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I am not going to assume but I am going to make some educated inferences about the Lockman Foundation and the NASB. First, let me preface it with I respect the NASB and every translator that has worked on it from the beginning.
I certainly have no problem with updating a translation because I am doing that right now with the Updated American Standard Version (UASV), which I am happy to announce will be done by March 31, 2021. We too (Christian Publishing House) are updating the ASV, which means removing the archaic language but not removing the literal renderings that may slow a reader down. as we feel (1) slowing the reader down encourages deeper Bible study, (2) it is more accurate to keep the literal rendering and place the interpretive rendering in the footnote. Now, this is not to say that some literal renderings do not need to be placed in the footnote and the word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as the literal word or phrase in the main text. But for us, that is very few cases. It WAS very few cases with the NASB1995 too. In fact, it was the case since 1960 for the NASB.
You see the Lockman Foundation and the NASB have enjoyed and rode the wave of being referred to as the most literal translation and, the most accurate translation. Google this question, “What is the most accurate Bible translation,” and you will easily and decisively find article after article listing the NASB first and foremost.
They proudly rode that horse bragged and boasted as such. They argued for decades that literal translation philosophy was superior. And when they spoke about literal translation, they meant it. The NASB translation philosophy was nothing like the 1952 Revised Standard Version, the 2001 English Standard Version, and the 2017 Christian Standard Bible, all who claim to be literal in some sense. The ESV is essentially literal, which in my mind means essentially the Word of God. The CSB is an Optimal Equivalent translation, no real hardcore claim to literalness but tries to get their foot in that market too.
Now, I could sit here and type out and argue why literal translation is so important but I would simply be echoing the words of NASB translators have been using for decades but are now trying to nuance so they can move into a new market with the ESV and the CSB. Yes, I am going to offer my opinion now.
I think the Lockman Foundation has done a great service to the Bible reading world but I think its primary goal has always been to try and market to as many audiences as possible, which sounds altruistic, but not really. It has tried to cling to the Westcott and Hort and Nestle-Aland world with its modern-day translation and at the same time retain the Textus Receptus King James Version readers by keeping known textual errors in the main text. I would assume every NT translator knows what the original readers were, but the publisher sought to capture two markets.
Now, that approach was good for decades because the King James Version still rules the Bible sales world. But as each decade passed, especially when the NIV really started to take over the market in the 1980s, Christians were starting to step away from the King James Version but stepped over the body of the NASB for an NIV. It is kind of like the Harley Davidson motorcycle. You never saw Harley commercials because, well there was only one real motorcycle, the Harley Davidson. Then, after decades, the market moved, and Harley was slow to see the need to pick up its marketing.
After the NIV, a hundred dynamic have come on the scene and take small percentages of the market, but when added together, they were good sales. Then, in 2001 the ESV came out trying to straddle the market and it did a great job presenting the idea you can have the best of both worlds. Many books were written by their translators that spoke of the importance of literal translation philosophy. They seldom used the qualifier “essentially” literal because they wanted to slowly capture both worlds. And they did just that. Now the 2017 CSB has done the same and taken a portion of the market. This new philosophy of having your cake and eating it too, that is, trying to have two good things that do not normally go together at the same time, namely, literal translation cake and interpretive translation icing.
Well, the writing was on the wall, just as the conservative historical-grammatical principles of Bible interpretation gave way to the liberal-moderate historical-critical method of interpretation, so to the literal translation philosophy is giving way to the interpretive dynamic equivalent translation philosophy.
So, the NASB has now dipped its toe into the dynamic equivalent translation philosophy of the shallow end of the pool, how long will it be before they are swimming in the deep end. in the late 1890s, R. A. Torrey and others came together in a battle against higher criticism, and for a time they held liberal Christianity at bay. However, today we only have about ten truly conservative seminaries in America, out of thousands. And five of those ten are playing the middle ground as the NIV does in translation.
In 1901, literal translations ruled the day and continued to do so until the 1980s. Today, dynamic equivalent translations have the largest share of the market and then you have the having your cake and eating it too translations (ESV, CSB, LEB, and the NASB), trying to cover their bases.
The Lexham English Bible is right there with the ESV but more literal. The CSB is more literal than the NIV but not close to the ESV and the LEB.
I am here to promise that the forthcoming UASV is going to remain literal in the sense of the 1901 ASV and the 1960-1995 NASB. We are not going to play both sides of the field with Textus Receptus corruption, nor are we going to play the same side of the field with translation philosophy. There is no committee, there is no publisher that can change things because I am the committee and the publisher.
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