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You are Here: BibleSanity.org >> History of the Bible >> Why I Prefer the NASB to the NIV

Why I Prefer the NASB to the NIV

by Daniel Stanfield

Both the NASB and the NIV Bibles use the same critical texts, both are primarily American works by many scholars over many years, and both are relatively recent publications. Both of these versions clearly and accurately represent the Word of God. When choosing between these two versions, there are various areas of contrast which I have listed in order of significance.

1. Literal vs Dynamic Equivalence - NASB Literal Interpretation is preferred over Dynamic Equivalence. This is a philosophical distinction which refers to whether words or ideas are emphasized in the act of translation. The NASB uses literal interpretation and places the priority on detailed accuracy, but the NIV uses dynamic equivalence and places the priority on ease of readability and comprehension. It is my conviction that it is vastly more important that a Bible be accurate than that it be easily read, because it not only conveys the ideas, but must also maintain the details of God's revelation to man. Both versions are accurate and clear, but the priorities of each are evident.

2. Inclusion vs Omission - NASB The inclusion of questionable traditional verses is preferred over the omission of these verses. There are a large number of verses which are included in the KJV, the standard for almost 400 years, which are exclusive to the Byzantine family of texts. These verses are annotated in both the NASB and NIV, but the NASB includes them in the main text while the NIV regulates them to the footnotes. Both are acceptable but I strongly prefer, and personally require, the inclusion of these verses.

3. Popularity & Availability - NIV The NASB is one of the more popular alternative translations available, but the NIV has replaced the KJV as the current standard English Bible for individuals, churches, references, and computer software. The NIV version made up 45% of all the Bibles sold in the US in 1997. While the NASB enjoys fairly broad support, the NIV has universal support in Bible tools, a majority of which are only available in NIV in their latest revisions.

4. Reading Level - NASB The 12th Grade reading level is preferred over 7th grade reading level. In the "dumbing down" of the Word of God there is an indisputable trade off made between literary quality and ease of reading. While many people may appreciate the NIV's 7th grade reading level, I do not, and have found the resulting difference in literary quality disturbingly evident in many of the numerous passages which I have compared.

5. Overall Quality of Translation - NASB What is not clear, without relying on guided investigation, is the inconsistencies in translation by the NIV due to some undocumented deviations into irregular source texts, as well as a significant problem of translation errors and English text errors, which simply need the attention of careful revision. This is not to say that the NIV is particularly bad or that the NASB is without flaws, but the NIV is not the recipient of the same level of "attention to detail" as the NASB.

6. Similarity to KJV - NASB. There is an intentional similarity between the KJV and the NASB. Because millions of Americans are familiar with the KJV wording, this is both reasonable and to be appreciated. Also, because the KJV is also a literal style of translation, and a work of manifest accuracy, the NASB left much of the wording of the KJV relatively intact. The NIV does not share this objective, nor the literal style of translation, and there is no such welcoming familiarity to its pages.

(C) Copyright Daniel Stanfield, December 28,1999, updated 2007. This document is public domain and may be distributed freely, but may not be sold or modified.