God’s Word, God’s people, my joy

Today a Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) arrived on my doorstep via courier. Why is this important to note you may ask? Not a bad question dear reader, not a bad question at all.

There is a tension at Crystal Park Baptist Church. Let me explain lest you fear church split. Half of our congregation is second/third language English speaking black folk; quarter of the congregation second language English speaking white folk; the remainder first language English speaking white folk like me. A quarter of our congregation on any given Sunday is under the age of twelve. And the paster is a student, trying hard to crack the Biblical languages.

The variety in last paragraph sounds so encouraging doesn’t? So why’s there tension? Great question!

Well, being a student of God’s Word, I favour a literal interpretation (King Jimmy, the New King Jimmy, English Standard Version ect). I preach from a New American Standard Version.

The kids, under twelve, who’s parents don’t come to church, and who are second language English speakers are encouraged to use a Good News Bible as it’s really easy to read and simple to understand.

The first language English speakers are recommend to get a literal translation for themselves.

And to the rest, the adult second/third language speakers, we encouraged the use of the New International Version.

Now variety is the spice of life (did you notice the variety excluded the Message, the Amplified, the Voice, Today’s New International Version?). I’d not have a problem with this as the status-qua, except things change.

Firstly, my bible is falling apart. I bought a Thomas Nelson bonded leather John MacArthur Study Bible back in the day. Well, I read my Bible, so if there was a fault in the manufacturer it’d always come to the fall. Because I now need to replace my Bible I am thinking of changing the interpretation I use.

Secondly, the NIV is falling apart. Oh, OK, that might not be fair. I had read through the 1984 NIV translation a number of times and I was happy enough with the translation. But it’s no longer in print :(. That means I must now adopt a new standard for half my congregation.

And so I’m out shopping. Where will we settle? I don’t know right now. I do know that I’m excited after reading the HCSB’s translation philosophy as it might serve the needs of my church. I’m also delighted after reading the gender language policy they’ve employed. As I’ve gone through the Bible I’ve been sent I’ve also been impressed by the great features in the edition I’ve been sent.

On Sunday evening, Monday evening and Wednesday I’ll be reading from this translation, hopefully I’ll be able to cover a fair portion of the Pentateuch and History up to the Psalms. Then I’ll be able to say if I’m excited about the translation itself. Nothing beats readings God’s Word. I’m looking do forward to my week ahead.

Have you read the HCSB? What did you like about it? What did you dislike? What cautions might you give? I’d love to hear from you.


18 thoughts on “God’s Word, God’s people, my joy

  1. I’d never heard of it, and, even if I had, you might not want my opinion ;-) (And, even if we were likely to agree, I’m not up to date on these things anyway.) But I could always rebind the old ones for you!

  2. Hey there Macrina, I would want your opinion and I like interacting with you.

    As for the rebinding. I may just need your services. I’m in the process of working with Thomas Nelson as I’m sure my Bible has a life garentee. I don’t know if they want the broken Bible back. If not it’ll be going on a trip down to CT :).

  3. I have a similar predicament. I like the look of HCSB but I wonder if most of my folk are going to just go out and buy the updated NIV next time they need a new Bible. HCSB is not that common here. I was a big fan of the 1984 NIV (warts and all). I’ve never really been a fan of the literal translations for anything more than personal study. I’m not persuaded that literal=accuracy and several NT professors I’ve spoken to have confirmed my suspicion. So I was bleak when they canned the 84. I guess I need to give the new NIV a bit more of a reading and see if the gender issue is as problematic as some tell me it is.

  4. I like the HCSB. I like that they often render Christ as ‘Messiah’, though they do no do so consistently. Many excellent qualities about this Bible.

    Interesting historical note for you, O Baptist historian. The HCSB represents the first time in history when the persecuted people known as the Baptists were in a position to translate and publish their own translation of the Scriptures. The HCSB is just that (though scholars from other denoms were used). And after all those centuries of debate and persecution about baptism, here we have the opportunity to translate baptizo as immerse, instead of merely transliterating it, as the Anglican KJV did. And what did we do? Translate it as baptise!!! Aaaarrgg!!
    When Balthasar Hubmaier meets the HCSB editorial committee in the Millennium, we may need to restrain him.

  5. @Mark: I have a genuine leather one myself (black) of the HCSB Study Bible. I love the Hebrew and Greek Word Studies! And we are on the same page as to Bible Translations also. Indeed the “Cognitive equivalence” of the literal translation approach! I use too the NET Bible (I have it also in genuine black leather). You can see and get the NET Bible on-line also! But I also love the NASB Update, which uses YOU and YOUR as to personal pronouns, when addressing God in prayer. – And as they say: The Most Literal Is Now More Readable (NASB Update). ;)

  6. Hey all, I was planning on starting reading through the version on Sunday night, but I had an opportunity to read the first 11 chapters to my wife last night, and then when I got back from ministry last night I picked the Book up again and couldn’t stop.

