Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Errancy in the NASB

I was distressed to discover today an error in my preferred translation, the New American Standard Bible. I use the updated edition from 1995 (no more thee's and thou's), a leather-bound version given to me by my in-laws at my college graduation.

Today in class I was introducing the idea of the Elohistic Psalter, a section of the Book of Psalms (Pss. 42-83) where the usual preponderance of YHWH as opposed to Elohim is reversed, so that the appearances of Elohim far outstrip the appearances of YHWH. This is especially interesting with regard to Psalm 14 and Psalm 53, since they are in fact almost identical, except that the former uses YHWH where the latter uses Elohim.

This is the case, for instance, in verse 4 of each psalm (this is Psalm 53's version; there are a few differences in Psalm 14):
Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge,
Who eat up My people as though they ate bread
And have not called upon YHWH/Elohim?
Actually, when I was teaching this morning, I skipped over this verse because that last word appears in the NASB as "Lord" rather than "LORD" in Psalm 14. I assumed from reading the translation that the underlying Hebrew was Adon rather than YHWH. My students informed me that in their Bibles (ESV, NRSV, HCSB) that the word was in all-caps. I was very confused for a few seconds as I came to suspect that there was an error in my NASB. And there is no marginal reading or note of any kind.

Sure enough, the MT has the Tetragrammaton here. BHS does give the note that two medieval manuscripts have Elohim, but that's irrelevant to this issue. The DSS do not seem to preserve the relevant reading, and the LXX gives kurios. So there is no reason to suspect that the NASB is hinting at an alternative reading of adon; it must just be an error.

Which is particularly weird because the NASB is explicitly a revision of the ASV (1901). Actually, I mentioned that I use the updated NASB, so it is a revision of a revision. Actually, the ASV itself was a revision of the KJV, so I'm using a revision of a revision of a revision. The ASV has Jehovah in Psalm 14:4. But the original NASB from the 1970s has "Lord" not in all-caps. Strange that this was not corrected in the updated edition of 1995.

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