As I noted in this blog about a month ago, I officially joined the Gideons International. They have a solid reputation for worldwide Bible distribution and I’ve heard plenty of people say that the Gideons are responsible for giving them the first Scriptures they’ve ever had. To date, the Gideons have distributed complete Bibles and New Testaments to the tune of 1.7 billion in over 190 countries. As we ponder over that, we must praise God for this ministry and their efforts to bring the Word to so many people. With a legacy such as this, I can say that I’m proud to be a part of this organization.
Yet with such a high volume of Bible distribution, shouldn’t it matter which translation(s) the Gideons are using? Most people who have any degree of familiarity with the organization know that the Gideons have been handing out the King James Version (KJV) since the ministry was founded. Even today, the KJV is the rock-solid standard of the organization. However, the Gideons also pass out a modern English version as an alternative. The version used for the modern translation has changed over the years. I’m told that the New International Version (NIV) was used at one point but later abandoned, probably because of the cost of the royalties (all modern translations have copyrights). After that, they switched to the New King James Version (NKJV).
Setting the NKJV as their choice for a modern translation was probably one of the best decisions the Gideons ever made. I say that because, in my humble opinion, the NKJV is the best modern translation available. While I won’t go into all of the reasons why I say that, suffice the say that I believe the textual basis is superior, the translation itself is trustworthy, and it is very readable. This year, however, the Gideons International decided to drop the NKJV. I was taken aback by this, especially since their usage of the NKJV as a modern translation was one of the main reasons I joined the organization. I was very much looking forward to ordering cases full of Personal Workers Testaments in the NKJV. No more. Continue reading