New King James Version (NKJV)

For sample verses from The New King James Versions and the Revised Authorised Version, click here

New Testament - 1979

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Title: The New King James Bible New Testament
Date: 1979
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville
Contents: New Testament
References: Chamberlin p. 51-2, Taliaferro-EELBV 8215.100.
Images: Jacket, Cover, Title page
Comments: Hardback octavo, VIII & 408 pp. Scripture text in double column, paragraph headings; references to the OT and few word explanations in footnotes. Words of Christ in red.

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Title: The New King James Bible ☣ New Testament
Date: © 1979
Publisher: Nashville, TN (U.S.A.): Thomas Nelson Publishers
Contents: New Testament. 3 pp. Introduction to the translation and it‘s history.


References: Chamberlin p. 51-2, Taliaferro-EELBV 8215.100.
Images: Cover, Title page, Publication Info, Sample page
Comments: Paperback octavo, VIII & 408 pp. Scripture text in double column, paragraph headings; references to the OT and few word explanations in footnotes. Words of Christ in red.

Apparently the first edition of the New King James Version New Testament was published in both hardback and paperback editions.

New Testament and Psalms - 1980

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Title: ++ The New King James Bible ☣ New Testament with Psalms
Date: © 1979, 1980

Publisher: Nashville, TN (U.S.A.): Thomas Nelson Publishers
Contents: New Testament & Psalms. 3 pp. Introduction to the translation and it‘s history; the Psalms translation has newly been introduced.


References: Taliaferro-EELBV 8215.
Location: Collection Bibelarchiv– Birnbaum. Karlsruhe/ Baden, Germany.

Images: Cover, Title page, Psalm sample page, Box
Comments: Leatherbinding, 32mo, X & 660 pp. Scripture text in double column, paragraph headings; references to the OT in footnotes and few word explanations in footnotes (some more than in the 1979 ed). Words of Christ in red.

Complete Bible - 1982

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Title: Holy Bible The New King James Version containing the Old and New Testaments
Date: 1982
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville
Contents: Bible
References: Chamberlin p. 51-2, Taliaferro-EELBV 8215.110.
Images: Cover, Title page

All four text editions of the NKJV Bible.

From left: ❶ R.A.V. Complete British ed. 1982; ❷ NKJB revised 1984 ed. ❸ NKJB New Testament 1st ed. 1979 ❹ NKJB NT & Psalms 1st ed. 1980.

Revised Authorised Version

Re-Naturalization failed — The R.A.V. Short Story
The seventh revision of the 'Authorized Version', born in the U.S. and named 'New King James Version' (NKJV), started its career as a complete Bible in 1982. As the A.V. originated in England, it was only natural to bring the 'NKJV' back to its cradle.

Not being content with its American designation, the publishers tried to make it 'British' and arrived at the term "Revised Authorised Version" (R.A.V.): The famous Glasgow printer R. L. Allen claimed for himself to have been responsible for this christening. But obviously the Bible readers on the British Isles disliked this "new" Revised A.V. greatly, consequently this version found no acceptance. The name R.A.V. was discontinued after seven or eight years in the late 1980s, but even after its American designation »NKJV« had been retained by the British Bible Society, who owned the U.K. copyright after Marshall Pickering (Samuel Bagster imprint) had given it up, the resurrected 'NKJV' never really took hold in the U.K. Under its former British designation R.A.V. it now could turn out to become a collector's item.

Though there's no difference translation-wise, there's definitely one as regards the spelling: the capitalization of the personal pronouns and the titles of dignity referring to God in the OT (with exceptions) and Christ in the NT that the NKJV exerts throughout and which even the AV / KJV didn't afford (!) - let alone the Greek koine - are taken back in the R.A.V., for example in Hebrews ch. 5 »High Priest« vs. »high priest« etc, (the capitalization of »Son« in Hebr. 5:5 etc. being an exception).

Not quite solved is the question whether or not the 1984 small revision (e. g. in Zechariah 13:6 »What are these wounds in your hands?« (1982) against »What are these wounds between your arms« (1984f) was also incorporated in the anglicized RAV- edition.

