Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Version » Holman Christian Standard Bible
Publisher Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.
Testaments OT/NT

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Introduction to the HCSB

The Bible is God's inspired word, inerrant in the original manuscripts. It is the only means of knowing God's plan of salvation and His will for our lives. It is the only hope and answer for a rebellious, searching world. Bible translation, both a science and an art, is a bridge that brings God's word from the ancient world to the world today. Depending on God to accomplish this task, Holman Bible Publishers presents the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, a new English translation of God's word.


The Goals of This Translation

  • to provide English-speaking people across the world with an accurate, readable Bible in contemporary English
  • to equip serious Bible students with an accurate translation for personal study, private devotions, and memorization
  • to give those who love God's word a text that is easy to read, visually attractive on the page, and appealing when heard
  • to affirm the authority of the Scriptures as God's inerrant word and to champion its absolutes against social or cultural agendas that would compromise its accuracy

The name, Holman Christian Standard Bible®, embodies these goals: Holman Bible Publishers presents a new Bible translation, for the Christian and English-speaking communities, which will set the standard in Bible translations for years to come.


Why Another English Translation of the Bible?

Many people ask: "Why another English translation of the Bible?" There are several answers to this question:

  • Each generation needs a fresh translation of the Bible in its own language.
    • The Bible is the world's most important book, confronting each individual and each generation with issues that affect life, both now and forever. Since each new generation must be introduced to God's word in its own language, there will always be a need for new translations such as the Holman Christian Standard Bible® [HCSB®].
  • English, one of the world's greatest languages, is rapidly changing, and Bible translations must keep in step with those changes.
    • English is the first truly global language in history. It is the language of education, business, travel, research, and the Internet. More than 1.3 billion people around the world speak English as a primary or secondary language. The HCSB® seeks to serve a large cross-section of those people with a translation they can easily use and understand.
  • English is also the world's most rapidly changing language. The HCSB® seeks to reflect recent changes in English by using modern punctuation, formatting, and vocabulary, while avoiding slang, regionalisms, or changes made specifically for the sake of political or social agendas.
  • Rapid advances in biblical research provide new data for Bible translators.
    • This has been called the "information age," a term that accurately describes the field of biblical research. Never before in history has there been as much information about the Bible as there is today--from archaeological discoveries to analysis of ancient manuscripts to years of study and statistical research on individual Bible books. Translations made as recently as 10 or 20 years ago do not reflect many of these advances in biblical research. The translators of the HCSB® have sought to use as much of this new data as possible.
  • Advances in computer technology have opened a new door for Bible translation.
    • The HCSB® has used computer technology and telecommunications in its creation perhaps more than any Bible translation in history. Electronic mail was used daily and sometimes hourly for communication and transmission of manuscripts. The most advanced Bible software available has been used to create and review the translation at each step in its production. A developmental copy of the HCSB® itself was used within this software program to facilitate cross-checking during the translation process - something never done before with a Bible translation.


Translation Philosophy

Bible translations generally follow one of three approaches to translating the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words into English:

  1. Formal Equivalence: Often called "word for word" translation, formal equivalence seeks to represent each word of the original text with a corresponding word in the translation so that the reader can see word for word what the original human author wrote. The merit of this approach is that the Holy Spirit did inspire the very words of Scripture in the original manuscripts. A formal equivalence translation is good to the extent that its words accurately convey the meaning of the original words. However, a literal rendering can result in awkward English or in a misunderstanding of the author's intent.
  2. Dynamic Equivalence: Often called "thought for thought" translation, dynamic equivalence seeks to translate the meaning of biblical words so the text makes the same impact on modern readers that the ancient text made on its original readers. Strengths of this approach include readability and understandability, especially in places where the original is difficult to render word for word. However, some serious questions can be asked about dynamic equivalence: How can a modern translator be certain of the original author's intent? Since meaning is always conveyed by words, why not ensure accuracy by using words that are as close as possible in meaning to the original instead of words that just capture the idea? How can a modern person ever know the impact of the original text on its readers?
  3. Optimal Equivalence: This approach seeks to combine the best features of both formal and dynamic equivalence. In the many places throughout Scripture where a word for word rendering is clearly understandable, a literal translation is used. In places where a literal rendering might be unclear, then a more dynamic translation is given. The HCSB® has chosen to use the balance and beauty of optimal equivalence for a fresh translation of God's word that is both faithful to the words God inspired and "user friendly" to modern readers.


