Speaking of modern translations, the next major Bible translation is probably going to be the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). It is a complete replacement of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), which is the Bible I have been preaching out of for the last three years.

It is too early to give a full review of the Bible since it hasn’t even been released yet. Still there is some helpful information on their website (http://csbible.com/) that allows us to make some educated guesses. There were several things I really liked about the HCSB, so let me try to offer some evaluation by comparison.

1.Easy to Read

The first thing I really liked about the HCSB was that it is incredibly easy to read aloud from. Preaching from Matthew often required me reading rather long sections of Scripture at a time and the natural writing style of the HCSB helped me read smoothly in a way that I felt listeners could follow and understand. This is also a very helpful feature when using the Bible with our youth or at the prison, where students are used to hearing shorter sentence structure and often do not have a Bible with them.

It appears that the CSB is trying to keep this same reading style. Their website offers a compare translations tool which demonstrates their easy reading stylescreen-shot-2017-01-27-at-9-20-42-am

In comparison with the ESV, the CSB is in my opinion easier to read. In comparison with it’s predecessor, the HCSB, this particular verse reads very similarly, with the exception of exchanging the number 70 with the word.

2. Distinctive

Another thing I liked about the HCSB was that it often offered a reading distinct from other popular Bibles. For instance, where many Bible used LORD, the HCSB used YHWH, and where many Bibles used Christ, the HCSB used Messiah.

Technically, these differences didn’t change the meaning of the verses at all. However, I thought they were still helpful because they challenge our minds to notice the importance of those words. For instance, though we may know that Christ is a title, it can be easy to treat the term as if it is no more significant than a last name. By substituting the Greek cognate Christ with Hebrew Messiah, the author’s connection of Jesus to the Old Testament just seemed more apparent. (For info on these stylistic changes see: http://thislamp.com)

The CSB seems to have dialed back on many of the features that made the HCSB distinct. I think this new version will read more like most of its competitors. Some pastors may like this as there will be less need to explain why one Bible says LORD and the other says YWHW. My fear is that reducing the need for explanation will also reduce comprehension.

3. Trustworthy

A third thing I liked about the HCSB was that I considered it to be a very trustworthy translation. I am not one to consider any translation as perfect, and I fully recognize that any translator or translation team can make mistakes. That said, the HCSB did an excellent job of translating the message of the original languages (Greek and Hebrew) into modern English.

Part of my trust in the HCSB is due to my own limited work in the Greek New Testament. But, admittedly, a great deal of my trust in the translation is due to the fact that I trust many people on the translation team. (The CSB has provided a list of all the translators for the original HCSB as well as a list of those working on the new CSB).

First, I appreciate that the translation is a product of a team effort, rather than the work of one man. I hope that the influence of multiple well trained minds will sharpen the final product. Second, I am especially happy to recognize and trust many of the names on this translation committee.

Perhaps the most important names on the list are the co-chairs of the translation oversight committee. Thom Schreiner is a very competent Biblical scholar and I consider his Romans commentary in the Baker series to be the best available. His work as both a Biblical and theological scholar (I say theological in light of his work with the New Perspective), clearly show both incredible expertise and a sincere devotion and service to God. I know less about David Allen, but I do know that he is a man of good reputation, especially in Southern Baptist circles.

I was happy to see my own Greek professor from seminary, David Alan Black, among the list of translators. He is a world class Greek scholar and teacher. Constantine Campbell was also on the list, and is well known for his work in Greek grammar, including the often challenging area of verbal aspect.

So, in light of the quality of the translators working on this project, I am confident that the CSB will continue in the tradition of the HCSB as a very reliable translation.


On a final note, in hopes that someone like Trevin Wax might read this, I would like to mention a few ways that I believe the CSB could improve the publishing options as compared to the HCSB.

One of the limitations of the HCSB, in my opinion, was the lack of print options. Especially in comparison with the ESV, I often found that people who would have preferred the HCSB translation opted for an ESV because of it’s published format. In light of that, here are some things I would like to see.

The Minister’s Bible – But not for ministers.

By far, my favorite Bible both for daily reading and for taking into the pulpit was my HCSB minister’s Bible (ISBN 978-1-43360-087-6). However, I wish this Bible was available without all the minister’s aides in the back.

I really liked that it was a single column Bible with a large very legible font. It seemed most of the other HCSB’s were two column Bibles with smaller font. Those that weren’t lacked some features that I consider essential for a daily use Bible. For instance, while I don’t care about having all the minister specific articles in the back, I do really appreciate having a fairly substantial concordance and maps. The Minister’s Bible did not include a cross reference guide, which was acceptable because I preferred the wide columns for note taking. However, cross references placed in the footnote section would be helpful.

The Greek-English New Testament

Crossway has published a very nice diglot with the Nestle-Aland on the left and the ESV on the right. It is superior to the old RSV because the font is very large and there is plenty of room in the margins. If the CSB could come up with something similar, that would be great.

The Apologetics Study Bible

Our church has a tradition of giving a Bible to our graduating seniors each year. Last year I gave out the Ultra-Thin Reference Bible (978-1586407223) and it was really well received. I would have liked to have given the Apologetics Study Bible (978-1433614859), but it was cost prohibitive. Is there any way to get a Bible like that, but cut the cost by about 50%?

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