THIS PREFACE IS TAKEN FROM THE NKJV - PERSONAL STUDY
EDITION, Publisher Thomas Nelson (Nashville - Atlanta - London -
Vancouver) - 1990, 1995.
Please note this preface may not be in all NewKJV Bibles. It is
in the one above, a Bible that I personally have and use.
I will give what I consider to be the most important parts of
this preface. All CAPITAL words are mine - Keith Hunt.
In the preface to the 1611 edition, the translators of the
Authorized Version, known popularly as the King James Bible,
state that it was not their purpose "not to make a new
translation....but to make a good one better." Indebted to the
earlier work of William Tyndale and others, they saw their best
contribution to consist of revising and enhancing the excellence
of the English versions which had sprung up from the Reformation
of the sixteenth century. In harmony with the purpose of the King
James scholars, the translators and editors of the present work
have not pursued a goal of innovation. They have perceived the
Holy Bible, New King James Version, as a continuation of the
labors of the earlier translators, thus unlocking for today's
reader the spiritual treasures found especially in the Authorized
Version of the Holy Scriptures.
A Living Legacy
For nearly four hundred years, and throughout several
revisions of its English form, the King James Bible has been
deeply revered among the English-speaking people of the
world. The precision of the translation for which it is
historically renowned, and its majesty of style, have enabled the
monumental version of the word of God to become the mainspring of
the religion, language, and legal foundation of our civilization.
Although the Elizabethan period and our own era share in
zeal for technical advance, the former period was more
aggressively devoted to classical learning. Along with this
awakened concern for the classics came a flourishing companion in
interest in the Scriptures, an interest that was enlivened by the
CONVICTION that the manuscripts were PROVIDENTIALLY handed down
and were a TRUSTWORTHY RECORD of the INSPIRED Word of God.
The King James translators were committed to producing an
English Bible that would be a precise translation, and by mo
means a PARAPHRASE or a BROADLY APPROXIMATE rending. On the one
hand, the scholars were almost as familiar with the ORIGINAL
languages of the Bible as with their native English. On the other
hand, their reverence for the divine author and His word assured
a translation of the Scriptures in which only a principle of the
utmost accuracy could be accepted.
In 1786 Catholic scholar Alexander Geddes said of the King
James Bible, "If accuracy and strictest attention to the letter
of the text be supposed to constitute an excellent version, this
is of all versions the most excellent."
George Bernard Shaw became a literary legend in our century
because of his severe and often humorous criticism of our most
cherished values. Surprisingly, however, Shaw pays the following
tribute to the scholars commissioned by King James: "The
translation was EXTRAORDINARILY WELL DONE because to the
translators what they were translating was not merely a curious
collection of ancient books written by different authors in
different stages of culture, BUT THE WORD OF GOD DIVINELY
REVEALED through His chosen and expressly INSPIRED scribes. In
this conviction they carried out their work with boundless
reverence and care and achievement a beautiful artistic result."
History agrees with these estimates. therefore, while
seeking to unveil the EXCELLENT FORM of the traditional English
Bible, SPECIAL CARE has also been taken in the PRESENT edition to
PRESERVE the work of PRECISION which is the legacy of the 1611
(While all of the above may well be true of the 1611 translators,
for the overall MAIN, there did indeed creep into the 1611
Authorized translation some errors and some "bias" - or shall we
say a few places where English religious custom and practice,
even clouded the minds of those careful translators. A classic
example would be Acts 12: 4. The Greek is "Pascha" meaning
Passover, but the 1611 translators inserted "Easter." There is a
difference, not so much in the thoughts of the minds of people,
as Passover and Easter to most mean basically the same
foundational thing, the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus
Christ. But it does show that now and again, even with the best
intentioned scholars, who were trying to translate literally from
the Hebrew and Greek, did not always abide by their rule of
The New King James Version does CORRECT this error, and
reads "intending after Passover...." in Acts 12: 4. Keith Hunt).
COMPLETE EQUIVALENCE IN TRANSLATION
Where new translation has been necessary in the New King
James Version, the most complete representation of the original
has been rendered by CONSIDERING the HISTORY of usage and
ETYMOLOGY of the words in their CONTEXT. This principle of
COMPLETE EQUIVALENCE seeks to preserve ALL of the information in
the text, while presenting it in good LITERARY form. Dynamic
equivalence, a recent procedure in Bible translation, commonly
results in PARAPHRASING where a more LITERAL rendering is
needed to reflect a SPECIFIC and VITAL sense. For example,
complete equivalence truly renders the original text in
expressions such as "lifted her voice and wept" (Gen. 21: 16);
"I gave you cleanness of teeth" (Amos 4: 6); "Jesus met them,
saying, 'Rejoice!' " (Mat. 28: 9); and "Woman, what does your
concern have to do with me?" (John 2: 4).
