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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

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Please see Sermons & Articles further down the Blog about why the Authorised Version is the best and most accurate English translation of the Scriptures

and why we reject the many perversions of the Scriptures, including those so beloved of many neo-evangelicals at present such as ESV & NKJV.

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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

What is wrong with the New King James Version of the Bible?

This is a synopsis of a sermon preached in Newtownabbey Free Presbyterian Church in March 2010

2 Corinthians 2 v 17: For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. 

One of the many strategies that the devil employs against the Lord and His truth is his attempt to corrupt the Word of God. It has always been the devil’s desire to corrupt God's truth. When he tempted Eve we see that strategy in operation:
[1] He first cast 'doubt' on the Word of God: Yea hath God said Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Genesis 3:1;
[2] Next he 'contradicted' the Word of God: Ye shall not surely die, v4;
[3] He then 'denied' the Word of God: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil, v5.

The devil has never left off that mode of operating against the truth of God. Sadly, when viewed from a purely human perspective it has to be acknowledged that his strategy seems quite successful. A corrupt Bible can do a great deal of harm and there are many of them about today!

In modern times this strategy of the devil is carried forward by the plethora of corrupt versions of the Scriptures which appear on the market. Which version of the Scriptures we use is important. We do not want to be deceived by the devil and use a corrupt Bible. 

There has been a long line of English translations:
[1] The first Anglo-Saxon version came about in 7th century. 
[2] Alfred the Great, in the 9th century, said that he desired that all the free born people of his kingdom should be able to read the English Scriptures. 
[3] John Wycliffe in the 1300s built upon this work and completed the first complete English translation of the Bible working from the Latin. 
[4] William Tyndale came along a 150 years later. He went back to the original Hebrew and Greek languages. 
[5] Over the next 50 years from 1525 a number of new versions appeared:
      (i) The Coverdale Bible of Henry VIII’s time; 
      (ii) The Mathew’s Bible; 
      (iii) The Great Bible, sometimes called Cranmer’s Bible; 
      (iv) The Taverner’s Bible; 
      (v) The Geneva Bible was the first to be divided into verses and used italics and had explanatory notes; 
      (vi) The Bishop’s Bible.
[6] Then in 1611 The Authorised Version appeared. Fifty-four translators worked on this version for seven years. It was the most detailed and accurate translation that then existed.

The Authorised Version was itself revised in 1769, in which many small changes were made: 
1. Greater and more regular use of italics; 
2. Minor changes in the text; 
3. The adoption of modern spelling; 
4. Changes in the marginal notes and references; and, 
5. Correction of printers' errors. 

It is this version we believe in using as a denomination as it is the most reliable and accurate English translation of the Scriptures.

In the 1880s a new development/attack took place. A new English version appeared known as The Revised Version. The stated aim of The Revised Version's translators was twofold:
1. To adapt the Authorised Version to the present state of the English language, without changing the idiom and vocabulary, and 
2. To adapt the Authorised Version to the present standard of Biblical scholarship.

Therein lay the problem and the devil's concerted attack upon the Bible. The translators of The Revised Version wanted to adapt this new version "to the present standard of Biblical scholarship." They were not content with the theological teachings of the Scriptures as found in the Authorised Version. 

To accomplish this purpose the translators used, as their basis, two corrupt Greek texts/manuscripts, which had been rejected by the Christian Church for many centuries. One of these corrupt Greek texts was used more than the other. It was a text prevalent in Alexandria in Egypt and characterised by numerous omissions. The other was prevalent in parts of Europe and was characterised by numerous additions. This explains their prolonged existence. These texts were set aside and never used, hence their survival. These two corrupt texts differ in over 3000 places in the Gospels alone. They subsequently became the basis for a whole range of other new versions including: The New International Version, The New Revised Standard, The Good News Bible etc. 