More clarifying informations on this topic, e.g. on the date when the name 'RAV' was discontinued, are highly appreciated!

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Title: The Holy Bible ☣ Revised Authorised Version
Date: 1982. British usage edition first published 1982. New Testament and Psalms ⓒ Thomas Nelson 1979, 1980; Old and New Testament complete ⓒ Thomas Nelson 1982
Publisher: London, England (U.K.): Samuel Bagster & Sons
Contents: Protestant Bible with Preface (5 pp). 

References: Taliaferro-EELBV 8215.120.
Language: English with anglicized spelling

Images: Spine, Title page, box label
, Sample pages
Location: Collection Bibelarchiv– Birnbaum. Karlsruhe/ Baden, Germany.

Comments: Hardcover boxed, octavo, VIII, (4) & 1220 pp. - Scripture text in double column printed verse-wise, alternate readings, brief explanations and references to the Old Testament in the footnotes; within the New Testament alternate readings of the Majority- Text and the Nestle/ UBS- variant (NU) presented throughout. The preface is not identical to the American original (of the NKJV), but has been adapted to its presentation in Britain; The original American name “NKJV“ is not mentioned. Unfortunately the »Foreword« (not Preface!) to the early editions (pre-1984) of the NKJV has not been included.

New King James Version [silent Revision 1984f]

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The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testament ☣ The New King James Version
Date: ⓒ 1988 Thomas Nelson
Publisher: Pasadena CA (U.S.A.): Thru The Bible Radio
Contents: Protestant Bible. "Slimline reference Edition", center-column references, translation notes, significant textual variants, concordance, and maps. Word of Christ in Red.
References: Taliaferro-EELBV 8215.130.
Images: Cover, Title page, Sample pages
Location: Collection Bibelarchiv Birnbaum. Karlsruhe/ Baden, Germany
Comments: Octavo leatherbound; XII, & (22) pp Guidelines by J. Vernon McGee ; OT up to p. 845 , & (6) pp. Intro to NT; NT up to p. 1102 & (9) pp. How to Study the Scriptures & 66 pp Concordance. This version has the revised 1984 text (see R.A.V. entry above). The four paged Preface deals, as in all NKJV Bibles, extensively with the legacy and translation methods of this Holy Scriptures. Bible Text in double column with cross references in center. Additional Introductions to all 66 Books.

Background and History of the New King James Version

The New King James Bible is not a new translation, but a revised and improved edition of an old one: the Authorized Version or, King James Version of 1611. The advent of the NKJV didn't mark the first revision of this AV/KJV, but the seventh.
☞ The 1614 ed. contained more than 300 differences.
☞ In 1629 Cambridge University Press published a further revision.
☞ In 1738 an attempt was made to produce an "authentique corrected Bible".
☞ In 1675 John Fell corrected the spelling.
☞ In 1762 Thomas Paris of Trinity College, Cambridge, launched an extensive revision.
☞ In 1769, after nearly four years of extensive research, Dr. Benjamin Blayney, Oxford, had it's new version published. This 1769 ed. contains the text being used in the vast majority of todays KJVs/ AVs; the one exception being the "Cambridge Paragraph Bible".
☞ In 1979, after four years of work, the NKJV New Testament was released from Thomas Nelson (founded Edinburgh, Scotland in 1798). The Psalms followed a year later, 1980, printed together with the NT.
☞ In 1982 the rest of the OT was completed and the full Bible released; both the texts of the 1979 NT and the 1980 Psalms had again been updated.

This task of updating the English involved various kinds of changes to the KJV/AV: word order, grammar, vocabulary, spelling etc. Another departure from the KJV is in the capitalization of pronouns referring to Deity including it's titles of Dignity and Honorary titles of Christ. Noteworthy is that the short lived anglicized "Revised Authorized Version" (1982f) "decapitated" those words again: The R.A.V. retained the original AV- spelling.

