B&H Publishing Group (@BHpub) has revised the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Renamed the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB) (@CSBible), the text is available for reading on Bible Gateway, as well as in a full line of print Bibles for readers of all ages, with initial products releasing in March and available in the Bible Gateway Store.
Why did you update the Holman Christian Standard Bible and rename the translation?
Trevin Wax: The Homan Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), first published in 2004, has been updated to reflect advances in biblical scholarship and to meet the needs of churches around the world. Over the past three years, the Translation Oversight Committee, co-chaired by Drs. Tom Schreiner and David Allen, considered input from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers, seeking to hone both accuracy and readability in the text.
The input from both pastors and readers reflected a desire for an English translation that was both faithful to the original languages and understandable for a modern audience. Now the updated version of the HCSB, renamed the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB), optimizes both faithfulness and clarity. As a result, the CSB is trustworthy for pastors to use the translation for study and sermon preparation. Yet it’s also understandable for readers of all ages to read God’s Word each day and to share it with others.
According to Barna, 88% of Americans own a Bible but only 37% read it regularly. Aside from time constraints, frustration with understanding the Bible was listed as the most common reason people don’t read it. The CSB offers the high level of accuracy that people expect from their Bible translation as well as the easy-to-read, modern English they desire.
The new translation name, Christian Standard Bible, more clearly identifies a translation that transcends denominations and is designed to serve a broad audience.
In practical terms, explain the CSB translation philosophy of Optimal Equivalence and how it differs from Formal Equivalence and Dynamic Equivalence?
Trevin Wax: Optimal Equivalence is a translation philosophy that balances linguistic precision to the original languages and contemporary English readability. In the many places throughout Scripture where a word-for-word rendering—also known as Formal Equivalence—is clearly understandable, a more literal, word-for-word translation is used in the CSB. When a word-for-word rendering might obscure the meaning for a modern audience, a Dynamic Equivalent—thought-for-thought—translation is used. This process assures that both the words and thoughts contained in the original text are conveyed as accurately as possible for today’s readers.
The CSB provides a highly accurate text for sermon preparation and serious study, translated from the biblical languages by scholars who love God’s Word. Yet it doesn’t compromise readability or clarity for readers who are less familiar with traditional (and sometimes difficult) vocabulary retained in some translations.
Who are the translators of the CSB, the denominations they represent, and why were they selected?
Trevin Wax: The original HCSB translation committee includes more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations who translated the HCSB from the original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic languages. In keeping with that trans-denominational focus, the revision and oversight committee, co-chaired by Dr. Tom Schreiner and Dr. David Allen, is composed of top biblical scholars representing a variety of colleges and seminaries as well as a range of conservative, evangelical denominations, including Southern Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, conservative Anglican, and non-denominational Bible churches. These scholars provide oversight for the Christian Standard Bible, keeping the text up-to-date with current biblical scholarship and ensuring clarity for a modern audience. We’ve listed all of the committee members’ names and credentials on www.CSBible.com.
What resources will be available that include the CSB?
Trevin Wax: Holman Bibles will release our first Bibles featuring the CSB this spring, including some existing products with the next text, as well as some brand new Bibles. Spring and summer releases include the She Reads Truth Bible (April 2017), Essential Teen Study Bible (March 2017), Big Picture Interactive Bible (March 2017), the CSB Study Bible (May 2017), Apologetics Study Bible for Students (July 2017), and The Apologetics Study Bible (August 2017).
In addition, Baker Publishing Group will begin publishing Bibles in the CSB in 2018. Their first release, the Baker Illustrated Study Bible, will draw upon Baker’s extensive image archive and collection of bestselling biblical reference works. New Bibles for adults, children, and students are also being created. David C Cook is using the CSB as the base text for The Good Book, a major new church-wide program (April 2017), with other products also in development. Licensing agreements with other publishers for CSB Bibles are in preparation but it’s too early for me to comment on those.
What is the reading level of the CSB?
Trevin Wax: Individual books of the Bible measure at different reading levels, due to differing writing styles of the authors, but the average for the full text of the Christian Standard Bible is a 7th grade reading level.
Describe the day-to-day process of the translation work.
Trevin Wax: Beginning with the text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which was translated directly from the original languages, the translators reviewed and modified their earlier renderings based on changes in scholarship or a need for additional clarity for today’s reader. Translators were divided into Old Testament and New Testament teams, with these teams scrutinizing ancient source texts—including the critical Greek text favored by scholars—to determine every nuance of original meaning and intent. The teams sought to preserve the meaning and form of the original, to ensure readability for both seasoned Bible readers as well as those who might be new readers of God’s Word. Representing a variety of conservative, Evangelical denominations, the translators worked together to avoid denominational bias. Additional scholarly reviewers provided further precision and stylist Michael Card reviewed the text to ensure the beauty and clarity of the language.
Trevin Wax: The CSB text overall is more literal than the NIV, NLT, and CEB, and more readable than the ESV. Independent research shows that it provides the optimal balance of linguistic precision to original languages and readability in contemporary English. Of course, individual passages vary, but here’s an example, with more available on CSBible.com:
Revelation 3:20: “See!” is an exclamation that calls attention to a situation. Since the second sentence is introduced with “anyone,” the word “him” that follows is clearly inclusive, and it is not necessary to use “they” or “you.”
CSB: See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
NIV: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
ESV: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
NLT: Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
CEB: Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them, and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me.
Will the CSB translation be continually updated? If so, what does that process look like?
Trevin Wax: The Translation Oversight Committee (TOC) will lead this effort, monitoring changes in biblical scholarship and English usage. It’s important for the text to maintain the best possible balance of both accuracy and readability, so the CSB text will be updated periodically as the TOC determines it’s necessary.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and/or the Bible Gateway App?
Trevin Wax: Bible Gateway is the source that so many people use for Bible reading, research, and comparison of various Bible translations. As a pastor, I often used the “parallel columns” feature to review various renderings of Scripture for my own sermon preparation. It’s important to me to provide the Christian Standard Bible text even before the translation is available in print, recognizing that Bible Gateway gives easy access to so many people, enabling them to read the CSB for themselves. It’s my prayer that the Christian Standard Bible will enhance your readers’ understanding and their love for God’s Word.
Bio: Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher for LifeWay Christian Resources and publisher for the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) Translation. A former missionary to Romania, Trevin hosts a blog at The Gospel Coalition and regularly contributes to The Washington Post, Religion News Service, World, and Christianity Today, which named him one of 33 millennials shaping the next generation of evangelicals. His latest book is This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel. Trevin earned his PhD in Theology at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, and his Masters of Divinity at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.
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