This brings us particularly to the New King James Version. This further new version was conceived by Arthur Farstad, in 1975, when two meetings took place in Nashville and Chicago involving 68 interested people, most of them prominent Baptists but also including some conservative Presbyterians. Those invited to these meetings prepared the guidelines for what would become known in the future as The New King James Version. The New Testament was published in 1979, the Psalms in 1980, and the full Bible in 1982.

There have been several subsequent editions of The New King James Version. There have also been thousands of changes in these editions since 1982, when first published. 

Should we use this new version? Should we recommend it to others? Is there anything wrong with this New King James Version? If there is, then what is wrong with it?

I. The New King James Version is seriously compromised because it also employs these corrupt Greek texts/manuscripts in certain places. 

It is a common belief that The New King James Version involves merely an updating of the language of the Authorised Version and therefore with this new version you have the best of both world. You can have a faithful Bible text, with modern English.

However, that it not the case with the New King James Version, even though this was claimed by the publishers to be the reason for its production. The translators originally said they sought: To Preserve the Integrity of the Original in the Language of Today"…To preserve the authority and accuracy . . . of the original King James while making it understandable to 20th Century readers…To update with regard to punctuation and grammar; archaic verbs and pronouns… To up-to-date accuracy with regard to words whose English meaning has changed over a period of 3 1/2 centuries.

The translators didn't remain faithful to their original declared intention. There is always a problem wherever publishers of a new version of the Scriptures desires to obtain a copyright for that new version. Printing and selling Bibles is a very profitable business. There is a great deal of money to be made from printing and selling Bibles, especially of you hold the copyright for that particular version. However, in order to obtain a copyright the publishers must make sufficient changes to warrant claiming and obtaining a copyright. This requires, by itself, extensive changes to any new version. This requires translators and publishers to come up with sufficient changes, whether required or not for translation accuracy, in order to obtain a copyright. Without a distinct difference to other versions no copyright will be given. It is worth remembering that the Authorised Version is not copyrighted in the conventional sense. Permission can be obtained to print and sell Authorised Versions of the Scriptures.

The translators of The New King James Version went much further than updating the language
[1] They altered the text of this new version in a number of places to bring it into line with those two corrupt Greek texts. These are the corrupt texts that underpin The New International Version, The Revised Standard Version etc. This is not really surprising, in one sense, when you discover that nine of the translators who worked on the New King James Version also had worked on the New International Version, some years before.

It has been estimated that the New King James Version makes over 100,000 translation changes, which works out on average at over eighty changes per page and about three changes per verse! Neither is it surprising that the New King James Version is characterised by omissions. For example, there are: 
22 omissions of the word ‘hell’, 
23 omissions of ‘blood’, 
44 omissions of ‘repent’, 
50 omissions of ‘heaven’, 
51 omissions of ‘God’, and 
66 omissions of ‘Lord’. 
The terms ‘devils’, ‘damnation’, ‘JEHOVAH’, and ‘New Testament’ are completely omitted. 

[2] The translators also include a host of footnotes pointing out the differences between the text that underlies the Authorised Version and that which underlies, for example, the New International Version etc. This is giving the impression that the underlying Greek text of the Authorised Version is not reliable. What need is there for these footnotes unless some value is placed upon them? Here are their footnotes for Mark 16:9-20Mark 16:8 NU-Text and M-Text omit quickly; Mark 16:18 NU-Text reads and in their hands they will; Mark 16:20 Verses 9–20 are bracketed in NU-Text as not original. They are lacking in Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, although nearly all other manuscripts of Mark contain them. To include these footnotes is to cast aspersion upon the accuracy and reliability of the Greek text of the Authorised Version. 

[3] The New King James Version demotes the Lord Jesus Christ. For example:
(i) In John 1:3: All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made, the Authorised Version says that all things were made ‘by’ Jesus Christ, but in the New King James Version, all things were just made ‘through’ Him. 
(ii) The word ‘Servant’ replaces ‘Son’ in Acts 3:13 and Acts 3:26. ‘Servant’ replaces ‘child’ in Acts 4:27,30
(iii) The name ‘Jesus’ is omitted from Mark 2:15, Hebrews 4:8, and Acts 7:45

This translation is about much more than just updating the language!

