NASB vs. NKJV: Comparing Bible Translations

The NASB (New American Standard Bible) and the NKJV (New King James Version) are two popular Bible translations that have gained recognition among readers. While they share similarities in their commitment to accuracy, they have distinct differences.

In this comparison, we will explore the variations in their translation approaches, language style, and textual sources. By examining these aspects, we can better understand the unique qualities and characteristics that set the NASB and NKJV translations apart.

Also, see Is the NASB a Good Translation? to learn more.

See the comparison chart below

NASB and NKJV Comparison Chart

What is an essentially formal equivalent translation? An essentially formally equivalent Bible translation, also known as a formal equivalence or literal translation, aims to preserve the original text’s linguistic structure, word order, and grammatical features as closely as possible.

It prioritizes a word-for-word rendering of the source language into the target language, often resulting in a more literal, less dynamic, or idiomatic translation.

Translation MethodEssentially Formal EquivalentEssentially Formal Equivalent
Language StyleFormal and highly literalFormal and retains traditional language
ReadabilityIt can be more challenging for someGenerally easier to read, similar to KJV
AccuracyEmphasizes word-for-word accuracyEmphasizes word-for-word accuracy
Word UsageRetains more archaic languageRetains traditional language

Archaic language refers to words, phrases, and grammatical structures commonly used in earlier periods but has fallen out of common usage in contemporary language.

Traditional language, in contrast to archaic language, refers to language based on long-standing conventions, customs, or established forms of expression. It may not necessarily be outdated but can be considered classic or customary.

Manuscript BasisRelies on the Masoretic Text (OT) and Nestle-Aland Greek Text (NT)Draws from Textus Receptus (NT)
Inclusive LanguageLess inclined towards gender-neutralLess inclined towards gender-neutral
Denominational UsePopular among conservative denominationsPopular among conservative denominations
Study ResourcesOffers a variety of study editionsOffers a variety of study editions
PopularityKnown for its accuracy and precisionKnown for its similarity to KJV

The NASB and NKJV Bible translations are each available in different Study Bibles. To see examples, please see the Study Bible Comparison Chart to compare dozens of options.

Also, see Is the NKJV a Good Translation? to learn more.

What is the Masoretic Text and Textus Receptus? See below

What is the Masoretic Text and the Textus Receptus?

The Masoretic Text focuses on the Hebrew Bible. It has a long history of Jewish preservation, while the Textus Receptus pertains to the Greek New Testament and was compiled during the 16th century for use in early printed editions.

Both have played significant roles in transmitting and studying their respective biblical texts, but they differ in language, transmission history, and textual basis.

The Masoretic Text

The Masoretic Text is highly regarded for its authority and accuracy in preserving the Hebrew Scriptures.

  • Language: It is written in Hebrew, with some portions in Aramaic.
  • Transmission: The Masoretic Text was carefully preserved and transmitted by Jewish scribes known as Masoretes from the 6th to the 10th centuries CE.
  • Basis: It is the primary textual source for the Old Testament in both Jewish and Christian traditions.
  • Variations: While the Masoretic Text has undergone some variations over time, it generally represents a standardized Hebrew text.

The Textus Receptus

Significance: The Textus Receptus played a crucial role in the Reformation and subsequent Protestant translations of the New Testament.

  • Language: It is written in Koine Greek, the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean during the time of the New Testament.
  • Transmission: The Textus Receptus is a compilation of Greek manuscripts collated and edited by scholars during the 16th century, including Desiderius Erasmus, Robert Estienne, and Theodore Beza.
  • Basis: It served as the foundational Greek text for many early printed editions of the New Testament, including the King James Version.
  • Variations: The Textus Receptus reflects a specific selection of Greek manuscripts and exhibits some distinctive readings compared to other Greek textual traditions.
What is the history of the NASB and NKJV? See below

What is the history of the NASB and NKJV?

The NASB evolved from the ASV, focusing on formal equivalence, while the NKJV is a revision of the KJV, combining formal and dynamic equivalence. Both translations have undergone revisions, with the NASB experiencing more significant updates over time.


  • Development: The NASB was first published in 1971 as a revision of the American Standard Version (ASV) of 1901. The goal was to update the language and improve the accuracy of the translation.
  • Revisions: The NASB underwent revisions in 1977, 1995, and 2020. The 1995 update aimed to enhance clarity without compromising accuracy, while the 2020 edition further refined the translation based on advances in biblical scholarship.


  • Development: The NKJV was published in 1982 as a revision of the King James Version (KJV) of 1611. It was initiated by Thomas Nelson Publishers and involved a team of scholars from various denominations.
  • Translation Philosophy: The NKJV employs a blend of formal and dynamic equivalence, seeking to maintain the beauty and majesty of the KJV while updating the language for better readability and understanding.
  • Objectives: The NKJV aimed to address some of the archaic language of the KJV, correct perceived errors, and incorporate insights from the latest manuscript discoveries.
  • Revisions: The NKJV has not undergone substantial revisions since its initial publication, though minor updates have been made to correct errors or improve clarity in subsequent editions.


In conclusion, the NASB (New American Standard Bible) and the NKJV (New King James Version) are two Bible translations with distinct differences.

The NASB has undergone more significant revisions over time, refining its translation based on advancements in biblical scholarship. On the other hand, the NKJV, a revision of the KJV, has remained largely unchanged since its initial publication.

Both translations have their unique strengths and appeal to different readers with varying preferences for language style and translation philosophy. Ultimately, choosing between the NASB and NKJV depends on individual preferences regarding accuracy, readability, and linguistic tradition.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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