Complete equivalence translates fully, in order to provide
an English text that is both ACCURATE and READABLE.
In keeping with the principle of complete equivalence, it is
the policy to translate interjections which are commonly omitted
in modern language renderings of the Bible. As an example, the
interjection "BEHOLD," in the older King James edition, CONTINUES
to have a PLACE in English usage, especially in dramatically
calling attention to a spectacular scene, or an event of profound
importance such as the Immanuel prophecy in Isaiah 7: 14.
Consequently, "BEHOLD" is RETAINED for these occasions in the
However, the Hebrew and Greek ORIGINALS for this word can be
translated VARIOUSLY, depending on the circumstance in the
passage. Therefore, in addition to "behold," words such as
"indeed" - "look" - "see" and "surely" are also rendered to
convey the appropriate sense suggested by the CONTEXT in each
IN FAITHFULNESS TO GOD AND OUR READERS, it was deemed
APPROPRIATE that ALL participating scholars SIGN a statement
AFFIRMING their BELIEF in the VERBAL and PLENARY INSPIRATION of
Scripture, and in the INERRANCY of the ORIGINAL autographs.
(And there were many indeed, with PhD's, who were part of
the complying of this particular New KJV Personal Study Edition -
The King James scholars readily appreciated the intrinsic
beauty of DIVINE REVELATION. They accordingly disciplined their
talents to render well-chosen English words of THEIR TIME, as
well as a GRACEFUL, often MUSICAL arrangement of language, which
has stirred the hearts of Bible readers through the years. The
translators, the committees, and the editors of the PRESENT
edition, while sensitive to the late-twentieth-century English
idiom, and while adhering faithfully to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and
Greek texts, have sought to MAINTAIN those LYRICAL and DEVOTIONAL
qualities that are so HIGHLY regarded in the Authorized Version.
This devotional quality is especially apparent in the POETIC
and PROPHETIC books......The Koine Greek of the NT is influenced
by the Hebrew background of the writers, for whom even the gospel
narratives were not merely flat utterances, but often SONG in
various degrees of rhythm.
Students of the Bible applaud the timeless devotional
character of our historic Bible. Yet it is also universally
understood that our language, like all living languages, has
undergone PROFOUND CHANGE since 1611. Subsequent revisions of the
King James Bible have sought to keep abreast of changes in
English speech. The PRESENT work is a further step toward this
objective. where obsolescence and other reading difficulties
exist, present-day vocabulary, punctuation, and grammar have been
carefully integrated. Words representing ancient objects, such as
"CHARIOT" and "PHYLACTERY," have no MODERN substitutes and are
A SPECIAL feature of the NKJV is its conformity to the
thought flow of the 1611 Bible. The reader discovers that the
sequence and selection of words, phrases, and clauses of the NEW
edition, while much CLEARER, are so close to the TRADITIONAL
that there is remarkable EASE in listening to the reading of
EITHER edition while FOLLOWING with the other.
In the discipline of translating Biblical and other ancient
languages, a standard method of transliteration, that is, the
English spelling of untranslated words, such as names of persons
and places, has never been commonly adopted. In keeping with the
design of the present work, the King James spelling of
untranslated words is RETAINED, although made uniform throughout.
For example, instead of the spellings ISAIAH and ELIJAH in the
OT, and ESAIAS and ELIAS in the NT, ISAIAH and ELIJAH now appear
in BOTH Testaments.
King James doctrinal and theological terms, for example,
PROPITIATION, JUSTIFICATION, and SANCTIFICATION, are generally
familiar to English-speaking peoples. Such terms have been
RETAINED except where the original language indicates need for a
more PRECISE translation.
Readers of the Authorized Version will immediately be struck
by the absence of several pronouns: THEE, THOU, and YE are
replaced by the simple YOU, while YOUR and YOURS are substituted
for THY and THINE as applicable. THEE, THOU, THY and THINE were
once forms of address to express a special relationship to human
as well as to divine persons. These pronouns are no longer part
of our language. However, reverence for God in the present work
is preserved by capitalizing pronouns, including, You, Your, and
Yours, which refer to Him. Additionally, capitalization of these
pronouns benefits the reader by clearly distinguishing DIVINE and
HUMAN persons referred to in the passage......
In addition to the pronoun usages of the seventeenth
century, the -ETH and -EST verb endings, so familiar in the
earlier King James editions, are now obsolete......Because
these forms are obsolete, contemporary English usage has been
substituted for the previous verb endings.
In older editions of the King James Version, the frequency
of the connective AND far exceeded the limits of present English
usage. Also, Biblical linguists agree, that the Hebrew and Greek
original words for this conjunction may commonly be translated
otherwise, depending on the immediate context. Therefore, instead
of AND, alternatives such as ALSO, BUT, HOWEVER, NOW, SO, THEN,
and THUS are accordingly rendered in the present edition, when
the original language permits.
