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New American Standard Bible 2020 Update – Review — 10 Comments

  1. The NASB 2020 has wandered slightly away from the strictly literal path and produced a bible which is claimed to be ‘gender-accurate’ but in fact, ventures into the gender-neutral camp i.e., Psalm 1; “Blessed is the person” (Hebrew; “Blessed is the man”). The NSAB being the darling of conservative evangelicals has created a reaction with the Legacy Standard Bible as a direct update of the NASB 1995 with the agreement of the Lockman Foundation (see; https://www.lockman.org/legacy-standard-bible-lsb/).
    There are two other Bibles created in reaction but are no more than sideshows; The Refreshed American Standard Version 2021 (Hardback but glued spine and is an ASV including the hybrid name for God ‘Jehovah’, but modernised English) and the Updated American Standard Version (UASV) which at present is online but lacks a printed version.
    As soon as the $40 Legacy Standard Bible is back in print (sold out) I will get a copy. I can then compare it with my NASB 2020.
    However, for both Evangelicals and Catholics I suspect the ESV is the best choice. Since 2018 there has been a Catholic Edition available (ESV-CE). Published first in India. I obtained a leather-bound version and paid by PayPal – £25 ($34) which included the air shipping (2/3rd of the cost). I suspect shipping to the US will cost a little more, but far cheaper than the leather-bound versions in the USA or UK. It is the official version for the Catholic Liturgy in India and in the UK. New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and England are also considering adopting the ESV-CE.
    The other choice is an updated RSV (and not the NRSV). This is published by the Ignatius Press in the USA and is known as the Revised Standard Version Second Catholic Edition [RSV-SCE]. The leather-bound copy is excellent. For Protestants, if they ignore the additional books in the OT, they can have an updated RSV but without the gender-neutral spin!
    The ESV is a tad more accurate and has updated more text than the RSV-SCE, and is truly gender-accurate without slipping into the gender-neutral camp. At points where the RSV uses ‘man’ or ‘mankind,’ when there is no actual male meaning in the Hebrew or the Greek, the ESV changes that. For example, in Luke 6:45, in the RSV, you read ‘a good man,’ in the ESV it is ‘a good person.’ However, when the Hebrew or the Greek has a male meaning component underlying that translation, the ESV will always render that with a male meaning in English.
    The helpful thing is that the RSV, ESV and RSV-SCE can all be read alongside each other.

    • Thank you for your comments. I agree with your analysis of Psalm 1, where the NASB2020 has translated the Hebrew “ish” as “person” (a gender-neutral usage). I find it interesting that the pronouns used in the first part of this Psalm are all masculine (gender-accurate). Gender-accurate is faithful to the intent of the original languages; gender-neutral is not.

      I am still primarily using the NASB95, along with the ESV. I use the ESV because it is available with the Apocrypha, and though the ESV-CE is good, the ESV Diadem Reference Bible with Apocrypha is more complete. But I, too, await the Legacy Standard Bible (I wish it included the Apocrypha).

      • Yes, the ESV Diadem Reference Bible with Apocrypha is excellent, and the only pity is that it is not available with a leather cover. I am at present seeking to find a bookbinder to craft a leather cover for me, and within budget (living on a pension).
        Long long ago my first Bible as a young adult was a leather-bound KJB with Apocrypha and central reference notes – second-hand, thus it had everything I required. However, it was already worn and eventually fell apart. For my studies at Oxford, the Revised Version was required, plus a Greek NT and Church Services almost everywhere used the New English Bible which lacked a reference edition. My wife bought me a brand new leather KJB with Apocrypha and central reference notes, but as I had moved away from the KJB long past it has seldom left its case. So, ESV Diadem Reference Bible with Apocrypha is an excellent modern equivalent – it awaits its leather covers!
        BTW. It is the atc publishers india which print the leatherbound ESV-CE, and it took just two weeks to arrive on the day they informed me it would.

    • Hello Fernando,
      I’ve read the NRSV all the way through, and frankly didn’t find it to be up to the standard of the original RSV. If you like that translation, I highly recommend the English Standard Version (ESV) which is now available with the full Apocrypha or with just the Deuterocanonical books included. The ESV is a much better modern update to the RSV than the NRSV.

  2. These two comments are very helpful in helping me decide to but the NASB 2020. I come from a Roman Catholic background, I wonder if you have any comments regarding the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). Thanks

  3. I agree with your thoughts here completely. I’ve been using the NASB20 now for almost a year for preaching, Bible study, and personal devotions. So far I have found the upgrades quite acceptable ~ mostly just smoothing out the English sentence structure and removing some terms that have taken on a negative meaning or are just not used anymore. I had drifted away from the original NASB (required translation of my undergrad school) due to it’s somewhat “wooden” construction. But the more I use the NASB20 the more appealing I’m finding it to be a very good blending of fidelity to the original text plus readability. I do find myself agreeing with most of the word changes (so far), and I’m in total agreement with how they handled the spurious NT passages. I will be relying on and using this updated NASB20 version for the foreseeable future. I am waiting for publication of the NASB20 Preacher’s Bible ~ which for me checks all the boxes. Thanks for your review.

    • Thank you for your comment. I did complete my annual Bible reading using the NASB2020 (my annual reading is from approximately October to October, following the Torah reading schedule). I did this in a unique way – reading the NASB2020 while listening to the NASB95 so that I could discern the differences. The wording of the NASB2020 is definitely much smoother without losing the literalness. I hope that a variety of bindings and editions soon are more readily available, including the Preacher’s Bible.

  4. Thank you for this great article on the NASB 2020 with the inclusion of Principles of Translation from the Lockman Foundation. It is both informative and encouraging. I believe translation must be tied to transmission. I believe translation from the root text in context is King, but comprehension is Queen. So many people study and memorize scripture and yet struggle with its meaning. I believe (perhaps in ignorance) that God purposely did not reveal one perfect original text so that translation and other transmission methodologies would be devised to so enable linguist to formulate a translation for transmission to the many different languages (since the Tower of Babel; Genesis 11). God bless and your continued work.

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