Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Open Bible NKJV

As a blogger I have had the opportunity to review a number of bibles and bible translations. As a believer I read the bible because it is the word of God. A frequently used translation by Thomas Nelson publishers, the publisher I blog for, uses frequently for their themed bibles the NKJV- New King James Version. The newest bible I am reviewing is the Open Bible.  The NKJV is used for the Open Bible as well.  I really wish that Thomas Nelson would make the Open Bible as well as their other themed bibles available in the new, modern easy to read yet faithful CEV version.  I am unsure as why they do not publish themed bibles with this version at all. As far as the Open Bible,the only downside in my opinion, is the non paragraph format which i was not expecting. . This fomat is not as easy to read when reading longer passages altgough its probably easier if you just intend on finding and reading one particular verse quickly.  Other than that its not suitable for study or everyday reading- usually the linear line by line format seperating indivdual verses is used in the KJV
 The text format is the only downside.  Other than that there are an extensive number of very useful helps.  This includes a 300 page index as well as a detailed section on world ancient archelogical discoveries- with pgotographs. Other scholarly historical fearures include a discussion on apocrapha and other ancient works.   Also included are evangalism tools to help any Christian in defending his faith or sharing the word to new believers .  This is like a bible and history text and theological encyclopedia rolled into one volume!  This bible is impressive but as I mentioned the only downside which i felt detracted from the experience of this bible is the linear text format which i really do not favor and detrects from an otherwise perfect bible.

The NKJV as well as other more literal translations- such as the KJV, NASB, NRSV and ESV tend to be overly literal to the point of being difficult to understand. This is especially evident in the Psalms, and other old testament books as well as the letters in the New Testament. For example, a bible marketed for new belivers titled the "New Believers Bible- Start" ironically, is available in only the literal NKJV, rather than a more user friendly version such as the NCV. The NCV which also is available by the same publisher but under- marketed, would be more appropriate for a new believer or new bible reader. Furthermore, a Max Lucado themed devotional bible is also available in NKJV only and not the more modern yet reliable NCV- New Century Version. For those readers who enjoy Lucado's simple to understand books, the NKJV does a disservice- and a more user friendly version for this themed bible would be more appropriate.
A number of emerging Christian, and rigid individual - "leaders claim that the ESV is the "Bible of the future'—ideal for public worship and private reading, appropriate for adults, youth and children. This puzzles me, since the ESV seems to me to be overly literal—full of archaisms, awkward language, obscure idioms, irregular word order, and a great deal of “Biblish.” Biblish is produced when the translator tries to reproduce the form of the Greek or Hebrew without due consideration for how people actually write or speak. The ESV, like other formal equivalent versions (RSV; NASB; NKJV; NRSV), is a good supplement to versions that use normal English, but is not suitable as a standard Bible for the church. This is because the ESV too often fails the test of 'standard English'"...... according to Bible translator and linguist Wayne Leman in a conference in 2008.
The more literal translations are accurate and trustworthy- great for theologens and scholars and seminary students- in contrast to a paraphrase such the Message which is far, far less literal -to the point of being comedic. As far as a translations for the rest of us- who aren't theologens- as well as new believers, I believe there are perhaps better, more easy to read choices available between in the mid point of the translation spectrum. Sometimes I feel pride is an issue, and that there are some individuals in Church and elsewhere who simply feel smarter and more intelligent when they carry around a NKJV, KJV or ESV. This is nothing more than biblical snobbery. There are many who feel the NIV, the HCSB/ CSB, NLV and other such translations are beneath them. I used to feel that way until I did my own bible studies comparing the texts of passages side by side and saw for myself that modern translations do not obscure or change the meaning. In contrast, the modern translations are enlightening. There is one exception- The Message bible is too paraphrased, intended for entertainment and not serious study. Its a unique paraphrase which is appropriate as a suppliment but it does not replace the bible.
As far as bible translations, there is a spectrum of the ease of reading of a particular translation ranging from beginner/ easy reading levels such as the message and more complex/ literal such as the King James version, and revised standard version. For example, the popular NIV- New International Version, is somewhere in the middle with regard to ease of reading level and undertsanding. The NKJV - New King James Version, in particular, is a bit more literal and is written in somewhat of a higher reading level. Nevertheless, this NKJV is an easy to understand version as well. For those new to the bible entirely, The Message and Living bible as well as NIV versions are easy to read and understand, and are very good options for those who seek to understand the meaning of the bible.

Difficult to read versions such as the Old King James - though very well written and poetic- in a Shakespearian sort of way, do a disservice to the modern or new bible reader. The antique language is difficult for many in this day to understand on their own and makes it prohibitive for many to understand the truths of the bible. Having known many readers of the KJV, who do not even understand the meaning of what they read- indicates that this is not the best translation for those who really seek to know God's word. What is the point of a bible after all if you can not even undertsand it? For those new to the bible or for those who have a difficult to read translation such as the King James Version, who wish to read the bible and actually understand it, I would suggest one of the bible versions with more modern/ contemporary language. While the NKJV is relatively easy to read, it may present a challange to the literacy level of many modern adults. What really seems ironic is when the NKJV, ESV or KJV is printed as a children's bible! When I see this, I can only wonder what child on his or her own can actually read and get anything from it. This is a great diservice to a child- when a child is presented with a bible in archaic English in a tiny text font. I feel that publishers and even parents need to take time to consider visually what a child or teenager will understand when being presented with the bible. There are a number of very good youth bibles and study bibles full of colorful graphics such as the NLB themed study bible, and magazine style bibles in the NCV version which are sure to appeal to younger readers and new bible readers. The NIV and HCSB also have a number study and student bibles too.
As a blogger for Thomas Nelson I received this bible for the purpose of writing this review. The other versions mentioned by other publishers are for comparison only.


  1. You mention all kinds of pros and cons about different Bible translations, but I don't see anything here that really reviews this particular Bible you received for review. What do you like about it? Is it hardbound, paperback, leather bound?

    Does it contain maps? Is it red-letter in the New Testament? Does it do cross-referencing? I couldn't really tell anything about this Bible from your review except that you don't prefer the KJV or the NKJV for Bible use for modern times.

    I like a variety of translations, so I don't have a problem with your conclusion, but I can't tell anything about what this new Bible is like. Hmm.

  2. Thats true- the biggest issue I had with this bible is the linear format rather than paragraph format. That alone took away in my opinion, the enjoyment of an otherwise perfect bible/ resource.