of a bible is to convey salvation, doctrine, and a way to hear from God. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like us denying each other a way to hear from Him.

    All I’m saying is, give KJV a chance to astound you, try reading psalm 23 in KJV, and then another translation, any one, then try that with the Lords prayer. You can see there are differences. But does that make me think less of you because you choose another translation, no, it shouldn’t. So why do you deny people the KJV, when there are obviously differences in any text. Take a look at The Message Bible, and then tell me the KJV is the one most full of errors.

    I’ll get off of my soapbox now. Just realize I don’t hate you because you dis the KJV, I still love you, even though your a brother I don’t know, I’m just trying to help you understand that there’s little reason to hate on the KJV as the “worst bible for studying”.

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