NASB 1977 vs 1995

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Just wondering what peoples thoughts were on these two revisions - 1977 and 1995. I take it the 1977 edition is more literal. Is that so?
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
I don’t have extensive experience with either, but I’ve been using them both recently and have noticed a little more gender neutral language in the 1995. I didn’t note where though, sorry. That’s all I know. I prefer the 1977.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I note that in 1 Peter 1 the NASB 77 uses the literal "gird the loins of your mind" whereas the NASB 95 reads "prepare your minds for action". I was surprised a literal translation would change to a less literal rendering.

In this particular instance, it might be less literal, but it brings out the sense of the passage quite nicely.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I note that in 1 Peter 1 the NASB 77 uses the literal "gird the loins of your mind" whereas the NASB 95 reads "prepare your minds for action". I was surprised a literal translation would change to a less literal rendering.
A literal translation changes to a less literal translation for one simple reason: it perceives a gain in understandability (See Richard's comment). There's a reason no one uses Young's Literal translation in church: it's very wooden and stilted and not really proper English. On the other hand, no one uses the Message for close analysis of the text. Every translation is a trade-off between comprehension and literality: the NASB 95 moves very slightly toward comprehension, probably because they thought more people (and churches) wanted a Bible they could understand than one for super close analysis. That's not a condemnation or criticism; different translation philosophies are better for different purposes, and the NASB was already a bit of a niche Bible. It's up to individual readers to decide whether that is a gain or a loss (for their Bible reading purposes).
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
What is the most literal English translation?

That question is really impossible to answer. The definition of and criteria for “literal” changes with each individual. In my studies, I have found that the question is in the end not very helpful to ask or answer.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Freshman
That question is really impossible to answer. The definition of and criteria for “literal” changes with each individual. In my studies, I have found that the question is in the end not very helpful to ask or answer.
Fair enough. I have seen on a scale that the NAS and the ESV are rated pretty high. Both mention it is as literal as possible while still doing some interpretation for readability.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
Fair enough. I have seen on a scale that the NAS and the ESV are rated pretty high. Both mention it is as literal as possible while still doing some interpretation for readability.

Yes, if by “literal” we mean a translation that strives for as close as possible to a one-to-one rendering of every word, and which has little to no interest in translating things like idioms and word concepts into an English equivalent, then the NASB and ESV are probably more “literal.”
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, if by “literal” we mean a translation that strives for as close as possible to a one-to-one rendering of every word, and which has little to no interest in translating things like idioms and word concepts into an English equivalent, then the NASB and ESV are probably more “literal.”
You bring up another good topic. What would be a good one for idioms and word concepts?
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
You bring up another good topic. What would be a good one for idioms and word concepts?

I know I draw the ire of many in the Reformed community for saying this, but the New Living Translation is probably one of the best translations of Scripture in this area. It has its flaws that are perhaps inherent with regard to more dynamic translations, but the scholarship behind it is top-notch. On the more "literal" side, the Christian Standard Bible is also very good in this area.
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
And I want to be clear, I don't think all idiomatic material should be transferred to an English equivalent. Some idioms still retain their substance across languages. All translations do this. Some do it more than others.
 

David Taylor

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, if by “literal” we mean a translation that strives for as close as possible to a one-to-one rendering of every word, and which has little to no interest in translating things like idioms and word concepts into an English equivalent, then the NASB and ESV are probably more “literal.”
Probably throw the Lexham English Bible into that hat as well.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Every translation is a trade-off between comprehension and literality
Thanks Iain. I was aware of this - I grew up in a KJV only background so spent time studying the merits of different Bible translations. To get to my point, it seems to me there is no advantage having a NASB 95 because the ESV fills this niche of a literal translation that is more 'dynamic' than a wooden translation.

I guess my question could be rephrased - if one wants a more literal modern translation than the ESV, is the NASB 77 the best choice?
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for all the info everyone. I actually use the NLT sometimes for that very reason. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. I just ordered a 77 NASB actually. I will also check out the lexham English Bible.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks Iain. I was aware of this - I grew up in a KJV only background so spent time studying the merits of different Bible translations. To get to my point, it seems to me there is no advantage having a NASB 95 because the ESV fills this niche of a literal translation that is more 'dynamic' than a wooden translation.

I guess my question could be rephrased - if one wants a more literal modern translation than the ESV, is the NASB 77 the best choice?
I think that is probably the case
 

Jonathco

Puritan Board Freshman
I have also heard that thy and thou is still used for the poetic sections.
I picked up a 73' NASB hardcover from a thrift store a few years back; it still has thee, thy, and thou in the poetry. I do not have a 77, but my understanding is that it is still there and was not removed until the 95 update.

It is even less literal, in my opinion, when you throw in the new NASB2020 update...

I have only read a few excerpts I found online, but the NASB 2020 looks like a terrible update. I put it in a similar place as the 2011 update of the NIV. :doh:
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Yes, the 1995 is slightly less "literal" in the "word for word" sense that the NASB was marketed until the 2020 came out.

Early editions of the 1995 included a logo with the statement "The Most Literal is Now More Readable." That being said, you can read chapter after chapter and hardly see any differences. I've attended churches where the pastor used the 77 and I had the 95 and there hasn't been a big difference most of the time. The most obvious difference is that the 1995 abandoned the practice of using "Thee," "Thy," and "Thou" when addressing deity.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Taylor, you said,

"I know I draw the ire of many in the Reformed community for saying this, but the New Living Translation is probably one of the best translations of Scripture in this area."​

For almost 50 of the 52 years I've been a disciple, I have used the (old/original) Living Bible to help me get a sense of the more difficult KJV passages. I very much appreciate the modern versions for the varying shades of meaning of words and phrases they bring out in their translations.

Edit: Thinking on what I said above, I saw I neglected the value—the joy actually—of consulting the Hebrew and the Greek (in my limited capacity), and the wonders of studying the words and their usage. This, I think is what David (the author, I believe, of Psalm 119) meant when he said, "The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of [coins of] gold and silver." (v. 72). Thousands of pieces of gold could easily be worth millions of dollars—but the words of life to the dying are of infinite value.
 
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