Article - Languages and Bible Translations (part 3)

The King James and New King James

With the change of time comes the change of language. When the King James was written in 1611, it contained not only the extra uninspired books known as the Apocrypha (which were included simply for historical and literary value, making up a total of 80 books, but reduced to our present 66 in the 1885 edition of the King James), but it also contained the old Elizabethan English (which would now be considered a type of literary English usually understood on a college level). The New King James Version was completed in 1982. It involved the undertaking of 130 skilled translators. The primary purpose was to update the vocabulary and grammar without abandoning the style of the King James, while at the same time staying faithful to the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. The translators and editors of the New King James also stated in their preface that they were not setting out to make a new translation, but to serve “as a continuation of the labors of the earlier translators” of the King James. By updating the language in line with the spoken English of today, the New King James makes it much easier to read and study God’s word without spending unnecessary time trying to make sense of archaic language and sentence structure. For example, in Mark 9:6, the King James says, “For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.” Whereas the New King James says, “because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.” In conclusion, any translation that is accurate to the text is a translation that is usable. I personally use the New King James, but also recommend the King James and the American Standard of 1901.


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