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Legacy Standard Bible Review: Translation with New Testament and Psalms

Legacy Standard Bible Review: Translation with New Testament and Psalms


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2021 has brought us one of the most important Bible events in my lifetime, the release of Legacy Standard Bible. I am delighted to be reviewing this Bible and this translation.


Note: I purchased this New Testament for review and for use in my Scriptural Studies. Neither Steadfast Bibles nor The Master’s Seminary were involved in this review choice. My opinions are my own.


John MacArthur, Master’s Seminary, and the Legacy Standard Bible

It is fitting that Dr. John MacArthur superintended this translation process. If you have ever listened to MacArthur, you know that there is no one more fastidious, technical, or precise in their exposition of the Scripture so, naturally, the most fastidious, technical, and precise Bible translation was overseen by him, along with his most excellent colleagues at the Master’s Seminary, a team lead by the eminent scholar and brilliant expositor, Dr. Abner Chou.


Master’s Seminary being involved in the translation endeavor’s is quite impressive, even when you consider that there is no more logical choice to lead the endeavor than Master’s Seminary. The men on the faculty of this seminary have taken the best English translation and have elevated it to absolute perfection.


The Translation

The Legacy Standard Bible is the crowning glory in the lineage of the KJV. That lineage looks something like this: KJV>ASV>NASB>NASBU (1995 Update)>Legacy Standard Bible. Legacy Standard Bible keeps the promise of the Lockman Foundation, The Most Literal English Translation. My friend, Dr. Gary Coombs, the President of Southern California Seminary had previously told me that, in his expert opinion (more than 50 years of teaching Greek) the NASB was the most accurate English Translation available. I had to put that into the past tense because of the Legacy Standard Bible.


LSB is a form based (word-for-word) translation. Its predecessor, NASB has been accused of being stilted, almost woodenly academic but that problem is not to be found here. LSB is quite readable despite being the most literal English translation presently available.


Many translations claim to be the most accurate but make changes to the language to accommodate certain translation traditions or people groups. Conversely, LSB does not make those changes ,thus making LSB both the most literal and the most accurate translation available.

Unique Feature: the Covenant Name, Yahweh

The Legacy standard Bible retains Yahweh, instead of LORD, where God’s Covenant name appears in Scripture. Previously, the Holman Christian Standard Bible attempted this but fell short of rendering the Covenant Name all 6800 times it occurs. To date, the complete translation is still in progress but if the Psalms are any indication, we will see the Divine Name appear all 6800 times.

Personally, this is my favorite feature; God is a title not a name and it is rather impersonal to use that when addressing our Lord. We have been given the  privilege to call God by His Name and we ought to use it.

Unique Feature Number 2: Translating doulos as slave as opposed to servant.

Thayer, Strong, and Vine’s all indicate that, while servant is an accurate translation, slave is to be preferred. In its most common context, servant is better left to translating diakonos instead of doulos.


I do not want to get into the politics of things, but slave has a rather negative connotation in the United States, often causing turmoil and, as such, causes most, if not all, translations to render doulos as servant. Understand our relationship to Christ properly entails that we understand that He is Master and we are slave, albeit willing slaves. Retaining slave as a translation was a bold move on the part of the translation team, one that I applaud. The Bible MUST always challenge us to conform to it and can never be compelled to conform to us.


On to the review of the physical book


The Cover and Binding

Legacy Standard Bible is available in Imitation Leather (I am reviewing today), Patina Cowhide, and Shamar Goatskin. To the best of my knowledge, all come with a paste down liner.

For a Bible designed to be carried in the pocket of one’s jeans, a paste down liner makes sense as it adds durability to the book. I opted to by the blue imitation leather precisely because I do carry this volume in my back pocket and if I damage this copy’s cover in so doing, there is no real harm. All three levels of product have a smythe sewn binding- an obvious choice for a New Testament designed to be carried in the pocket.  Sewing the binding ensures the text block will far outlast the cover.


Paper, Layout, Font

This is a French milled paper similar to the exquisite paper in the Lockman Foundation’s famed 2007 Editions. It is a crisp white and tremendously opaque. The paper has a very soft texture to it  which makes turning the page rather easy.

