Whether you pronounce it distinctly “N-A-S-B” or informally “naz-bee,” since its completion in the 1970s following 18 years of work, the New American Standard Bible (NASB) is widely embraced as the gold standard for the formal equivalence Bible translation philosophy, the method of rendering English text word-for-word from the original biblical languages as much as possible. The NASB 2020 updated version is now available.
Bible Gateway interviewed Pike Lambeth, the executive vice president of The Lockman Foundation, about the New American Standard Bible.
[See the New American Standard Bible (NASB) 2020 and 1995 print editions in the FaithGateway Store and the Bible Gateway Store]
When and how was the NASB first created?
Pike Lambeth: In 1959, Mr. Dewy Lockman sensed the need for a translation of the Bible that would be clearly readable in the current English language, but, without sacrificing any accuracy in the translation from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. A group of scholars and pastors were organized with this vision in mind and work on the New American Standard Bible was begun and finally completed in 1977.
What is the methodology used behind the NASB translation?
Pike Lambeth: Like all of our translations, the NASB is guided by the fourfold aim. The first two aims govern the accuracy of our translations. The fourth aim puts Christ at the center of our work. But ever since the creation of the fourfold aim, the third aim has always been to produce translations that can be easily understood. So our methodology is to accurately preserve the meanings of the words from the original languages along with their forms and sentence structure, while just as importantly producing clearly understandable English for modern readers.
How does the NASB 2020 update differ from previous editions?
Pike Lambeth: Biblical scholarship has continued to advance over the years. The original language resources used for Bible translation have been updated since 1995. We took other measures to further improve accuracy where possible. And we spent countless hours modernizing language and improving readability to make the NASB more accessible to everyone. You know English has changed a lot since 1995. It has become less formal and even many Christians no longer understand traditional religious terms that were once commonplace in all English translations. We cannot ignore the spiritual needs of millions of people just to preserve traditional English for those who understand it. But for those who do and prefer it, the NASB 1995 is remaining very much available as well because it has stood the test of time as a trusted translation valued and preferred by many people.
Here’s the bottom line: the refinements in the NASB 2020 maintain faithful accuracy to the original texts and provide a clear understanding of God’s Word for those who prefer more modern English standards. The long-established translation standard for the NASB remains the same as it always has been, that is to accurately translate the inspired Word of God from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts into modern English that is clearly understandable today.
Pike Lambeth: That change is a great example of how English word meaning has changed over the years. It’s common for some readers to understand “let us” to mean “allow us,” so in effect, the use of “let us” in the Bible has become unintentionally misleading. Today, the simple contraction “let’s” distinguishes the meaning to be that of a group action rather than asking permission. Again, that’s just a small example, but it’s a case in point that sometimes the best way to maintain accuracy is to modernize.
What is the goal of The Lockman Foundation with the NASB 2020?
Pike Lambeth: The goal of the NASB 2020 is to ensure the NASB translation continues to be accessible to current and future generations by using modern English standards that are more commonly understood today. The NASB 2020 is not intended to replace the NASB 1995, but to work with it by providing another choice in formal equivalency translations for those who prefer more contemporary English, while the NASB 1995 continues to offer a more traditional Biblical language that is very familiar to many.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Pike Lambeth: But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-9 (NASB 2020)
I find that I’m always seeking wisdom in life’s many challenges, both large and small. I cannot do it myself and so I’m constantly asking God for help. These verses remind me that He’s there and willing to help, and that I must continually strengthen my faith and make it show in how I live my life, or else I’ll be overcome and tossed about without purpose.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Pike Lambeth: Bible Gateway is a great resource that does an excellent job to make the Bible easily accessible to countless people. The many languages offered make it a worldwide blessing.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Pike Lambeth: The NASB 2020 is a translation that upholds the NASB tradition the same as it has always been; that is, to uphold the fourfold aim of The Lockman Foundation. In all our translation work, we strive to make our translations true to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, grammatically correct, and understandable so that they bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that the NASB 2020 will continue this tradition for new generations in a language that clearly communicates to them for many years to come.
Print editions of the New American Standard Bible are published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Pike Lambeth is the Executive Vice President of The Lockman Foundation and has been with them since 1991. The Lockman Foundation is a nonprofit, nondenominational ministry dedicated to the translation, publication, and distribution of the New American Standard Bible (NASB), Amplified Bible (AMP), La Biblia de las Américas (LBLA), Nueva Biblia de las Américas (NBLA), and other biblical resources. Since the beginning of its translation work in the 1950s, its mission has been to faithfully translate the inspired Word of God from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek with unsurpassed accuracy into English and Spanish, creating translations that are trusted and understandable.
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