The King James Even Better?

The New King James Bible: New Testament, (Nelson, 1979, 407 pp., $7.95 hb, $4.95 pb).

The king james Version (KJV) became the “authorized” version of the Bible in the English-speaking church for many reasons, but it did so primarily because of its own intrinsic worth. That it has needed overhauling has been known for centuries; numerous attempts to do it have been made. The most recent revision is a New King James Bible (NKJB) New Testament, the purpose of which, according to its publishers, is “to make the King James even better”! To analyze how well this has been accomplished is the purpose of this review. In doing so, 10 of the most significant criticisms of the KJV will be listed and the NKJB tested to see how it has answered these complaints and whether it is in fact an improvement.

1. Obsolete words and forms. The KJV has been criticized for using archaic or obsolete words, forms, and phrases, making it almost unintelligible in spots.

The NKJB has handled this problem very well. Almost all of the archaic forms are gone, replaced by more modern terms. For example, “fetched a compass” in Acts 28:13 becomes “circled round” and all of the thees, thous, wilts, saiths, and so forth, are gone. But even better, misleading archaic terms (as opposed to merely archaic terms) have been replaced by more accurate words. Thus, in Matthew 15:21, Acts 19:1, “coast” becomes “region”; in Romans 1:29 “debate” becomes “strife”; in 2 Corinthians 4:2 “dishonesty” becomes “shame”; and in Acts 17:23 “devotions” becomes “objects of worship.” There is no need to multiply examples; as far as I can tell almost all such terms were caught.

I did notice a few minor problems. In Matthew 6:25, 31, 34 “take no thought” becomes ...

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