What is The Legacy Standard Bible
“It is mainly meant to preserve what you have in the New American Standard Bible, particularly the 1977 and 1995 editions. That’s why it’s called the Legacy Standard Bible because its goal is to promote the tradition and the philosophy that those translations held fast to. But, in addition to promoting that, it is primarily meant to preserve it for future generations.”
What is The Purpose For The Legacy Standard Bible Translation?
“In the providence of God, several months before the entire Legacy Standard Bible Project commenced, an individual came up to me and said, ‘Would you like to translate the term doulos (slave)? Do you think that that’s appropriate?’
And I said, Absolutely. He said, ‘Would you like to translate the Tetragrammaton in the Old Testament as Yahweh so that people know what that means and can address God by His name?’ I said, Absolutely. We went back and forth, and there were many discussions about new improvements in translation.
He asked, ‘What would happen if I just helped you to do your own translation? What would it take to do that?’ I said it would take a minimum of six years. There’s no way we can do it. We don’t need another one. Several months later, Dr. MacArthur told me that Lockman offered for us to do our translation derivative in the preservation of the NASB. He said, ‘Do you want to do it? How about a year?’
This is of the Lord. This wasn’t because we aspired to do this. This was put in our lap with significant disagreements regarding where the NASB 2020 is heading. We understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Sure, but we believed that the NASB 95 was on a better trajectory for people to study, grow, and listen to expository preaching.
Lockman generously said, ‘Well, if that’s your conviction, would you want to do your own? Would you want to try and have a stab at that?’ It wasn’t something we had planned on, and having seen the Lord’s good hand in it all, we just responded and went to work. It was a joyful work, even though it was intense.”
The Difference Between Formal Equivalent and Dynamic Equivalent Translations
“A formal equivalence emphasizes what the text says. It is designed to correspond to as many features of the original text as possible. A dynamic equivalent, while still attempting some connections with what is said, emphasizes why it is said.
Not just the words and their correspondence, but it is trying to equally convey the ideas given by the combination of those features. One emphasizes what is written and what has been written, and the other emphasizes what that means.
Those things matter because sometimes, when we summarize, we ask people, ‘Is that exactly what that guy said?’ And it’s not exactly the words, but that’s the idea. Sometimes we need to know exactly what someone said. Because that precision makes a difference, it can change the nuances and implications of what the text said.”
Why is it Important to Have a Literal Rendering of The Bible?
“I like to use the analogy of a window. When you look through a window, the goal is to look to the other side. The goal of a formal equivalent translation is to be as clear of a window as possible. When you look through it, you can see the other side of the original text and expect that the original text reads and has been written a certain way.
A dynamic equivalent says some people need a little bit of help and clarification. So instead of transparent glass behind the original text, its goal is to be a bit more like stained glass.”
Why do we need a transparent translation?
“The answer goes back to theology and our belief about the nature of scripture. We believe that the Bible is inspired, that every single word of the scriptures is from God, deliberately crafted and designed and meant by Him. A man wrote scripture, but the Spirit carried that, so what they said was from God.
2 Peter 1 reminds us that man’s and God’s words are the same. In Joshua 23, we are reminded that no good word of all of the words that God promised ever failed. God is precise in the word. Because every word is from God, and because we know we are held accountable, not just to the ideas of scripture, but to every single word, translators must provide people with the words of scripture that God meant and deliberately designed.
We need to make sure all of the text can come together so that every time a word is used, people can say, ‘I bet it’s that word.’ Sometimes, specialized terms carry such rich and deep theology. We want to know what that word is in the text. Sometimes, the Greek translation of the New Testament is so literal that it was difficult for a Greek person at that time to read. Why? Because words matter. In the same way, in the original writing of the text, sometimes it was a little bit awkward to read.
That’s the way God chose to write it for theological reasons. So by making it more readable in that regard, we’re making it something different than what the original readers would’ve experienced.”
Is There a Place For Paraphrasing The Scripture?
“There are a lot of tools in our toolbox that we can use. Far be it from me to say there’s no room for anything other than what I’ve just said. We recognize that synonyms are helpful if you’re trying to explain what loving kindness means. Sometimes other translations fill in different phrases and words, bringing out nuances that are helpful for an explanation.
