Why choose the NKJV over the ESV (or vice-versa)

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tellville

Puritan Board Junior
I was asked today why someone would choose the NKJV over the ESV. They were wondering because both sound "KJVish", are both literal, and even though the NT uses different texts the NKJV makes up for this in the footnotes.

I said I wasn't exactly sure why some people choose one over the other (I gave some reasons like text type) but that I would ask the good people over at Puritanboard. I did read some other threads that pitted NKJV vs ESV and it seemed the two primary reasons that one would choose one over the other is:

1. NKJV - one prefers the underlying NT text.
2. ESV - Wide acceptance in the Reformed community.

Are those the main reasons one would chose one over the other? Some people in the other thread were saying the NKJV was more literal but I'm not sure how they came up with that.
 

jason d

Puritan Board Freshman
ESV itself does say it is an "essentially literal" translation. I personally like it for readability but I think the most literal (and still pretty widely used) would be NASB (and it uses the better manuscripts like the ESV does)
 

bug

Puritan Board Freshman
There are other reasons, like what is the pew bible used in your church? But most likely I would think it is a textual matter, or familiarity issue, it is a natural transgression for the KJV to the NKJV.
 

nicnap

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
There are other reasons, like what is the pew bible used in your church? But most likely I would think it is a textual matter, or familiarity issue, it is a natural transgression for the KJV to the NKJV.

Some of us don't think it is a sin to use the NKJV! :lol:
 

Bad Organist

Puritan Board Freshman
I was asked today why someone would choose the NKJV over the ESV. They were wondering because both sound "KJVish", are both literal, and even though the NT uses different texts the NKJV makes up for this in the footnotes.

I said I wasn't exactly sure why some people choose one over the other (I gave some reasons like text type) but that I would ask the good people over at Puritanboard. I did read some other threads that pitted NKJV vs ESV and it seemed the two primary reasons that one would choose one over the other is:

1. NKJV - one prefers the underlying NT text.
2. ESV - Wide acceptance in the Reformed community.

Are those the main reasons one would chose one over the other? Some people in the other thread were saying the NKJV was more literal but I'm not sure how they came up with that.

Mark,

Our church went from NKJV to ESV last year. We were not told why the change was necessary, so I personally stayed with the NKJV.

I myself stuck with the NKJV because of the NT textual issue - I don't believe the church ever lost the true text, and don't believe the critical text is somehow the recovered text.

Also, in quite a number of places, the ESV is less literal than they would have you believe. For instance, in the NT, the ESV renders the word for slave or bond-servant as servant. They correct themselves over 200 times on this very word. Probably is a reflection of how they view slavery. In the OT, the ESV drops things like, "Now it came to pass" - Ruth 1:1 etc, numerous times. It is in the NKJV, KJV and NASB. Probably just wanting to tidy up the script here. You have to wonder what else gets dropped, maybe something more important.

In some cases the ESV has made a radical departure from the KJV/NKJV/NASB. Check out Malachi 2:14-16 on divorce. You have to wonder whether there isn;t some contemporary cultural influence here.

I personal like the idea of putting supplied words in italics, that way you get to see for the most part what is literal and what words are given to supply the sense. I much prefer this over endless footnotes.

In the end, really it comes down to whether you prefer the tradition of the KJV or the RSV. The NKJV follows the KJV, the ESV the RSV.

Arie V.
FC of Scotland
Toronto, Canada
 

tellville

Puritan Board Junior
There are other reasons, like what is the pew bible used in your church? But most likely I would think it is a textual matter, or familiarity issue, it is a natural transgression for the KJV to the NKJV.

Some of us don't think it is a sin to use the NKJV! :lol:

:lol:


Mark,

Our church went from NKJV to ESV last year. We were not told why the change was necessary, so I personally stayed with the NKJV.

I myself stuck with the NKJV because of the NT textual issue - I don't believe the church ever lost the true text, and don't believe the critical text is somehow the recovered text.

