An Idea Borrowed

Years ago on a radio program someone shared that they read a chapter in Proverbs every day. Since there are 31 chapters and the longest month has 31 days it allows you to read through Proverbs on a regular basis. I use it as the launch pad for my personal worship time and branch out from there. On this blog I will try to share some of the insights I have in the Word. I will try to organize them in the archive by reference.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The End of the New King James Version

This past month of perpetually reading Proverbs I have been doing my initial devotional reading in the New King James Version.  The one I was reading was copyrighted 1984.

One of the details I have grown to appreciate in the KJV is a willingness to translate word-pictures literally.  That seems to be duplicated in the NKJV.   Look, for instance, at Proverbs 10:2.  Compare these translations:
(Proverbs 10:2 NASB)  Ill-gotten gains do not profit, But righteousness delivers from death.

(Proverbs 10:2 KJV)  Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.
(Proverbs 10:2 NKJV) Treasures of wickedness profit nothing,
    But righteousness delivers from death.

(Proverbs 10:2 CEV)  What you gain by doing evil won't help you at all, but being good can save you from death.
I am glad that the translators of some Bibles feel I need help in understanding the Word, but I really like the literal words that give me the flavor of what God was saying.  The NASB tells me in the margin that the literal meaning is “treasures of wickedness.”  Why not just say it?  There is no way I am going to do an exhaustive investigation, but I noticed it here.

In the Preface they tell their reasoning for removing the “thee” and “thou” style.  I regret the loss in some cases.  There was a time when it was retained for indicating reference to God.  That reflected the original reason for both “thee” and “you” in English.  It was part of the reason that the Quakers used them.  It is common in German, I know, to have a familiar and a formal way of address.  We have lost it in English.  I think they still had a usefulness there.

They also removed the old endings of verbs such as “loveth” for “love.”  I have no problem with that.

In reading through the Preface I found that they have a high view of the original scripture and have not fallen for the nonsense of “dynamic equivalence” which I call paraphrasing. 

They also make an important statement about why we have differences in translations.  It is a point that is often glossed over by modern versions.
“Bible readers may be assured that the most important differences in the English New Testament today are due, not to manuscript divergence, but to the way in which translators view the task of translation:  How literally should the text be rendered?  How does the translator view the matter of biblical inspiration?  Does the translator adopt a paraphrase when a literal rendering would be quite clear and more to the point?”  p. vi
These are really important questions and are usually glossed over by contemporary leaders.  The editors of the NKJV come down on the right side of the fence in my opinion. 

The editors also repeat something that I have known for a long time but needs to be repeated before we get into long discussions of Greek and Hebrew texts.
“Readers may be assured that textual debate does not affect one in a thousand words of the Greek New Testament.  Furthermore, no established doctrine is called in question by an doubts about the correct reading in this or that text.  The Christian can approach his New Testament with confidence.”
Although I have not done a full, scholarly, side by side comparison I feel that the New King James is an acceptable translation.  I don’t personally see any reason to switch from the NASB but if you are getting started in serious study it could be a good choice for you.

3 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

When I study a chapter, I first read Halley's Bible Handbook for that chapter. I then read the chapter in King James. Following that, I read the notes in a Life Application version of the NASB. If I find a passage confusing, I read the NASB version as well. If that STILL doesn't do it, I go to the internet and read other versions and commentary.

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

Hi.

The KJV's use of "thee" and "thou" and so forth is not, contrary to claims made by promoters of the RSV, motivated by a desire to refer to deity. It's an altogether grammatical thing.

Thee/thou/thine = singular.
Ye/you/your = plural.

This makes the KJV extra precise, although usually one can tell whether the subject is singular or plural from the context.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

Pumice said...

Gorges,

That just goes to show you can find the truth if you want it. I remain an NASB man but am gaining new respect for the KJV.

James,

Thank you for the clarification. I think that is something that would be good to include in prefaces to new printings.

Thanks again.

Grace and peace