The New American Standard Version
Can It Be Trusted? Should It Be Used By Bible Believers?
Fundamental Evangelistic Association
PO Box 6278 - Los Osos, CA 93412 U.S.A.
IN A PREVIOUS leaflet, Modern Bible Versions Are Dangerous-Watch Out For Them, we expressed our concern over the subtle ways in which Satan is attempting to pollute the Word of God and destroy confidence in the infallibility, inerrancy and verbal inspiration of the Scriptures through a multiplicity of new Bible versions, translations, revisions and paraphrases, each claiming to be the most accurate, up-to-date, reliable and readable. In this previous leaflet, we dealt briefly with some of the best known modern versions: the American Standard Version (ASV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New American Standard Version (NASV), the New International Version (NIV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the Good News for Modern Man (GNB) and the Living Bible (LB). We explained why we reject all of these versions and use only the King James Version (KJV). In this leaflet we will look specifically at the New American Standard Version (NASV) since it is the one most often endorsed and used by many fundamentalists and evangelicals-even those who have repudiated the other versions mentioned above.
Based on personal contacts and observations, it is our conclusion that most people (including many pastors) have accepted the NASV on the basis of its claims to be more accurate and up-to-date - or, they have accepted it on the recommendation of respected Christian leaders. Strangely enough, many of those who strongly oppose the Revised Standard Version favor the NASV, apparently unaware of how slavishly the NASV conforms to the RSV in many of the significant textual changes. As we have presented the material contained in this leaflet to various individuals and groups, specifically pointing out what the NASV has left out, changed or questioned, the overwhelming reaction has been first, one of amazement and second, one of deep concern. How could so many good Christian leaders be taken in by a translation which leaves out so much? The purpose of this leaflet is to encourage believers to take a careful look at the NASV to see just what has been left out, what has been changed and what has been called into question by either the text or the marginal references.
Let it be clear that the writer makes no claim to Greek or Hebrew scholarship. For this reason, we realize that some may reject our conclusions. Yet, we cannot believe that God would leave His Word at the mercy of "scholars" and make it impossible for the ordinary believer to be sure that he has a complete and accurate Bible. We have read what many of the scholars have to say and have found that they do not even agree among themselves. Most present-day "evangelical scholars" admit that the King James Version is basically a good translation. But many of them contend that the NASV is better and more accurate. WE REJECT THAT CONCLUSION! One does not have to be a scholar to know that if you believe in the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures, you cannot have two "Bibles" (differing in so many places) and still call both of them the Word of God! We contend that a choice can be made (and should be made) on the basis of a careful comparison of the KJV and NASV texts. Both cannot be reliable and right.
Before citing specific instances of important changes and differences between the KJV and NASV, it should be noted that many of these differences result from the fact that the translators and revisers worked from two different Greek texts. The KJV translators worked from the Greek text commonly referred to as the Textus Receptus (TR). This text, also known as the Received Text, was so named because over 95% of all the manuscripts containing portions or references to the New Testament Greek Text are in basic agreement with the Textus Receptus. On the other hand, the scholars who produced the NASV tell us that they worked basically from the 23rd edition of the Nestle Greek Text-a text very similar to the corrupted Westcott-Hort text. The Textus Receptus and the Westcott-Hort text differ in over 5,000 instances, resulting eventually in over 36,000 differences in the various English versions. While it is true that God has so wonderfully protected His Word that no major doctrine of Scripture has been completely obliterated, the translations based on the Westcott-Hort or Nestle Greek Texts reveal both subtle and frontal attacks on the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and other basic Scriptural doctrines.
In our study of the NASV, we were amazed to find how many verses, portions of verses and words (which are in the KJV) are completely missing from the NASV. At times, omissions will be indicated by a marginal reference. In other instances, no explanation is given at all. Many verses or portions of verses which DO appear in the NASV as well as the KJV have their validity questioned. This is usually accomplished through the use of brackets or marginal references which explain that many or most ancient manuscripts omit the bracketed portion. In this connection, it is important to give the verbatim explanation of these marginal references as given by ; the translators of the NASV. The translators say:
"In addition to the more literal renderings, the marginal notations have been made to include alternate translations, readings of variant manuscripts and explanatory equivalents of the text. Only such notations have been used as have been felt justified in assisting the reader's comprehension of the terms used by the original author."