The REAL CHARACTER of the Authorized Version does NOT reside
in its ARCHAIC pronouns or verbs or other grammatical forms of
the seventeenth century, but RATHER in the CARE taken by its
scholars to IMPART the LETTER and SPIRIT of the original text in
a MAJESTIC and REVERENT style.
The format of the NKJV is designed to ENHANCE the VIVIDNESS
and DEVOTIONAL quality of the holy Scriptures.
SUBJECT headings assist the reader to identify topics and
transitions in the Biblical content.
WORDS or phrases in ITALICS indicate expressions in the
original language which require clarification by additional
VERSE numbers within a paragraph are easily distinguishable.
OBLIQUE TYPE in the NT indicates a quotation from the OT.
PROSE is divided into paragraphs to indicate the structure
POETRY is structured as contemporary verse to reflect the
poetic form and beautY of the passage in the original
The covenant name GOD was usually translated from the Hebrew
as "LORD" or "GOD" (using capital letters as shown) in the
King James OT. This tradition is MAINTAINED......
THE OLD TESTAMENT TEXT
The Hebrew Bible has come down to us through the scrupulous
care of ancient scribes who copied the original text in
successive generations. By the sixth century A.D. the scribes
were succeeded by a group known as the Masoretes, who continued
to preserve the sacred Scriptures for another five hundred years
in a form known as the MASORETIC Text. Babylon, Palestine, and
Tiberias were the main centers of Masoretic activity; but by the
TENTH century A.D. the Masoretes of Tiberias, led by the family
of ben Asher, gained the ascendancy. Through subsequent editions,
the ben Asher text became in the twelfth century the ONLY
recognized form of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Daniel Bobmberg printed the FIRST RABBINIC Bible in 1516-17;
that work was followed in 1524-25 by a SECOND edition by Jacob
ben Chayyim and also published by Bomberg. The text of ben
Chayyim was adopted in most subsequent Hebrew Bibles, including
those used by the King James translators. The ben Chayyim text
was also used for the first TWO editions of Rudolph Kittel's
BIBLICA HEBRAICA of 1906 and 1912, In 1937 Paul Kahle published a
THIRD edition of BIBLIA HEBRAICA. This edition was based on the
OLDEST dated MS of the ben Asher text, the LENINGRAD MS B19a
(A.D. 1008), which Kahle regarded as SUPERIOR to that used by ben
For the New King James Version the text used was the
1967/1977 STUTTGART edition of the BIBLIA HEBRAICA, with FREQUENT
comparisons being made with the BOMBERG edition of 1524-25. The
Septuagint (Greek) Version of the OT and the Latin Vulgate also
were consulted. In addition to referring to a VARIETY of ancient
versions of the Hebrew Scriptures, the New King James Version
draws on the resources of relevant MSS from the Dead Sea caves.
In the FEW places where the Hebrew was so obscure that the 1611
King James was compelled to follow one of the versions, but where
information is NOW available to RESOLVE the problems, the New
King James Version follows the Hebrew text. SIGNIFICANT
variations are recorded in the center reference column.
THE NEW TESTAMENT TEXT
There is more MSS support for the NT that for ANY other body
of ancient literature. OVER FIVE THOUSAND Greek, EIGHT THOUSAND
Latin, and MANY MORE MS in other languages ATTEST the INTEGRITY
of the NT.......
SOME VARIATIONS exist in the SPELLING of Greek words, in
word ORDER, and in similar details. These ORDINARILY do not show
up in TRANSLATION and do NOT effect the sense of the text in ANY
Other MSS DIFFERENCES such as omission or inclusion of a
word or a clause, and two paragraphs in the Gospels, should NOT
overshadow the OVERWHELMING degree of AGREEMENT which exists
among the ancient records......
The New King James Version follows the historic precedent of
the Authorized Version in maintaining a LITERAL approach to
translation, except where the idiom of the original language
cannot be translated directly into our tongue.
The King James New Testament was based on the TRADITIONAL
TEXT of the GREEK-speaking churches, first published in 1516, and
later called the TEXTUS RECEPTUS or Received Text. Although based
on the RELATIVELY FEW available MSS, these were representative of
many more which existed at the time but only became KNOWN LATER.
In the Late nineteenth century, B. Westcott and F. Hort
taught that this text had been officially edited by the
fourth-century church, but a TOTAL LACK of HISTORICAL EVIDENCE
for this event has FORCED a revision of the THEORY. It is now
WIDELY HELD that the Byzantine Text that largely supports the
Textus Receptus has as much right as the Alexandrian or ANY OTHER
tradition to be weighed in DETERMINING the TEXT of the NT. Those
readings in the Textus Receptus that have WEAK support are
indicated in the center reference column as being OPPOSED by BOTH
the CRITICAL and MAJORITY Texts (see "Center-Column Notes").
