The NASB Bible translation is a literal or word-for-word translation of the Bible's original written languages Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. Since it's publication in 1971 it has gained a reputation for it's accuracy to the original texts. This may not seem like a significant thing to the modern reader, but the Bible has a long history of erroneous translations.
For centuries the Catholic church's Latin Vulgate was the only other translation available which the church used for it's liturgy and doctrinal rule. Other than the fact that only learned scholars and clergy could read the Latin Vulgate, it also had very inaccurate translations of the original Biblical texts.
Over the following centuries there were great attempts at translating the Bible accurately and in the modern, everyday language. The most popular was and is the King James Version which was publish in 1611 by the church of England. It was accurate and it was in the contemporary 17th century English. The NASB Bible translation comes out of that tradition of accuracy and use of modern English.
The NASB Bible translation evolved from the American Standard Version (ASV) which was published in 1901. And the ASV Bible was the American version of the 1885 English Revised Version in England. But between 1611 and 1885, there were no new widely used, modern English translations of the Bible.
It was a conservative evangelical response to the Revised Standard Version published in 1952, which was actually the authorized revision of the ASV. The controversy and the work on the NASB Bible translation resulted directly from the RSV translation of Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah 7:14 had always translated the word referring to the woman to give birth to the messiah as "virgin". The RSV translated it "young woman" which evangelicals saw as an assault on the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ. Evangelicals cited other areas where the RSV took a liberal slant and thus began the work on the NASB Bible translation, funded by the Lockman Foundation.
Word-for-Word vs. Thought-for-Thought
The NASB Bible translation is a word-for-word transliteration of the Bible. This is alternatively to thought-for-thought translations like the popular NIV Bible. Although the literal translation is great for accuracy and doing word studies, it can lack sometimes in the are of understandability.
Anyone who is bilingual understands that sometimes things doing translate well when you try to convert from one language to another directly. In addition, there are sometimes idioms, expressions or figures of speech in one language that has no meaning in another language.
In an effort to quell this, thought-for-thought translations like the NIV Bible was published. Bible scholars take a phrase or a thought as it were, and interpret it for the reader, then translate what they think it means without being so concerned about using particular words or requiring themselves to have to include all the words.
1995 Updated Edition
The 1995 updated edition of the NASB includes some revisions to modernize the English vocabulary used. For example, they changed the 'thy' and 'thee'. Overall, this revision improved this versions clarity and readability without violating the original meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words.
By David CJ Jones
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