History of the Holman Christian Standard Bible®

After several years of preliminary development, Holman Bible Publishers, the oldest Bible publisher in America, assembled an international, interdenominational team of 90 scholars, all of whom were committed to biblical inerrancy. Smaller teams of editors, stylists, and proofreaders then corrected and polished the translation. Outside consultants contributed valuable suggestions from their areas of expertise. An executive team then reviewed the final manuscripts.


Textual Base of the HCSB®

The textual base for the New Testament [NT] is the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th edition, and the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, 4th corrected edition. The text for the Old Testament [OT] is the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 5th edition.

Significant differences among Hebrew [Hb] and Aramaic [Aram] manuscripts of the OT or among Greek [Gk] manuscripts of the NT are indicated in footnotes. In a few NT cases large square brackets indicate texts that are omitted in some ancient manuscripts. The HCSB® uses the traditional verse divisions found in most Protestant Bibles in English.


Translation Features

In keeping with a long line of Bible publications, the Holman Christian Standard Bible® has retained a number of features found in traditional Bibles:

  1. Traditional theological vocabulary (such as justification, sanctification, redemption, etc.) has been retained in the HCSB®, since such terms have no translation equivalent that adequately communicates their exact meaning.
  2. Traditional spellings of names and places found in most Bibles have been used to make the HCSB® compatible with most Bible study tools.
  3. To help readers easily locate the spoken words of the Lord Jesus Christ, some editions of the HCSB® will print the words of Christ in red letters.
  4. Most nouns and pronouns that refer to any person of the Trinity are capitalized.
  5. Descriptive headings, printed above each section of Scripture, help readers quickly identify the contents of that section.
  6. Small lower corner brackets: [ ] indicate words supplied for clarity by the translators (but see discussion below, under Agreement of Elements in Sentences, about supplied words that are not bracketed).


Translation Style Issues


The Names of God

The HCSB® OT consistently translates the Hb names for God as follows:

HCSB® English:

Hb original:




Yahweh or YHWH



Lord God

Adonai Yahweh

LORD of Hosts

Yahweh Sabaoth

God Almighty

El Shaddai

The HCSB® uses Yahweh, the personal name of God in Hb, when a text emphasizes Yahweh as a name: His name is Yahweh (Ps 68:4).


Place Names

A number of well-known places in the original text of the Bible, particularly in the OT, have a different name than the one today's Bible readers are familiar with. For example, the Euphrates River often appears in the original text simply as "the River." In cases like this, the HCSB® uses "the Euphrates River" in the text without a footnote indicating this change.


Agreement of Elements in Sentences

The original text of the Bible does not always follow the standard rules of English grammar, especially in the agreement of subject and verb or agreement of person and number. In order to conform to standard usage, the HCSB® has often made these kinds of grammatical constructions agree in English and has not noted them using footnotes or lower corner brackets.

In addition, the Gk or Hb texts sometimes seem redundant or ambiguous by repeating nouns when we would substitute pronouns or by repeating pronouns when we would supply nouns for clarity and good style. The HCSB® sometimes changes a pronoun to its corresponding noun or a noun to its corresponding pronoun in the interests of clarity and good English style without noting this change with a footnote or lower corner brackets. For example:

The HCSB® text of Jn 1:42 reads: "And he brought Simon to Jesus . . ." [The original Gk of this sentence reads: "And he brought him to Jesus."]


Special Formatting Features

The Holman Christian Standard Bible® has several distinctive formatting features:

  1. OT passages quoted in the NT are set in boldface type. OT quotes less than two lines long are embedded in the Bible text. Quotes consisting of two or more lines are block indented.
  2. In dialogue, a new paragraph is used for each new speaker as in most modern publications.
  3. Many passages, such as 1 Co 13, have been formatted as Dynamic Prose (separate lines that are block indented like poetry) for ease in reading and comprehension.
  4. A series of persons or items may be indented as a list. Examples are the genealogy of Christ (Mt 1:2-16), the 12 apostles (Mt 10:2-4), and the precious stones in the New Jerusalem (Rv 21:19-20).
  5. A written inscription that was posted for people to read, such as the sign above Jesus on the cross (Mt. 27:37), is placed inside a box and centered in the text.
  6. Frequently used foreign, geographical, cultural, or ancient words are preceded by a superscripted bullet [âAbba] and listed in alphabetical order at the back of most editions under the heading HCSB Bullet Notesâ.