    Wow, I’m really, really impressed. There are so many interesting translation decisions that they’ve made. Off the top of my head the ones that stood out were the last verse in chapter 4!!! so cool, and transliteration of the naming of the wells dug somewhere around chapter 30. I’ve been keeping track of the most important difference I can pick up on a first pass and will post a side by side comparision of them tomorrow evening.

    So far I’m really enjoying the easy reading nature of this translation.

    @Stephen, I’d encourage you to read this for yourself. I’m not endorsing it yet but so far it outstrips the 1984 NIV for readability to me.

    @David, :).

    @Robert, I’m looking forward to the Psalms. ‘God in prayer’, that for me is another test. I love the KJV for the beauty of the language and look forward to seeing how the HCSB has approached the poetic books.

  7. I like the HCSB and have used it devotionally for a number of years. Nice for reading out loud, too – it strikes a good balance between literal and readable. A few of my theologian buddies rate it highly from a translation point of view, too. I am surprised it is not more widely used. I guess it doesn’t have the marketing behind it that the NIV does.

  8. Mark,

    Thanks for the post about considering the HCSB translation! Our prayer is that you’ll find it to be trustworthy and accessible–a blend of accuracy from the originals as well as readability in the way we speak today. You’ve already mentioned that it outstrips the NIV84, which I find to be a huge compliment.

    I’d like to also offer a free book that was written by Ray Clendenen and David Stabnow that drills down farther into the translation decisions of the HCSB. You can access (download) it here: http://www.academia.edu/3010226/HCSB_Navigating_the_Horizons_in_Bible_Translation

    Let us know how we can serve you. Blessings as you continue to read and evaluate the HCSB.

    Dr. Micah Carter
    HCSB Translation Spokesman
    B&H Publishing Group
    Nashville, TN, USA

    • Thanks Dr Carter,

      I’ve breached the Pentateuch. Looking forward getting through the historical accounts (which always feel lighter after the Law) so I can see what you’ve done with books of Poetry.

      In Christ,


    • Hi Dr Carter,

      Mind if I ask a question?

      I prep’d a sermon out of the HCSB this week, as a test drive. Colossians 4: 2 – 6. There are two translation questions I had from the text. I don’t expect you to answer them here (unless you can offhand), but maybe you could point me to someone who could, or a forum where I am able to ask a community?

      1. Colossians 4:5a has been translated, “Act wisely toward outsiders” I’m used to the NIV translating περιπατειτε as living, so I wasn’t too uncomfortable with “Act” however I went to Ephesians 5:15 and there you translate the same conceptual word as “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk”. Why the lack of consistency (and yes, I prefer walk)?
      2. Colossians 4:3c has been translated, “to speak the mystery of the Messiah” Rather than alliterating του χριστου you’re interpreting it. I haven’t read the HCSB’s translation of the New Testament yet (maybe in two weeks time). I had Ephesians open and glanced down to verse 32, “32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.” It’s the close proximity of mystery that peaked my interest. Under what conditions is χριστου translated Messiah? And when is it translated Christ? Is it because the Noun is Genitive?

      • Mark, thanks for the questions. You’re raised some good points, and I’ve conferred with a few colleagues on the issues. Here’s what we’ve come up with and I hope it helps:

        1. Colossians 4:5 would be more literally “walk in wisdom toward outsiders.” But this makes no sense in normal English, especially with “walk toward.” “Act wisely” is much better. You are right that we are a bit inconsistent in Ephesians 5:15, but there is not as much difficulty with “how you walk” as there is with “walk … toward.” The alternative for Eph 5:15 would be “Pay careful attention how you live,” which would be still somewhat inconsistent, but correct. If we were to change something, it would be Eph 5:15.

        2. No. We render “tou christou” as Messiah when (1) it is not being used as simply a name and (2) there is a Jewish context. At least that is our aim to be consistent as a translation practice.

        Pleased to interact over these things! Let’s continue to dialogue …

        • Thank you very much for the answers.

          I’ll probably post tomorrow regarding the my layman’s understanding of formal, dynamic and optimal equivalence.

          In the mean time can I re ask a question from before?

          Is there an online forum or community that is active where translation questions can be asked? Or some kind of wiki or centralised knowledge base of translator notes? I’m hoping if there is one you’d be the guy in the know.

  9. Pingback: Why I’m using the Holman Christian Standard Bible | Crystal Park Baptist Church

  10. Pingback: Why I’m using the Holman Christian Standard Bible | Because He Lives

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