Is the NASV better than the KJV?


This is the second time we have examined a chapter at random in the Bible looking for the improvements that we expected to find in the NASV, based upon the idea that a modern translation would be easier to read and understand than the KJV.  What we found, once again, is that the readings in this chapter are not clearer, more accurate or easier to understand.  In fact, they are worse.

We are comparing Jeremiah 23 in the NASV and the KJV.  We are not concerned with minor changes and we are not concerned with the multiple substitutions of words.  We are looking for improvements, things that make the Bible easier to read and comprehend.  Some of the findings that we cite may be seemingly insignificant to you, at first glance, but they are pretty important when you consider that there was no need to make a change in the first place unless it was going to be an improvement over what we already have in the KJV.

In this study, we will give the reference, the word or words as they appear in the KJV and then as they were changed in the NASV.  You should be able, then, to go to the text yourself and see the differences.  We list the changes in chronological order.  The changes toward the end of the chapter are more noteworthy than the changes at the beginning of the chapter.

Jer 23:2, KJV, “I will visit upon you the evil of your doings.”

Jer 23:2, NASV, “I am about to tend to you for the evil of your deeds.”

There are two things of importance here.  First, the word “visit” cross references verse 12, “the year of their visitation,” when God brings evil upon them.  Visitation is a common reference in the Bible to a time of judgment, and the Lord was just about to visit them with that judgment.  Second, to visit upon them the evil of their doings shows them clearly that they are about to get the same thing that they have been doing.  They have been scattering and driving away the Lord’s flock and not visiting them.  The Lord was getting ready to send Nebuchadnezzar in there to scatter them and drive them away, exactly as they were doing.  The NASV loses this precise repayment.

Jer 23:5, KJV, “I will raise unto David.”

Jer 23:5, NASV, “I shall raise up for David.”

“Unto David” indicates that the coming king will come forth from David’s seed as a descendant.  And in fact that is exactly from where Jesus comes.  “For David” is not that specific.  It is certainly not an improvement.

Jer 23:7, KJV, “the children ofIsrael.”

Jer 23:7, NASV, “the sons ofIsrael.”

Except for Deut 23:17 [a reference specifically to males], the sons of Israelare the ones listed by name in 1 Chr 2:1.  When referring to the Jews who came out of Egypt, they are always referred to as the “children of Israel” and not the sons of Israel.  That’s because God told Moses, “Israelis my son, [singular] even my firstborn,” (Ex 4:22).  Those in the Exodus were both male and female, and so they were not just “sons.”

Jer 23:10, KJV, “because of swearing.”

Jer 23:10, NASV, “because of the curse.”

References to “the curse” in the Bible are references to a specific curse like the one in Gen 3.  Here, the land was mourning because men were swearing in it and committing adultery in it, just like today.  This is a mistake in the NASV.

Jer 23:14, KJV, “they commit adultery, and walk in lies.”

Jer 23:14, NASV, “the committing of adultery and walking in falsehood.”

Seriously, do you think the reading in the NASV is simpler than the reading in the KJV?

Jer 23:16, 17, KJV, “a vision of their own heart … the imagination of his own heart.”

Jer 23:16, 17, NASV, “a vision of their own imagination … the stubbornness of his own heart.”

The trouble here comes a little later in verses 26 and 27.  The NASV made the changes and took the vision and the imagination out of the hearts of the false prophets.  Thus, when the NASV asks the question, “is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood,” you don’t know how to answer the question except to say that there was stubbornness in there and deception (v. 26).  What you don’t see is what the KJV shows you.  The KJV shows you that their visions and imaginations came forth from their own hearts (Gen 6:5, 8:21; Jer 17:9).  In other words, they made them up and that’s why they were so evil.  Notice also that in verses 26 and 27, the KJV only asks one question and then makes an affirmative statement.  The NASV asks two questions.

Jer 23:18, KJV, “who hath marked his word?”

Jer 23:18, NASV, “who has given heed to his word?”

This is one of those pet peeves.  Allegedly, the modern Bibles are supposed to have the common man’s language in them.  However, here is a classic example of where the common phrase is already in the KJV and the NASV removed it.  The common phrase is, “You’d better mark my words.”  That phrase is used by someone who knows that what he is saying is certain and there’s no doubt about it.

Jer 23:30, KJV, “the prophets … that steal my words everyone from his neighbor.”

Jer 23:30, NASV, “the prophets … who steal my words from each other.”

Here the NASV is blatantly in error.  The prophets weren’t stealing God’s words from each other; they were already messed up.  The false prophets were stealing his words from their neighbors, the ones who were depending upon what they said.  The prophets prophesied that God said something he did not say (v. 31), and they represented that their dreams were from the Lord which was a lie (v. 32).

Jer 23:33, KJV, “the burden.” (See also verses 34, 36, and 38).

Jer 23:33, NASV, “the oracle.” (See also verses 34, 36, and 38).

This is another gross error.  The burden of the Lord is the Lord’s pronouncement of a coming judgment (see Is 13:1, 15:1, 17:1, 19:1, 21:1, etc).  Here he tells the people to quit asking about the burden of the Lord because he has already given it to them and it isn’t going to change (see verses 39-40, for instance).  They could ask what the Lord had answered or what he had spoken, but they couldn’t say the “burden” of the Lord.  When the NASV changed “burden” to “oracle” they made a big boo-boo.  The oracle of God is a reference to his words (1 Pet 4:11), the holy of holies (1 Ki 6:16) or the place of inquiry of the Lord (2 Sam 16:23).  Here it would be a reference to his words.  So, if a fellow couldn’t ask what the words of the Lord (oracles) were how could he ask what the Lord had spoken or what the Lord had answered (verses 35 and 37) like he was told to do?  He would never know the answer or what the Lord had said if he couldn’t mention the oracle.  Hence, the NASV plainly has a contradiction in it as a result of this change.

We read the chapter in the KJV and found no difficulty understanding it.  We read the same chapter in the NASV and found no improvements or anything that was made clearer than in the KJV.  What we did find, though, was the removal of a common, everyday phrase, a contradiction, an error, two mistakes, and three passages that were vague and unclear as a result of the changes.  We fail to see how that is a step up over the KJV.

Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder