Any frequent reader of this blog knows that I have spent a lot of time over the past year or more looking into some of the newer Bible translations and coming around to the point of recommending some of them. Indeed, my list of preferred translations looks quite different than it used to. Gone are the KJV, NKJV, and the NIV. The acceptable translations now include the NLTse, the TNIV, the Holman CSB (which appears to be the way Holman prefers that we refer to their translation), the (horrors!) NRSV, and to a slightly lesser extent the ESV. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list; I could give some recommendation on a number of other translations, too. But these are generally the most common ones that are easily available and which people occasionally ask me about.
But there is one I haven’t mentioned yet, and that is the New American Standard Bible, 1995 update. Before I began my most recent turnover of translations, I had discovered, to my delight, the transparency of the NASB to the original languages, and how enjoyable it was to gain some understanding of the way the original manuscripts were probably written. I came to trust the accuracy of the NASB as to it’s faithfulness in transmitting the meaning of the originals.
At that time I was very much against the “inclusive language” which I was told the translators were putting into the new translations, especially the “hated” TNIV! Of course I have since learned that what those “evil” translators were doing was actually correcting the inaccuracies in the earlier versions. So now some of those translations I actually prefer over the older and more traditionally-worded versions.
But through it all, there has been one translation that has seemed to be above it all, whose worst criticism has been its “woodenness”. When I pick up my NASB and start reading it, I notice a lot more “Biblese”, more language that appears to be “old-fashioned”. I see words like “behold” and “lo”, and “lest”. I also see masculine pronouns and the generic “he” and generic “man”. But I also see Nicodemus say to Jesus in John 3, “[A man] cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Not only is the Greek idiom there, it gives us a better idea of how the conversation actually happened.
I’m coming back to the NASB. I generally don’t need the “inclusive language” to help me understand most passages. I can understand that “man” and “mankind” actually can refer to all of humanity and not only to men. I took literature in high school, and I learned a few things. I been edjumacated, and I aint no dummy! (Sorry, sometimes I can’t help but lapse into that kind of silliness.)
The point I’m trying to make, with little success, is that to me, the NASB is as comfortable as an old shoe. And I find I get more out of it than just about any other translation. I plan on continuing my use of it for my own personal study, and may even teach out of it when I resume teaching. At least I will keep it handy. And it’s one of the few modern translations I feel is worthy of spending my hard-earned money on to get a fine-quality leather cover with gold edging and Smyth-sewn binding. My current comfy-leather Bible is a NASB, personal size giant print from Zondervan, with bonded leather cover which is quickly becoming worn out. In the very near future I plan on replacing it. And the replacement isn’t going to be a TNIV or an ESV, or a NLT or a NRSV. It’s going to be another NASB, this time with real genuine leather cover and Smyth-sewn binding.
I’ll still use those others, but for me, the NASB is home.