Sometimes we might say to young children, ‘Start with this. It’s going to give you a paraphrase and the main ideas. But, as preachers, we don’t just stand up on Sunday morning, read the Bible, and say goodbye. We explain it; we expound on it. We give the depth of it. That’s part of God’s design for the church. That’s an instrument.”
Why The Legacy Standard Bible Uses Literal Renderings of The Text
“The team’s motto was ‘put the note in the text.’ So if there was a literal thing and we can make it make sense, we could make it work, then we want it there. This is what was written down in the original text, and sometimes we had to maintain that, but as much as possible, we wanted to move that into the text so that it’s the first thing people see. Then, eventually, we start to build a vocabulary from that.
When you start to see the words used the same way, and you know the context that they’re used and the nuance they’re used, it builds a mental dictionary. You’re building up a repertoire of nuance and depth on these individual terms and phrases. That’s the entire goal.”
Why Does The Legacy Standard Bible Use The Divine Pronouns?
“Our goal is always to help the reader understand what was written in the text. When there is an explicit grammatical connection between a pronoun and the reverent God, we maintain the capitalization, just like the New American Standard Bible. It’s part of preserving that legacy. It’s also useful for the reader to know when the text refers to God.”
Dr. Abner Chou’s Concerns About The 2020 New American Standard Bible
Lockman wanted to say they were trying to be ‘gender accurate.’ You’d have brothers and sisters written throughout the 2020 NASB. That was a major problem. The original text doesn’t have that language. If the Bible wanted to use that language, it could have. It chose not to for very specific reasons. By adjusting our language, we may inadvertently ingrain a different way of thinking in our people. If you need the pastor to explain, let the pastor explain. That’s the biblical model. That’s why pastors and teachers exist. They are there to explain the Bible.
I don’t have the right to translate the word of God the way I want to or to prevent offense. I have an obligation to translate it accurately so that the word in a transferred understanding is matched. We are not here to please men. We are here to glorify God.”
The Resources Available Upon Purchasing The Legacy Standard Bible
“There are a variety of formats available from a single column to dual column. Putting notes in the margins as you have in a NASB reference Bible matters too. We worked hard on those notes. Those notes are meant to help the reader to make connections so they can see the repeated pattern of a phrase. It is scripture comparing within itself.
We’re assisting in that process, even on a language level. We want those notes to be available. One of the nice things is that we will have an inner column reference. Instead of putting the notes on the outer margin of a single column, we’re going to put them on the inside toward where the book’s spine will be. The real hope was to think about the reading experience and to put things on the page where they made sense. At the same time, there are online electronic resources. You can use Blue Letter Bible or Legacy Standard Bible’s site.”
What Dr. Abner Chou Learned While Translating The Bible
“We have yet to learn how deep the doctrine of inspiration is. The Bible is so perfect. You begin to realize as you do the statistical analysis and the linguistic work on the Bible that every word does matter. There are no coincidences. That means every word should be studied and can be studied, and that’s the beauty of the scripture. It’s amazing because it’s from God, and I hope that the Legacy Standard Bible becomes a tool that allows people to have their lives transformed and have their worship exalted higher and higher for the Lord Jesus.”
About Dr. Abner Chou
Dr. Abner Chou currently serves as the President and the John F. MacArthur Endowed Fellow of The Master’s University and Seminary. He began teaching Greek at the University in 2004 and from there has taught a variety classes in Bible and theology. In 2017, in recognition of his commitment to academic and theological excellence in research, writing, teaching and leadership, Dr. Chou became the first and only fully funded research chair at The Master’s University, serving as the John F. MacArthur Endowed Fellow. In the legacy of Dr. MacArthur’s unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ and the inerrant Word of God, Dr. Chou’s primary charge in this position is to ensure the doctrinal integrity of The Master’s University through influence in research, writing and teaching. Recently, Dr. Chou has served as head translator for both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Legacy Standard Bible and is currently engaged in a commentary series on the entire Old Testament.
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