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What is the New American Standard Bible (NASB)?

New American Standard Bible, NASB audio

The New American Standard Bible (NASB), first released in 1971, evolved from the American Standard Version (ASV) of 1901. The ASV, in turn, was the American version of the Revised Version (RV) of 1885, also called the English Revised Version (ERV). While preserving the literalness of the ASV, the NASB sought to use the grammatical constructions and diction of contemporary English. Special attention was given to verb tenses to give the English reader a rendering as close as possible to the sense of the original Greek and Hebrew texts.

The NASB was updated in 1977 and again in 1995. The most recent update is the NASB 2020. In each case, the updates were published to reflect modern English usage and incorporate the most recent scholarship on the original languages and manuscript discoveries. The 1971 NASB was widely considered the most accurate English Bible translation. The New American Standard Bible update of 2020 carries on the tradition of accuracy and readability. Another translation, the Legacy Standard Bible (2021), also updates the 1995 edition of the NASB.

New American Standard Bible - Translation Method
The New American Standard Bible is known for its “formal equivalence” (word-for-word) translation. The goal of the NASB is to provide a literal translation that is accessible and accurate. Archaic words like thee and thou were updated back in 1995. In modernizing the English for 2020, the NASB also incorporated the following:

• The use of “gender-accurate” language. Many passages address a group of Christians as “brothers,” but when the group clearly includes women as well as men, the NASB 2020 adds the words and sisters in italics. This is different from “gender-neutral” language, which ignores gender-specific contexts in favor of a gender-neutral term.

• Updates to words and phrases that could be misunderstood due to changes in meaning during the past twenty-five years.

• Retranslations of verses with difficult syntax or vocabulary.

• Avoidance of the let us construction when the speaker is making an appeal to action. This prevents the misinterpretation of let us to mean “allow us.”

The NASB 2020 update continues the NASB’s tradition of literal translation of the original Greek and Hebrew without compromise. Changes in the text have been kept within the strict parameters set forth by the Lockman Foundation’s Fourfold Aim—that the finished product be true to the original manuscripts, grammatically correct, understandable, and give the Lord Jesus Christ His proper place of honor.

New American Standard Bible - Pros and Cons
Probably the greatest strength of the New American Standard Bible has always been its literalness. The NASB seeks to take what was originally said in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and say the same thing in English. The primary downside to this method is that it sometimes results in the English not being as smooth and free-flowing as it could be. Overall, though, the New American Standard Bible is an excellent Bible translation. The update of 2020 is a welcome addition to the NASB family of Bibles.

New American Standard Bible - Sample Verses
John 1:1, 14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 8:58 – “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’”

Ephesians 2:8–9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Titus 2:13 – “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,”

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What is the New American Standard Bible (NASB)?
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This page last updated: November 12, 2022