We ask the question: "How can anyone be HELPED in their understanding of the Word of God when so many questions are raised about what should or should not be a part of the words of the text?" It is our judgment that the NASV marginal readings generally produce confusion, not confidence; they promote doubt, not faith! In themselves, the marginal references provide an additional reason to reject the NASV.
In presenting specific instances of serious differences between the King lames Version and the New American Standard Version, the following abbreviations will be used: King James Version (KJV); New American Standard Version (NASV); marginal reference (MR); manuscripts (MSS). Note the following verses, portions of verses or words which are in the KJV but are missing or questioned in the NASV:
Matthew 18:11-This verse, "For the Son of Man is come to save that which was lost" is in the NASV, but it is in brackets with a MR which says, "Most ancient MSS omit."
Matthew 27:35-NASV omits a major portion as follows: "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the prophet, 'They parted my garments among them and upon my vesture did they cast lots " There is NO marginal reference or explanation FOR THIS OMISSION.
Mark 1:1-The important words, "The Son of God" are in the NASV, but a MR says, "Many MSS omit."
Mark 15:28-The entire verse is missing in the NASV but in its place are the words (SEE MARGINAL NOTE). The MR says, "Later MSS add vs. 28." Interestingly, the liberal RSV text also omits this verse but its footnote says, "Many ancient authorities insert."
Luke 4:4-NASV omits the last part of this verse, "But by every Word of God" without ANY explanation whatever.
Luke 4:8-NASV omits the words, "Get thee behind me, Satan" without ANY explanation whatever.
Luke 4:18-NASV omits the words, "To heal the broken hearted " without ANY explanation whatever.
Luke 22:43-44 These two verses are in the NASV but a MR says, "Some ancient MSS omit."
Luke 23:42-NASV omits the word, "Lord, " an important omission, without explanation.
Luke 24:6-The first part of this verse, "He is not here but he is risen" is in the NASV but a MR says, "Some ancient MSS omit." It is interesting that the liberal RSV omits this portion of the verse but a footnote says, "Some ancient authorities add."
Luke 24:12-NASV has this verse in brackets with a MR saying, "Some ancient MSS omit."
Luke 24:36-NASV omits a portion of this verse: "And he says to them, 'Peace be to you' " but a MR says, "Some ancient MSS insert."
Luke 24:40-This verse is COMPLETELY MISSING in the NASV text-the words (SEE MARGINAL NOTE) appear in place of this verse. The MR says, "Some MSS add vs. 40."
Luke 24:51-NASV omits a portion of this verse "and was carried up into heaven" but a MR says, "Some MSS add." A corresponding footnote in the liberal RSV says, "Many ancient authorities add."
Luke 24:52-NASV omits the words "and worshipped Him" and the MR says, "Some MSS insert." The liberal RSV footnote says, "Many ancient authorities add."
John 1:27-The words "is preferred before me" are MISSING in the NASV with NO EXPLANATION why they were deleted.
John 6:47-The words "on me" are COMPLETELY MISSING in the NASV with NO EXPLANATION.
Acts 8:37-NASV omits the entire verse and uses the now familiar (SEE MARGINAL NOTE) which says, "Later MSS insert." Those who teach the heresy of baptismal regeneration welcome this omission.
Acts 9:6-The words "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" are COMPLETELY MISSING WITHOUT EXPLANATION.
Romans 16:24-NASV OMITS THE ENTIRE VERSE. In its place is (SEE MARGINAL NOTE) which says, "Some ancient MSS add vs. 24)."
Ephesians 3:9-KJV reads, "Who created all things BY JESUS CHRlST." NASV omits "BY JESUS CHRIST" with ABSOLUTELY NO EXPLANATION OR MARGINAL NOTE.
1 John 4:3-The KJV properly reads, "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God " But the NASV reads, "And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God." There is no manuscript authority cited nor any explanation given for this important change in the text-a change which even the liberal Revised Standard Version does not make.
