The NASB isn’t a horrible translation; many pick it as their favorite translation. However as noted in will the real NASB please stand up it has joined the alphabet-soup of modern translations undergoing constant revision; anyone claiming the NASB is the best translation must specify which NASB is the best:
- NASB 1977 (the original)
- NASB 1995
- NASB 2020
- LSB (NASB 2023?)
Yep, there’s a new entry in the NASB line: LSB or “Legacy Standard Bible.”
Before our normal review process of 3 Steps to Choosing a Bible Translation, a brief background on the LSB; interested readers should also consider will the real NASB please stand up for background as well.
The LSB curiously descends from NASB 1995, NOT the most recent NASB 2020 revision.
Working directly from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek to update the text of the NASB ’95
They don’t appear to say why they avoided NASB 2020, but perhaps a similar situation to the NIV, where some “revisions” (TNIV) were so soundly rejected they were dropped.
The Legacy Standard Bible is a direct update of the NASB 1995 edition and fundamentally endeavors to uphold it. The translators went back to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek of every verse in order to double check its accuracy. Any changes made strictly revolved around providing greater consistency in word usage, accuracy in grammatical structure, and tightening phrasing. Sometimes these changes will incorporate what was found in the earlier NASB ’77 edition.
The LSB contains a mix of NASB77 and NASB95, sometimes returning to the original NASB from 1977 — NASB77 may offer one rendering, changed in NASB95, and back again in LSB (NASB2023?).
That raises a huge red flag indicating revisions of the NASB aren’t simply “better scholarship” but a change in philosophy for perhaps social or theological reasons. Why else use one translation in 1977, edit it in 1995, then revert back to the 1977 version? That wouldn’t come about due to simple “advances in scholarship” but editorial decisions which may change with the times.
Interestingly, the LSB itself has already undergone revisions, the FAQ stating
A few verses and subheadings have been changed in the LSB to correct formatting and enhance translation consistency.
- Replaced “make it unclean” with “defile it”
- Change “stretch out” to “send forth”
- Changed “understand” to “perceive” (Mark 7:18)
They’re not simply spelling, formatting, or printing mistakes — they may use the tag line “Your Translation for a Lifetime” on their web site, but the LSB sure isn’t.
A major problem with the LSB — it doesn’t appear to know what it wants to be, and if you like it, use an LSB Bible and wear it out, the next time you look for an LSB it may (or may not) be what you’re familiar with.
For those desiring an introduction to translation issues, see our Primer on Bible Translation.
1. Translator Methods
From LSB Origin page they state:
update some of the language of the NASB, while preserving the accuracy and trustworthiness of the translation for generations to come.
The Legacy Standard Bible has worked to uphold the style and translational choices of the NASB as much as possible. (https://lsbible.org/foreword/)
Both are difficult to accept, as not only have they already revised the text, but which style of the NASB are they trying to uphold? 1977? 1995? 2020?
LSB continues to use the Alexandrian line as its predecessors.
27th edition of Eberhard Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece, supplemented by the 28th edition in the General Epistles, serve as the base text.
As an update to NASB95, it’s not surprising they stuck with the Alexandrian line of text as their predecessors did.
As a side note, the Greek Text forming the basis for “modern” translations has been edited 27 times. 27 times! How can it provide a basis for a translation for a lifetime?
2. Missing Verses
The Alexandrian texts (Westcott-Hort) can’t compare to Textus Receptus providing the solid foundation of the KJV.
NASB follows some of the horrible Westcott-Hort edits, but not all, and changes from edition to edition — since the LSB switches back and forth between NASB77 and NASB95, it’s a grab-bag of Westcott-Hort mashup.
Examine Luke 24:51; versions omitting the final phrase “carried up into heaven” might be influenced from the corrupt Alexandrian textual line.
Why? Luke himself in Acts says “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which He was taken up…“ Luke says his former work (Gospel of Luke) contained until the day he was taken up. So does Luke’s Gospel mention Jesus taken up to heaven?
- And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. (KJV)
- And it came about that while He was blessing them, He parted from them. (Ryrie Study Bible NASB, 1978)
- While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. (New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. from biblegateway.com)
- While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. (New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. from biblegateway.com)
- And it happened that while He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. (LSB, from biblegateway.com)
NASB 1977 removes part of Luke’s Gospel. NASB 1995 and 2020 restore it to the text. LSB continues with 1995 line, but rephrases to render closer to KJV.
Various revisions of the NASB treat the “critical” or modern (Westcott-Hort) corrupt Alexandrian texts differently, which shouldn’t be a surprise as different translators used different criteria for each edition (LSB saying they used a mix of NASB77 and NASB95).
3. Check Cornerstone Verses
2 Timothy 2:15 remains a pivotal verse in discovering how translators view their task. First, in the KJV:
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
How do various NASB versions translate this? Notice difference in translation and mission over the years.
- 1977 — Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
- 1995 — Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
- 2020 — Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
- LSB — Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
In the NASB line, ’77 used one translation, changed in ’95, again in ’20, and then back in LSB (NASB2023) — in 2 Timothy the LSB reads the same as NASB95 and reverses the revision of NASB2020 (so which NASB again is the best Bible translation or translation for a lifetime?).
Frankly, we’re quite underwhelmed by the LSB; of all the Bible reviews we’ve done we’re most disappointed in LSB, it doesn’t seem to have a purpose other than a new translation to market.
It’s not horrible, but if you like NASB, you’re likely using NASBS95, and the LSB doesn’t offer much over it. If you’re a traditionalist, you might still be using a well-worn NASB77, and equally the LSB doesn’t offer much over NASB77.
It’s critical for users of the NASB to understand which NASB they use, and how editorial decisions change from NASB to NASB — all NASBs (and LSB) are not equal.
Perhaps the LSB was created to cast off the NASB2020 line, but it fails on both fronts they claim:
- The “translation for a lifetime” has already been revised, so out of the gate the LSB lacks stability — will the LSB you buy in 2 years read the same as the one you currently have?
- They’ve handpicked readings between NASB77 and NASB95, so the LSB can’t decide what it wants to be, as ’77 and ’95 appear to have different ideas for translation, and the LSB can choose either.
I’m disappointed — I still have a Ryrie study Bible with NASB77, but can’t understand why the LSB exists, other than to market a “new” translation and get people hyped about it (and reading their web site there sure is a lot of hype).
Sadly, the LSB shows the once respectable NASB joins the alphabet-soup modern translation game of constant revision. I’ll keep my NASB77, but these new revisions (already at least 2 of the LSB according to their web site) lack stability, a critical issue for those doing Bible memorization.
For those quotes on the site about how superior the LSB is, we wonder if those guys have examined the revisions to the LSB and continue to hold the same view — or will the translation for a lifetime be continually revised?
For decades teams have desired to “improve” the venerated KJV but always fail; the NKJV remains top choice if someone doesn’t like ye Olde English thee’s and thou’s (though those have a very important purpose as it turns out).
All the modern alphabet-soup translations and edits again proves the simple Bible Translation axiom:
- Use the KJV/NKJV for primary study.
- Consider the New Living Translation (NLT) for situations preferring more modern language.