II. The New King James Version makes changes in the use of the second person pronoun 
One of the most significant problems with this new version concerns the second person pronoun. It may be deemed by some that the use of ‘thee’, ‘thou’ and ‘thine’ as expressing singular and ‘ye’ ‘you’ and ‘your’ as expressing plural, in the Authorised Version, are somewhat old fashioned and outdated and therefore desperately in need of changing. The translators of the New King James Version certainly must have believed this for they have abandoned the use of these terms. ‘You’ is used for both singular and plural. They are on record saying that these old terms were once forms of address to express a special relationship to human as well as divine persons and that they no longer form part of our language.

However, it is very important to distinguish in the Bible where the personal pronoun is singular or plural. Some obvious examples, one each from Old and New Testament: 
[1] In Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, the word ‘you’ appears in both Authorised Version & New King James Version. This usage of the plural in the Authorised Version it there to indicate to us that the receiver of the sign is more than one person, even one generation. This is very important in understanding that the verse is referring to the future virgin birth of the Saviour. A point much contested by those who are unorthodox. However, this usage would never be observed by a reader using the New King James Version. 

[2] In Luke 22:31,32: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren, the distinction between singular and plural is important as it tells us specifically who the Saviour was praying for. The Saviour makes it known to Peter than Satan desired to sift all the disciples and not just Peter. However, Peter was in particular danger and the Saviour assures him that He has prayed specifically for Peter. 

There are many other places where this is observed as well.

III. The New King James Version engages in excessive interpretation and not translation 
All Bible translations involve some degree of interpretation, where there are problems, for example, of carrying over an idiom from one language to another. 

However, a key feature of New King James Version is the capitalisation of personal pronouns which are deemed to refer to God. This may on the surface seem helpful until there is a dispute about who is in view in a particular verse and also which system of Bible interpretation is in view, such as Dispensationalism. An example is: 2 Thessalonians 2:7: For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. The New King James Version capitalises both personal pronouns in this verse to indicate that they believe they both refer to a divine person. They also include a footnote which says that both pronouns could be ‘he’, with no capitalisation, meaning that neither of them refer to a divine person.

The way they are presented in the actual text teaches the removal of the Holy Spirit from this world prior to the second coming of Christ. This is Dispensational teaching and part of the rapture teaching which Reformed believers utterly reject. 

Every translation reflects the theological bias of those who work on the translation no matter the honesty and efforts they put in. The theological bias of the Authorised Version was evidently Calvinistic and Reformed and rightly so. However, the bias of the New King James Version is Arminian and Dispensational.

The Arminian tendencies can be easily observed. The original Authorised Version had chapter and subject headings. The Authorised Version translators wanted to draw attention to Christ in the Old Testament. These have all been removed by the translators of the New King James Version. Dispensationalists do not believe the sufferings of Christ, and His crosswork, are to be found in the Old Testament. They believe that the cross, and the Church for that matter, were an after thought with God, when the Jews rejected the offer of the kingdom at Christ’s first second coming.

The chapter headings they do use are confusing and misleading. Where the translators do put in chapter headings in the New Testament these can be confusing. Some examples:

[1] Romans ch 7. Their chapter summary says: Freed from the Law. Is the believer freed totally from the law? Does the believer now have no relationship with the law of God at all? This is Dispensational teaching. Is it not the case that a believer is freed from the condemnation of the law but not from the rule of the law as a pattern for life?

[2] Romans ch 8. Their chapter summary says: Free from indwelling sin. Is the believer freed totally from indwelling? This heading suggests that the believer has no more problems with sin. This is Arminian teaching. Is it not the case that the believer is freed from the indwelling power of sin in their lives but still has to contend with the temptations of sin. There is no perfection in this life. 

There are good reasons for remaining with the Authorised Version.  It is still the most accurate and reliable version of the Scriptures available in the English language. Only someone with another agenda would argue otherwise!

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