Revelation 1:11-NASV omits the words "l am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last" WITH ABSOLUTELY NO EXPLANATION.
Many other specific examples could be given if space permitted. There are several very helpful publications available that provide a summary of textual differences and that also deal with the subject of Bible versions in more depth than we are able to in this leaflet. One such publication is Evaluating Versions of the New Testament by Everett W. Fowler, published by Maranatha Baptist Press; this booklet documents hundreds of changes and omissions.
There are also some very subtle and less obvious changes which have been made in the NASV text. Note the following:
Luke 24:47-The words in the KJV read "repentance AND forgiveness of sins" but the NASV reads "repentance FOR forgiveness of sins." The NASV marginal reading says, "Some MSS read 'AND forgiveness'," so they deliberately chose a rendering which raises the question of salvation by faith vs. salvation by works- an amazing decision by supposedly fundamental or evangelical scholars.
John 9:35-NASV substitutes "Son of Man" for "Son of God" with ABSOLUTELY NO EXPLANATION.
1 Timothy 3:16-the NASV text replaces the word "God" with "He" although the MR says "Some MSS read 'God'." This is a key verse concerning the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, the NASV scholars preferred a rendering which blunts this precious truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-Here is a subtle change suggested by the marginal note rather than the text itself. This key verse concerning the complete inspiration of the Scriptures properly reads in the NASV text, "All scripture is inspired by God . . " but the MR says, "Or, possibly, 'Every scripture inspired of God is profitable...."' No citation of manuscript authority is given-but this suggested possible change does make it conform to the liberal Revised Standard Version.
Now you see it-now you don't! Maybe it's in- maybe it's out! A sleight of hand performance has been perpetrated upon unsuspecting believers by the NASV. Is this any way to handle the precious, infallible, inerrant Word of God? Of course it is true that some words and expressions in the KJV are no longer in common usage or have changed somewhat in meaning. But this is no excuse for trying to replace the KJV with a version like the NASV which updates some words and expressions but leaves out or questions the validity of many words, portions of verses, entire verses and even extensive portions as in Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11.
It should be clear that no version of the Bible could ever be produced in which every word would be readily understood by everyone. But that is where cross-references, footnotes, etc., become helpful. They explain without changing the words of the text itself. God has used expository preaching and teaching and the use of Bible commentaries and concordances to instruct and build up the believers. But the purity of the text itself MUST BE PRESERVED! Let the commentaries be clearly labeled as such-they are the works of men and are subject to error. BUT LET THE BIBLE STAND SUPREME AS THE UNCHANGING WORD OF THE LIVING GOD-without the tampering minds and fingers of man.
In closing, we cite one further instance of an important change in the NASV-a change which bears directly on our responsibility as believers to separate from false teachers and doctrines:
1 Timothy 6:5-Referring to "men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth," the KJV properly concludes this verse with the clear command of God: "FROM SUCH WITHDRAW THYSELF." The NASV omits COMPLETELY these four important words (in this case again following the liberal RSV text) with absolutely NO EXPLANATION OR INDICATION THAT ANYTHING IS MISSING FROM THE TEXT.
The issue of Bible translations is not a minor issue as some seem to feel. If we do not have a sure foundation, we really have no foundation at all. Both reason and consistency demand that if one holds the NASV to be the most accurate version, then it should replace the KJV. However, many pastors, schools and religious organizations say that they will continue to use only the King James Version from the pulpit, platform and for study and memorization, yet at the same time they promote and defend the NASV which differs so greatly from the KJV and conforms so closely to other modern versions which they have repudiated.
We believe a choice can be made-AND SHOULD BE MADE! We believe the choice should be to use and recommend ONLY the King James Version of the Bible.
Several excellent books have been written on this important subject which are helpful to those who want more complete and thorough information. We have written this leaflet with the hope and prayer that it will inform God's people of the very subtle attack which is being made upon the very foundation of the Christian faith-the Bible! We urge God's people to make their own study of this matter.
- M.H. Reynolds, Editor, FOUNDATION MAGAZINE