NASB 2020: A New Edition for a New Generation

For more than a quarter century the New American Standard Bible (NASB) has stood as a popular English Bible translation. Countless pastors and laypeople have trusted its essentially literal translation philosophy of the 1995 edition. In 2020 the Lockman Foundation published a revised and updated edition of the NASB. This new edition did not receive the attention it deserved due to being released during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Yet it now deserves a proper showing. In this article we will discuss Zondervan’s Large Print Thinline edition of the NASB 2020.

Translation Philosophy

There is an ongoing effort to make modern English Bible translations as accurate as possible, while also allowing it to be as readable as possible. The NASB has traditionally been known as the most accurate word-for-word modern translation. For readers who have grown to love this more literal style, the 2020 edition of the NASB is a step away from that philosophy. For the most part, the translation still lands on the more literal end of the spectrum. According to the Preface, however, the translators goal was to “render the grammar and terminology in contemporary English. When it was felt that the word-for-word literalness was unacceptable to the modern reader, a change was made in the direction of a more current English idiom.”

This philosophical change is most prevalent in the translation of gender based words. For example, the 1995 edition translated the Hebrew word adam and the Greek word anthropoi as “men.” The new 2020 edition translates these words as “people.” Another example of this change is found in the translation of the Greek word adelphoi. The 1995 edition translated this word as “brethren.” The new 2020 edition translates this word as “brothers”, while including “and sisters” in italics because the implied meaning of this Greek word includes both men and women.

While some fear that these changes indicate a liberal shift in translation philosophy, these changes simply reflect the trend of many modern English translations including the NIV and the NET. The ESV places a footnote everywhere this word occurs, indicating the inclusion of both men and women. The inclusion of both genders in these words is something that would have been understood by the original readers, but was lost in the English translation. Rendering these words as “brothers and sisters” is an effort on the part of the translator to provide the most accurate translation possible.

Given the popularity that the NASB has enjoyed for generations, the Lockman Foundation made the decision to keep the 1995 edition in print. For those who love the older edition, they can still enjoy it for years to come. Yet for those who want an essentially literal translation that attempts to convey modern English idiom, the 2020 edition is an excellent option. The Lockman foundation is to be commended for having both editions of the NASB in print. Many Bible publishers take older editions out of print and only publish the latest editions of their Bible translation. There is certainly room, for now at least, for both editions.

Zondervan Thinline Edition

Zondervan Bible Publishers offers the full text editions of both the NASB 2020 and the NASB 1995. The edition that RFTG was given the opportunity to review is the NASB 2020 Text Thinline Bible Large Print. Features include a leather soft binding, two ribbon markers, 10.5 point font, and the Zondervan NASB Comfort Print typeface. One feature of the Zondervan edition that is missing is a concordance, without which this edition feels incomplete. A concordance is a must have feature for any Bible and is typically included in most Bibles. Yet this feature not withstanding, the Zondervan NASB 2020 Thinline Bible is a good edition of one of the most trusted translations in the English language.

Overall, the NASB 2020 edition is solid reliable essentially literal translation of the Bible. It is an excellent choice for personal study, preaching, teaching, and small group study. Like it’s predecessor, this new edition will be a trusted translation of the Bible for generations to come. In addition to the editions available through Zondervan the NASB 2020 is available directly through the Lockman Foundation.

Sola Scriptura

Editor’s Note: This resource was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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