Posted On December 18, 2020

LSB, NASB 2020, NASB 1995: Three-Way Comparisons in Psalm 65 and Mark 4

by | Dec 18, 2020 | Theology

With the recent release of the LSB text of Psalm 65,  we now have an opportunity to examine the LSB’s handling of an Old Testament passage in addition to the earlier release of the entire Gospel of Mark.

Psalm 65

Within Psalm 65, a line-by-line glance through the highlights reveals that only a handful of changes are unanimous between LSB and NASB 2020. Moreover, the changes really feel like they’re going in opposite directions: the LSB towards the more technical and the NASB 2020 towards the more readable.

On the potentially conspiratorial end, we also see what could be a Calvinist vs. Arminian divide. The LSB changes the NASB 1995’s title from “God’s Abundant Favor to Earth and Man” to “Blessed is the One Whom You Choose.” The moment I saw this, I had to write the note, “They’re definitely Calvinists!” You’ll later find how the NASB 2020 handles the first line of verse 4: “Blessed is the one You choose and allow to approach You.” (bolded emphasis mine). The LSB leaves the NASB 1995 unchanged here: “How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You.”

See the Psalm 65 PDF here. (This works best on a computer.)

The disputed verb in verse 4 is the Hebrew קרב (qarav), which has a plain meaning of “to come near” or “to approach.” However, this instance is in the piel stem. Pratico and Van Pelt’s Basics of Biblical Hebrew lists four main uses of the piel stem:

  • intensive (he broke ➡ he destroyed)
  • factitive (to be holy ➡ to sanctify)
  • denominative (when a verb is derived from a noun or adjective, such as priest ➡ to serve as priest)
  • iterative (to go, walk ➡ to pace, walk around)

Thus, a basic factitive understanding of this verb in the piel stem would be “cause to approach.” However, HALOT — the most authoritative lexicon of Old Testament Hebrew and Aramaic — specifically translates “to allow to approach” for Psalm 65:4*. So is this an Arminian conspiracy? Did the NASB 2020 translators get soft? The answer is not necessarily ‘yes,’ but one has to wonder if the LSB translators wrote the header as a reaction to the NASB 2020.

Mark 4

In Mark 4, Jesus teaches us the familiar Parable of the Sower, but it’s a passage where the LSB and NASB 2020 have diverged from the 1995 in the same direction. In Mark 4:16, the 1995 reads:

In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;

(NASB 1995)

But the NASB 2020 reads:

And in a similar way these are the ones sown with seed on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;

(NASB 2020)

And the LSB goes in a similar direction:

And in a similar way, these are the ones being sown on the rocky places: those who, when hearing the word, immediately receive it with joy;

This mode of translation persists in verses 18 and 20. It would appear that both translation groups agree that the NASB 1995 has made an error which they seek to correct.

See the Mark 4 PDF here. (This works best on a computer.)

This chart also illustrates well how the LSB has made a strong emphasis on translating imperfect Greek verbs with continuous actions like “were saying” and “were yielding.”

Mark 4:37 is a rare anomaly in which it appears the NASB 2020 has gone more literal than the LSB, but you’ll likely agree that the LSB sounds much more like the NASB 1995, which will make fans of the 1995 much more likely to favor the LSB.

Overall

With what I’m able to see for now, the LSB looks like it will be a solid update to the NASB 1995 that will please the latter’s present reader base. I cannot say the same of the NASB 2020, which may be worthwhile to have as a reference tool, but is otherwise a translation seeking readership that may not actually materialize.


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* This is a popular-level blog, so I’m using English Bible verses. HALOT itself actually says Psalm 65:5 because Hebrew Bible verse numbering sometimes differs from English Bibles.

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