Perhaps the most beautiful and literary book in history is the King James Version. I have an healthy respect for the KJV, as it kept the church afloat during the 270 years when it was the only major English translation.

However, it is an very outdated Bible translation. English has changed in 400 years and the KJV has over 800 words that have changed meaning or no longer used. For example, "let" in the KJV, now has the opposite meaning of "prevent," As much as the KJV is beloved, it gives off the false impression that the Bible is hard to read, when it is just the KJV translation that is hard to read.

The New King James Version fixes those 800 words and is a beautiful Bible to read. The NKJV is much easier to read, yet is accurate. However, the NKJV uses the same manuscript base as the KJV, and does not use the 5000+ older manuscripts that the modern translations use. The KJV and NKJV uses what is most popular in their limited manuscripts back in 1611, while the modern translations use what rendering is oldest. The KJV and NKJV uses the Latin Vulgate (an ancient Latin translation) for some places in Revelation, resulting in verses that are not supported by any Greek manuscript.

The NKJV has textual differences in its footnotes. If you do serious study with the NKJV, keep your eye on those footnotes. The footnotes reveal what is in the majority (but later) of the 5000+ manuscripts, and also what the modern translations use, which are the earliest manuscripts. The footnotes will show you the differences between those manuscripts and what the NKJV uses.

While the KJV/NKJV doesn't use the oldest manuscipts, it is probably the most beautiful in when comes to literary style. The KJV is at a 12th grade reading level, while the NKJV is at a 8th grade level. The NKJV preserves much of the beauty of the KJV, especially with poetry. Compare Psalm 91 in the NKJV to other translations and you will find none (including the KJV) are as beautiful as the NKJV in that psalm. The NKJV is also very easy to read, which proves that the KJV was easy to read in 1611.

You will not find any serious doctrinal errors in the KJV or NKJV, so I would highly recommend both the KJV and NKJV for devotional reading. The NKJV textual footnotes makes it suitable for serious study also. But I would not recommend the KJV for study purposes.

What matters in a Bible translation is not about older manuscripts that a translation may or may not use, but rather whether that translation will help you reach Heaven and the KJV/NKJV are two versions that will lead billions to Heaven.

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