Also, in quite a number of places, the ESV is less literal than they would have you believe. For instance, in the NT, the ESV renders the word for slave or bond-servant as servant. They correct themselves over 200 times on this very word. Probably is a reflection of how they view slavery. In the OT, the ESV drops things like, "Now it came to pass" - Ruth 1:1 etc, numerous times. It is in the NKJV, KJV and NASB. Probably just wanting to tidy up the script here. You have to wonder what else gets dropped, maybe something more important.

In some cases the ESV has made a radical departure from the KJV/NKJV/NASB. Check out Malachi 2:14-16 on divorce. You have to wonder whether there isn;t some contemporary cultural influence here.

I personal like the idea of putting supplied words in italics, that way you get to see for the most part what is literal and what words are given to supply the sense. I much prefer this over endless footnotes.

In the end, really it comes down to whether you prefer the tradition of the KJV or the RSV. The NKJV follows the KJV, the ESV the RSV.

Arie V.
FC of Scotland
Toronto, Canada

I like your point about the italics. Actually, I prefer how the HCSB does it (they put lower brackets). Italics today mean emphasis and whenever I read from the NASB or NKJV I always have to stop myself from putting stress on the italicized word - which is ironic given that it is italicized because it shouldn't be there!

It seems like my above reasons were pretty accurate. It also seems like to me that the NKJV would be slightly more useful for studying given that you are made aware of much more textual information than the ESV. Meanwhile, the ESV is getting a lot more support, has a much better publisher, and also uses the CT which many people prefer.

My friend doesn't really know which one to choose as he likes them both and wanted me to recommend him one so he wanted to know the differences. I guess I will just tell him what I know and hopefully he can choose one from that information!
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
To appropriate the vocabulary of the dog show world . . .

in my opinion, each one is "best of breed" but which one is "best in show" depends almost entirely on textual preference.

My wife and I have been doing our morning Bible reading in the NKJV. However, aging eyes trying to focus in the morning and the inscrutibly small print of the Pitt-Minion, has driven us to our ESV Reformation Study Bible.

Frankly, they are BOTH incredibly good examples of English translations. If you want a Critical Text, why would you go anywhere else than the wonderfully accepted ESV (cf. the list of luminaries backing it). And, if you agree with either a Majority Text or TR position, why go further than the NKJV?
 

tesmar

Puritan Board Freshman
I like the ESV fresh translations of texts, because they really bring out the Greek in many places where older translations have not ( though they are not entirely consistent on this). (Mal 2:16 is really problematic).

The NJKV is more literal and based on a more reliable text type (not quite completely Byzantine, but mostly), and personally, I think it is more poetic.

The NKJV also does a much better job with informing the readers of variants. In the footnotes you will have M for majority text (the Byzantine -- 5000+ manuscripts) and the NU text (Alexandrian -- around 50 manuscripts). The ESV can be a little deceiving in the footnotes when it says things like "the best manuscripts" or "the most reliable manuscripts" have a word a certain way. In a few cases, only one or two out of 2,000 (if you are in the book of John, for ex.) or so for a particular verse will translate it in a way that the ESV accepts as "best" (the reader in uninformed).


While I like the new ESV translation, and while no translation is perfect, I think it is wise to stick with the NKJV for serious study. (even though it too has its' imperfections)
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
At John 1:14 the ESV, following the RSV from which it was patterned, gives the irresponsible rendering of “only” for the textually undisputed μομογενης which according to the Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament “means ‘of sole descent’ i.e., without brothers or sisters. This gives the sense of only-begotten. The reference is to the only child of one’s parents, primarily in reference to them” [TDNT IV.738].

NKJ John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

NAS John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of egrace and ftruth.

ASV John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.

ESV John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

RSV John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

Such examples are innumerable.
 

KSon

Puritan Board Junior
For whatever the reason in modern-day evangelicalism, the NKJV seems to be a forgotten translation in many ways.