Located at the bottom of the page, footnotes provide valuable information to help the reader understand the original biblical language or how it is translated in the HCSB®. The words of Scripture, quoted in a footnote, are always printed in italics.


NT Textual Footnotes

NT textual notes indicate significant differences among Gk manuscripts [mss] and are normally indicated in one of three ways:

  • Other mss read ______
  • Other mss add ______
  • Other mss omit ______

In the NT, some textual footnotes that use the word "add" or "omit" also have square brackets before and after the corresponding verses in the biblical text. See Mk 16:9-20, Jn 5:3-4, and Jn 7:53-8:11 for examples.


OT Textual Footnotes

OT textual notes show important differences among Hb manuscripts and among ancient OT versions, such as the Septuagint (LXX) and the Vulgate (Vg). See the list of abbreviations on page ___ for a complete list of other ancient versions used.

Like NT textual notes, some OT textual notes give only the alternate textual reading, but other OT textual notes list the manuscripts and versions that support a reading found in the HCSB® text and are followed by a semicolon, the alternative reading, and the manuscript evidence supporting that reading. For example, the HCSB® text of Ps 12:7 reads:

You will protect usa from this generation forever.

The textual footnote for this verse reads:

  • 16:2 Some Hb mss, LXX; other Hb mss read him

The textual note in this example means that there are two different readings found in the Hb manuscripts: some manuscripts read us and others read him. The HCSB® translators decided to put the reading us in the text (which is also supported by the Septuagint [LXX]); the other reading him is placed in the footnote.

Occasionally, variations by scribal copyists in the Hb manuscript tradition will be noted as follows (in OT studies, these variations are referred to as Kethiv/Qere readings):

  • Alt Hb tradition reads ________

A few times when there is uncertainty about what the original Hb text was, the following note is used:

  • Hb uncertain


Other Kinds of Footnotes

Lit _____

a very literal rendering in English of the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek text

Or _____

an alternate English translation of the same Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek text

Hb, Aram, Gk

the actual Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek word is given using English letters

Hb obscure

in the OT, when the original Hebrew wording is difficult to translate

emend(ed) to _____

informs the reader that the original Hb text is so difficult to translate that some scholars have conjectured what the original text was in order to translate it.

Additional footnotes clarify the meaning of certain biblical texts or explain biblical history, persons, customs, places, activities, and weights and measures. Cross-references are given for some parallel passages or passages with similar wording, and in the NT, for passages quoted from the OT.


Copyright Information

The text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic, or audio) up to and inclusive of two hundred fifty (250) verses without the written permission of the publisher, provided that the verses quoted do not account for more than 20 percent of the work in which they are quoted, and provided that a complete book of the Bible is not quoted. When the HCSB is quoted, one of the following credit lines must appear on the copyright page or title page of the work: Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers. 2. As a general rule, follow the naming standards set by B & H Publishing Group when referring to the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation. The preferred forms are Holman Christian Standard Bible or HCSB. Reference to the Holman CSB will no longer be used. 3. The abbreviation HCSB is to be used when citing Scripture references. In products where the Holman Christian Standard Bible is the primary translation, use of the abbreviation HCSB is not needed in the reference. The format for Scripture references in general text is: Products with multiple translations: “After looking around at them all, He told him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored” (Lk 6:10, HCSB). Products with the HCSB as the only or primary translation: “After looking around at them all, He told him, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored” (Lk 6:10). 4. Use of the registered trademark symbol ® in running text or with Scripture references is not necessary when the symbol appears in the masthead, copyright page, or title page information. 5. Use of the registered trademark symbol ® is only necessary on the first mention of the Holman Christian Standard Bible or HCSB in promotional copy (ads, brochures, catalogs, flyers, posters, etc.) or other running text separate from a product.

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