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Correspondence on
KJV vs. NKJV - Part Two

The following correspondence is continued from Correspondence on KJV vs. NKJV - Part 1. Gregg's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

Exchange #3

Thank you for your most recent letter. If I get the time I will try to give a detailed response. In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in a new article I posted on my site late last night: My Bible Versions Experiences.

>I enjoyed reading about your experiences. Have you reviewed KJ21? What do you know about it. A review of this version on the web sight would be very helpful.<

I received a "mailer" in my ministry's PO Box (I believe it was a couple of years ago) about the 21st Century Version King James. In any case, the mailer had a few sample passages and that was about it. Other than that, I have not seen the version itself or even seen it for sale anywhere. So I don't really know much about it.

Note: Subsequent to the above exchange, Gregg sent me some information he found on the 21st Century King James Version. I review this information at KJ21: Initial Impression.

Exchange #4

Thank you for your two most recent letters. I will respond to your general comments from both letters here and discuss all of your verse evaluations from both letters separately.

>Gary, I really appreciate your speedy responses to my letters/questions.<

I am not always able to give "speedy" or in-depth responses to all the letters that I receive. But I am doing my best.

>In my study, I have found many occurrences were the NKJV provided a superior translation.<

I figured you eventually would.

>Furthermore, I have come across a number of articles written by KJV Onlyists that make comparisons between the KJV and the NKJV. In their attempt to disparage the NKJV, they have inadvertently weaken their position (when I investigated a number of their claims they could not be substantiated in the Greek).<

This is always a danger when arguing against some else’s position. Trying to include as much "ammunition" as possible but in doing so overstating your case. I have seen the same in my studies of "KJV Only" tracts. I have also seen this excess in verse lists comparing other versions as well. So it is not just the "KJV Only" people who are guilty of this excess. It is something I have tried to avoid in my articles.

>However, they did highlight a number of places where I believe the KJV's translation is superior. I must admit that in most of the following examples, the margin notes of the NKJV offer a better alternative translation, but it makes me wonder why they did not use it initially:<

At times, the NKJV includes the more "literal" rendering in the text and then includes an explanatory footnote when the text is hard to understand. That is the way it should be done. First what God SAID, then the translators’ opinion on what He MEANT by what He said.

But, unfortunately, as you point out, at other times the NKJV reverses the pattern. It puts the "looser" rendering in the text and then the literal translation in a footnote.

>Relative to number of verses in the Bible, I have recorded a small number is possible errors, but I am still comparing the two translations.<

Again, that is what I figured. Overall, the differences between the NKJV vs. KJV simply are not that great. But by comparing them you will find some places where the one is more accurate, and other places where the other is. Hence why I recommend comparing more than one version in Bible study and then using an interlinear and other aids as needed.

>I must conclude that as good as the NKJV is, it is not perfect.<

Unfortunately, no version really is. But any of the four that I recommend are more than accurate enough for the average person.

>I have recently purchased the MacArther Study Bible (NKJV) and Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Both of these have proven to be very helpful in my study of the Word.<

I’m not familiar with the first, but the latter I have included on my Recommended Bible Study Aids page. The Nelson’s Dictionary is also included on BibleSoft’s PC Study Bible, which I also recommend.

>I am still not ready, however, to replace my KJV with the NKJV. I will continue to investigate the two. I am certain that you will have comments concerning my discussion above. I look forward to your responses.

Yours in Christ,

As I said before, if someone is already used to the KJV I never encourage them to abandoned it. But I am opposed to a "KJV ONLY" position. I also will encourage KJV users to compare their KJV with other versions. They just might find the research fruitful, as I believe you are doing.

Exchange #5

>I have completed a review of a twelve-page article entitled, "NOT King James Version NKJV" prepared by Sojourners of the Lord were they viciously attack the NKJV. Some of their comments overlapped the ones that I wrote to you about previously. I reviewed each passage they listed and compared them with other translations, Young’s Literal Translation, and Strong’s dictionary.

Out of the 47 passages they listed, I could only agree with 6 that could have been better translated in the NKJV. There were 4 that I felt could go either way. What this exercise did was reveal to me 37 occurrences where the KJV did not provide the best translation in today’s English!<


>As per your recommendations, I have ordered the "On-Line Bible" which was only $33.00. I have also ordered Green’s interlinear translation (in one volume) which was on sale for $39.00, direct from the publishers--a 50% savings!<

I think you will find both of these resources to be very helpful in you studies. I know I have. You will probably find the LITV on both of these items to be particularly to your liking.

Christian Literature World is really doing the Christian world a lot of good by offering these excellent resources at such affordable prices.

>I can’t begin to tell you how your ministry has been a blessing to me. Keep up the good work.

Yours in Christ,

Thank you for your kind comments. I first wrote my book Differences Between Bible Versions for several reasons. One reason was, the subject of Bible version is one I had struggled over much myself. So I figure by relating my research it might help others going through the same struggles.

