Questions, Insights, & Responses

shared from and with users

Q&A #137 - NKJV: the facts

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.


Writer - comment #1
Abbreviations on that page about the NKJV is totally in error. The NKJV is a modern translation of the Bible and the wording does not correspond to the KJV. I will give you 2 verses as an example.

2 Cor 2:17 and Heb 3:16

Read and weep.

Besides I know someone personally who worked with Nelson on the committee to help bring this translation to print. - response #1



Thanks for your email.

The "Note" at to which you referred was essentially correct:

The New King James Version [NKJV] should not be considered a modern translation. Its wording will always correspond exactly with the KJV, because it is only a modern-English rewording of the original KJV, minus the Apocrypha. (The Apocrypha was included in the original KJV.)

To reduce the possibility of misunderstanding, I have responded to your comments by revising that "Note." It now reads as follows:

The New King James Version [NKJV] should not really be considered a modern version. The NKJV's wording always corresponds exactly with the KJV, because both the NKJV and the KJV are based upon the same Hebrew and Greek texts; however unlike the original KJV, the NKJV does not include the Apocrypha. Though the NKJV provides a modern English rewording of the KJV wording, the NKJV still has all of the same errors that the KJV derived from Erasmus' Greek New Testament, which is plagued with corrupt readings... Below are three examples of corrupt texts in the KJV and NKJV. In all three verses, Erasmus' Greek New Testament text was based upon copies of the Latin Vulgate, not on any ancient Greek texts. In other words, the corruption of these verses had no support in any Greek texts prior to 1516.

You also may be interested in my response to a reader's question, which is found at I wrote:

In your pursuit of what the original Bible texts actually said, both the New King James Version (NKJV) and the King James Version (KJV) will make your pursuit much more difficult. The reason is that they both are based upon Hebrew and Greek texts that are much less reliable than the Hebrew and Greek texts from which most modern Bible versions are translated. The result of those less reliable texts is that in many places the NKJV and KJV have added many words, phrases, and even entire verses that were not in the original texts. For a detailed explanation of this, see For a list of some of the places where the KJV and NKJV need to be corrected, see For recommended Bibles that would be helpful in your quest of exploring the nearest approximation of the original texts, see

We may come to different conclusions on a variety of issues, but there is only one God for us to worship. We still are united in fellowship in that worship, regardless of the Bible versions any of us may use.


Writer - comment #2



No, you are missing the entire point. It's not a rewording of the KJV. It is based on the same good transcripts. Sorry, but you are sadly misinformed. I have been comparing it with the KJV for 5 years now, have read it cover to cover almost 6 times. I know what I'm talking about. Apparently you don't. - response #2



In Arthur Farstad's recent book praising the NKJV called The New King James Version: In The Great Tradition, the book's jacket states:

In 1975, the boldest, most extensive project in modern Bible publishing history began. 130 Bible scholars, pastors and communicators gathered with one goal in mind -- to preserve the accuracy, authority and beauty of the King James Version while updating the language for modern readers.

The "one goal" mentioned above is very similar to how I have described the NKJV. I doubt that any competent biblical scholar in any major seminary -- Harvard Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, Graduate Theological Union, Union Theological Seminary, Chicago Theological Seminary, etc. -- would disagree with my description of the NKJV and the flaws in the Greek New Testament texts from which the NKJV and the KJV were translated. The facts about Erasmus' Greek New Testament and about the Bible Versions whose New Testaments are based on it are too overwhelmingly concrete to dismiss. My consistent endeavor is to draw my conclusions from the facts. The facts simply do not support your opinions about the reliability of the NKJV. The NKJV's translation itself is quite good. Unfortunately its Greek New Testament textual basis has serious flaws that result in its adding words, phrases, and even whole verses in the NKJV that clearly were not in the original texts.

Even conservative biblical scholar Harold Freeman, in his chapter on "Biblical Criticism and Biblical Preaching" honestly comments on the textual corruption of 1Jo 5:7, which appears in the Textus Receptus, the KJV, and the NKJV:

Textual criticism is the discipline that seeks to identify the original wording of an ancient document. Textual criticism of the Bible benefits preaching by preventing nonbiblical sermons... We regret giving up a nice doctrinal sermon on the Trinity based on 1 John 5:7b (KJV). Nevertheless, if it is determined that these are additions to the original writings, whether intentional or accidental, biblical preaching based on these texts cannot occur... Sermons based on spurious or corrupted texts cannot be genuinely biblical. The determination of exactly what the Scripture said is the starting point for biblical preaching. (Biblical Hermeneutics, Second Edition, edited by Bruce Corley, Steve W. Lemke, and Grant Lovejoy, Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002, page 388.)

If you can read at least some Greek, I strongly suggest your obtaining the following:

  1. The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (United Bible Societies, 1993). This work is very widely regarded as the definitive Greek text of the New Testament and the best current representation of the original text. It is also the most reliable and most thoroughly documented Greek New Testament currently available, containing voluminous footnotes that list major early manuscript that support each of the various readings for each verse.
  2. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition, by Bruce Metzger (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993). This work is based upon The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition, and is comprised of verse-by-verse explanations of the Editorial Committee of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament. It provides a detailed, well-reasoned explanation of why a word, phrase, or verse found in some Bible versions is or is not considered to be part of the original texts of the Greek New Testament.
  3. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Corrected & Enlarged Edition, edited by Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2001). This book has the actual text of Greek manuscripts that go back as far as the beginning of the 2nd century A.D., which is more than 1000 years earlier than the earliest texts used by Erasmus to create his Greek New Testament.

The overall most accurate and most readable English Bible version that best preserves the original wording of the KJV but that also has a very reliable Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek textual basis is the English Standard Version (ESV). For a review of it, you can browse


Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer