Thursday, April 02, 2020

Another Revision of the NASB

Over the last few years, I noted that the NASB, last updated in 1995, is currently undergoing a major revision (see here and here). Today, a video came out from Pastor John MacArthur that faculty at his university and seminary have been working on yet another revision of their own.

It will be called the Legacy Standard Bible. MacArthur describes it as “the expositor’s dream Bible” and says it is bound to be the “most accurate and most consistent translation in English.” So, they are aiming for the fences.

The only changes he mentions in the video are the use of “Yahweh” for the divine name (יְהוָה) and “slave” for doulos (δοῦλος). You may remember that the original HCSB also used Yahweh, but then reversed course in the CSB. As for doulos, MacArthur has previously emphasized why he thinks this is so important (see his book on the subject). MacArthur and his church and schools are well known around the world for their emphasis on the importance of doctrine, which include being cessationist, dispensational, inerrantist, and complementarian. It will be worth seeing if these are reflected in any particular ways in the translation. (My hunch is that most of the original NASB committee shared these views as well.)

The revision committee named in the video includes Abner Chou, William Varner, Jason Beals, Iosif Zhakevich, Mark Zhakevich, and Paul Twiss. New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs is set to be out by next March. He does not mention who will publish it but it is licensed from the Lockman Foundation which owns the rights to the NASB. You can watch the announcement in this video starting around 7:20.

My main reaction to this news is: why is this needed? Are the changes really enough to justify an entirely new translation? In any case, I will be most interested to see what they do text critically in the New Testament, especially with Varner on the committee. This may be one of the first NT translations in a long time to have three different critical editions of the Greek New Testament to work from.


  1. I wonder ... no, not really ... what will happen to Mark 16:9-20 in a revision made by an organization led by the man who called Mark 16:9-20 a "bad ending"?

    Regarding the false claims that John MacArthur made as the basis of his rejection of Mark 16:9-20 --

    For those who are patient enough for the fuller three-part review of his careless, inaccurate, and often simply false claims:
    Part 1 --
    Part 2--
    Part 3 --

    And a couple of blog-posts:

  2. We are using the NA27, although I had hoped for the THGNT. I will still point out to my colleagues when the texts differ.

    1. Thanks for that info. I assume you are not slavishly following NA27, are you?

  3. Ibexdr,
    Perfect, obviously using both of these editions, or at least having someone present to include the THGNT is a great addition. I will be interested to see where or if the THGNT is chosen.

  4. This translation is necessary from MacArthur's point of view. In his book "Slave", he actually accused the ESV translators of being involved in a cover-up so that the believer's commitment/duty to Christ would be lessened from "slave" to that of mere "bondservant". His understanding of slavery in the ancient world and his reading of Murray Harris, the TDNT, etc. are appallingly naive and irresponsible.

    1. I'm not sure of your background or understanding of the ANE historical world, Greg, but I would question your questioning of MacArthur on this. You may prefer a typical, modern, Western approach to the topic of slavery, which obviously is a "flashpoint" topic and easy to follow "slavishly," but that typical understanding is far from in line with the Bible (Philemon and Colossians, for example). My question for you is from where you ultimately take your cue on this topic, if it's a question you even would be willing to answer to yourself, let alone publicly.

      Douglas Petrovich
      Prof. of Biblical History and Exegesis
      The Bible Seminary

  5. I enjoy reading formal equiv. English trans. however the Greek is always better as a whole. The NASB is wonderful for those whom have their lexicon beside them because we want what the writer said in the Language not simply a committee opinion. However, douloß in every Greek lexicon has multiple meanings depending upon context, it can even mean devoted minister or one pledged in general. To say it is more consistent is erroneous because context matters.

  6. Any thoughts on translating "doulos" as "slave"? The connotation in modern English, influenced by chattel slavery in the U.S., is not helpful to proper understanding of the term in the Bible. John 15:15 seems to weigh against "slave." Christian douloi are also friends, not property; they are "in the know," not uninformed of what their master is doing.

    1. Doulos as 'slave' seems perfectly fine for several reasons. First, being friends with God does not negate also being His property, ones having been bought with a price, and neither does knowing what He has revealed mean that we are informed on all the things our Master is doing, as Peter was not informed as to the fate of John. Second, any pastor worth his salt and anyone who can read can see that our Master is benevolent, all wise, gracious, showing lovingkindness unlike the image one gets from 'chattel slavery,' of which there were a good number of masters who were kind and treated their slaves as people. Third,using the English text with 'slave' provides ample opportunity to explore the richness of the meaning of the word in regards to our God, especially as 'race' was not a part of the determination of who was a slave: a majority of slaves were apparently 'white' in the Roman world giving American pastors reasons to argue for equality in the past, and point out the meaning to the believer in regard to God in the present.