The underlying basic texts which the KJV/AV translators used were the masoretic text for the OT, and for the NT the 4th revision of Robert Estiennes (Stephanus) NT Graece of 1551 and Theodore Beza's NT Graece of 1598, both of which were revisions of an existing text which Erasmus of Rotterdam had published in Basle in 1516, called "Textus receptus" (Received text). Endless disputing and fierce word battles have been fought over the selection of this Greek variant (e.g. KJV Only- movement). The NKJV revisers with their professed aim "to preserve and improve the purity of the AV/KJV" did not depart from the policy of using this TR, although experts deem it corrupt and inferior to the critical texts having been published since for more than 150 years. So the NKJV stands - especially in view of the NT - in opposition to it's contemporaries NRSV, NASB, and, to an extend, the NIV.

As the Apocrypha, initially translated and incorporated in the AV, were removed soon after the first editions, (included in a few version only or, printed separately,) the NKJV team has not attempted to revise and include them again.

As said above, today's NKJV Bibles have a slightly revised text compared to the one first publication in 1982. This modification was undertaken only two years later in 1984 and can't be discovered from the impressum. One text from the Old Testament for example causing some headaches to traditionalists, is Zechariah 13:6 (1982 "wounds in your hands" vs. 1984 "wounds between your arms"), where some see an alleged prophetic hint to the wounds of the suffering servant (Jesus). Some Study Bibles published after 1984 however retain the unrevised form, e. g. The Ryrie Study Bible (1985) and The New Open Bible (1990) and The New Open Study Bible (⁴1992).

The NKJV ranks among the foremost Bibles where it gained a huge popularity within protestant and evangelical denominations in the U.S.. Roman Catholics reject it as doesn't contain the deuterocanonical books (Apocrypha).

For a brief history and peculiarities of the anglicized »Revised Authorised Version« see insert above.

Gallery of Other Editions

The Experiencing God Study Bible (Henry T. Blackaby & Claude V. King) Broadman & Holman 1994 ➋ The Wesley Bible (Albert F. Harper) Th. Nelson 1990 ➌ Classic Personal Study Bible. Th. Nelson 1990 / 1995 ➍ Andrews Study Bible. Andrews University Press 2010

The Word in LIFE Study Bible. Th. Nelson 1996 ➏ Believer's Study Bible (W. A. Criswell). Th. Nelson 1991 ➐ The Orthodox Study Bible NT & Psalms (Peter E. Gillquist & Alan Wallerstedt). St Athanasius Orthodox Academy 1993 ➑ The MacArthur Study Bible (John MacArthur) Word Publ. & Th. Nelson 1997

Spirit Filled Life Bible (Jack W. Hayford). Th. Nelson 1991 ➓ The Majority Text Greek New Testament & NKJB Interlineary (Arthur L. Farstad & Zane C. Hodges) Th. Nelson 1994 / 2007 ⓫ Nelson Study Bible (Earl D. Radmacher) Th. Nelson 1997 ⓬ The Inspirational Study Bible (Max Lucado) Word Bibles 1995

The Life & Times Historical Reference Bible (Timothy B. Cargal & others) Th. Nelson 1997 ⓮ Prophecy Study Bible (John C. Hagee). Th. Nelson 1997 ⓯ New Geneva Study Bible (Luder Whitlock, Jr. & R. C. Sproul). Th. Nelson, 1995 ⓰ Life Application Bible. Tyndale 1993

The Passages of Life Bible (Dale H. Bourke & L. Barker). Th. Nelson 1995 ⓲ The New Open Bible, Study Edition Th. Nelson 1990. & The Ryrie Study Bible (Charles C. Ryrie). Moody Press 1985 ⓳ The Open Bible, Expanded Ed. Th. Nelson 1983 & 1985 ⓴ Greek / English Interlinear New Testament: NKJV and the Majority Text. Th. Nelson 1994.

The Christian Character Builder Bible - NKJV (Paul A. Kienel) Th. Nelson 1992. 22. The Evidence Bible (Ray Comfort). Bridge Logos Publ. 2011

The Gideons International

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Title: The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with Psalms and Proverbs The Gideons International
Date: © 1985, 1983 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Publisher: National Publishing Company
Contents: New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs
Images: Cover, Title page, Psalms title page, Proverbs title page
Location: Personal library, Havelock, North Carolina, USA
Comments: According to The Deseret News, the Gideons started using the New King James Version in 1986.


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