The KJV is one oldest English translations of the Bible and continues to be the favorite of many. It is known as the Authorized Version of 1611 because King James I approved the project to create an authoritative English Bible. Although it contains many obsolete words (some of which have changed in meaning), many people appreciate its dignity and majesty. The NKJV is a similar translation, taken from the same group of ancient manuscripts, with updates the archaic language of the KJV.
Commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, 130 respected Bible scholars, church leaders, and lay Christians worked for 7 years to create a completely new, modern translation of Scripture, yet one that would retain the purity and stylistic beauty of the original King James Version. With unyielding faithfulness to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts, the translators applied the most recent research in archaeology, linguistics, and textual studies.
Traditionally loved and accepted by all Christians, the King James Version was the first version of Scripture authorized by the Protestant church. Commissioned by England’s King James I, three panels of scholars drew upon the work of early translators and versions of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available at that time. Purpose in translation was "to deliver God's book unto God's people in a tongue which they can understand." Timeless treasure.
In 1603 James I, already king of Scotland, ascended to the throne of England. He was presented with a petition containing grievances of the Puritan party. A conference was called at Hampton Court in 1604 to hear the complaints. At this conference Dr. John Reynolds, an Oxford scholar and Puritan leader, raised the subject of the imperfections of available Bibles. King James became interested in the idea of a new translation completed by university scholars, reviewed by bishops, and ratified by King James himself. James was displeased with the Geneva Bible, which he felt undermined the theory of divine right of kings and contained marginal notes that made it unacceptable to church leaders.
King James appointed 6 panels of translators (about 50 men) to revise and translate assigned portions of the Old Testament, Apocrypha (which was at the time included in all Bibles), and the New Testament. The completed work was reviewed by a group of 12, consisting of 2 men from each panel, after which the work was sent to bishops and leading churchmen for approval. Among the translators were some of the finest scholars of the day. The revisers/translators, while not paid for their efforts, were granted free room and board.
The Bishops’ Bible was used as the basis for this revision/translation, but it was also examined in the light of Hebrew and Greek documents, as well as compared with all other contemporary translations in various European languages. The work began in 1607, and in 1611 the new Bible was published. The Authorized Version — commonly referred to in America as the King James Version (KJV) — was dedicated to King James.
The AV was printed three times during the year of initial publication. The early editions contained a significant number of misprints and variations in wording and spelling. During the course of time the spelling in the earlier editions was modified, the chapter summaries were reduced, and the marginal references expanded. Revisions were made in 1613, 1629, and 1638, but it was the revisions made at Cambridge in 1762 and at Oxford in 1769 that modernized its spelling so that it may be read with relative ease in our day.
Trustworthy: It was developed by a committee of scholars and it represented a majority point of view. The scholars were able to build on the labors of many generations of Bible translators, and the revisers were able to draw from the recent growth in literary standards in the English language. The result was a work of excellent English prose.
But far greater than the literary significance has been the religious significance of this translation. The KJV has been the standard translation for millions for several hundred years. Despite its merits, however, the KJV would not remain unchallenged forever. Not only did the English language continue to develop, but early manuscripts of the Bible were discovered that have led to great improvement of the Biblical texts, especially in the Greek New Testament.
The New International Version (NIV) is a completely original translation of the Bible developed by more than one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.
The initial vision for the project was provided by a single individual — an engineer working with General Electric in Seattle by the name of Howard Long. Long was a lifelong devotee of the King James Version, but when he shared it with his friends he was distressed to find that it just didn’t connect. Long saw the need for a translation that captured the truths he loved in the language that his contemporaries spoke.
For 10 years, Long and a growing group of like-minded supporters drove this idea. The passion of one man became the passion of a church, and ultimately the passion of a whole group of denominations. And finally, in 1965, after several years of preparatory study, a trans-denominational and international group of scholars met in Palos Heights, Illinois, and agreed to begin work on the project — determining to not simply adapt an existing English version of the Bible but to start from scratch with the best available manuscripts in the original languages. Their conclusion was endorsed by a large number of church leaders who met in Chicago in 1966.
A self-governing body of fifteen biblical scholars, the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) was formed and charged with responsibility for the version, and in 1968 the New York Bible Society (which subsequently became the International Bible Society and then Biblica) generously undertook the financial sponsorship of the project. The translation of each book was assigned to translation teams, each made up of two lead translators, two translation consultants, and a stylistic consultant where necessary. The initial translations produced by these teams were carefully scrutinized and revised by intermediate editorial committees of five biblical scholars to check them against the source texts and assess them for comprehensibility. Each edited text was then submitted to a general committee of eight to twelve members before being distributed to selected outside critics and to all members of the CBT in preparation for a final review. Samples of the translation were tested for clarity and ease of reading with pastors, students, scholars, and lay people across the full breadth of the intended audience. Perhaps no other translation has undergone a more thorough process of review and revision. From the very start, the NIV sought to bring modern Bible readers as close as possible to the experience of the very first Bible readers: providing the best possible blend of transparency to the original documents and comprehension of the original meaning in every verse. With this clarity of focus, however, came the realization that the work of translating the NIV would never be truly complete. As new discoveries were made about the biblical world and its languages, and as the norms of English usage developed and changed over time, the NIV would also need to change to hold true to its original vision.
And so in the original NIV charter, provision was made not just to issue periodic updates to the text but also to create a mechanism for constant monitoring of changes in biblical scholarship and English usage. The CBT was charged to meet every year to review, maintain, and strengthen the NIV’s ability to accurately and faithfully render God’s unchanging Word in modern English.
The 2011 update to the NIV is the latest fruit of this process. By working with input from pastors and Bible scholars, by grappling with the latest discoveries about biblical languages and the biblical world, and by using cutting-edge research on English usage, the Committee on Bible Translation has updated the text to ensure that the New International Version of the Bible remains faithful to Howard Long’s original inspiration.
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV) was published in 1989 and has received the widest acclaim and broadest support from academics and church leaders of any modern English translation.
It is the only Bible translation that is as widely ecumenical:
* The ecumenical NRSV Bible Translation Committee consists of thirty men and women who are among the top scholars in America today. They come from Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic church, and the Greek Orthodox Church. The committee also includes a Jewish scholar.
* The RSV was the only major translation in English that included both the standard Protestant canon and the books that are traditionally used by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians (the so-called "Apocryphal" or "Deuterocanonical" books). Standing in this tradition, the NRSV is available in three ecumenical formats: a standard edition with or without the Apocrypha, a Roman Catholic Edition, which has the so-called "Apocryphal" or "Deuterocanonical" books in the Roman Catholic canonical order, and The Common Bible, which includes all books that belong to the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox canons.
* The NRSV stands out among the many translations available today as the Bible translation that is the most widely "authorized" by the churches. It received the endorsement of thirty-three Protestant churches. It received the imprimatur of the American and Canadian Conferences of Catholic bishops. And it received the blessing of a leader of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Rooted in the past, but right for today, the NRSV continues the tradition of William Tyndale, the King James Version, the American Standard Version, and the Revised Standard Version. Equally important, it sets a new standard for the 21st Century.
The NRSV stands out among the many translations because it is "as literal as possible" in adhering to the ancient texts and only "as free as necessary" to make the meaning clear in graceful, understandable English. It draws on newly available sources that increase our understanding of many previously obscure biblical passages. These sources include new-found manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, other texts, inscriptions, and archaeological finds from the ancient Near East, and new understandings of Greek and Hebrew grammar.
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