What Now Shall I Read? A Case for the NASB

The Codex Gigas from the 13th century, held at...

A very special thank you to my friend and colleague Dustin from DustinMartyr for joining us in this project, “What now Shall I Read?” Previous entries are here: IntroNIVNRSVNABNLT, and ESV. And now, let’s give Dustin a very warm Political Jesus welcome as he tells me why he uses the NASB version.

Why I read the NASB and I think you should too:It is a literal translation, attempting to take each word or phrase and give it the most literal word for word counterpart available.

  1. 1. The NASB footnotes and side-margin references have been praised by many for being extremely helpful.
  2. 2. It is a readily available translation, offered at all Christian book stores and pretty much every Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores I have visited.
  3. 3. It is quite readable.
  4. 4. It does not take the modern politically correct route of making all references to God, men, and women ‘gender-inclusive’ (as the NRSV is known for).
  5. 5. Compared to the other more popular translations, the NIV and the NRSV, the NASB time and time again offers the better translation. Please consider the following examples:
Matt. 25:31 NIV When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. (note: ‘heavenly’ is not in the Greek, but is certainly theologically suggestive from the perspective of the translator)
Matt. 25:31 NASB But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

Phil. 3:14 NIV I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (note: ‘heavenward’ is certainly not the direction of believers, since Paul is talking about the future resurrection of the faithful)
Phil. 3:14 NASB I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

John 16:28 NIV “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (note: the Greek does not say ‘back’, which suggests preexistence when it is not in the text)
John 16:28 NASB “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”

John 20:17 NIV Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. (again, the Greek does not say ‘going back’ – pushing the preexistence issue)
John 20:17 NASB Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father”

Romans 10:16 NIV But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. (‘Israelites’ is not in the Greek)
Romans 10:16 NASB However, they did not all heed the good news.

Note also how the NIV translates sarx, the Greek word for ‘flesh’:

-by human effort (Gal 3:3 NIV)

-the sinful nature (Gal 5:13 NIV)

-in the body (Phi 1:22 NIV)

The NIV takes the liberty to allow its translators to flex their theological muscles in these renderings of the Greek, while the NASB is more consistent, allowing the reader to make up their own mind in interpretation.

NIV continually translates euangellion in the Gospels as ‘good news’ while translating the same word in Paul as ‘gospel’. Does this not feed the evangelical doctrine of dispensationalism? The NASB, on the other hand, is consistent in how it translates euangellion.

The NIV constantly, constantly leaves out the important word gar (‘for’) in the epistles of Paul while the NASB keeps them all.

The NIV translates dikaiousune theou (‘God’s righteousness’) as ‘the righteousness from God, and thus important a very narrow Lutheran perspective (Rom. 1:17, 3:22, 10:4).

The NIV brackets off Rom. 2:14-15 wrongly, again importing a narrow Lutheran perspective upon the text. The NASB does not.

Both the NRSV and the NIV add words to the Greek preposition ev in Rom. 2:17. The NASB keeps to the Greek.

The NIV omits the Greek nomos (‘law’) in Rom. 3:28 and the word ‘or’ in the very next verse! The NASB retains both.

Both the NRSV and the NIV make the choice for the reader about what the ‘love of God’ actually is in Rom. 5:5. The NASB leaves it for the reader to decide.

The NRSV and the NIV omit the first word in the Greek text in Rom. 7:1. Kept in the NASB.

Both the NRSV and the NIV completely ignore the Greek text in Rom. 9:31 and add their own rendering to the text. The NASB remains faithful.

Gal. 3:23 NIV Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.

Gal. 3:23 NRSV Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed.

Gal. 3:23 NASB But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. (Note how the law is given a negative function in the NIV and NRSV, while the Greek does not indicate a negative meaning (nor do any of Paul’s other usages of the same word)).

I’m sure that I have scribbled in my Greek New Testament a few other places where the NIV or NRSV have off-translations. But for now, this will have to do. I don’t claim that the NASB is without its flaws, or even that the NRSV doesn’t have some very good traits to it. I just feel that the NASB has been an enormous help in studying the Bible, both academically as well as spiritually. I highly recommend it =)

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