It reads like something one would encounter in a modern-day spy novel; a kidnapping heist designed to whisk away a wanted man to a secret location, hired thieves smuggled Martin Luther to Wartburg Castle after the Diet of Worms in 1521. While in hiding and under a new identity (Junker George), he successfully translated the entire New Testament into the common language of the German people in three months. Though far from analogous, almost exactly five-hundred years later The Lockman Foundation partnered with John MacArthur and scholars from The Master’s University and Seminary to produce another translation of the Bible, the Legacy Standard Bible (LSB). These scholars successfully updated the NASB 1995 in less than one year while working directly from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek sources. The result is a consistent and accurate translation that honors the inspired words of its Author and maintains the word-for-word translation philosophy of the NASB. Let’s look inside at some of the features of the Legacy Standard Bible.

Formatting Features

Italics

The Legacy Standard Bible, like its forbear, the NASB 1995, consistently italicizes words in the translation that the grammar of the original languages implies or is not in the original languages at all. The scholars working on this translation sought to eliminate as many additional words as possible while still maintaining readability in English.  By eliminating unnecessary additional words, the scholars ensured that the inspired Word of God stands out and maintained the trustworthiness of the translation.

Brackets

The Legacy Standard Bible utilizes brackets in three ways. Within the text of Scripture, the LSB uses double brackets to indicate words that are “very likely not in the original manuscripts” and single brackets to denote passages in the Bible that are not in the oldest available manuscripts. The brackets and footnote on John 7:53-8:11 demonstrate an example of the latter.

This feature can help alleviate concerns from those who think verses are missing from their Bibles while ensuring the integrity of the translation. The LSB also uses brackets in the footnotes to “indicate references to a name, place, or thing similar to, but not identical with that in the text.”

Footnotes

There are two types of footnotes in the Legacy Standard Bible. The LSB uses numerical footnotes to provide a more literal rendering of the word or phrase in the original language. Here’s an example from the account of the triumphal entry in Matthew 21:4.

Another way the LSB uses numerical footnotes is to explicitly note when the referent is Yahweh in passages the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament. The significance of this is often overlooked since we are so accustomed to translations using the small caps “Lord” for Yahweh in the Old Testament, thus translating it the same as the Greek “Lord” (kurios). The significance of how the New Testament authors quoted the Old Testament and applied passages to Jesus that were clearly referring to Yahweh has extraordinary implications for understanding Jesus’ deity. Here’s another example from Matthew 21:9 quoting from Psalm 118:26.

The LSB uses alphabetical footnotes in cross-referencing other passages of Scripture. We can see this clearly again in Matthew 21.

Acrostics

A recognized feature of Hebrew poetry that often gets missed in English translations is the acrostic. The LSB seeks to break that tendency by labeling all known acrostics “with each section having its respective Hebrew letter and English transliteration.” Here’s an example of the acrostic found in Proverbs 31:10-31.

Small Caps

A final formatting feature of the LSB is the use of small caps to indicate New Testament quotations or allusions to Old Testament texts. This, along with the cross-reference footnote feature described above, helps the reader see the extensive and diverse use of the Old Testament by the New Testament authors. They were truly filled with the Scriptures. A unique example of this is Paul’s allusion to Job 13:16 in Philippians 1:19.

The allusion provides a certain depth to Paul’s understanding and confidence in spite of his imprisonment. Paul, in his distress, exemplifies the faith Job displayed in his distress.

Translation Features

Lord Translated as Yahweh or Yah

The preface to the LSB provides this explanation for not using the traditional “Lord” in small caps in the place of the tetragrammaton.

“In the LSB, God’s covenant name is rendered as Yahweh. The meaning and implication of this name is God’s self-deriving, ongoing, and never-ending existence. Exodus 3:14-15 shows that God himself considered it important for His people to know His name. The effect of revealing God’s name is His distinction from other gods and His expression of intimacy with the nation of Israel. Such a dynamic is a prevalent characteristic of the Scriptures as Yahweh [or it’s shortened version Yah] appears in the OT over 6,800 times.”

Here’s an example of how it looks in Psalm 37, which happens to also be an acrostic.

Doulos Translated as Slave

Another considerable change in translation is the consistent translation of the Greek word doulos as slave. The translation scholars say this change,

“Upholds the lexical definition of the term, its consistent translation, and its distinction from other terms that do denote a ‘servant.’ Such consistency also highlights a biblical theological reality that Christians were slaves of sin but now are slaves of Christ (Rom 6:16-22). Biblical writers did not shy from this term because it condemned a wicked form of slavery (i.e., to sin, Satan, and death), highlighted the power of redemption, and affirmed one’s total submission to the lordship of Christ.”

Here’s how it looks in Revelation 1, a passage translated as “bond-servants” in the NASB.

Consistent Translation of Key Words

The scholars involved in this translation revision sought to maintain translation consistency throughout. Here’s some of the reasoning and benefits of this approach.

“[The revision] established rules for the consistent translation of terms within their various nuances. This allows the reader to more easily reconstruct what the original texts said. It also helps the reader more easily trace the flow of the argument within the text, identify when the same word is used in another passage, and make connections between texts.”

As an example, a change was made to consistently translate the Greek word sperma in Galatians 3 as “seed.” Galatians 3:16 says “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And To Your Seed,’ that is, Christ.” Building on the biblical significance of the “seed,” Paul is making the point that Jesus is the seed of Abraham to whom the promises were made. He stresses this point in light of the giving of the Law as something that cannot disrupt the promise. He then returns to this idea in Galatians 3:29 to describe how those “in Christ” are included in the promise. “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.” The consistent translation of the word demonstrates the powerful significance of Jesus as the seed of Abraham and how those who belong to Him are included in the promise as well.

The Legacy Standard Bible

Given the fact that the Legacy Standard Bible was produced in less than one year, it is easy to recognize how incredible a feat that was. However, the legacy of the LSB won’t be in how it was produced but in how those who read and study the Word of God encounter the God of the Word. The scholars involved in this translation worked tirelessly to accurately and consistently translate the Scriptures as God Himself inspired them. Start reaping from their labor and add the Legacy Standard Bible to your Olive Tree library today! Also available with Strong’s tagging!

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