The NKJV was commissioned in 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. One-hundred-and-thirty respected Bible scholars, church leaders, and lay Christians worked for seven years with the goal of updating the vocabulary and grammar of the King James Version, while preserving the classic style of the of the 1611 version.
The task of updating the English of the KJV involved many changes in word order, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. One of the most significant features of the NKJV was its removal of the second person pronouns “thou”, “thee”, “ye,” “thy,” and “thine.” Verb forms were also modernized in the NKJV (for example, “speaks” rather than “speaketh”).
Asterisk *: Other notes added at that time have been scrutinized and confirmation from Mr. Darby’s writings sought. Any notes which were judged to be of sufficient value to retain, but which could not be positively identified as being Mr. Darby’s (apart from those which are capable of easy verification by reference to a concordance) have been marked by an asterisk.
Italics Example: The transliteration of Hebrew and Greek letters in the notes has been retained as being more convenient to the English reader. Such words are printed in italics. The use of italics in the text indicates emphasis.
LXX: LXX in the footnotes refers to the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament.
Keri (קרי): Keri signifies the marginal note of the Massorites, indicating their idea of how the text should be read.
Chetiv: Chetiv is the Hebrew text as it is written. Cf. stands for ‘compare’; Lit. for ‘Literally’.
Square brackets [ ] in the text indicate
(a) words added to complete the sense in English similar to those shown in italics in the Authorised Version; or
(b), words as to which there are variations in the original manuscripts.
The following is quoted from the front matter of the New King James Version.
New King James Footnotes Important textual variants in the Old Testament are identified in a standard form. The textual notes in the present edition of the New Testament make no evaluation of readings, but do clearly indicate the manuscript sources of readings. They objectively present the facts without such tendentious remarks as “the best manuscripts omit” or “the most reliable manuscripts read.” Such notes are value judgments that differ according to varying viewpoints on the text. By giving a clearly defined set of variants the New King James Version benefits readers of all textual persuasions. Where significant variations occur in the New Testament Greek manuscripts, textual notes are classified as follows:
- NU-Text These variations from the traditional text generally represent the Alexandrian or Egyptian type of text described previously in “The New Testament Text.” They are found in the Critical Text published in the twenty-seventh edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament (N) and in the United Bible Societies’ fourth edition (U), hence the acronym, “NU-Text.”
- M-Text This symbol indicates points of variation in the Majority Text from the traditional text, as also previously discussed in “The New Testament Text.” It should be noted that M stands for whatever reading is printed in the published Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text, whether supported by overwhelming, strong, or only a divided majority textual tradition.
The textual notes reflect the scholarship of the past 150 years and will assist the reader to observe the variations between the different manuscript traditions of the New Testament. Such information is generally not available in English translations of the New Testament.