Since the 1880s more CONTEMPORARY translations of the NT
have RELIED upon a relatively FEW MSS discovered chiefly in the
LATE nineteenth and EARLY twentieth centuries. Such translation
depend PRIMARILY on TWO MSS, the Codex Vanticanus and Codex
Sinaiticus, because of their greater age. The Greek text obtained
by using these sources, and the relative papyri (our most ancient
manuscripts) is know as the Alexandrian Text. However, SOME
scholars have GROUND for DOUBTING the faithfulness of the
Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, since they OFTEN DISAGREE with one
another, and Sinaiticus exhibits EXCESSIVE OMISSION.
A THIRD viewpoint of NT scholarship holds that the BEST text
is based on the CONSENSUS of the MAJORITY of existing Greek MSS.
This text is called the MAJORITY TEXT. MOST of these MSS are in
SUBSTANTIAL AGREEMENT. Even though many are late, and none
earlier than the fifth century, usually their readings are
VERIFIED by papyri, ancient versions, quotations from the early
church fathers, or a COMBINATION of these. The MAJORITY TEXT is
similar to the Textus Receptus, but it CORRECTS those readings
which have LITTLE or NO support in the Greek MSS tradition.
Today, scholars agree that the science of NT textual
criticism is in a state of FLUX. Very few scholars favor the
Textus Receptus as such, and then often for its historical
prestige as the text of LUTHER, CALVIN, TYNDALE, and the King
James version. For about a CENTURY MOST have followed a CRITICAL
Text (so called because it is edited according to specific
principles of textual criticism) which depends HEAVILY upon the
Alexandrian type of text. More RECENTLY MANY have ABANDONED this
Critical Text (which is quite similar to the one edited by
Westcott and Hort) for one that is more ELECTIC.
Finally, a SMALL but GROWING number of scholars PREFER the
MAJORITY text, WHICH IS CLOSE TO THE TRADITIONAL TEXT EXCEPT IN
In light of these facts, and also because the New King James
Version is the fifth revision of a historic document translated
from specific Greek texts, the editors decided to RETAIN the
TRADITIONAL text in the body of the NT and to indicate major
Critical and Majority Text variant readings in the center
reference column. Although these variations are duly indicated in
the center-column notes of the present edition, it is most
IMPORTANT to EMPHASIZE that fully EIGHTY-FIVE percent of the NT
text is the same in the Textus Receptus, the Alexandrian Text,
and the Majority Text.
(The last sentence may well be true, but the remaining 15% can
make a huge difference in the various MANY NT translations out
there in the market place. Some simply leave out verses,
sentences, or paragraphs, and say nothing to you, either in a
footnote or center-reference column. Some leave out certain
phrases or sentences, and only give a footnote on some of what
they have left out. Some will give you a footnote on everything
they have left out of the main text, as found in the Textus
Receptus or Majority Text. All of this can be VERY CONFUSING,
especially to NEW Christians, depending on what version or
versions of the NT they buy or have given to them - Keith Hunt).
Significant explanatory notes, alternate translations and
cross-references, as well as NT citations of OT passages, are
supplied in the center reference column.
Important textual variants in the OT are identified in a
The textual notes in the present edition of the NT make no
evaluation of readings, but do clearly indicate the manuscript
sources of readings. They objectively present the facts without
such tendentious remarks as "the best manuscripts omit" or "the
most reliable manuscripts read." Such notes are VALUE JUDGMENTS
that DIFFER according to varying VIEWPOINTS on the text. By
giving a clearly defined set of variants the New King James
Version benefits readers of ALL textual persuasions.
Where SIGNIFICANT variations occur in the NT Greek MSS,
textual notes are classified as follows:
1. NU - Text
These variations from the traditional text generally
represent the Alexandrian or Egyptian type of text.....
2. M - Text
This symbol indicates points of variation in the Majority
Text from the traditional text.....It should be noted that M
stands for whatever reading is printed in the published
Greek NT According to the Majority Text, whether supported by
overwhelming, strong, or only a divided majority textual
The textual notes reflect the scholarship of the past 150
years and will assist the reader to observe the variations
between the different manuscript traditions of the NT.
Such information is generally NOT available in English
translations of the New Testament.
Certainly the New King James Personal Study Edition (with Study
Notes, Maps, Charts, Book Introductions, Center-Column
References, Study Articles, Concordance, Words of Christ in Red),
Thomas Nelson Publishers, is a Bible I highly recommend for
the Christian's library - Keith Hunt.