By Bobby L. Graham
In 1979, one hundred nineteen international scholars combined to produce the New Testament of the New King James Bible (NKJB). Their purpose was to preserve the beauty and purity of the original King James Version (1611) while bringing the grammar and vocabulary up to modern practices. Quotation marks were added and pronouns referring to God were capitalized.
While the technical devices used by the translators are under consideration, let it be noted that italics was dropped in the case of interpolations. “Many of these additions are now unnecessary and have been omitted,” according to the Introduction. I do wonder, however, whether many interpolations have been made, without being noted in italicized letters.
Acts 12:4 is an instance in which this revision has improved the renderings of the original King James Version. Whereas the 1611 version read “Easter,” the NKJB has “Passover.” Such is an improvement because of the complete lack of justification in the 1611 work; in fact, every other case in which the same word occurred, it was translated Passover in 1611. Acts 12:4 was the lone exception.
Romans 7:5 is an instance where interpolation was done without italics. The word aroused is supplied but there is no indication given to the reader. I am not sure that I can agree with the point made by the sentence when the word is inserted, but its addition certainly should be signaled. Paul’s point is not that the Law produced sinful passions, but that it defined and condemned such passions as sinful.
1 Corinthians 16:2 is another verse in which there is a failing in the NKJB. “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” This rendering does not say “at home,” but I do get that dinstinct meaning when I read the verse, because of the combination of “lay something aside” and “storing up.” Of course, the purpose clause in the latter part of the verse (“that there . . . come”) prevents such a meaning being drawn from the verse; but I would still classify-this-as a poor choice of words.
The differences that I have noted in the NKJB are not as numerous or as serious.as those found in most of the newer and more recent efforts. I do think that it has much to commend it, but it should used in comparison with other reliable versions.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 43, p. 698
October 30, 1980