Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 26:3 (Sep 1983)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Holy Bible, New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982, 1236 pp., $12.95.

In 1979 the NT portion of the New King James Version (NKJV) appeared. Now we have the entire Bible.

The purpose of the translation as stated in the preface is the “unlocking for today’s readers of the spiritual treasures found especially in the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures.” In order to do this the translators have preserved the underlying text (essentially the MT and the Textus Receptus) and wherever possible the language and syntax of the KJV. Theirs was a three-faceted task—namely, to try to be faithful to the Biblical languages, the old KJV, and contemporary usage—which entailed considerably more difficulties than the two-faceted task of going from original to contemporary language that faces most modern translators.

The principle of translation used is called “complete equivalence,” which is contrasted in the preface with “dynamic equivalence,” a procedure that “commonly results in paraphrasing where a more literal rendering is needed to reflect a specific and vital sense.” “Complete equivalence” is an unfortunate term because it suggests an exactness of translation that is unachievable. C. H. Dodd has well said that “there is no such thing as exact equivalence of meaning between words in different languages,” and Ronald Knox, no novice himself in the art of Bible translation, reminds us that in spite of our best efforts translations often end up looking like “the back side of a Turkish tapestry.” In addition to skill and wisdom, a translator needs humility.

KJV doctrinal and theological terms have been retained, including “propitiation,” based on the rather optimistic claim that they “are generally familiar to English-speaking peoples.” This is certainly debatable. Subject headings are included, and paragraphs are indicated by printing the verse number at the beginning of each in bold type. This is a definite improvement over the old KJV. Another feature, which is probably governed by the demands of the marketplace, is the printing of Jesus’ words in red.

As in the old KJV, words that do not occur in the original but are added for the sake of meaning are put in italics. Readers will inevitably think (despite the explanation in the preface—prefaces are seldom read) that the italicized words are to be emphasized. Furthermore, in the translation of a text it is not always clear what words should be italicized. For example, should the possessive pronoun “his” be put in italics (as in fact it is in the NKJV) when the Greek definite article (and not the Greek possessive pronoun) is used to indi...

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