The text of the Scripture is laid out in a double column verse-by-verse format. At this time, the Translator’s footnotes and cross references are not provided, a non-issue for me. An ultraportable New Testament is not designed for the nuanced study that a pastor would engage in at his desk but instead is intended for real time on the go ministry. I am quite certain that at at a later time both tools will be offered.


I am not 100% certain as to the font family, but we have a very crisp black letter text. We have an 8-point font with 8.5 leading, It is quite easy on the eyes for such a small  font. Both font and paper performed incredible well in the bright Arizona sun. It even performed well in the lower light setting of my bedside chair.


Compared to Other Bibles

The LSB New Testament is similar in size to both the Cambridge Cameo and Pitt Minion Reference Bibles. While every bit as portable as the Pitt Minion, LSB New Testament is far and away the more readable Bible, having a font size that is 2-full points larger. The closer approximation in size, font, and reading experience is the Cameo Reference Bible. Both Bibles are in verse by verse formats, are nearly identical in dimensions  (cameo is thicker), and are surprisingly readable for their size. (I wear bi-focals and generally do not venture smaller than a 9-point font)


There are noticeable overtones of the majestic language found in  both KJV and ASV. The most recognizable carry over from the ASV is the rendering of the Divine Name, although LSB corrects it to Yahweh rather than Jehovah. The reverent language overtones in the LSB hearken us back to the olden days of KJV.


Legacy Standard Bible is very similar to the 1995 Update of the New American Standard Bible as it should since it is essentially an update of the NASB. It feels like a familiar old friend.


Over the course of a week of reading the Legacy Standard Bible, it has been  a natural transition. I have loved NASB for 25 years (2/20/1996 is when I received my first NASB) and moving to LSB just feels like a natural growth cycle.


LSB vs NASB 2020

I confess that while I will adopt the Legacy Standard Bible, I will not be adopting the NASB 2020. I find many of the changes to the NASB 2020 to be superfluous and irritating- their gender translations in particular do nothing to add value to the text. Happily, there are no superfluous translation changes when updating to the Legacy Standard Bible.


Transitioning to the Legacy Standard Bible

I had mentioned that I plan to transition to the Legacy Standard Bible as a teaching Bible and a couple of colleagues have asked if i thought it might  be difficult to transition. No, but maybe. A person who uses NASB as a main translation will transition relatively easily. (NASB is one of my two main). There will, doubtlessly, be an adjustment period for those using other translations but overall I do not think it will pose much of an issue.


For Study

Despite the layout of this particular Bible not having any study aids, the Legacy Standard Bible is very suitable for study. It continues in the NASB’s tradition of being extremely precise, which makes it ideal for word studies etc.


For Preaching

I have not yet preached from the LSB since my current series is taking me through the Old Testament. That being said, I have heard John MacArthur read the LSB from his pulpit and have read it aloud myself. The text feels like it has a better cadence than NASB. It is not as lyrical as the KJV but it still rolls off the tongue rather well.


Final Thoughts

Given that I love the NASB, it is only natural that I would endorse the Legacy Standard Bible. I have reviewed new translations in the past but not with the level of enthusiasm that I feel for the Legacy Standard Bible.


For those of us who stand in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday and enjoy the privilege of teaching the Scripture, I cannot think of a better translation to use.

9 Replies to “Legacy Standard Bible Review: Translation with New Testament and Psalms”

  1. Three of the team, including Abner Chou, were from The Masters University. The other three were from The Master’s Seminary.

  2. I am looking forward to reading out of this new version. However, I strongly disagree with the decision to translate doulos as slave as opposed to servant. This is not the place for a long essay on the subject, but John 15:15 would seem to settle this issue: “I no longer call you doulos, because the doulos knows not what his master is doing. But you I have called friends [phileo], because all things that I heard from my Father I have declared to you.” The slave obeys without thinking, without love for the master, without friendship by the master. The Christian serves the Master he/she loves as friends and servants loved by the Master, John 15:14, “You are my friends [phileo, not doulos], if you do what I command you.” While there may be an individual verse here or there where “slave” is a more appropriate translation, on the whole the Christian is a servant, not a slave. In my opinion, this doctrinal error by the translation team diminishes the usefulness of the LSB.

  3. I missed out on the New Testament Pre-ordering. I can’t figure out how to reach Three Sixteen Publishing to inquire about pre ordering for when the full Bible comes out. Any clues?

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