Second, as indicated in my new "experiences" page, I wasted a lot of time and money on Bible versions and other study aids that in the end did not prove to be reliable. So by recommending which Bible versions and aids I thought were most reliable I hoped to save others this wasted time and expense.

The main reason for my book though was my (how shall I say this nicely?) "frustration" with how bad most modern-day versions are. But, as I indicate in My Bible Versions Experiences article, that part seems to have gotten lost in the KJV debates.

Exchange #6

>Gary, I am starting to get a little concerned about the NKJV. My list of errors or poor judgment on the part of the translators is growing (I will be sending you my complete list when I am done.)<

As you study the Bible in-depth more, I am sure you will find quite a few "errors or poor judgments" in any version. But whatever the final number you find in the NKJV, with 32,102 verses in the Bible, percentage-wise I doubt that it will be that high. Overall, I would say the NKJV is reliable. And I have found that even when I disagree with the NKJV, it is usually not that significant.

>I have just reviewed another KJV-Onlyist document that had many unjustified remarks, but it did shed some light on additional passages that I will have added to my list. I am preparing a letter/paper that I planning to present to some of the leaders in my denomination concerning my findings.<

Whatever your denomination is, somehow I got a feeling they will not be that receptive. But it is worth a try!

>One thing that I have noticed is that when the underlying Greek text are in agreement, the NASB [New American Standard Bible] is often more true to the original then the NKJV!!<

I have always said that the NASB is generally reliable version as far as the translation itself goes. But I also believe it is about equal to the NKJV in this regard. Again, as with the KJV, you will probably find one version is better in place, and the other in another place.

But in terms of readability, the NKJV would be much preferable. As indicated above, the NKJV is rated at 8th grade reading level. Meanwhile, in the same chart, the NASB is rated at 11th grade, almost as high as the KJV.

Furthermore, there are the textual problems with the NASB, i.e. use of the CT and, at times, somewhat misleading textual footnotes. So personally, I generally do not refer to it anymore, especially since I have the MKJV and LITV to compare. Both of the latter I would say are more accurate translations than NASB, while being at least as readable and based on the TR/ MT.

>It is going to take me months before I am finished this exercise. However, my knowledge of the Scriptures has and is growing along the way.<

Comparing versions is a great way to "force" one to study the Scriptures in more depth. And that is always of value.

>Last week I was browsing at the local Bible book store were I met two ladies who were trying to decide which Bible version to purchase. One month ago I would have told them to obtain a NASB, but I suggested a NKJV. They purchased the Bible I recommended. It was then that I understood why the Lord has placed this "burden of versions" on my heart--to teach others the WAY.<

I have had similar experiences.

>I am waiting with great anticipation for the arrival of Green's literal translation. However, I do have some reservations about any one-man translation. It seems to me that the chances for error and theological bias would be great without checks and balances. The Word reminds us, "...in the multitude of counselors there is safety." [Pr. 11:14, 15:22, 24:6]

Yours in Christ,

I also shared this concern with the LITV initially. But, you’ll find that Mr. Green invites impute on his translation. If you feel a passage is not translated as good as it could be, write him. He’ll be receptive about your comments.

The LITV (and the MKJV) have gone through several editions. Each new editions reflects the impute of readers. In fact, for the most recent edition of the NT volume of his "Interlinear Bible" I helped proof-read the Gospel of Mathew and made several recommendations. My name is included in the "Acknowledgments" page (though he mis-spelled my last name as "Zeola" - one "l" instead of two, oh well).

So Mr. Green does realize the need for a "multitude of counselors." But still, he does have the final say in what goes in the version. So your concern is somewhat justified. It can be alleviated, though, by my long-standing recommendation that seems to have started our long correspondence, compare more than one version in Bible study.

Exchange #7

>Thanks again for your reply. I just received the On-Line Bible which includes Green's LITV and MKJV. So far they appear to be quite good but they don't always agree.<

The LITV and MKJV don't always agree as Mr. Green had a different philosophy for each. For the MKJV he was trying to present, "... the grand old version in the English of today - period!"

For the LITV he wanted to give, "... the most accurate translation of the Bible in English" (from press releases for the MKJV and LITV respectively).

So the MKJV should follow the KJV more closely, while the LITV will more resemble Green's word-for-word translation in his interlinear.

Exchange #8

>Gary, Attached is a table that I prepared were I attempted to categorize what I believe to be the errors in the NKJV. Most of the scriptural references you have seen, however, there several new ones that are quite serious.

Yours in Christ,

Thank you for your chart. I have combined the verses you mention and your comments from this chart with verses and comments in previous e-mails and provided replies. They are all found in the following, two-part article. Please check out these pages for my complete comments.

Verse Evaluations: KJV vs. NKJV - Part 1.

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above e-mail exchange was posted on this Web site November, 1997.

Bible Versions Controversy: KJV vs. NKJV
Bible Versions Controversy

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