This comparison, done only on a very small sample (2) of passages by William Barrick (a professor at The Master's Seminary), shows that the NKJV, at least in these examples, more than holds its own, in terms of accuracy, with the other major versions:

http://www.drbarrick.org/Website Files/King James Only rev.pdf

Though, as a CT guy, Michael Marlowe is wary of the textual base behind the NKJV, he says this about the version:

"In conclusion we will say that the New King James Version is comparable to the NASB in literal accuracy, and sometimes exceeds it. It is equally valuable for detailed study of the Bible. Its English style is superior to the NASB."
(New King James Version)

I personally use the NKJV as my primary version.
 

KSon

Puritan Board Junior
For whatever the reason in modern-day evangelicalism, the NKJV seems to be a forgotten translation in many ways.
Why, I thought it was Number Two translation - according to the CBA rating (based on unit sales): CBA Best Sellers.

I guess I should have been more specific and said modern-day evangelical scholarship. Because of the perception regarding the textual base, the NKJV is not held in the same regard as the NASB or the ESV when, in fact, it seems to be an accurate translation whose English seems to flow quite well (a common complaint against the ESV).
 

Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
Since both translations are excellent formal equivalents, the real deciding issue for me is that one is a translation of the TR and one is a translation of the CT.

If I were a proponent of the TR (or more broadly speaking the Traditional Text) I would use the KJV, not the NKJV. The majesty and beauty of the KJV is unsurpassed by all modern versions.

Since I am an advocate for the CT, my primary pulpit Bible is the ESV though I still read often from my KJV.
 

tellville

Puritan Board Junior
I didn't realize there were quite a few more replies to this thread!

I am just curious: Does not the fact that the NKJV has a plethora of footnotes informing the reader of the differences between the MT & CT make up for the fact that it is MT? In actuality, would that not be more valuable than a purely CT text?
 

Des

Puritan Board Freshman
One of the reasons why I prefer the ESV over the NKJV is the publishing company.

Thomas Nelson is the publisher of the NKJV is owned by InterMedia Partners, a non-Christian company. Thomas Nelson publishes books authored by known TBN heretics, Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes, John Hagee, Creflo Dollar, Paula White and others. Seven books by emergent heretic Brian McLaren, books by Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Donald Trump, and more rubbish than I have to time to list.

They also sell the deplorable Biblezine, Charismatic-Pentecostal Bibles and their latest Bible translation 'The Voice', which involves several emergent leaders including McLaren.

On the other hand, Good News Publishers/Crossway Books, the publisher of the English Standard Version of the Bible, gives us this information on their website.

"About Us

Good News Publishers is a not-for-profit Christian ministry and exists solely for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel through publishing and all other means in order, by God's grace;

1. to bring men, women and children to Christ as their Lord and Savior;
2. to help individual Christians and the church grow in knowledge and understanding of the Christian life;
3. to bear witness to God's Truth, Beauty and Holiness, and to the Lordship of Christ in every area of life; and
4. to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in every way.

Any surpluses which may arise shall be used solely to further the ministry and shall not enure to the benefit of any individual."

Personally, I prefer the ESV translation and supporting a Christian ministry motivated by glorifying God, edifying the saints and reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. May the Lord richly bless their efforts.
 

KSon

Puritan Board Junior
I didn't realize there were quite a few more replies to this thread!

I am just curious: Does not the fact that the NKJV has a plethora of footnotes informing the reader of the differences between the MT & CT make up for the fact that it is MT? In actuality, would that not be more valuable than a purely CT text?

Just for the sake of clarity: The NKJV New Testament is translated from the TR and has the MT readings (as well as those from the CT) in the margin.
 
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Kentaro

Puritan Board Freshman
Just wanted to say thank you to everyone. Since I don't know the original languages, I have to depend on respected English translations. I love the ESV and usually do comparisons with the NASB and NET Bible. After reading these threads, I will include the NKJV in my comparison studies. Thanks again.
 
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