SINCE THE 1960s, THE NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE has been the go-to translation for many seminarians because it adhered closest to the original Greek. We used it to check our own translation work. Periodic translation updates are necessary for all translations from time-to-time to stay current with word usage. The NASB’s last update was released in 1995.
The Lockman Foundation Translation Committee is currently in the process of updating the NASB. This update was originally slated for release in the 2018–2019 time-frame, but as of September 12th, 2018, the Lockman Foundation is posting passages on their Facebook page identified as NASB 2020. So you can go there, check it out, and join in the discussions.
Note: All bold Scripture quotes below are add by me for this discussion and are not included in the NASB.
Capitalization of Divine Names and Pronouns
Earlier this year, I was pleased to learn that the NASB 2020 will continue to capitalize pronouns and names pertaining to God, few translations still do. For example ,when the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation was updated to the Christian Standard Bible in 2017, they dropped the capitalization (see my: The “Christian Standard Bible” 2017 Review).
One of the big, emotionally charged issues in Bible translation today is how to translate the Greek word ἀδελφοί (brothers). Updated releases of the New International Version (2011), the Christian Standard Bible (2017), and others have changed the historical translation of “brothers” or “brethren,” to “brothers and sisters” in many instances. The NASB 2020 is doing the same.
Detractors of this translation practice see it as an effort to force a gender-neutral inclusiveness upon the Scriptures where non exists. The defenders say the practice is more accurate to the original in cases where ἀδελφοί is not being gender specific and is, instead, referring to all believers. One example is 1 Thessalonians 5:14:
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. NASB 1995
We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. NASB 2020
Personally, I prefer “brethren” in these instances because it reflects ancient unity among Christians, whereas “brothers and sisters” subtly perpetuates a modern division. However, I understand our times and the challenge that translators face.
Another glimpse into the gender handling of the 2020 version was given in their October 4th Facebook post which quoted Micah 6:8. A comparison of the 1995 and 2020 versions shows that “O man” was changed to “a human”:
He has told you, O man, what is good… NASB 1995
He has told you, a human, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? NASB 2020
The Hebrew word here is “adam.” In this verse, and elsewhere in Scripture, the word Adam is being used collectively to represent all of fallen humanity. The verse emphasizes God as the divine and holy Creator, over against the created and fallen Adam and his descendants, particularly Israel. For this reason, I believe the original “O man” is clearer. Interestingly, the New International Version reads “O mortal,” which may be the best word choice overall.
A Clearer Isaiah 53:4
On October 3rd, the Lockman Foundation posted their updated Is 53:4–6 passage. Verses 5–6 have not been changed, but verse 4 has. I’ts a minor change, but it’s clearer and aligns with most other translations. Compare:
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. NASB 1995
However, it was our sicknesses that He Himself bore, and our pains that He carried; Yet we ourselves assumed that He had been afflicted, struck down by God, and humiliated. NASB 2020
The 2020 update looks to be a more significant release than their 1995 version. This post is a work-in-process as I will continue to pass along news of the upcoming release.
While you’re here, check out my latest blog posts.
October 15th, 2018: I examined the NASB 2020 Isaiah 53:4–6 passage posted by Lockman on the 3rd.
October 10th, 2018: Today I checked and found that the Lockman Foundation has started to post passages on their Facebook page using the designation NASB 2020.
March 22nd, 2018: I was pleased to discover that the NASB 2019 version will continue to capitalize names pertaining to God. Out of reverence, I always capitalize names and pronouns that refer to God. Their continuation of this practice is good news for me.
January 12th, 2018: The Lockman Foundation reported that they are still working on the next release of the NASB, and that their current estimate is sometime in 2019. I’m sure they’ll announce a more precise date later in 2018.
On July 21, 2017, the Translation Committee made the following statement on their Facebook page:
Our primary concern is that NASB remain the best English Translation available. To that end, we are still working hard in the Old Testament and this means that the publication, at this point, will be late 2018 to early 2019. We do not want to rush the update because, so many faithful pastors and scholars depend on the NASB and we want to make sure that you have the best translation of the Holy Word that can be put in your hands. Thank you so much for your patience while we work.
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Rob Oberto, D.Min., is the award-winning author of “Intimacy With God.” The second edition is now available from Amazon. ©2017, 2018 Rob Oberto, All Rights Reserved.