“After completion in 1971, the NASB was updated in 1977, 1995, and most recently in 2020, according to the best scholarship available at the time. The purposes of the updates have been to increase accuracy, clarity, and readability. Every aspect of vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and meaning was carefully reviewed during each update. The result is an accurate translation that clearly communicates the Word of God in contemporary English.The NASB 2020 is an update of the NASB 1995 that further improves accuracy where possible, modernizes language, and improves readability. These refinements maintain faithful accuracy to the original texts and provide a clear understanding of God’s Word to those who prefer more modern English standards. The long-established translation standard for the NASB remains the same as it always has been, that is to accurately translate the inspired Word of God from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts into modern English that is clearly understandable today.” Pike Lambeth, Executive Vice President, The Lockman Foundation.
The NASB 2020 represents a substantial revision from the current NASB 1995. This is to be expected since the NASB revises their translation relatively infrequently compared to most modern translations. It has only been revised twice in its nearly 50 year history. To obtain a copy – click here.
Another point of interest as it concerns the NASB is that it still permits the 1977 version to be published and will continue publishing the 1995 version concurrent to the 2020. Most publishers discontinue previous editions of their texts. This decision by the Lockman Foundation allows people to choose which version they are most comfortable with. This alleviates any concerns for people who have memorized the NASB 1995 and are more comfortable with its classic style of literary English. (At this point in time all Schuyler Bibles use the 1995 version. Schuyler has plans for a single column format NASB 2020 to be published in 2021. Schuyler will continue to publish the 1995 version for the foreseeable future.)
NASB 2020 Distinctions. For those who have used the NASB 1995 for the past 25 years, here are some details of the NASB 2020 that may stand out to you. First, even though this is a substantial revision of the NASB 1995, the NASB 2020 version retains 94% of the NASB 1995 text. Second, one of the stated goals of the Lockman Foundation is to “clearly communicate the Word of God in contemporary English, ” that is, to make the text more available to the modern reader. Archaic (antiquated) language has been updated.
For example in the book of Ephesians the word “aliens” has been changed to “foreigners,” “lose heart” changed to “become discouraged,” “implore” changed to “urge,” “tender-hearted” changed to “compassionate,” “girded your loins” changed to “belted your waist,” “coarse jesting” changed to “vulgar joking.” These are changes that amount to making the translation more accessible to a younger generation. As we looked over the changes in the book of Ephesians most seemed like straightforward modernized renditions of antiquated words.
The third component to this update is the use of “Gender Accurate” language. The stated goal here is not “inclusivity” per se, but rather accuracy and faithfulness to the intentions of the Biblical authors. An example is found in Matthew 4:19, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of people.” (bold added) “People” translates the Greek word anthropoi – which means “human beings.” “Men” works in this verse only if it is assumed by the audience that “Men” refers to both men and women.
Romans 5:12 – “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind, because all sinned.” (bold added). In this case the NASB 2020 uses “mankind” for anthropoi (human beings). Mankind denotes “human beings” in a similar way “people” is used in other passages. Notice the word “man” in Romans 5:12 remains unchanged because it is clearly referring to a male subject.
1 Timothy 2:1 – “First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made in behalf of all people.” (bold added) Again the word “anthropos” is translated as “people” instead of “men” – because “men” can be understood as only males in modern English. Clearly anthropos should be understood as referring generically to all humans – therefore it would seem that “people” is in some sense a more accurate translation.
1 Timothy 2:3 – “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (bold added with similar explanation as above)
1 Timothy 2:5 – “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” “Mankind” is used to translate “anthropos” because “mankind” like “people” denotes human beings in general and not only “men.” There are some of you reading this that may be thinking something like, “Everyone knows ‘man’ and ‘men’ in certain circumstances refers to people generically, that is to both males and females.” Most modern translations believe that this generic use of “men” and “man” to include all people is no longer widely understood in modern English. It is not a compromise or cultural accommodation. It is in fact the translators’ best effort to accurately translate words in such a way as to convey the author’s intention to the modern reader. This same logic is used for adam, enosh, and ish in the Old Testament,
Genesis 6:5 – “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. (bold added). In this case the Hebrew word “adam” is translated “mankind” since it is clear from the context that it refers not only to the male gender, but humans in general.
Similarly, the Greek word “adelphoi” which means “brothers,” is now translated brothers and sisters (bold added) in the New Testament when it is clear that the intention of the author was to include both men and women:
Romans 12:1 – “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.” The NASB 1995 translates “adelphoi” as “brethren.” The ESV inserts a footnote (“or brothers and sisters”). The NIV simply uses “brothers and sisters.” The NASB 2020’s use of italics seems to be the clearest way to express the author’s intention and at the same time allows the reader to understand that “and sisters” has been added because of context. The NASB (like the KJV & NKJV) puts words that are implied – but not in the original languages – in italics in order to show the reader which words have been added by the translators for clarity or grammatical necessity. Since the Greek word adelphoi literally means “brothers” the NASB put “and sisters” in italics to show the reader “and sisters” is implied though not in the Greek.
With these few examples it should be clear that the NASB 2020 has updated its text to reflect modern English in both its translation of archaic words and its careful use of gender accurate conventions. The result is a translation that remains faithful to the original languages and at the same time becomes more accessible to the modern reader. Both of these goals are accomplished without compromising the accuracy that distinguishes the NASB from among its peers. If you have any questions feel free to send an email and we’ll be happy to find the answer! You can preorder Lockman’s first copies of the NASB 2020 here.
Here are a few example passages comparing the NASB 2020 to the NASB 1995. Verses start with the NASB 2020. The NASB 1995 follows underneath in [brackets]
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I will not be in need.
[1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.]
2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
[2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.]
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For the sake of His name.
[3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.]
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
[ 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.]
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
[5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.]
6 Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life, And my dwelling will be in the house of the LORD forever.
[6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.]
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
[1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;]
2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
[2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.]
3 But sexual immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints;
[3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;]
4 and there must be no filthiness or foolish talk, or vulgar joking, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
[4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.]
5 For this you know with certainty, that no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, which amounts to an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
[5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.]
6 See that no one deceives you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
[6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.]
7 Therefore do not become partners with them;
[7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;]
8 for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light
[8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light]
9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),
[9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),]
10 as you try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
[10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.]
11 Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
[11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;]
12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
[12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.]
13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
[13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.]
14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”
[14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”]
15 So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise,
[15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,]
16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
[16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.]
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
[17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.]
18 And do not get drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
[18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,]
19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord;
[19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;]
20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;
[20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;]
21 and subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.
[21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.]
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise from the dead.
[31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.]
32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
[32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.]
33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s purposes, but on man’s.”
[33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”]
34 And He summoned the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.
[34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.]
35 For whoever wants to save his alife will lose it, but whoever loses his alife for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
[35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.]
36 For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
[36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?]
37 For what could a person give in exchange for his soul?
[37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?]
38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
[For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”]
Here is Acts 15 (the Jerusalem Council) which shows how cautious the NASB 2020 is with the use of gender accurate nouns. (Compare to ESV NIV NLT – all bold is for emphasis)
1 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
2And after Paul and Barnabas had a heated argument and debate with them, the brothers determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.
3Therefore, after being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they were bringing great joy to all the brothers and sisters.
4When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.
5But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to keep the Law of Moses.”
6The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.
7After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
8And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
9and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
10Since this is the case, why are you putting God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear?
11But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”
12 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles.
For further information about the NASB 1995 and 2020 including translation philosophy, names of translators, gender accuracy etc., please visit Lockman’s website.