Book Review

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

reviewed by Robert Nguyen Cramer (version

Best translations
Best KJV substitute
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New American Standard Bible (La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation, 1977) is the most literal word-for-word English translation of the Bible, and, unlike the KJV, it had a basically sound textual basis. Unfortunately, it chose to retain text -- without even brackets -- that the United Bible Societies' definitive Greek New Testament is certain was not in the original text. The ESV [book review] and the NAB [book review] clearly are better choices than the NASB, for both translation and best KJV substitute, due to (1) their more smooth-flowing English, (2) their use of standard capitalizations for pronouns referring to Jesus, (3) their total elimination of thee's, thou's, and thine's, and (4) their not retaining wording and verses that conclusively are not justified by the UBS4. Though the 1995 New American Standard Bible Updated Edition, is slightly less literal and slightly more smooth-flowing, the 1977 edition has continue to be the standard NASB in use.

Even though it actually includes too much of the KJV-heritage text that was not in the Greek original text (e.g., Mat 17:21; Mat 18:11; Mat 23:14; Mar 7:16; Mar 9:44,46; and many other verses), the NASB is the most word-for-word literal translation of the Greek New Testament texts. In some cases (e.g., Isa 7:14), the Old Testament translation was less literal in order to accommodate New Testament interpretation. The NASB generally provides both literalness and accuracy in the text that it did choose to translate. It could be publicly read in place of the KJV with little noticeable difference, except for the absense of old English thee's, thou's, and thine's. Unfortunately, as already noted, the NASB includes some texts that are not included in the United Bible Society's definitive texts; therefore, it is not as reliable as the ESV or NAB as a representation of the original texts.

It also is unfortunate that the NASB translators chose to depart from most other translations and to capitalize all pronouns referring to Jesus and to retains even a few of the KJV's old English thee's, thou's, and thine's.

The New American Standard Bible: Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible (edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1998) is a particularly useful edition of the NASB, because it includes some words being identified with Strong's numbering, plus Hebrew & Greek dictionaries keyed to the Strong's numbers.


Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer